In lines 48-52 of chapter XVI of Lingua latina per se illustrata. Familia Romana one can read:

Merīdīes dīcitur ea caelī pars ubi sōl merīdīe vidētur; pars contrāria septenriōnes appellātur ā septem stēllīs, quae semper in eā caelī parte stant. Iīs, quī ad septentriōnēs nāvigant, oriēns a dextrā est, ā sinistrā occidēns, merīdiēs ā tergō.

I can understand the meaning of the text, but I cannot figure out the grammatical role of the pronoun "iīs" in the second sentence. I'm not even sure if this is dative or ablative. Can anyone explain it?

  • 2
    Dativus est! Eae, quae Latine discere vult, liber oerbergensis iucundus erit (erit = futurus est). "Dative of reference," ut nuncupant Allen & Greenough, quodammodo generaliter. Oct 9, 2023 at 17:23
  • OK, @SebastianKoppehel, I suppose it corresponds to 378.2, since it's used to define a direction (to those who seal to the North, ...). But in this case, the person is denoted by a pronoun in the dative plural and not by a participle, as in the examples of Allen and Greenough.
    – Charo
    Oct 9, 2023 at 17:53
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    Yes, this is often called the Dative of the Person Judging, which can be connected to the "Dative of Relation" (e.g. see perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/… ). An example that is typically found in many Latin textbooks is the following one: oppidum prīmum Thessaliae venientibus ab Ēpīrō (Caes. civ. 3. 80). The typical participle used in the dative is replaced here, in your example, by a dative pronoun (Iīs) plus a relative clause (quī ad septentriōnēs nāvigant). This is not surprising since they function similarly.
    – Mitomino
    Oct 9, 2023 at 17:55
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    @Mitomino This would have been (and in fact still is) a fine answer.
    – cmw
    Oct 9, 2023 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


This is often called the Dative of the Person Judging (aka Dativus iudicantis; cf. also the "Dative of Relation": e.g. see this link), which is sometimes considered as a specific case of the "Dative of Reference" (see Sebastian's comment). An example of this kind of dative that is often found in many Latin textbooks is the following one:

oppidum primum Thessaliae venientibus ab Epiro (Caes. civ. 3. 80, 1).

The typical participle used in the dative case is replaced in your example from LLPSI by a dative pronoun (Iis) plus a relative subordinate clause (qui ad septentriones navigant). However, note that this is not surprising since both constructions can be claimed to function similarly. Cf. the example above from Caesar with "oppidum primum Thessaliae iis qui veniunt ab Epiro". Accordingly, a similar parallelism can be said to hold for your example:

Iis qui ad septentriones navigant...Navigantibus ad septentriones...

Since these datives are quite external to the main predication, there are some scholars who have even classified the dativus iudicantis as a "disjunct". For example, see Baños Baños's (2021: 225-226) section "El dativo como disjunto" ('The dative as a disjunct'), included in his Sintaxis Latina, vol. I (CSIC, Madrid). This Spanish author includes two different kinds of datives like the dativus iudicantis and "ethical datives" in a specific section on "disjunct datives", this inclusion being motivated by the fact that both datives are quite peripherical in the syntactic structure.

Finally, I think that it can be very useful for you, Charo, to take a look at this pdf document in Spanish, which provides a nice summary of the grammar of Latin cases with examples from Lingua latina per se illustrata. (NB: your dative is exemplified on page 5 in the subsection "[5.5] Dativo de relación").

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    The document in Spanish is really useful!
    – Charo
    Oct 10, 2023 at 7:34

It's dative. "To those, who sail towards those seven stars, east is to the right, west is to the left, south is behind them.".

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