I was wondering if you would like to share your thoughts on the grammar of the datives in the following texts from Cicero. The second example is a very interesting one provided by Kingshorsey in an answer to a previous related question of mine. Please see this link.

An in senatu facillime de me detrahi posse credidit? qui ordo clarissimis civibus bene gestae rei publicae testimonium multis, mihi uni conservatae dedit. (Cic. Phil. 2.2.5 )

Sibi enim bene gestae, mihi conservatae rei publicae dat testimonium. (Cic. Att. 2.1.6)

In the first example, it is clear that the scope of clarissimis civibus contains multis but does it also contain mihi? I copy three translations below where you'll see slightly different interpretations.

Transl. by Walter C.A. Ker (Loeb):

Is it in the Senate he believed he could most easily depreciate me, an order that has borne its testimony to illustrious citizens —for their administration of the State to many, to me alone for its preservation?.

Transl. by C. D. Yonge (Perseus):

Did he think that it was easiest to disparage me in the senate? a body which has borne its testimony in favour of many most illustrious Citizens that they governed the republic well, but in favour of me alone, of all men, that I preserved it.

Sp. transl. by J. B. Calvo (Planeta):

¿Creyó acaso que sus ofensivas imputaciones encontrarían fácil acogida en el Senado, que dio a muchos preclaros ciudadanos testimonio de haber gobernado bien la república, pero sólo a mí de haberla conservado?.

As for the second example, consider the following translation given by Pinkster (1990: 79) in his Latin syntax and semantics, where he appears to analyze the two datives as so-called "datives of agent": `He testifies that the state has been governed well by him, but saved by me'. Note that if I'm correct in claiming that "datives of agent" are not expected in non-verbal contexts (please see my previous post for relevant discussion & examples), the analysis of the datives that underlies Pinkster's translation cannot be correct.

Here are some variants of this beautiful Ciceronian structure: cf. the very nice dominant participle constructions below. Please pay special attention to the fact that some relevant datives also appear in most of them (cf. the two examples above).

Ceteris enim semper bene gesta, mihi uni conservata re publica gratulationem decrevistis. (Cic. Cat. 4.20)

Quae supplicatio si cum ceteris supplicationibus conferatur, hoc interest, quod ceterae bene gesta, haec una conservata re publica constituta est.
(Cic. Cat. 3.15)

Mihi togato senatus non ut multis bene gesta, sed ut nemini conservata re publica, singulari genere supplicationis deorum immortalium templa patefecit.
(Cic. Pis. 6.6)

Tu idem mihi supplicationem decrevisti togato, non, ut multis, re publica bene gesta sed, ut nemini, re publica conservata.
(Cic. Fam. 15.4.11)

My conclusion is that, despite appearances, none of the examples in this post (Pinkster's/Ruppel's/Kingshorsey's "problematic" one included!) can be said to contain a dative of agent. Am I right?

EDIT (Jan. 8th 2022)

I've just realized that Pinkster insisted on seeing a dative of agent in the second example above: cf. his more recent translations ‘He gives witness to his good service to the state, but to my preservation of it.’ (Pinkster 2015: page 1222; ex. (b); OLS, vol. 1) and ‘He bears witness to the state having been by him well served, by me saved’ and ‘He testifies to the Republic being well served by himself, but saved by me’ (Pinkster 2021: page 31, ex. (z) AND page 451, ex. (a); OLS, vol. 2, respectively). For the reason(s) mentioned in my question, Pinkster's (1990; 2015; 2021) translations of this example are all misleading. In contrast, the one provided by Shackleton Bailey (1965: 199), a great expert on Cicero's letters, is much better and coherent with my analysis of these datives: ‘acknowledging himself as a good servant of the state but me as its saviour' (Letters to Atticus. Cambridge University Press).

One could reply: "ok, Mitomino, but after all the agent of gerere is Pompeius (cf. sibi) and the agent of conservare is Cicero (cf. mihi), right?". My reply: yes, but what is important here is to realize that, syntactically speaking, Pompeius and Cicero have not been construed as "datives of agent". Importantly, as noted above, the syntactic reason I've advanced is the one given in this link: so-called "datives of agent" are not (expected to be) found in non-verbal contexts. Hence sibi and mihi are better analyzed (NB: I'd say 'can only be analyzed') as datives that depend on the collocation dare testimonium.

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    After reading the parallel passages, I agree that there is no dative of agent. Jan 7, 2022 at 21:38
  • @Kingshorsey Ok, thanks for your comment. Glad to know that you've changed your mind concerning the analysis of this example (latin.stackexchange.com/questions/12844/… ). I'd have loved to discuss it (and, more generally, the topic of the different syntactic distribution of "datives of agent" vs. "ablatives of agent" in Latin) with the late Harm Pinkster. Unfortunately, that won't be possible.
    – Mitomino
    Jan 8, 2022 at 5:17
  • @Mitomino: Walter Ker translates dative, "mihi (uni)" = "to me (alone)"; similarly, J.B. Calvo, "pero solo a mi" = "but alone to me", which is to be expected, for a dative. The translation of which you are a proponent (Shackleton-Bailey) appears to be understanding datives as accusatives: "sibi" = "(acknowledging) himself"; Latin "se ipsum": "mihi" = "(but) me"; Latin, "me". Cicero did not attempt to write in the accusative; therefore, how can this translation be so good? The translations with the best "feel" are Pinkster's; datives translated as datives.
    – tony
    Jan 17, 2022 at 13:36
  • @Mitomino: If there is no obligation falling upon the person then the dative-of-agent is inappropriate. Why can't the dative be an ordinary dative--distinguished by context--what feels right? In Q: latin.stackexchange.com/a/8816/1982, Tom Cotton, commented to Joonas that "clear communication" is the "desirable objective"; for me, that's the datives translated as (ordinary) datives. I'm guessing that as an idealistic young student you joined your Uni's debating society? Speaking for a cause, one day; against it, the next--compelled to counter your own arguments, from the previous one.
    – tony
    Jan 17, 2022 at 13:51
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    @tony In my opinion Shackleton Bailey's translation is better than Pinkster's ones because only the former seems to consider the datives as dependent on the collocation dat testimonium (NB: Pinkster considers them as datives of agent, i.e. as dependent on the participles, which I think is a wrong analysis). When giving translations, you must not necessarily adhere to the syntactic rules of the original text. What one can't do is to tergiversate the meaning. So for me it's not a big problem if the datives are translated as direct objects to the extent that the original meaning is preserved.
    – Mitomino
    Jan 17, 2022 at 16:19


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