In the story "Atalanta" in Fābulae Syrae by Luigi Miraglia, Venus gives Hippomenes three golden apples to throw during a foot race with Atalanta, to distract her. As he throws the third apple, he says (p. 24, ll. 89–90):

Nunc adiuvā mē, ō Venus, quae haec mihi dōna dedistī!

What does quae mean here? If I translate the sentence literally into English, I get:

Now help me, O Venus, which these gifts you gave me!

That doesn't seem to make sense. Or is quae actually the feminine singular here?—"Now help me, O Venus, who (you) gave me these gifts!" That seems strange, especially with the 2nd-person verb dedistī, but I suppose it makes sense. Could quae be an appositive here?—"Now help me, O Venus, thou who gavest me these gifts!"

  • 6
    Yes, quae is nom. sing. f. and its antecedent is Venus
    – MPW
    May 9, 2022 at 10:48
  • 1
    There's an older unanswered question on second person verbs in relative clauses that seems related.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 9, 2022 at 11:01
  • @Ben Kovitz: Context? It may be "these things which you gave me as gifts"; "these things" could be feminine.
    – tony
    May 9, 2022 at 11:15
  • 3
    @tony If quae is an object, it has to be neuter plural. If it's nominative, then it can be feminine (singular or plural) or neuter (plural). If the gifts are feminine, then it's quas.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 9, 2022 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


Quae in that sentence is feminine nominative singular: Now help me, O Venus, who gave me these gifts!

The verb is in the second person because it refers to the second person. The syntactic structure is not inherently different from that of other relative clauses. Even in old-fashioned English, we can see this agreement pattern in relative clauses (e.g. “thee, who art”).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.