Uses of the Dative

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142. Comparison of the case system of Greek with that of Sanskrit shows that the Greek dative does the work of three Sanskrit cases: the dative, the instrumental, and the locative. There is also reason to think that distinct forms for these three cases survived down to a comparatively late period in Greek itself. This is made probable

  1. by the traces in Homeric Greek of instrumental and locative case forms, and
  2. by the readiness with which the uses of the Greek dative (especially in Homer) can be reapportioned between the three cases—the original or true dative, and the twο others.

143. The true dative expresses the person to or for whom something is done, or who is regarded as chiefly affected or interested.

Il. 1.283 Ἀχιλλῆϊ μεθέμεν χόλον
to put away his anger for (in favor of) Achilles (cp. Od. 11.553)

Od. 1.9 τοῖσιν ἀφείλετο
tοοk away for [i.e. frοmthem

Il. 21.360 τί μοι ἔριδος καὶ ἀρωγῆς;
what is there for me (that concerns me) in strife and help?

Od. 7.303 μή μοι τοὔνεκʼ ἀμύμονα νείκεε κούρην
chide nοt for me on that accοunt the blameless maiden (cp. Il. 14.501)

Od. 9.42 ὡς μή τίς μοι ἀτεμβόμενος κίοι ἴσης
that for me nο one should gο away wrοnged
[i.e. that might see that nο one, etc.]

Il. 12.250 τῷ δύο γενεαὶ ἐφθίατο
he had seen two generations pass

Il. 12.374 ἐπειγομένοισι δʼ ἵκοντο
they came for them when hard pressed
[i.e. their coming was (what such a thing is) to hard pressed men]

So Il. 14.108 ἐμοὶ δέ κεν ἀσμένῳ εἴη it would be for me when welcoming it, i.e. would be what I welcome; Od. 21.115 οὔ κέ μοι ἀχνυμένῳ κτλ.

The dative with verbs of giving, showing, telling (a fact), praying, helping, pleasing, favoring, being angry, etc., and the corresponding adjectives (φίλος, ἐχθρός, etc.), is evidently of this kind.

The sο-called dativus commodi, Ethical Dative, etc., need not be separated from the general usage. Note however that

  1. The Dative of the personal pronouns is very often used where we should have a possessive agreeing with a noun in the clause.

    Il. 1.104 ὄσσε δέ οἱ πυρὶ ἐΐκτην
    his eyes were like fire

    Od. 2.50 μητέρι μοι μνηστῆρες ἐπέχραον
    the suitors have assailed my mother

    So Il. 1.55, 150, 188, 200, etc.

  2. δέχομαι with the dative means to take as a faνοr

    Il. 15.87 Θέμιστι δέκτο δέπας
    accepted the cup from Themis (as a compliment)
    to take as an attendant dοes

    See also Il. 2.186, 13.710, 17.207, Od. 15.282. For the genitive see
    § 152.

  3. ἀκούω with the dative means to hear favorably

    Il. 16.515 ἀκούειν ἀνέρι κηδομένῳ

    and so κλῦθί μοι in prayers (Il. 5.115, Od. 2.262). See § 151.d.

  4. The dative with verbs meaning tο giνe cοmmands (κελεύω, σημαίνω, etc.), and to lead the way (ἄρχω, ἡγέομαι, ἡγεμονεύω) is apparently the true dative. But this does not apply to verbs meaning to haνe power, to be king (as κρατέω, ἀνάσσω): e.g. ἀνασσέμεν Ἀργείοισι probably means to be king amοng the Argiνes (lοcative). See § 145.7.a below).
  5. The Dative of the Agent with passive verbs seems to be a special application of the true dative.

    Il. 13.168 ὅ οἱ κλισίηφι λέλειπτο
    which for him was (= which he had) left in the tent

    ἔχεθʼ Ἕκτορι
    was had as wife by Hector

    So Τρωσὶν δαμναμένους, Πηλείωνι δαμείς, etc., because the victory is gained by the victor; and so in Attic, ἠθροίσθη Κύρῳ τὸ Eλληνικόν Cyrus got his Greek force collected. The restriction to past tenses is intelligible, because the past fact is thought of as a kind of possesion or advantage (cp. the English auxiliary have of past events). This view is strongly supported by the Latin Dative of the Agent, which is not common except with verbals and past participles (Roby, § 1146). Evidently nobis facienda = things for as to do, nobis facta = things we have got done.

    The true dative of nouns denoting things is rare in Greek (perhaps only used when the thing is regarded as an agent, or stands for a person, as Πριάμοιο βίη for Πρίαμος).

    In this respect Latin offers a marked contrast; cp. the various uses, especially of abstract substantives, explained by Mr. Roby under the headings "indirect object" (1143, n. 11), "work contemplated" (1156), "predicative dative" (1158 ff.). The source of the difference evidently is that the dative is not liable, as in Greek, to be confounded with the locative and instrumental. It will be seen however that the Greek infinitive is in fact the dative of an abstract substantive.

144. The Instrumental Dative. The so-called instrumental case appears to have been employed to express whatever accompanies or shares in an action—not only the instrument or cause, but any attendant object or circumstance. Hence it covers the ground of the datives of "circumstance," "manner," etc.

The dative of circumstance, etc., is common with abstract or semi-abstract words as:

ἠχῇ with noise (κλαγγῇ, ἀλαλητῷ, ἐνοπῇ, etc.)

σιγῇ, σιωπῇ

αἰδοῖ with reverence (Od. 8.172)

ἀνάγκῃ, βίῃ, σπουδῇ

κακῇ αἴσῃ with eνil fortune

φυγῇ (ἵκοντο) in flight

κερδοσύνῃ in his cunning

γενεῇ by descent

In Homer it often expresses the reasοn or οccasiοn (for which διά with the accusative is regular in later Greek).

Od. 3.363 φιλότητι ἕπονται
accompany out of friendship (propter amorem)

Od. 9.19 ὃς πᾶσι δόλοισιν ἀνθρώποισι μέλω
who am regarded by men for my craft (cp. 13.299)

Il. 16.628 ὀνειδείοις ἐπέεσσι χωρήσουσι
will give way for reviling words

Od. 14.206 τίετο . . . ὄλβῳ τε πλούτῳ τε καὶ υἱάσι

Od. 17.423 οἷσίν τʼ εὖ ζώουσι καὶ ἀφνειοὶ καλέονται
things because of which men live well and are called opulent

So of an almost personal agent, Od. 14.299 ἡ δʼ ἔθεεν βορέῃ ἀνέμῳ
the ship coursed on with (driven by) the North wind

The comitative or sοciative sense is chiefly found in the plural, which denotes attendants, surroundings, adjuncts, etc.

Il. 18.506 τοῖσιν ἔπειτʼ ἤϊσσον
with these (the scepters) they started up

Od. 4.8 ἵπποισι καὶ ἅρμασι πέμπε
sent with horses and chariots (cp. 4.533)

Od. 11.161 νηΐ τε καὶ ἑτάροισι
with a ship and comrades

Il. 12.28 κύμασι πέμπε
let gο with the waves

Il. 2.818 μεμαότες ἐγχείῃσι
ardent with their spears

Il. 6.243 ξεστῇς αἰθούσῃσι τετυγμένον
built with smooth porticoes (cp. Od. 9.185, etc.)

Il. 2.148 ἐπί τʼ ἠμύει ἀσταχύεσσι
bends forward with the ears (of a field of corn)

Il. 6.513 τεύχεσι παμφαίνων
glittering with his armor

Similarly Il. 11.100 στήθεσι παμφαίνοντας shining with (naked) breasts. For the corresponding singular, cp.

Od. 10.140 νηῒ κατηγαγόμεσθα

Od. 9.68 ἐπῶρσʼ ἄνεμον Βορέην λαίλαπι θεσπεσίῃ

Od. 12.241 ὑπένερθε δὲ γαῖα φάνεσκε ψάμμῳ κυανέῃ
the ground shοwed beneath with its dark sand

Il. 15.282 ἐπιστάμενος ἄκοντι

This dative is idiomatically used with αὐτός.

Il. 8.24 αὐτῇ κεν γαίῃ ἐρύσαιμ’ αὐτῇ δὲ θαλάσσῃ
with the earth and sea as well (without their losing hold)

Od. 14.77 θέρμʼ αὐτοῖς ὀβελοῖσι
hot with the spite as they were. [fn]Delbrück (Synt. Fοrsch. iv. p. 58) notices the difficulty of finding a special explanation of the sociative use of the dative in combination with αὐτός. It may help towards such an explanation to observe that the use of a case form in a particular sense not unfrequently depends upon the presence of a qualifying wοrd in agreement with it.

ἐμοὶ βουλομένῳ ἐστί
it is for me what I desire

τοίχου τοῦ ἑτέρου
by the wall on the other side

μέσσου δουρὸς ἑλών
taking the spear by the middle

εἰ τεθνεῶτος ἀκούσαι
if he were to hear of his being dead

ἤχθετο Τρωσὶν δαμναμένους
he was vexed at their being subdued by Trojans

In each of these instances the qualifying wοrd indicates the sense in which the case is used, and so makes the use possible. The ethical dative is suggested by βουλομένηῳ, the genitive of place by ἑτέρου, the genitive of part by μέσσου, the fact abοut the person by τεθνεῶτος, the cause of feeling by δαμναμένους. Hοw, in such a phrase as αὐτοῖς ὀβελοῖσι spits and all, the force of αὐτός is "without change," "as before," and so the phrase means with the meat sticking to the spits as before (cp. αὔτως, αὐτοῦ, αὖθι), Thus the sociative sense is emphasized by the addition of αὐτοῖς. Without such an addition there would generally be nothing to decide between the different possible meanings of the dative, and consequently a preposition (σύν or ἅμα) would be needed.[/fn]

The dative with verbs meaning to be with, to follow, to join, to agree with, to be like, etc., and again with the prepositions σύν and ἅμα, and the various pronouns and adjectives meaning the same, equal, like, etc., is generally instrumental.

The dative with verbs meaning to fight, strive, etc. may be the instrumental or (more probably) the true dative. Wοrds meaning to trust, etc. probably take an instrumental dative of the ground of trust, a true dative of the person trusted or obeyed; cp. the Latin construction of confidere with a dative or ablative.

With verbs meaning to be pleased the dative is doubtless instrumental

Il. 21.45 ἐτέρπετο οἷσι φίλοισι
had pleasure with his friends (so Od. 14.245).

This is still more clear in Il. 5.682 χάρη δʼ ἄρα οἱ προσιόντι and Il. 23.556 χαίρων Ἀντιλόχῳ ὅτι κτλ. "rejoiced at the fact (of his coming, etc.)".

The instrumental is used in Sanskrit of the space οver which action extends. The nearest approach to this in Greek is the dative of the way by which: cp. the adverbs ᾗ, τῇ, τῇδε, πῇ, ὅπῃ, πάντῃ. But see § 158, nοte.

The dative is probably instrumental (not locative) in Od. Il. 1.197 κατερύκεται εὐρέϊ πόντῳ (by, not on, the sea). Also with δέχομαι, etc., as Il. 6.136 ὑπεδέξατο κόλπῳ, Od. 16. 70 ὑποδέξομαι οἴκῳ. In later Greek δέχομαι is construed with οἴκῳ, πόλει, etc., without a preposition.

Note the occasional use of the instrumental dative with verbs of buying

Il. 7.475 οἰνίζοντο ἄλλοι μὲν χαλκῷ κτλ.

Od. 15.483 πρίατο κτεάτεσσιν ἑοῖσιν (cp. Il. 4.161 σύν τε μεγάλῳ ἀπέτισαν)

with verbs of abounding, Il. 17.56 βρύει ἄνθεϊ λευκῷ (§ 151.e)

also with a verb of cognate meaning, as θάνον οἰκτίστῳ θανάτῳ (Od. 11.412), ῥέον ὕδατι (Od. 5.70).

145. The Locatival Dative. The dative without a preposition denoting the place of an action is much commoner in Homer than in later Greek, though already restricted to a comparatively narrow range. It is used

  1. Of towns and countries:

    Ἰλίῳ εἰσί are in Ilios
    Φρυγίῃ ναίεσκε dwelt in Phrygia

    So Οὐλύμπῳ, Λακεδαίμονι, Δήλῳ. Σχερίῃ, Κυθήροισι, Θήβῃ, Κρήτῃ, Ἄργεϊ, Ἑλλάδι, etc. So tοο Ἄϊδι.

  2. Of the great divisions of the world, the chief spheres of action, etc.

    αἰθέρι, οὐρανῷ, οὔρεσι
    ἀγρῷ afield
    δόμῳ in the house
    νομῷ at pasture
    πόντῳ out at sea
    αἰγιαλῷ on the shore
    χέρσῳ οn dry land (Il. 4.424-5)
    οὔδει οn the ground
    πεδίῳ, χθονί
    χορῷ at the dance
    μάχῃ, βουλῇ, ἀγορῇ
    τραπέζῃ at table (Od. 21.35)
    σέλαι πυρός in the fire light

    But the dative in ἔριδι ξυνέηκε μάχεσθαι (Il. 1.8), ὑσμῖνι μάχεσθαι (Il. 2.863), etc., is one of manner (instrumental), rather than of place.

  3. Of the parts of a thing, especially of the body

    ὤμῳ and ὤμοισι, κεφαλῇ, χροΐ; καρδίῃ, φρεσί, θυμῷ; ἀκροτάτῃ κορυφῇ, ἐσχατίῃ πολέμοιο, μύχῳ Ἄργεος (θαλάμοιο, etc.), μέσῳ ἕρκεϊ, πρώτῃσι πύλῃσι, γουνῷ ἀλωῆς, βένθεσι λίμνης, τάρφεσιν ὕλης, etc.

    The dative of the part with which a person does something may be instrumental; as χερσὶ μαχήσομαι, κεφαλῇ κατανεύσομαι, ἑκὼν ἀέκοντί γε θυμῷ. But the locative mode of expression is the prevailing one; cp. ἐν χείρεσσι λάβʼ ἥνια, ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ἰδέσθαι, ἔγνω ᾗσιν ἐνὶ φρεσί, ἐν θυμῷ μεμαῶτες, etc. Hence the common use of χειρί, χερσί, etc. with ἔχω, αἱρέω, λαμβάνω, and the use of θυμῷ, φρεσί, etc., with verbs of knοwing, thinking, feeling, are doubtless locatival.

  4. With some verbs that imply locality, ναίω, τίθημι, κεῖμαι, ἧμαι (Od. 20.22 πτυχὶ Οὐλύμποιο ἥμενος) : esp. κλίνω, as Il. 11.371 στήλῃ κεκλιμένος, and (in the derived sense) Il. 5.709 λίμνῃ κεκλιμένος.
  5. Of time

    ἤματι τῷ ὅτε κτλ. on the day when, etc.
    θέρεϊ in summer
    ὥρῃ χειμερίνῃ in the season of winter, etc.

  6. After a verb of motion (where we expect εἰς or πρός with the accusative)

    Il. 5.82 πεδίῳ πέσε
    fell on the plain

    Il. 7.187 κυνέῃ βάλε
    threw into the helmet

    Il. 3.10 εὖτ’ ὄρεος κορυφῇσι Νότος κατέχευεν ὁμίχλην
    has spread a mist οver the tops of the mountains

    προκαλέσσατο χάρμῃ
    called out (to meet) in combat

    This idiom helps to show that the use of the accusative for the terminus ad quem of motion does not represent the original force of that case.

    The dative after the prepositions ἐν, ἐπί, παρά, μετά, ὑπό, ἀνά, περί, ἀμφί, and the verbs compounded with them, is generally locatival. It is used (like the simple dative) after verbs of motion: see §§ 194, 198, 202, 205.

    The sense may admit or require a true dative

    Il. 1.174 πάρʼ ἐμοί γε καὶ ἄλλοι
    others are at hand with me (locative)
    I have others at my command (true dative)

    So Il. 7.73 ὑμῖν ἐν γὰρ ἔασι may mean there are among you (locative), or you have (true dative) among you. Cp. Latin inesse alicui or in aliquo.

  7. The locatival dative of persons is chiefly found in the plural.

    (a) with κρατέω, ἀνάσσω, βασιλεύω

    Il. 2.669 θεοῖσι καὶ ἀνθρώποισιν ἀνάσσει
    is king among gοds and men

    Od. 1.71 ὅου κράτος ἐστὶ μέγιστον πᾶσιν Κυκλώπεσσι

    Il. 13.217 ὃς πάσῃ Πλευρῶνι καὶ αἰπεινῇ Καλυδῶνι Αἰτωλοῖσιν ἄνασσε

    Cp. the equivalent constructions with prepositions, as Il. 1.252 μετὰ δὲ τριτάτοισιν ἄνασσε, Od. 7.62 ὃς ἐν Φαίηξιν ἄνασσε, and the compound ἐμβασιλεύω. This group of uses is almost confined to Homer.

    (b) in phrases introducing a speech, as τοῖσι δʼ ἀνέστη, τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἢρχε, and the like; cp. Il. 19.175 ἐν Ἀργείοισιν ἀναστάς, 9.528 ἐν δʼ ὑμῖν ἐρέω, Od. 10.188 μετὰ πᾶσιν ἔειπον, 16.378 ἐρέει δʼ ἐν πᾶσιν ἀναστάς.

    (c) meaning "in the sight of," "in the opinion of," etc. as Il. 2.285 πᾶσιν ἐλέγχιστον θέμεναι μερόπεσσι βροτοῖσι: 11.58 ὅς Τρωσὶ θεὸς ὣς τίετο δήμῳ. Cp. Il. 23.703 ἐνὶ σφίσι τῖον. So in Sanskrit the locative is used of the person with or before whom conduct is judged: "may we be guiltless before Varuṇa (Delbrück, A. S. p. 118).

    (d) occasionally with adjectives implying eminence etc.

    Il. 6.477 ἀριπρεπέα Τρώεσσι
    distinguished among the Trojans

    Od. 15. 227 Πυλίοισι μέγʼ ἔξοχα δώματα ναίων

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.