Workbook of Latin Grammar

Impersonal verbs relating to emotion

Several impersonal verbs relating to emotion share a construction in which the person feeling the emotion is expressed by the accusative (the direct object of the verb) and cause of the emotion is expressed by the genitive (an objective genitive).

When translating, it is often best to translate the Latin accusative direct object as the subject in English. The genitive is then translated as the direct object of the verb in English. Notice in each of the following examples how each phrase is expressed in Latin and also how the same idea is usually translated into English.

Genetrīx, tuī miseret. “Mother, I pity you.”

(literally, “Mother, it causes me pity for you.”)

Incipiet suae dominae quemque pudēre.

Each man will begin to be ashamed of his girlfriend.”

(literally, “It will begin to cause each man shame for his girlfriend.”)

Since the use of the genitive with impersonal verbs relating to emotion is an objective genitive, the forms nostrī and vestrī (not nostrum or vestrum) are regularly used (see Assignment 4).

Vestrī mē pudet miseretque. “I feel shame and pity for you.”

Where the person feeling the emotion can easily be understood from context, the accusative is frequently omitted.

Five impersonal verbs relating to emotion frequently occur with the constructions outlined above. All five are 2nd conjugation verbs which appear primarily in the 3rd person singular (or in the infinitive). These verbs are: miseret (“pity”, “feel pity”), paenitet (“regret”, “be discontented”, “be sorry”), piget (“be pained”, “be disgusted”, “loathe”), pudet (“be ashamed”, “feel shame”), and taedet (“tire”, “be weary”).

Iussī tē abīre, quia mē miserēbat tuī. “I commanded you to depart, since I pitied you.”

Agamemnōna īrae paenitet. “Agamemnon is sorry for his anger.”

Vidē nē tē inventī parentis pigeat!

“Take care that you do not loathe your parent, once he is discovered!”

Pudet dominī, nōn servitūtis. “I am ashamed of my master, not my servitude.”

Taedet omnīnō eōs vītae. “They are wholly tired of life.”

Rather than expressing the cause of emotion with an objective genitive, an infinitive or an accusative and infinitive construction may be used. When this occurs, the infinitive or accusative and infinitive functions as the grammatical subject of the impersonal verb. This construction may be found with paenitet, piget, and pudet.

Paenitēbat mīlitēs in posterum diem certāmen dilātum esse.

“The soldiers were discontented that the battle was delayed into the next day.”

Nōn pudet fatērī nescīre quod nesciam.

“I am not ashamed to admit not to know what I don’t know.”

When an infinitive is used to express the cause of emotion, the same accusative may be both the direct object of the verb relating to emotion and the subject of the infinitive.

Nōn mē hoc dīcere pudēbit. “I will not be ashamed to say this.”

When piget takes an infinitive or accusative and infinitive construction, it is best translated into English as “it pains” (and, in this instance, the English phrasing closely resembles that of the Latin).

Piget īnfīdō cōnsuluisse virō. “It pains me to have cared for a faithless man.”

The phrases paenitet mē or simply paenitet can be translated as “I’m sorry”.

Errāvī, temere fēcī, et paenitet. “I have erred, I acted rashly, and I’m sorry.”

Some additional notes

In addition to an infinitive or an accusative and infinitive, the subject of an impersonal verb relating to emotion may be expressed by a quod clause (with an indicative verb) or an indirect question. This construction may be found with paenitet, piget, and pudet.

Pudet mē quod intellegis. “I am ashamed that you know.”

Nōn paenitet mē quantum prōfēcerim. “I do not regret how much I have accomplished.”

The verb miseret has a deponent variant with the impersonal form miserētur in the present system and miseritum est in the perfect system. The verbs pudet and piget have a semi-deponent variant with deponent forms in the perfect system only (puditum est for puduit, pigitum est for piguit, etc.).

Vīdī eum esse miserum et mē eius miseritum est.

“I saw that he was miserable and I pitied him.”

The deponent verb misereor is also used as a personal verb, with the genitive still used to express the cause of the emotion.

Meī nīl miserēris? “Do you not pity me at all?”

Activity 1

Using the supplied vocabulary, translate the underlined word into Latin. Assume each sentence contains an impersonal verb relating to emotion.

Sample: Nothing matters to me now. Answer: possessive adjective

Sample: I will not loathe to remember Elissa. (ego) Answer: mē

Sample: Perhaps I will regret the deed. (factum) Answer: factī

Sample: Are you not ashamed of these things (n.)? (hic) Answer: hōrum

Do you not pity me? (ego)

The gods never regret their initial decision. (deus).

I also regret my mistake in regard to the same man. (error)

I loathe and am ashamed of my own foolishness. (stultitia)

Are you not ashamed to cure pain with pleasure? ()

Pity us! (nōs).

You should not be discontented in your flock. (pecus)

It pains me that you are too little ashamed. (ego)

I feel pity for that man (m.). (ille)

I pity the very walls and homes. (pariēs)

I pity him. (is)

I shall never be sorry for my choice. (voluntās)

The Roman people never regretted his advice. (populus)

Imitate the one who (m.) does not loathe to die. (quī)

Hanno, do you now still regret the war which has been undertaken against the Romans? (bellum)

Activity 2

For each of the following impersonal verbs, supply the form indicated in parentheses (for this activity, ignore the deponent variants treated in the additional notes).

Sample: piget (present infinitive) Answer: pigēre

Sample: taedet (perfect indicative) Answer: taeduit

taedet (imperfect subjunctive)

taedet (future indicative)

taedet (present subjunctive)

taedet (present infinitive)

miseret (perfect indicative)

miseret (imperfect indicative)

miseret (present infinitive)

miseret (imperfect subjunctive)

paenitet (perfect indicative)

paenitet (present subjunctive)

paenitet (perfect infinitive)

paenitet (pluperfect subjunctive)

pudet (perfect infinitive)

pudet (present infinitive)

pudet (imperfect subjunctive)

pudet (future indicative)

piget (pluperfect indicative)

piget (future indicative)

piget (perfect subjunctive)

piget (pluperfect subjunctive)

Simple Sentences

Translate the following sentences using grammar from this assignment.

Pudet mē tuī.

Meī miseret nēminem.

Senātum nōn taedet bellī.

Pudet mē sīc tēcum loquī.

Nec pācis eōs paenitet nec bellī.

Neque mē mīlitum neque vōs ducis paenituit.

Pudet mē plūra ad tē dē hāc rē scrībere.

Paenitet eum fuisse cōnsulem.

Piget mē scrībere quantus numerus eōrum fuerit.

Nōn piguit tē quaerere cur ego Crassī domum ēmissem.

Examples in Context

Translate the following modified examples.

n) Context for the sentence(s)

Modified example sentence(s)

[grammatical and contextual notes, if any]

1) Seneca complains that the philosophical schools are empty while the theaters are packed.

Pudet mē generis hūmānī quotiēns hanc scholam intrāvī.

[quotiēns, “as often as”]

2) Seneca sarcastically criticizes our human lust for war and bloodshed.

Hominēs nōn pudet, mītissimum genus, gaudēre sanguine alternō.

[mītissimum genus, in apposition to hominēs; sanguine alternō, here perhaps “successive bloodshed”]

3) Hannibal, having sued for peace, reassures the Romans that the Carthaginians will abide by the terms of any agreement.

Ita adnitar nē quem pācis per mē partae paeniteat.

[partae, participle modifying pācis; quem, indefinite “anyone” (see Assignment 5)]

4) Hypermnestra expresses no regret after not participating in the slaughter perpetrated by her sisters (the Danaids).

Nōn piget mē manūs immūnēs caedis habēre.

[immūnēs, takes an objective genitive (Assignment 4), here “free from”]

5) Cicero suggests that there is a class of people who embrace villainy.

Sunt hominēs quōs libīdinis īnfāmiaeque suae neque pudeat neque taedeat.

[quōs… pudeat… taedeat, relative clause of characteristic]

6) The Falerii surrender to the Romans, promising their future allegiance.

Nec vōs fideī nostrae nec nōs imperiī vestrī paenitēbit.

7) Cicero pleads with the judges to pardon Milo, even though Milo is unapologetic.

Eōrum nōs magis miseret quī nostram misericordiam nōn requīrunt quam quī illam efflāgitant.

8) Seneca encourages Lucilius to outgrow (and outlive) his vices.

Numerā annōs tuōs, et pudēbit velle eadem quae voluerās puer.

[eadem, acc. plur.; puer, in apposition to the subject of voluerās]

9) Ovid, in exile, writes to his wife.

Mē miserum, si tē iam pudet esse meam!

[Mē miserum, an exclamation, perhaps “Woe is me!”]

10) Cicero, in exile, writes to his wife, Terentia.

Pudet mē nōn praestitisse uxōrī meae optimae dīligentiam et suāvissimīs liberīs virtūtem.

[praestitisse, here probably meaning “demonstrate” or “provide”]

11) Seneca promises one great gift offered by philosophy.

Philosophia hoc tibi praestābit, quō nihil maius exīstimō: numquam tē paenitēbit tuī.

[quō, abl.of comparison]

12) No consular elections are held so an interregnum occurs.

Quia populum taedēbat omnium magistrātuum eius annī, rēs pūblica ad interrēgnum rediit.

[eius annī, genitive of description; interrēgnum, “interregnum”; rediit, perfect tense from redeō (for the form, see Assignment 14)]

13) After many have died at the hands of Turnus, Mnestheus chides the Trojans for their cowardice.

Nōnne īnfēlicis patriae veterumque deōrum et magnī Aenēae, ō sēgnēs, vōs miseretque pudetque?

14) Turnus’ sister Juturna tries to shame the Rutilians into preventing her brother from engaging in single combat with Aeneas.

Nōnne vōs pudet, ō Rutulī, prō cūnctīs tālibus ūnam animam obiectāre?

[ūnam animam, object of obiectāre; obiectāre, “endanger”]

15) The Roman people look on as Lucius Junius Brutus has his sons executed for treason.

Miserēbat hominēs nōn magis poenae quam sceleris quō poenam meritī essent.

[quō, abl. of means or cause; meritī essent, Brutus’ sons are the subject, subjunctive because the reasoning is not the author’s own, we might say “they had been thought to deserve"]