The phrase is "apud milites questus fratrem sibi insidias comparare". I know all the words individually but for some reason, the sentence just is not coming together in my mind.

To give some context, the first section of the passage I'm working on is about Antoninus, the son of the emperor Severus. Based on my translation, as a young boy, he was very compassionate and pleasant but grew into a cruel young man. After the death of his father, he despises his brother for his humbleness. The phrase directly following the one I'm asking about says that Antoninus sent men who were to kill his brother to the palace, if that helps in any way.

From what I can tell, Antoninus complained ("questus") about something while with soldiers ("apud milites" - among the soldiers), possibly about obtaining ("comparare" - to obtain, possibly) a plot ("insidias") related to getting rid of his brother ("fratrem"). Not sure where "sibi" fits in, though. I am only a Year 12 Latin student as well and A-Level translations have been beyond my comfort zone so far, so what I've said so far may be wrong.

  • 1
    What's the passage from, out of curiosity?
    – Draconis
    Oct 9, 2019 at 20:09
  • 1
    You should show us what you've managed to do with it for yourself, even if you end up just giving the meanings of the individual words.
    – cnread
    Oct 9, 2019 at 20:34
  • @Draconis see page 13 of Ashley Carter's Latin Unseens for A Level, which is adapted from Aelius Spartianus' Antoninus Caracalla 1-2 [books.google.co.uk/…
    – Hafsah H
    Oct 12, 2019 at 9:09
  • @cnread I just added another few lines to the question, though I don't think they're very helpful. Thank you!
    – Hafsah H
    Oct 12, 2019 at 9:15

2 Answers 2


From your expanded question, it sounds as though your main issue isn't really sibi but the fact that you aren't correctly construing fratrem as the accusative subject of the infinitive in the indirect statement.

  • apud milites: prepositional phrase telling where the subject performs the main verbal idea
  • questus (= questus est): main verbal idea
  • fratrem comparare: accusative subject and infinitive verb in the indirect statement triggered by questus, giving the substance of the complaint
  • insidias: direct object of the infinitive
  • sibi: dative of reference/(dis)advantage, telling who was affected by the action in the indirect statement (fratrem insidias comparare); here, the reflexive pronoun refers to the nominative subject of the main verbal idea, not the accusative subject of the infinitive.

With that, it's a matter of plugging in the meanings of the individual words, and you end up with something like 'Among the soldiers, he complained that his brother was preparing treachery/plots against him.'

This is confirmed by checking the original passage:

post patris morem in castra praetoria pergens apud milites conquestus est circumveniri se fratris insidiis, atque ita fratrem in Palatio fecit occidi.

...among the soldiers he complained that he was beset by the treachery/plots of his brother...


Among the soldiers, (the man) has griped that (his) brother matched the treachery to him.

Something like that.

  • So does this mean his brother has found out about his plot, or is it a different nuance? Thank you for the answer!
    – Hafsah H
    Oct 12, 2019 at 9:17

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