A Reader’s Diēgest

Here are a few notes on the Latin for day—diēs.

1. Diēs is a fifth-declension noun.

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 4.34.41 PM(photo credit: Wiktionary)

2. Diēs is typically masculine (like most fifth declension nouns), but is occasionally feminine, especially in fixed phrases and general reference to time or dates.

  • cōnstitūtā diē : on a fixed day
  • longa diēs intervēnit : a long time had passed

3. Diēs is one of only two nouns in the fifth declension that is entirely declined. Rēs is  the other such noun—all other fifth declension nouns are wanting in the plural (or at least the plural genitive, dative and ablative) in extant Latin literature.

The Essential AG: 96, 97, 98a

Reminder: The Double Comparative with Intrā

This is just a quick reminder (of what I covered briefly in March 2012) that intrā gives rise to one of the few comparative / superlative adjectival pairs that is not derived from an adjective.

  • intrā, within —> interior, -ōris, inner —> intimus, a, -um inmost

A&G offer this fascinating footnote:

“The forms in -trā and -terus were originally comparative (cf. alter), so that the comparatives in -terior are double comparatives.” (my emphasis)

  • Like this: in + accusative —> intrā + accusative —> interior, -ōris

The Essential AG: 130a

I’m positive. In fact, I’m postpositive.

The words enim, etenim and neque enim are all postpositive tools for emphasis. They typically occur in the second position, but may occur in the third, where the second word is emphatic.

Enim and its emphatic counterpart, etenim, may add an affirmative pulse to a statement or clause. In this sense, they function much as equidem, certē and vērō, though these are not necessarily postpositive.

  • …sed enim istaec captio est: …but this is clearly a trick!
  • in hīs est enim aliqua obscūritās: in fact, these matters contain some mystery.
  • Quid agis?—Nihil enim: What are you up to?—Nothing, truly! (~Nothing, I swear!)

Etenim is very popular in parenthetical phrases.

  • dux huius agminis Caesar est (etenim est prīmus mīlitum): the leader of this line is Caesar, because, of course, he is the first among soldiers.
  • Kate Medoppidum (quae etenim modo hērēdem peperit) nōn trēs diēs vīsa est: Kate Middleton, who as you know just gave birth to the heir, has not been seen for three days.

Enimvērō is another option.

  • Ille enimvēro negat: he, of course, denies it.

The Essential AG: 324h, 324j-k, 599b

Answering Double Questions

To review, a double question offers a defined range of options, of which one is the true or most likely answer. Since I imagine you’re pros a asking double questions by now, here’s a triple question.

He asks whether the axes are Caesar’s or Cicero’s or Cato’s: quaesit an Caesāris an Cicerōnis an Catōnis secūrēs sunt.

To answer double or triple questions, the respondent had best echo the grammar of the question.

The are Cato’s: Catōnis [sunt].

Here’s another:

Did you see the boar itself, or merely smell its stench: vidistīne verrem ipsum an mōdō eius afflātum olfēcistī?

I just caught a whiff: mōdō olfēcī.

The Essential AG: 337

The Latin Supine

Formation of the Supine

It’s a rare bit of grammar, but we’re lucky, because it’s simple. It takes one of only four forms:

  • The supine is always a fourth-declension (the -us, -ūs declension) noun, and always appears in the accusative or ablative
  • Moreover, these forms will always have an initial t- or s-, leaving four possible endings: -tum, -sum, -tū, and -sū

The accusatives move with verbs; the ablatives move with adjectives: vēnit spectātum [he came to see]; mirabile dictū [marvelous to tell]

You have the endings, now consider the stems:

  • The supine stem is always identical to the perfect passive participle’s stem
  • amātus: amātum, amātū; rectus: rectum, rectū

Uses of the Supine

As I mentioned just above, there are four forms with two endings, and therefore two uses:

The supine accusatives, -tum and -sum are “used after verbs of motion to express purpose” (AG, 509)

  • nam vēnī dē tumultū te admonitum, quem cum abīrēs linquistī: and I’m here to remind you, of the mess you left when you ran away
  • pārentēs abībit inventum postrīdiē: she leaves tomorrow to find her parents

Not that the supine is a singular accusative, even where it follow a plural verb, or takes a plural object

The supine ablatives, -tū and – are used with a handful of adjectives, as a means of reference 

  • iste senex foedus et visū et olfactū est: that geezer is hard on the eyes and the nose
  • nulla optima via catō deglūbū est: there is no best way to skin a cat

The ablatives may also appears with fāsnefās and opus, again as a means of reference 

  • this is unholy to say: hōc nefās dictū est
  • this letter is a burden to write: literra opus scriptū est. 

The supine ablatives are commonly attached to statements about the senses, or statement denoting easy or difficulty.

Essential AG: 94.b; 509-10