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I saw this: "dici beatus ante obitum nemo debet"(nobody must be called happy before death" why is "beatus" nominative? The only verb that has the nominative as complement is "sum". What am I missing?

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Yes, esse and certain passive verbs are actually copulae. Gildersleeve and Lodge §§ 205–206 has the relevant information:

206.Other copulative verbs are: videri, to seem; nasci, to be born; fieri, to become; evadere, to turn out; creari, to be created; deligi, to be chosen; putari, to be thought; haberi, to be held; dici, to be said; appellari, to be called; nominari, to be named.

Hence the rule: Verbs of seeming, becoming,with the passive of verbs of making, choosing, showing, thinking, and calling, take two Nominatives, one of the subject, one of the predicate.

Although not expressly stated here, verbs like debere, velle, or posse are rather auxiliaries, and still allow for the predicate to be in the nominative. G&L mentions that in Remark 3 just below the text I cited.

Moreover, for all passive verbs when the the predicate is in apposition to the subject, can be in the nominative (or accusative in indirect speech). These forms establish an equivalence between the subject and predicate, not a subject-object relationship.

See e.g. G&L §§ 324–325.

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  • Thanks. Now I'm gonna chew this. I've always found the nominative case so simple. But this was really challenging.
    – user11898
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 4:09
  • Might be worth adding that the quotation is from Ovid M. 3, 137.
    – fdb
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 13:01

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