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Syntax: genitive Posted by on Aug 31, 2012 in Latin Language

The genitive is, firstly, the complement of the noun (it means that a noun determines another noun), but it still mantains some uses in Latin as a verb complement.

Possessive genitive

It expresses possession of something and, rarely, the thing possessed:

Ager patris

A person’s name in genitive complementing another person’s name was the way to express kinship (wife, son, etc..) or belongings (slaves):

          Hectoris Andromacha, ‘Andromaca, Hector’s wife’
          Palinūrus Phaedromī , ‘Palinuro, Fedromo’s slave’

Quality genitive

Alternating with ablative, genitive is used to indicate the qualities of a noun. It appears frequently accompanied by an adjective such as magnus, maximus, tantus:

          Homō magnae virtūtis

Explanatory genitive

Also called appositional genitive, this genitive needs the meaning of another noun with a wider significance:

          Virtus iustitiae
           Urbs Rōmae

Partitive genitive

Thiss genitive expresses the whole of which a part is extracted. Therefore, it usually accompanies nouns, adjectives, adverbs and pronouns expressing quantity or measure in some sense. We can find it as a complement to:
  • nouns expressing quantity or measure: pars hostium
  • superlative adjectives: optimus civium
  • pronouns: quis nostrum?, nēmō vestrum
  • Adverbs: satis eloquentiae, multum pecūniae

Subjective and objective genitive

This two kind of genitives are usually accompanying verbal nouns. If the genitive is the subject of the verbal action it is called subjective genitive:

          Adventus Caesaris
if, on the contrary, it represents the object of the verbal action it is called objective genitive:
          Cupiditās regni
Sometimes you must look to the context o help you to determine if it is a subjective or objective genitive.

Genitive as a verb complement

We defined genitive as the case of the name complement. However, we can find some uses of Latin genitive as verb complement, some believe that these genitives were not verbal complements, but complements of a noun that they did not say so, but it was implied:

          Meminī tuī < *meminī memoriam tuī
Anyway, this genitive case is found in Latin as a complement of certain verbs, and here is what we are going to describe:
  • Verbs of memory and forgetting: vīvōrum meminī, oblīviscitur nostrī
  • Verbs of plenty and deprivation: implēre aquae purae, auxiliī egēre
  • Estimation verbs (estimation and pricegenitive ): normally this genitive is a neutral adjective: multi aestimāre, magnī facere, minōris vēndere. The price can also be expressed in ablative.
  • Impersonal verbs of feeling: impersonal verbs as miseret (to have pity on), paenitet (to regret, to be sorry), taedet (to be tired), piget (to sadden, to be burden), pudet (to be ashamed have the person affected by the feeling in accusative and the cause of the feeling in genitive.

                                   Miseret mē fratris
                                  Mē civitātis mōrum pudet taedetque

  • Judicial verbs: verbs meaning ‘accuse, condemn, acquit’, etc., have the complement that expresses the offense or the punishment in genitive.
                                   Accūsāre prōditiōnis
                                   Damnāre capitis
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