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Double accusative: object + accusative of reference


οὗτοι δεῦρο ἀφικόμενοι τὸν δῆμον ᾔτησαν δωρεάν

‘After their arrival they asked the people for a reward.’ (Aeschin. 3.183)

Verbs of asking, demanding, reminding, learning, hiding and depriving usually take a double accusative: an animate accusative of the object on the one hand, and an inanimate accusative of the adverbial (which is often analysed as an adverbial of reference) on the other.

Lexical usage

Verbs of teaching

δισάσκω τινά τι I teach someone something

Verbs of asking

ἐρωτῶ τινά τι I ask someone something
αἰτῶ τινά τι I ask someone something
ἀπαιτῶ τινά τι I demand something back from someone
εἰσπράττω τινά τι I demand something back from someone

Verbs of hiding

κρύπτειν τινά τι I hide something from someone

Verbs of dressing and undressing

ἐκδύειν τινά τι to take something off someone
ἐνδύειν τινά τι to put something on someone
ἀμφιεννύναι τινά τι to put something on someone

Verbs of robbing

(ἀπο)συλᾶν τινά τι to rob someone of something
The referential role of the inanimate accusative can be clarified by translating as follows:
ἀποστερέω, ἀφαιρέω: to rob someone with reference to something
ἐρωτάω: to interrogate someone with reference to something
διδάσκω: to teach someone with reference to something
ἀναμιμνῄσκω: to inform someone (again) with reference to something

Syntactic usage

However, these verbs often take other combinations of arguments, which make the semantic roles clearer:
- αἰτέω τινά τι versus αἰτέω τι παρά τινος: ‘to ask someone for something’
- ἀναμιμνῄσκω τινά versus τιἀναμιμνῄσκω τινά τινος:‘to remind someone of something’
- ἀποστερέω τινά τι versus ἀποστερέω τινά τινος: ‘to rob someone of something’
- ἐρωτάω τινά τι versus ἐρωτάω τινα περί τινος: ‘to ask someone something’

Historical background

The inanimate accusative of the object is a precursor of the accusative of reference.
In Homer a double accusative is also used with verbs of washing (νίζω etc.).

Example Sentences: 

ἔπειτα δὲ ἀναμνήσω γὰρ ὑμᾶς καὶ τοὺς τῶν προγόνων τῶν ἡμετέρων κινδύνους

Then I will also remind you of the dangers our ancestors ran. [provisional translation]

πολλὰ διδάσκει μ᾽ ὁ πολὺς βίοτος

My long life has taught me many things. ֍

τὴν θυγατέρα ἔκρυπτε τὸν θάνατον τοῦ ἀνδρός

He kept the man's death a secret from his daughter. ֍

ὁρᾷς, ὦ Μένων, ὡς ἐγὼ τοῦτον οὐδὲν διδάσκω, ἀλλ’ ἐρωτῶ πάντα;

Do you see, Menon, that I do not instruct him in anything, but rather ask him everything? ֍

ὁ αὐτὸς (sc. Ἀντισθένης) ἐρωτηθεὶς ὑπό τινος τί τὸν υἱὸν διδάξει εἶπεν· “εἰ μὲν θεοῖς αὐτὸν συμβιοῦν ἐθέλοις, φιλόσοφον· εἰ δὲ ἀνθρώποις, ῥήτορα”

When the same man (i.e. Antisthenes) was asked by someone what he should educate his son to be, he replied: If you want him to live with the gods, a philosopher, but if you want him to live with people, an orator.