This is from Augustine's Confessions:

??? quis dabit mihi ??? ut venias in cor meum et inebries illud, ut obliviscar mala mea et unum bonum meum amplectar, te?

which is translated as:

Oh! that Thou wouldest enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my ills, and embrace Thee, my sole good!

I don't get the 'quis dabit mihi' part. As far as I know 'dabit' is future 3rd person indicative active. Does 'do/dabit' here mean 'permit' or 'make it happen'? Or does it mean: "give me (the ability such you would) enter?"

Also, what does 'quis' refer to?

1 Answer 1


The context of this quote (according to the Loeb edition) is:

Quis mihi dabit adquiescere in te? Quis dabit mihi ut venias in cor meum…? Quid mihi es?

Note the parallel structure: Augustine is asking quis dabit mihi followed by a clause acting like a noun (with either an infinitive or ut). So quis "who?" is the subject, mihi "(to) me" is the indirect object, and that clause is the direct object. (Quis is specifically "who?", the interrogative, with the question mark. "Who", the relative, without the question mark, would be quī.)

This particular usage of dare (with a whole clause as its object) is numbered IIB in Lewis and Short: "grant, consent, permit". In other words, Augustine is asking, "who will allow me to find peace in You? Who will allow me to (have/let) You enter my heart?"

  • 3
    I wonder if this is a calque from Hebrew, where "who will give that X?" is a conventional way of saying "I wish that X".
    – TKR
    Oct 12, 2021 at 0:18
  • 1
    Seem likes the translator took too many liberties in my opinion. Thanks for the answer. I appreciate it.
    – bobsmith76
    Oct 12, 2021 at 5:11
  • 2
    @TKR I had the same thought. I checked and Psalm 54:7 is quite close: “et dixi quis dabit mihi pinnas columbae ut volem et requiescam”
    – adam.baker
    Oct 12, 2021 at 6:22

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