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


Comparison of Participles (as Adjectives)

In my last post I covered the basics of comparing regular adjectives. Participles decline as regular adjectives when they are compared, whether they be present active (patiēns, patient) or perfect passive (apertus, open).

  • amans (stem ament-) / amantior, -ius / amantissimus, -a, -um (loving)
  • rabiens (stem rabient-) / rabientior, -ius / rabientissimus, -a, -um (raving)
  • nescitus, -a, -um (stem nescito-) / nescitior, -ius / nescitissimus, -a, -um (ignorant)
  • olfactus, -a, -um (stem olfacto-) / olfactior, -ius / olfactissimus, -a, -um (sniffed)

A related phenomenon occurs with compound adjectives ending in -dicus, -volus, and -ficus (from dīcō, volō, and faciō). These compounds in fact take the stem of their related present active participle (dīcens, volens, faciens) in place of other endings.

  • maledicus, -a, -um / maledīcentior, -ius / maledīcentissimus, -a, -um (slanderous)
  • benevolus, -a, -um / benevolentior, -ius / benevolentissimus, -a, -um (well-wishing)
  • māgnificus, -a, -um / māgnificentior, -ius / māgnificentissimus, -a, -um (grand)

The Essential AG: 124a, 127

Comparison of Adjectives

There are a variety of ways to hide the stem of a adjective in its nominative form.

  • baburrus, -a, -um (stem barburo-) silly
  • levis, -e (stem levi-) fickle
  • fēlīx (stem fēlīc-) blessed
  • hebes (stem hebet-) dull

However, the majority of adjectives of all stem formations become comparatives and superlatives in the same way: with the addition of -ior (m/f) / ius (n) for comparatives, and the addition of -issimus, -a, -um for superlatives.

  • baburrus, -a, -um / baburrior, -ius / barburrissimus, -a, -um
  • levis, -e / levior, -ius / levissimus, -a, -um
  • fēlīx / fēlīcior, -ius / fēlīcissimus, -a, -um
  • hebes / hebetior, -ius / hebetissimus, -a, -um

There are a few things to note here. If an adjective is compared regularly,

  • It’s case ending will always have two options (m/f or n) for the comparative and three options (m or f or n) for the superlative, regardless of how many it had for the positive.
  • Stress accents will always appear on the penultimate vowel (for comparatives) or the ultimate vowel (for superlatives) of the stem.

babúrrior, baburríssimus / lévior, levísssimus / fēlícior, fēlīcíssimus / hebétior, hebetíssimus

Of course, it can always shift further forward, but never further back. The comparatives declines like so:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 7.42.56 AM(photo credit, Wiktionary)

The superlatives decline like a regular first/second declension adjectives, regardless of how their positives decline:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 7.49.18 AM(photo credit, Wiktionary)

The Essential AG: 120, 123-4

Greek and Latin Comparatives

There is a certain kinship between Greek and Latin (a) comparative and (b) superlative forms, as well as between (c) a particular branch of Latin positive adjectives and Greek comparatives.

To recall your knowledge of positives, comparatives, and superlatives in each language, let’s view  a few examples:

  • Dark, darker, darkest
  • niger, nigrior, nigerrimus
  • μέλας, μελάντερος, μελάντατος
  • Big, bigger, biggest
  • magnus, maior, maximus
  • μέγας, μείζων, μεγίστος
  • Dear, dearer, dearest
  • cārus, cārior, cārissimus
  • φίλος, φιλότερος, φιλότατος
  • Sweet, sweeter, sweetest
  • suavis, suavior, suavissimus
  • ἡδύς, ἥδιος, ἥδιστος

I struggle here to explain the precise interrelations between the various forms above, because A&G are quite tight-lipped about the matter (everything in this post is drawn from two far-disparate footnotes). However, we see a certain kinship between:

  • the Latin comparative (n.) -ius [e.g. nigrior (m/f), nigrius (n)] and the Greek -ίων [e.g. μείων (smaller, less)]
  • the Latin superlative –issimus [suavissimus] and the Greek -ιστος [ἥδιστος]

(these ^^ are also both relative to the English superlative [e.g. sweetest])

  • the Latin positive –ter (ater, atra, atrum) and the Greek -τερος (φιλότερος)

I think that last one is a bit of a stretch, so don’t shoot the messenger (of AG 214bn), but shoot me a comment if you disagree either with their claim or with my reading of their claim, and explain why.

The Essential AG: 124n1, 214bn

Uses of Quam (Comparisons)

Uses of Quam (part 1 of 3)

Origin of Quam

Quam is derived from the feminine singular accusative of the interrogative pronoun quī, quae, quod 

Summary of Use

Quam has many and various uses in Latin

It appears most commonly as the standard means of comparison between two adjectives, adverbs or clauses (part 1)

  • Two things compared with quam will always appear in the same case
  • There are better and worse (common and less common) ways to compare with quam

The phrases quam ut, quam quī, quam sī and quam (alone) may also initiate a subjunctive statement (part 2)

  • These include clauses of purpose, characteristic and comparison

The compouds quamquam and quamvīs are concessive particles, taking either subjunctive or indicative clauses (part 3)

Quam and its compounds have several other functions (part 4)

Comparative Quam

Placing quam between two comparative adjectives or adverbs is a standard method of comparison

  • The line was more long than broad: longior quam lātior aciēs erat.

Placing magis quam between two positive adjectives or adverbs is also common

  • She is more renowned than is honorable for a queen: clārā magis quam honestā reginae est.

Placing quam (alone) between two positives or a comparative and a positive is a “rarer and less elegant” means of making a comparison (AG, 292 n)

  • The prophet is more eloquent than wise: vatēs disertus quam sapiēns est.

Quam may also compare one clause to another

  • I never saw a shrewder man than Phormio: hominem callidiōrem vīdī nēminem quam Phormiōnem.
  • It is better to suffer than to do an injustice: accipere quam facere praestat iniuriam.

Quam or the Ablative of Comparison?

Where a noun, pronoun, adjective or adverb in the nominative or accusative is the subject of comparison, the ablative of comparison is standard

  • Silver is less precious than gold, gold than virtues: vīlius argentum est aurō, virtūtibus aurum.

Where these are not in the nominative or accusative, or where the relative (comparative) statement is a clause, quam is preferred

  • The old man is in this respect in a better position than a young man: senex est eō meliōre condiciōne quam adulēscēns.
  • For examples of quam with comparative clauses, see (3.4) above

Be warned–the poets walk all over this rule

cariōr est illīs homō quam sibi : man is dearer to those (the gods) than to himself

(Juvenval, Satires, 10.350)