This verse reads:

Maledicite terrae Meroz, dixit angelus Domini : maledicite habitatoribus ejus, quia non venerunt ad auxilium Domini, in adjutorium fortissimorum ejus.

The context is that of Deborah telling a story to the people of Israel through a song/canticle.

Maledicite is an active present plural imperative, something like "You, curse" (you being plural) (the imperative maldigan, in Spanish). I would have expected the accompanying nouns to be in the accusative (terram, habitatores), given that they are, as far as I can see, the direct object of the verb maledicere. However, they seem to be taking the dative. I know there are some verbs that do take the dative by definition (e.g. servire, as in one serves to someone), but as far as Wiktionary and L&S state, maledicere is not one of them.

What's the issue? Where is my mistake?

1 Answer 1


Since the word comes from male dico, it traditionally took the dative for the same reason that dico takes it. The dative expresses to whom something is spoken or for whom the speech is beneficial (or, in this case, harmful).

According to Lewis and Short, the dative was normally used in the classical period, but later the accusative came into usage:

mălĕdīco (or separately, mălĕ dīco ;

I.“rarely in reverse order: qui bonis dicunt male,” Plaut. Bacch. 1, 2, 10; cf. id. Trin. 4, 2, 79), xi. ctum, 3, v. n. and a. [male-dico], to speak ill of, to abuse, revile, slander, asperse; constr. absol., or with a dat. (so class.) or acc. (post-Aug.). (emphasis added)

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