The verb audire is many times (if not most of the times) found with an accusative. For example, in the Vulgata, 4 Regum, 22:11 says:

et audisset rex verba libri legis Domini, scidit vestimenta sua.

Yet, sometimes it appears with a dative. For example, 4 Regum, 22:19:

et perterritum est cor tuum, et humiliatus es coram Domino, auditis sermonibus contra locum istum, et habitatores ejus, quod videlicet fierent in stuporem et in maledictum ...

Now, audire can mean "to hear" or "to listen to". Is this distinction between accusative and dative used to stress precisely the meaning of the verb, as we would do in English by using either "to hear [someone/something]" or "to listen to [someone/something]"? Is there some profound distinction between the two forms of the verb?

By my superficial research, it seems there is no major distinction. For instance, L&S state:

C. To hear, to listen to, to obey, heed; orig. and class. only with acc., but also with dat.

Is this the case?

1 Answer 1


Actually, your quote from the Vulgate isn't an example of audire + dative! Though auditis is spelled the same as the present 2nd person plural ("You [pl.] hear"), it is actually an ablative perfect participle. A clue to this is that there would be an unexplained shift from tu to vos.

In your sentence, auditis sermonibus is an ablative absolute forming a distinct unit. The sentence can be roughly translated as:

And your heart was terrified, and you were brought low before the Lord, once you heard the words (literally: "with the speeches having been heard") against this place and its inhabitants, namely that they would become stricken and accursed.

By a strange coincidence, though, there are cases where audire can take the dative, though (as the referenced L&S entry makes clear) these aren't common. Based on the examples supplied in L&S, it appears that this dative object is only used when audire means "obey" or "pay heed to" (not simply: "hear"). Though I don't have a corpus search available, the vast majority of examples seem to employ the idiom "dicto audiens esse" (= "to be true to one's word").

Since there appears to be disputed manuscript evidence in the Cicero quote, and the only other reference that doesn't use this idiom is from Appuleius (2nd c. AD), I would be comfortable saying that you should avoid any usage of the dative besides that idiom.

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