Cognate Accusative

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390. An intransitive verb often takes the accusative of a noun of kindred meaning, usually modified by an adjective or in some other manner. This construction is called the Cognate Accusative or Accusative of Kindred Signification.

tūtiōrem vītam vīvere (Verr. 2.118)
to live a safer life

Tertiam iam aetātem hominum vīvēbat. (Cat. M. 31)
He was now living the third generation of men.

servitūtem servīre
to be in slavery

coīre societātem
to [go together and] form an alliance

a. Verbs of taste, smell, and the like take a Cognate Accusative of the quality.

vīnum redolēns (Phil. 2.63)
smelling [of] wine

Herbam mella sapiunt. (Plin. H. N. 11.18)
The honey tastes [of] grass.

olēre malitiam (Rosc. Com. 20)
to have the odor of malice

Cordubae nātīs poētīs, pingue quiddam sonantibus atque peregrīnum (Arch. 26)
to poets born at Cordova, whose speech had a somewhat thick and foreign accent.

b. The Cognate Accusative is often loosely used by the poets.

huic errōrī similem [errōrem] īnsānīre (Hor. S. 2.3.62)
to suffer a delusion like this

saltāre Cyclōpa (id. 1.5.63)
to dance the Cyclops
(represent in dancing)

Bacchānālia vīvere (Iuv. 2.3)
to live in revellings

Amaryllida resonāre (Ecl. 1.5)
to re-echo [the name of] Amaryllis

Intonuit laevum. (Aen. 2.693)
It thundered on the left.

dulce rīdentem, dulce loquentem (Hor. Od. 1.22.23)
sweetly smiling, sweetly prattling.

acerba tuēns (Aen. 9.794)
looking fiercely.
[cf. Eng. “to look daggers.”]

Torvum clāmat. (id. 7.399)
He cries harshly.

c. A neuter pronoun or an adjective of indefinite meaning is very common as Cognate Accusative (cf. § 214.d, § 397.a).

Empedoclēs multa alia peccat. (N. D. 1.29)
Empedocles commits many other errors.

Ego illud adsentior Theophrastō. (De Or. 3.184)
In this I agree with Theophrastus.

Multum tē ista fefellit opīniō (Verr. 2.1.88)
You were much deceived in this expectation.
(This expectation deceived you much.)

Plūs valeō.
I have more strength.

Plūrimum potest
He is strongest.

Quid mē ista laedunt? (Leg. Agr. 2.32)
What harm do those things do me?

Hōc tē moneō.
I give you this warning.
(cf. d, Note 1, below)

Id laetor.
I rejoice at this.
(cf. d, Note 1, below)

Quid moror?
Why do I delay?

quae hominēs arant, nāvigant, aedificant (Sall. Cat. 2.7)
what men do in ploughing, sailing, and building

d. So in many common phrases:

sī quid ille sē velit (B. G. 1.34)
if he should want anything of him
(if he should want him in anything)

Numquid, Geta, aliud mē vīs? (Ter. Ph. 151)
Can I do anything more for you, Geta?
(There is nothing you want of me, is there?)
[A common form of leave-taking]

Quid est quod, etc.?
why is it that, etc.?
[cf. Hōc erat quod, etc.? (Aen. 2.664) Was it for this that, etc.?]

Note 1— In these cases substantives with a definite meaning would be in some other construction.

In hōc eōdem peccat
He errs in this same point.

bonīs rēbus laetārī
to rejoice at prosperity
[Also: in, , or ex.]

dē testāmentō monēre
to remind one of the will
[Later: Genitive, § 351]

officī admonēre
to remind one of his duty
[Also: dē officiō]

Note 2— In some of these cases the connection of the Accusative with the verb has so faded out that the words have become real adverbs.

multum, plūs, plūrimum
plērumque for the most part, generally
cēterum, cētera for the rest, otherwise, but
prīmum first
nihil by no means, not at all
aliquid somewhat
quid why
facile easily

So in the comparative of adverbs (§ 218). But the line cannot be sharply drawn, and some of the examples under b. may be classed as adverbial.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.