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The genitive form of the personal pronouns (e.g. mei, tui, nostri, nostrum, etc.) seem to occur fairly often in the following contexts:

  1. Partitive genitive: to indicate a part of some whole.

Quis vestrum non morietur?

  1. Objective genitive

Metus tui

  1. With an adjective that takes the genitive

Memor mei esto!

  1. With a verb that takes the genitive

Miserere nostri!

My question: is there any classical precedent for using the possessive personal pronoun to indicate possession? In other words, are there any examples of mei being used instead of meus in a sentence like the following: Filius es mei? In English we can say things such as "He is a son of mine," and other languages have parallels, e.g. mon fils à moi or un hijo mío.

If there is, what nuance of meaning is this used to convey?

  • I just realized after posting that the "son of mine" phrases would probably be best translated with dative mihi, but I think it is still a useful example. – brianpck Aug 2 '16 at 13:29
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    Interesting question. I have never seen such use and I guess the answer is "no", but, as always, proving non-existence is difficult. Would it be a sufficient answer to quote a comprehensive grammar that does not mention that possibility? – Joonas Ilmavirta Aug 2 '16 at 13:32
  • @JoonasIlmavirta, that might work, though it would be nice if there is a grammar that distinctly rejects the construction. I just found this resource that rejects it explicitly, albeit perfunctorily. – brianpck Aug 2 '16 at 14:38
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    I share Joonas's expectation. Another situation where I would expect a genitive, though, is as a genitivus objectivus: metus tui "fear of you". – Cerberus Aug 3 '16 at 23:46
  • @JoonasIlmavirta, thoughts on this quote from Priscian? – brianpck Aug 5 '16 at 13:27
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After doing some digging, it appears that this construction is rare but is attested in several classical authors.

Pinkster's Oxford Latin Syntax (p. 977ff) is my guide. He states:

The use of the genitives of the personal pronouns nostrum and vostrum instead of the corresponding possessive adjectives is rare.

Two examples from Cicero:

Recordamini qui dies nudius tertius decimus fuerit, quantus consensus vestrum, quanta virtus, quanta constantia. (Cic. Phil. 5.2)

This example "sounds" like a partitive genitive, but I still think the use of the genitive pronoun instead of the possessive adjective is remarkable.

Is enim splendor est vestrum ut eadem postulentur a vobis quae ab amplissimis civibus. (Cic. Att. 7.13.3)

This is an unmistakable example.

Above all, this construction seems to occur with the reflexive possessive pronoun, sui. Here are some examples:

Lysander Lacedaemonius magnam reliquit sui famam, magis felicitate quam virtute partam. (Nep. Lys. 1.1)

and:

Non aliud Scaevolae Mucio cognomen dedit et capto contra Porsennam regem libertatem relquit quam vilitas sui. (Sen. Con. 8.4.1)

Pinkster provides more examples in op. cit. p. 978.

As for mei and tui, the only example of this usage is in the dubious context of a paraphrase by Priscian (who is decidedly post-classical). Glossing the Virgilian verse "Est mihi nata, viro gentis quam iungere nostrae...", he says:

nam ad scientes, esse natam, nomen autem proprium ignorantes, dixisset 'mea' vel 'mei nata, Lavinia est', subdistinctione posita post 'natam'.... (Pris. Inst XVIII)

As for nuances of meaning, the construction seems so rare that it is hard to speculate: in some of the above examples, hints of a partitive ("consensus vestrum") and objective ("famam sui") meaning appear. In others, the reason is less obvious.

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