In several dictionaries I encountered under abdico (1st conj.):

Abdicare cibum aliquem (Plin.) to prohibit the use of any meat as not good (Thomas Thomasius dictionary)

Abdicare cibum aliqem (Plin. 20, 9) to forbid the use of it (Robert Ainsworth dictionary)

I looked up the reference and I found (Probably the correct one, but not sure):

Democritus in totum ea abdicavit in cibis propter inflationes (Nat. 20, 9)

I assume, maybe wrongly so, that ea matches aliquem in the dictionaries formula, but in cibis here seems to be adverbial, specifically not the expected accusative.

So all in, I can't reconcile those. Can abdico be used with double acc construction? if so what does it mean?

  • 1
    Searching for abdic- and cib- close to each other in a classical corpus gives two hits, only one in Pliny, and it is the one you found. Other hits for abdic- in Pliny seem to contain no double accusatives, based on a very quick look. Peculiar...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 16 at 11:11
  • Not sure where “prohibit” comes from, by the way. Democritus rejected [the use in food of] turnips. Mar 16 at 20:32
  • @SebastianKoppehel, thanks for this remark. We have to keep in mind those dictionaries are quite old from 17th century or so. Maybe back then prohibit had also the sense of reject. don't know.
    – d_e
    Mar 16 at 20:47
  • @SebastianKoppehel. Why do you say that? Besides the two dictionary entries cited above, Lewis and Short list to forbid as an accepted meaning. Isn't that synonymous with to prohibit? Are you speaking about the broader context of the text? Mar 16 at 20:48
  • @ExpeditoBipes No, that's for abdicere, not abdicare. (And anyway it is “to forbid by an unfavorable omen” – I'm not sure what that means, but it does seem a bit melodramatic for discouraging the consumption of turnips on account of flatulence ;-)) Mar 16 at 20:55

The word aliquem can be used both as a substantive as well as an adjective, so in the expression "Abdicare cibum aliqem", it should be taken as an adjective:

To reject some food.

Therefore, the only formula present in this example is a verb form (in this case, the infinitve abdicare) and a direct object (cibum aliqem). There is no double accusative.

I agree with your reading that in cibis serves as an adverbial phrase. I understand the sentence as follows:

Democritus entirely rejected them as a food because of flatulence.

  • 2
    Haha. Thank you. So the formula just meant to show abdicare works with food.
    – d_e
    Mar 16 at 13:23
  • And it now occurs to me, that maybe the reason to place aliquem after cibum to stress it is merely adj. usage. (which, interestingly enough merely confused me. as for some reason it is more natural to me to see adjectival aliqui before the noun. (like hic, or other formula like de aliqua re))
    – d_e
    Mar 16 at 13:32
  • 2
    @d_e. According to Bradley's Arnold Latin Prose Composition, "Adjectives, when used as attributes, are oftener than not placed after the noun with which they agree; but demonstrative and interrogative pronouns, numerals, and adjectives denoting size or quantity come before the noun they qualify." I'm not sure about the word order, but perhaps it was meant to convey a meaning such as "To prohibit food of some/any kind," as opposed to the more deterministic "To prohibit some food". Mar 16 at 13:44
  • @Expredito Bipes, maybe. But I think it further suggests my idea: Because of the ambiguity of aliquem, placing it before cibum would suggest aliquem as the pronoun, hence the decision was taken to put it after cibum however being less conventional.
    – d_e
    Mar 16 at 14:02

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