VI[6arg] It is asked and discussed whether it it is more correct to say habeo curam vestri, or vestrum.
I ASKED Sulpicius Apollinaris, when I was studying with him at Rome in my youth, on what principle people said habeo curam vestri, or “I have care for you,” and misereor vestri, or “I pity you,” and what he thought the nominative case of vestri was in such connections. Thereupon he answered me as follows: “You ask something of me about which I too have long been in a state of uncertainty. For it seems to me that one ought to say, not vestri, but vestrum, just as the Greeks say ἐπιμελοῦμαι ὑμῶν and κήδομαι ὑμῶν, where ὑμῶν is translated by vestrum more fittingly than by vestri, having vos for the naming case, or the 'direct' case, as you called it. Yet in not a few places,” said he, "I find nostri and vestri, not nostrum or vestrum. Thus Lucius Sulla says, in the second book of his Autobiography: 1 “But if it is possible that even now you think of me (nostri), and believe me worthy to be your fellow citizen rather than your enemy, and to fight for you rather than against you, this will surely be due to my services and those of my forefathers.” Also Terence in the Phormio: 2 [p. 439]
Of such a nature are we almost all,Afranius wrote in an Italian play: 3
That with ourselves (nostri) we discontented are.
At last some god or other pitied us (nostri).And Laberius in the Necyomantia: 4
Detained for many days, he us (nostri) forgot.“There is no doubt,” said he, “that in all these phrases: 'we are discontented,' he forgot us,' 'he pitied us' (nostri), the same case is used as in 'I repent' (mei paenitet), 'he pitied me' (mei miseritus est), ' he forgot me' (mei oblitus est). But mei is the case of questioning, 5 which the grammarians call 'genitive,' and comes from ego; and the plural of ego is nos. Tui also is formed from tu, and the plural of this is vos. For Plautus has thus declined those pronouns in the Pseudolus, in the following lines: 6
O Sir, could I be told without your wordsFor Plautus here uses mei, not from meus, but from ego. Therefore if you should choose to say patrem mei instead of patrem meum, as the Greeks say τὸν πατέρα μου, it would be unusual, but surely correct, and on the same principle that Plautus used labori mei, 'the trouble of me,' for labori meo, ' my trouble.' The same rule applies also in the plural number, where Gracchus said 7 misereri vestrum and Marcus [p. 441] Cicero 8 contentio vestrum, and contention nostrum, 9 and on the same principle Quadrigarius in the nineteenth book of his Annals wrote these words: 10 'Gaius Marius, when pray will you pity us (nostrum) and the State?' Why then should Terence use paenitet nostri, not nostrum, and Afranius nostri miseritus est, not nostrum? Indeed,” said he, “no reason for this occurs to me except the authority of a certain ancient usage, which was not too anxious or scrupulous in the use of language. For just as vestrorum is often used for vestrum, as in this line from the Mustellaria of Plautus, 11
What wretchedness so grievous troubles you,
I would have spared the trouble of two men:
My own (mei), of asking you, and yours (tis = tui), of answering.
The greatest part of you (vestrorum) know that is true(where vestrorum is for vestrum), in the same way vestri also is sometimes used for vestrum. But undoubtedly one who desires to speak very correctly will prefer vestrum to vestri. And therefore,” said he, “those have acted most arbitrarily who in many copies of Sallust have corrupted a thoroughly sound reading. For although he wrote in the Catiline: 12 'Often your forefathers (maiores vestrum), pitying the Roman commons,' they erased vestrum and wrote vestrz over it. And from this 13 that error has grown and found its way into more manuscripts.” This is what I remember hearing from Apollinaris, and I noted down his very words at the time, exactly as they were spoken. [p. 443]