I am reading the LLPSI excerpt of Rhetorica ad Herennium (in LLPSI: Sermones Romani, Chapter Ostentator Pecuniosi). Near Line 64, Ørberg wrote a margin note:

pro notitia domini: quia domino notus erat

Notus erat is the passive pluperfect form of noscere, if the agent is mentioned, it is normally ablative and introduced by the preposition a/ab. However, here the (seeming) agent domino is used without a/ab.

What I can think of is, a bare ablative noun used for specification. If notus is regarded as an adjective, then domino can be in respect to the master. Ablative of cause seems also possible. But according to the context (below), he (the ostentator) enters another's house, and the dominus refers the house owner. He was known in respect to the house owner / because of the house owner are both weird in meaning.

What is the grammar here?


Dum haec loquitur, venit in aedes quasdam in quibus sodalicium erat eodem die futurum; quo iste – pro notitia domini aedium – ingreditur cum hospitibus.

  • 1
    Unrelated but interesting. If I read Loeb correctly they interpret this differently from Ørberg in two respects. First, domini is objective genitive, not subjective, and, Second, pro is not quia but rather quasi / like. yielding "As if in fact he knew the owner". To be fair, not sure how this Loeb interoperation works grammatically. Or I completely misread the Loeb English.
    – d_e
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 20:51
  • @d_e Perhaps "in place of acquaintance of the master of the house"? It's clumsy, but it gets the idea across that he doesn't actually know the master. It's an interesting passage.
    – cmw
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 23:07
  • @d_e I actually noticed that, but I think the translation is different from what Ørberg thinks so I put it aside. However I think the as if version is better for the context. Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 4:33

3 Answers 3


Domino is dative, not ablative. English has the same idiom: 'known to the master.'


A very similar question was raised and answered in this forum. As you can see, some people will tell you that domino is a "dative of agent" (see Section 375 of Allen & Greenough: "The Dative of the Agent is common with perfect participles (especially when used in an adjective sense)"). However, I disagree. The dative at issue here is not a "dative of agent" but rather, as pointed out by cnread, behaves like the one found in adjectival phrases like carus domino ('dear to the master'). Furthermore, the existence of examples like the following one can be taken as evidence for this proposal.

agedum, conferte nunc cum illius vita vitam P. Sullae vobis populoque Romano notissimam, iudices, et eam ante oculos vestros proponite (Cic. Sul. 72))

The complex issue of why typical "datives of agent" depend on verbs but are not found in non-verbal contexts (i.e. they do not depend on adjectives, participles, nor gerundives) is discussed here. For a discussion of some apparent counterexamples, see this answer.


According to the Diccionari bàsic llatí–català edited by Enciclopèdia Catalana, notus can work as an adjective which, used with genitive or infinitive, means known to or famous to. So, as pointed out in the other anwser, is this case domino is in dative case and not in ablative case. The meaning of the expression domino notus erat in the context of the reported text is he was known to the owner.


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