Sibi ipsis?

Ciaciaufufu

New Member
I have come across an example sentence in a grammar book that goes as follows: Homines sibi ipsis peccant. The section talks about dative that expresses interest. The meaning is supposed to be "men sin to his own detriment", but I don't know what do "sibi" and "ipsis" mean respectively.

Sibi as I understand can only be dative, but ipsis could be dative or ablative, or maybe just emphasizing sibi? I have no idea please help.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
"men sin to his own detriment"
*their
but I don't know what do "sibi" and "ipsis" mean respectively.

Sibi as I understand can only be dative, but ipsis could be dative or ablative, or maybe just emphasizing sibi? I have no idea please help.
Sibi means "to/for themselves", and ipsis, which agrees with sibi in the dative, adds emphasis to it — it's more or less like "to/for their very selves".

I guess the most literal translation you can get is "to themselves themselves", but of course that sounds ludicrously repetitive in English. There is no repetition in Latin, though, since, as you can plainly see, sibi and ipsis are entirely different words. They correspond to different uses of the one English word "themselves".

English -self words are used in broadly two ways:

1) As reflexive pronouns, when the subject of a verb is doing something to itself or something that involves itself, as in "I hurt myself", "He looked at himself in the mirror", "They are pleased with themselves". This in Latin is conveyed by the reflexive pronoun se (dat. sibi).

2) For emphasis on the identity of a person or thing, meaning "in person" or "that very person or thing", as in "Do it yourself!", "I saw the king himself", "Though I don't like how the book is presented, I enjoy the stories themselves". This in Latin is conveyed by ipse, ipsa, ipsum.

The two kinds of -self words are rarely combined in English, because it would cause awkward repetition. It can happen that both ideas are kind of present at the same time, but it's implicit, with only one -self word being used.
But since they are different words in Latin, Latin has no problem about combining them to convey both ideas at the same time.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
1) As reflexive pronouns, when the subject of a verb is doing something to itself or something that involves itself, as in "I hurt myself", "He looked at himself in the mirror", "They are pleased with themselves". This in Latin is conveyed by the reflexive pronoun se (dat. sibi).
I should specify:

It's conveyed by the pronoun se only when it's about the third person (himself, herself, itself or themselves). When it's about another person, the personal pronouns me, te, etc. are used. Those can be both non-refexive (meaning "me", "you", etc.) and reflexive (meaning "myself", "yourself", etc.). Only the third person has a specifically reflexive pronoun in Latin (viz. se).
 
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