In Lucretius II 641–643

"aut quia significant divam praedicere ut armis
ac virtute velint patriam defendere terram
praesidioque parent decorique parentibus esse."

I am not very comfortable with the last verse. I have found this translation:

"or else because they indicate the command of the goddess that with arms and valour they be ready to defend their native land, and to be both protection and pride to their parents."

I think "parent" comes from the verb paro, as, are and is followed by an infinitive expression. So this part reads: " and would get ready for being (esse) to their parents (parentibus – dative) both (que+que) protection (praesidio) and pride (decori)."

Why ablative for praesidio and decori? Accusative seems more natural to me.


1 Answer 1


This is the double dative construction. The praesidio or decori (both dative, not ablative) is the dative of purpose and parentibus is the dative of advantage. The terminology varies, but the same phenomenon is explained in most Latin grammars. The terms I am most used to are dativus finalis and dativus commodi for the two types, respectively.

A basic example of the same kind would be hoc mihi usui est, "this is useful to me" or "this is of use to me". See the linked linked grammar pages above for more examples of datives of these types.

I would read parens simply as "parent", not as a participle of a verb even if that is the etymology. There are three vaguely similar-looking verbs: părārĕ/părō, pārērĕ/pārĕō, and părĕrĕ/părĭō. The word for parent comes from the third one even though the regular participle would be pariens. The participles of the other two would be parans and pārens, so none of the expected participles quite match părens, "parent".

  • Perhaps it could also be useful to include a link to the so-called "double dative construction": e.g. cf. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_dative or a more complete/accurate one.
    – Mitomino
    Apr 13 at 16:06
  • @Mitomino I'll do that when I get to my computer. My first link does describe exactly that usage with several examples but never uses the term "double dative". I tried to give several names so that every grammar source will give something of use with the keywords.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 13 at 16:31
  • Fortunately, your first link does include the term "Double Dative construction" in "Note 1": "This construction is often called the Dative of Service, or the Double Dative construction. The verb is usually sum." Unfortunately, this link does not exemplify the "DDc" with other verbs: e.g. the verb habere --unsurprisingly, since, in a sense, habeo can be taken as the transitive "counterpart" of sum-- and motion verbs like venire, mittere, etc: e.g. cf. latin.stackexchange.com/questions/23461/…
    – Mitomino
    Apr 13 at 18:41
  • @Mitomino Ah, true, I overlooked the notes. The page gives fairly broad examples with esse, so I think it suffices for the purposes of this question. If there is an online grammar or similar with examples with other verbs, I would be interested in seeing it. A quick search did not produce anything great, and the Wikipedia article seems to add little to A&G.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 13 at 19:26

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