Impersonal verbs in indirect speech, or acc. cum inf.

By pteromys, in 'Latin Grammar Questions', Sep 27, 2011.

  1. pteromys New Member

    How do you use impersonal verbs in indirect speech? Usually, indirect speech is represented by acc. cum inf. construction, but when you want to say "Marcus says it's snowing", what the subject-accusative of nivere should be? Or can't acc. cum inf. construction be used in this case?
  2. socratidion Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    It is not absolutely obligatory to express the subject-accusative in indirect speech, if it's very clear what it ought to be.
    Here's one I found in Valerius Flaccus:
    My tottering translation. Wife to body of husband, killed on the battlefield:
    But, Cyzicus, I did not see you stretching out your hands to me in the midst of death, nor heard any words from you giving advice; what's more I had just complained in my bedroom that you were taking too long, when I found you in this state, alas, though I was free from so great a fear.

    So, the 'te' is missing from the indirect statement, though it's obvious that it ought to be there.

    a fortiori, missing out an accusative if the verb is impersonal should be find. I would imagine it's Marcus dicit nivere, though I haven't found any examples. Marcus dicit exire licere.

    (edit: just checking the text of Val Flacc, I see someone tried to emend 'et' to 'te'. But trust me, it's not the only example of this sort of thing)
  3. pteromys New Member

    Thanks. I found an example in a prose: it's from Cic. Fin. 3.15.
    (But concedi might be considered a subject-accusative in this case)
  4. socratidion Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Yes, that's a feature in most of the verbs we think of as 'impersonal'. On some theoretical level, they can often be said to have a subject, which may be an infinitive. So to really nail it, you need an example where there is no such thing, e.g. dixit licere = he said that it was allowed. Or the weather words.
    I don't take Erasmus as my guide to classical Latin style, and I'm unfamiliar with his world, but for what it's worth he wrote:
    iam lucescere clamo, strepo, familiares expergefacio, which looks like it must mean "and now I shout that it is dawning, I make noise, I wake up my friends/family (?)."

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