9

Here is a small problem with 'credo', there is an example in my dictionary saying that 'crede mihi (dat.)' means 'believe me'.

Gildersleeve & Lodge gives credere under Dative with Intransitive verbs - "The Indirect Object is put in the Dative vith many Intranitive verbs of Advantage or Disadvantage, Yielding and resisting, Pleasure and Displeasure, Bidding and Forbidding."

When I look now this sentence in Spinoza,

Nam quandoquidem ejus essentia omnem imperfectionem secludit absolutamque perfectionem involvit, eo ipso omnem causam dubitandi de ipsius existentia tollit summamque de eadem certitudinem dat, quod mediocriter attendenti perspicuum fore credo.<

..., quod (that) mediocriter (moderately) attendenti (Pr. part. dat.) perspicuum (acc. adj.) fore (Fut. inf.) credo (here as Verba Declarandi, takes inf. and acc.).

'Attendenti' looks to be dative, but could it be here in dative not because of the first, "Dative with intransitive verbs" but because of Dative with Transitive verbs - "The Indirect Object is put in the Dative with Transitive verbs, which already have a Direct object in the Accusative. Translation to, for, from. " (Gildersleeve & Lodge) ? Is it possible that one verb can be intransitive and transitive in the same time, depending of the exact meaning?

When translated "I believe that it would be clear to moderately attentive" - which sounds reasonable in English, but when looking at that first example given, 'crede mihi' then I would think 'quod perspicuum' should be in Dative instead of 'attendenti ' ?

Thank you.

  • 1
    The structure is credo {quod attendenti perspicuum fore}: credo has only one complement, which is the entire accusativus cum infinitivo, quod attendenti perspicuum fore. The dative is no immediate complement to credo. Inside the a.c.i., the verb fore has three complements: 1. the 'subject' accusative quod; 2. the 'subject complement' accusative perspicuum; and 3. the indirect object mediocriter attendenti. All three are complements to fore. Translation: "...which I believe to be clear to [anyone] paying [even] mediocre attention". – Cerberus Jan 5 '17 at 15:10
6

Gildersleeve and Lodge call this Dativus Iudicantis, Dative of the person judging. It's specifying from whose perspective the statement is perspicuum: 'clear to (from the perspective of) the person who pays even moderate attention'

So, in this example, the dative isn't the object of credo at all.

Update: As to the question of whether it's possible for a verb to be used transitively and intransitively at the same time, the answer is yes, and credo is a verb that can do this (though not in this Spinoza passage). For example, in colloquial English, omnia tibi credo, would mean something like 'I believe (or 'trust') you in all matters' or 'I believe (or 'trust') everything you tell me' or 'I take your word in all matters.' It's a conflation of two separate constructions: the intransitive tibi credo ('I trust you') and the transitive omnia credo ('I believe everything'). I just recently ran across an example in Seneca's tragedy Thyestes (line 295): cui tanta credet? The commentary that I'm using points to other instances in Plautus and Ovid.

  • 3
    I think your answer is good, but I have one small remark. "Transitive" merely means that a verb has or normally has a direct object. That doesn't mean it can't have additional complements at the same time, such as an indirect object or yet another kind of complement. A verb can therefore not be both transitive and intransitive at the same time. In your example omnia tibi credo, the verb is transitive because it has a direct object. – Cerberus Jan 5 '17 at 15:01
  • Oh, and subject, direct object, indirect object, and ablative phrase are examples of common complements (not "objects") that verbs may have. Without specification, the term "object" alone normally refers only to direct objects, but it is always wise to specify the term if possible (i.e. direct object or object of a preposition). – Cerberus Jan 5 '17 at 15:03
  • @Cerberus Of course, the verb is actually transitive in omnia tibi credo, because it does actually have a direct obj. But one doesn't typically also find an indir. obj. with credo when it has a direct obj. – that's typically a separate, intrans. use of the verb, a separate idiom. That was my point: these two, usually-separate idioms are being activated at the same time. Readers need to be aware of, and juggle, both idioms to make good sense of the text. So I can qualify my answer, I suppose, by saying that, in effect, it's as if the verb were both trans. and intrans. at the same time. – cnread Jan 5 '17 at 18:22
  • 1
    @cnread: OK I understand your point; it is probably unusual for the two praedicate frames to be mixed like this. The example from Seneca is nice, and I agree with everything after the first sentence of the update. But I still wouldn't call the praedicate frame of credo + dativus "intransitive" in instances where the verb is used with a direct object: it is only intransitive to the extent that it doesn't have an object, and that ends at the moment it gets an object. Of course I understand that you're trying to humour the asker, and you wanted a name for that praedicate frame. – Cerberus Jan 5 '17 at 18:37
  • @Cerberus Your point is well-taken. I guess I approach this with an eye more on effect; so the fact that it's so unusual for the 2 frames to be mixed is exactly the point for me. It's as though Seneca in his phrase and I in mine want both frames to apply—and to be activated in the reader's mind—simultaneously. What we need is a sort of Heisenberg uncertainty principle: you can measure strict transitivity or the types of objects that credo has, but not both. Okay, that's a bit sloppy, but space is limited. Still, I'll see if I can tighten up my response in light of your helpful comments. – cnread Jan 5 '17 at 20:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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