The verb auxiliari is used with dative to indicate the entity that benefits from the help. For example, tibi auxilior means "I help you". Can use an accusative object to express how the help is given? For example, can I say hoc tibi auxilior to say "I help you by/in doing this"? If such an object is possible, what exactly does it mean?

I have seen constructions like this, but they are somewhat rare, and I do not recall seeing auxiliari used this way. To give a concrete example, minari can take an accusative object to indicate the content of the threat. I previously explained in an answer to another question that hoc tibi minor means "I threaten you with this". I wonder how broadly accusative can be used in this fashion, whence the question.

  • By the way, hoc "with this, by this way" also works as an ablative...
    – Cerberus
    Jun 22, 2016 at 22:05
  • @Cerberus, I know. This question comes from idle curiosity rather than trying to decipher a Latin text with hoc auxiliari. I thought of using id or some other such word, but hoc felt best.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 22, 2016 at 22:10
  • OK just wanted to be sure! L&S give no examples with an accusative.
    – Cerberus
    Jun 22, 2016 at 22:18
  • 1
    I don't have an example, but pronominal internal accusatives are productive enough in Latin (examples in A&G) that I'd guess this would probably be grammatical.
    – TKR
    Jun 22, 2016 at 23:24

2 Answers 2


Cassell's "Latin Dictionary" specifies auxilior can be used, as you said, with the dative, or in a construction with contra plus the accusative. However, that's not really auxilior taking the accusative itself.

The construction you suggest as "I help you by/in doing this" sounds like it would be ablative of means by which, not accusative.

Short answer, I'd say, is that it cannot.

  • Are you familiar with the concept of an internal object or an internal accusative? It is about verbs that do not usually take objects taking objects, like vitam vivere. The question is about this kind of an internal object, especially a pronominal one. I agree that auxiliari almost never takes an accusative object, I am not yet convinced that it never does so. See TKR's comment above.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 24, 2016 at 21:14
  • I haven't heard it called that, but Allen and Greensborough give the exact quote, vitam vivere under "cognate accusative." It says that an intransitive verb may often take an acc. of a noun of kindred meaning. It gives a couple of deponent verb examples under one section, saying that neuter pronouns or an adjective of indefinite meaning is common as cognate accusative, but the examples don't make me think that this use would apply here. The example of hoc tibi auxilior strikes me as too much an abl. of means. Mine is not a final answer, but my educated opinion is still that it cannot.
    – coralvanda
    Jun 25, 2016 at 7:58

Seems to me we're dealing with what I've usually seen mentioned as "relational accusative" or "Greek accusative", something that is usually restricted to pronouns and you could also find in the standard interest or opus est construction. When you encounter one, you are most likely able to render it as "concerning sth" (limitation), but I would not exclude other close possibilities, i.e. what one would expect the ablative to be used for (cause, means,...)

  • Thanks for the reminder about the Greek accusative (or accusativus respectus). I was actually thinking about an actual object like illud in illud ei consentio, but this answer is interesting. The Greek accusative appears to be narrower in scope than the corresponding ablative, so I wonder if the use you suggest would be idiomatic classical Latin.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 26, 2016 at 19:50

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