Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum: ut in colendo quod...

By Iynx, in 'Reading Latin', Aug 29, 2009.

  1. Iynx Consularis

    I've been struggling through Lactantius De Mortibus Persecutorum. But fairly near the end, in the course of a version of the Edict of Milan, there is a clause that I just can't figure out:

    ...ut in colendo quod quisque delegerit, habeat liberam facultatem, quia (nolumus detrahi) honori, neque cuiquam religioni aliquid a nobis.

    The general sense is clear enough: "...that in worship the thing that each one shall choose should be a free choice, for it is not our wish that anything should be taken away from anyone's honor /religion by us".

    But the devil is in the details. Literally, if we pause at the commas, we have:

    1. ...that in worship each one should chose that...
    2. ...he may have free opportunity...
    3. ...for (we do not wish to be taken away) honor [dative]
    4. ...nor anyone's religion [dative] anything by us.

    It is, I think, mostly those datives that are confusing me. If they were ablative I 'd have sailed right on by. I think that the a nobis is an ablative of agent, right? If the sense is that Constantine and whatsisname, LIcinius, don't want to detract from anyone's honor or religion (or some combination), why are those terms in the dative? Are they perhaps to be considered in relation to the nolumus ("We do not wish [with regard to anyone's honor or religion] that anything be taken away")???

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can please explain this to

    Iynx Indoctus
  2. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    Cygnea, Gena
    Re: Tough clause in Lactantius

    dativi incommodi
  3. Iynx Consularis

    Re: Tough clause in Lactantius

    Gratias tibi ago, Bitmap. I don't think I've ever recognized a dativus incommodus except following an adjective indicating unsuitability (or the like) for the dative term(s). But your explanation (or at least classification) makes sense. Thanks again.
  4. Cato Consularis

    Chicago, IL
    Re: Tough clause in Lactantius

    I'd lump this under the dative of reference--though I'm aware that this dative is normally reserved for persons or living things.

    Many verbs compounded with ab, de or ex use the dative of reference much like the abl. of separation--detrahere is one of those; see the entries under 1.B.2.b.
  5. Iynx Consularis

    Re: Tough clause in Lactantius

    Etiam tibi gratias ago, Cato mi amice. I certainly respect the opinions of our learned colleague Bitmap, but I must say that the dative-of-reference explanation makes more sense to me than that of the dativus incommodus. I didn't know that about detrahere. Your link is dead from here, but I'll hit the dictionaries when I get home.

    Bitmap, Cato, thank you both very much.

    Iynx Senex.
  6. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    Cygnea, Gena
    Re: Tough clause in Lactantius

    That seems to be a matter of classification. Before coming to this forum, I had not even heard of such a thing as a dative of reference (what would be the Latin term? dativus respectus?). What people on this board classify as a dative of reference would usually be filed under dativus (in)commodi around here.

    Then again, I don't really think of those kinds of datives too much because they work the same way in my mother tongue.
  7. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    Re: Tough clause in Lactantius

    Dativus (in)commodi is the older name, but most modern Latinists (English ones at least) prefer 'dative of reference' because 'dative of advantage/disadvantage' is somewhat of a misnomer, since it has many uses that don't connote any sort of advantage or disadvantage. Dative of advantage/disadvantage is rather a specific subspecies of the dative of reference.

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