Dear Maria,
Can you help me with the following grammar questions (all from Allen and Greenough):
(1) Ut quibusque bellum invitis aut cupientibus erat (378  2 note).
Question: what is the meaning of quibusque? Is it connected with “invitis” and “cupientibus”?
(2) Ex his quae tribuisset, sibi quam mutabilis esset reputabat (485  d)
Question: is sibi dative of reference? Is it still correct if we omit sibi since esset tells you that the subject is she [fortune]?
(3) Neque tamen, haec cun scribebam, eram nescius quantis oneribus premerere. (479)
Question: The translation given in the book is in the present tense, but it seems to me the original sentence is in imperfect tense.

Thank you very much.


Dear Robert,

here are my answers:

(1)In Tacitus, Annales, 1.59  “ Ut quibusque bellum invitis aut cupientibus erat” (Allen and Greenough's 378  2 note) the dative plural of the pronoun “quisque”, which is connected with  the dative plural “invitis” (from the adjective “invitus”= reluctant)) and “cupientibus” (present participle of  “cupio”, I desire), literally means:”to everybody” as a dative of Reference or better a Dative of the Person Judging expressing the point of view of a person.
In short, such a  sentence  could be literally translated as follows:”as (UT) the  war  (BELLUM) was (ERAT) to everybody/to all those who (QUIBUSQUE)  were reluctant (INVITIS) or eager to it (CUPIENTIBUS)“, i.e. “according as men shrank back  from war or desired it”, whose full text is “The report of the surrender and kind reception of Segestes [a German prince], when generally known, was heard with hope or grief according as men shrank back  from war or desired it”(Fama dediti benigneque excepti Segestis vulgata, ut quibusque bellum invitis aut cupientibus erat, spe vel dolore accipitur).

(2)In Curtius Rufus, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 3.8.20 :“Ex his quae tribuisset sibi, quamque mutabilis esset reputabat “ SIBI is  a  dative of the Indirect Object, depending on TRIBUISSET and used to denote the object indirectly affected by the action of this verb.
So, the literal  translation would be :”From these things (EX HIS) that (QUAE, neuter accusative plural) [she, i.e. Fortune ] had given himself, he reflected (REPUTABAT) how (QUAM + the enclitic –QUE, and) inconstant (MUTABILIS) she[Fortune] is (ESSET)”.
Therefore you must not  omit  SIBI (himself, in English) which is not a Dative of Reference/ Dative of Advantage,i.e. Dativus Commodi as denoting the person or thing for whose benefit the action is performed, but a Dative of the Indirect Object.

(3)In  Cicero, Fam. 5.12.2 :“Neque tamen, haec cum scribebam, eram nescius quantis oneribus premerēre. (479) translated as “Nor while I write this am I ignorant under what burdens you are weighed down"  this translation is in the present tense, though the original sentence is in imperfect tense (SCRIBEBAM,ERAM..) simply because in Roman Letters, the Perfect or the Imperfect are used for the present, and the Pluperfect for any past tense, as if the letter were dated at the time it is supposed to be received.

These tenses are called the Epistolary Perfect, Imperfect, and Pluperfect. The epistolary tenses however are not employed with any uniformity, but only when attention is particularly directed to the time of writing (Allen and Grenough’s 479).

Hope all is clear enough.
Best regards,


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