reflexive pronouns / by Anthony Gibbins

English has a range of Reflexive Personal Pronouns; myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, and themselves. For most of these, Latin does things a little differently, by simply using the existing Personal Pronouns. Here are some examples. Note, that for the case of simplicity, I’ll only be using Pronouns in the Accusative Case.

di me amant the gods love me.                me amo I love myself.

di te amant the gods love you.                 te amas you love yourself.

di nos amant the gods love us.                nos amamus we love ourselves.

But for himself, herself, itself and themselves, Latin has a Reflexive Pronoun se. se is the same in every Gender and even in the Plural. Here are some examples.

di eum amant the gods love him.             (ille) se amat he loves himself.

di eam amant the gods love her.              (illa) se amat she loves herself.

di eos amant the gods love them              se amant they love themselves.

se also gets used very often in Indirect Statements. Indirect Statements must have and Subject in the Accusative Case, and quite often that Subject is the same as the speaker/hearer/thinker etc. (People love to speak/hear/think about themselves!). Compare these two pairs of sentences.

Marcus deos amat.                           Quintus dicit Marcum deos amare.

Marcus loves the gods.                     Quintus says Marcus to love the gods.

                                                           ie: Quintus says that Marcus loves the gods.

deos amo.                                          Quintus dicit se deos amare.

I love the gods.                                  Quintus says himself to love the gods.

                                                           ie: Quintus says that he loves the gods.

One final use of se is with certain Latin Verbs that demand an Object (although they might not in English). For example, it would be quite normal in English to say I turn toward the gods. But in Latin, we must say I turn myself toward the gods me ad deos verto. Likewise, if we want to say The priest turns toward the gods we must say, in Latin, The priest turns him/herself toward the gods sacerdos se ad deos vertit. There is another option, and that is to use a Passive Verb. sacerdos ad deos vertitur The priest is turned toward the gods.

Then Miranda turns (herself) towards Marcellus. 'Now there is need of your skill, Marcellus. Are you able to paint a copy of this map with the utmost speed?'