The More, The More

The two phrases quō..eō (hōc), tantō…quantō (hōc) can be broadly translated as ‘the more…the more.’ They are ablatives of degree of difference used to correlate to comparatives.

  • quō minus cpiditātis, eō plus auctōritātis, the less greed, the more authority
  • quantō erat gravior oppūgnātiō, tantō crēbriōrēs litterae mittēbantur, the severe the siege was, the more frequently letters were sent

The third variation is simply emphatic.

  • quantō plus crustulōs murī dabis, tantō hōc plus crustulīs eget: the mouse’s desire for cookies will increase in exact proportion to the number of cookies that you give him.

A&G note that this correlative construction later mutated to describe Cause instead of Degree of Difference.

  • eō mē minus paenitet, for that reason I regress less.

(Severe addicts should check out A&G’s note on this section 414an1, which details how the English ‘the…the’ is actually a direct descendent of these expressions, emerging from the instrumental case of a pronoun in Angle-Saxon, thȳ.)

The Essential AG: 414a, 414an

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There Was a Time When…

Quite closely relate to expression of existence / non-existence are expressions of past time, which make use of the phrase est cum and fuit cum, which may be translated as ‘there was a time when…’ Like the phrases that describe existence, these make use of a relative clause of characteristic (w/ subjunctive!) to describe an indefinite period of present/past time.

  • est cum …. present subjunctive
  • fuit cum …. imperfect subjunctive
  • est cum in omnis virī aevō domum parentis linquat: there comes a time in every man’s life when he must leave the home of his father
  • est cum omnibus deceat: there is a season for all things
  • fuit cum mihi quoque initium requiēscendī fore iūstum arbitrārer: there was a time when I thought a beginning of rest would be justifiable on my part
  • fuit cum nōn altior meīs genibus essēs: there was a time when you were no taller than my knees

The Essential AG: 535an3

Expressions of Existence

In Latin, expression of existence and non-existence are handled by a Relative Clause of Characteristic (subjunctive!).

Expressions of Existence

  • sunt quī discessum animī ā corpore putent esse mortem: there are some (there exist some) who think that the departure of the soul from the body constitutes death
  • erant quī hōc cēnsērent, there were some of this opinion
  • quis est quī id nōn maximīs efferat laudibus: who is there that does not extol it with the highest praise?
  • sunt quī orbem arsum modō videre velint: some men just want to watch the world burn.

Expressions of Non-Existence

  • nihil videō quod timeam: I see nothing to fear.
  • nihil est quod adventum nostrum extimēscās: there is no reason to fear our arrival.
  • nēmō est qui SuīLocō tamen ūtātur: no one uses MySpace anymore.

A&G add that with these phrases the indicative is possible but less common, and point out that certain grammar books reference these phrases as ‘Relative Clauses with an Indefinite Antecedent.’

The Essential AG: 535a, 525an1, 535an2

Declining Jupiter

The Romans referred to Jupiter, but also to Jove. How did this work?

The nominative, Iuppiter, is derived from the archaic vocative and pater (the word is a ‘syntactic compound’). The rest of the cases are derived from the stem Iov-, which A&G identify as related to the Greek Ζεύς through the PIE root *dyew. We can imagine that ‘Iovis‘ could serve a nominative, but the go-to nominative is definitely Iuppiter (or Iupiter).

Picture 1

(photo credit: Wiktionary)

You might be curious about why there’s a plural declension. Statues of Jove were also called ‘Joves.’

The Essential AG: 79, 79b, 100, 266c

What is the present participle of esse?

Most grammar textbooks will tell you that the Latin ‘to be’ has only a future active participle. On a practical level, that’s true. However, there is evidence within the Latin language of a lost present active participle. This would have been sōns, sontis. (cf. Greek ὤν).

However, this form is all but lost. We may conjecture that it existed at one time because it is stored in certain adjectives (īnsōns, innocent; absēns, absent, praesēns, present). It also appears in late Latin philosophical terminology (ēns, being; entia, the things which are). However, these were likely designed by intellectuals to reflect the present participle as it would appear, were it in use. Honestly, the same might be true of insōns, etc, but with words that old, we can’t trace their origins properly.

The Essential AG: 170b

The Vocative: Macte virtūte!

The vocative macte is a party to a particular Latin idiom that you may encounter. Macte is the imperative of the Latin second declension adjective mactus (blessed, honored, cf. Greek μακάριος).

The idiom runs like this:

  • Macte (estō) (virtūte): success attend your honor!

Now, the ‘standard’ rendering offered by A&G (^^^) is a little too translationese, in my view. Something like, ‘be blessed in honor’ would more closely attend to the syntax of each word.

Further, realize that both estō and virtūte are optional, but at least one of the two must be present (macte estō virtūte, macte estō, macte virtūte).

  • With just macte! we have a different idiom all together (blessed! — something like the English ‘fantastic’ or ‘awesome’ or ‘that’s great.’)

Finally, we should echo A&G’s hesitation about the fact that the quantity of the final -e in macte is indiscernible given the extant verse poetry that contains this idiom, and therefore it might actually be mactē, an adverb. It is a matter of scholarly dispute.

The Essential AG: 340c.