My enquiry arrises from a passage in “Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata”, in the tenth chapter which is entitled “BESTIAE ET HOMINES”.

"Mercurius imperia deōrum ad hominēs portat."

I see a subject, a phrase, an object and a verb. I think the active indicative present singular third person form of the verb “portō” takes the singular “Mercurius” as its agent, and that the object of the verb is “ad hominēs”, however, I cannot rationalise a separation of nouns into what seems to me to be two separate items with two different genders and two different numbers, that I translate separately as “Mercury” and “commands of the gods”.

Can anyone suggest a reasoned approach to a parsing of the sentence “Mercurius imperia deōrum ad hominēs portat.”?

  • 4
    Have you considered "Mercurius imperia portat" as the basic sentence?
    – Alex B.
    Oct 19, 2021 at 23:00
  • 5
    Note that the direct object of portare is the thing that's being carried. Ad homines means "to the humans." That doesn't work. Oct 19, 2021 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


Prepositional phrases are separate from direct objects. Since ad is a preposition, ad homines cannot be the direct object. That leaves imperia as the direct object. The form is accusative plural, and it's a neuter noun.

As a helpful tool, if you're not already familiar with it, check out Perseus' morph tool, which will show you all the possibilities. In this case, you'd see that the accusative form is possible, and given that we already have a nominative with no conjunction, that is the only real choice.

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