Colloquial Omission of Pronouns

Pronouns are omitted all the time, because Latin conjugation makes them somewhat redundant. Where the pronoun does exist, it is either emphatic or explanatory (especially necessary with third person verbs).

  • I speak: loquor
  • It is I that am speaking: ego loquor
  • We have killed Caesar: occidīmus Caesarem.
  • We, the glorious Senate of Rome, have killed Caesar: nōs, Senātus clarus Rōmae, occidīmus Caesarem.
  • You might have supposed she was gone: crēderēs eam abīre. [general statement]
  • Maybe you thought her gone, but I knew exactly where she was: tū crēderēs eam abīre, sed ego ubi adeō quō esse cognōvī. [terrible string of hiati there, pardon me for being no poet]

With third person verbs, omission of the subject will often imply a general (sometimes gnomic) statement:

  • They say he was once a woman: dīcunt eum fēminam olim fuisse.
  • The herdsman claim they are innocent: pastōrēs dīcunt eōs innōcentēs esse.
  • One doesn’t simply walk into Mordor: in Mordōrem nōn simpliciter iter facit.

Passive verbs omit implied subjects as well:

  • They fought long and hard: diū atque ācriter pūgnātum est.

The Essential AG: 318a-b


A Forbidding Post

interdīco, interdīcere, interdīxī, interdīctus: forbid
Interdīco (forbid) gets a note of it’s own in A&G because it’s case constructions have varied over time.

  • Earlier writers present interdīco + dative Person & ablative Thing Forbidden
  • Later writers use interdīco + dative Person & accusative Thing Forbidden


  • They forbade him fire and water: aquā et īgnī eō interdīxērunt.*
  • Shall we forbid the women from wearing purple: fēminīs purpurae ūsū interdīcēmus?
  • He forbade the actors from appearing on the stage: histriōnibus scaenam accedere interdīxit.

*This was the standard formally for expressing ‘he is banished’

Also, I discovered during the construction of this post that ‘forbid’ is never the past tense of the English ‘forbid.’ It is usually ‘forbade’ and rarely ‘forbad.’ I hope I wasn’t the only person making this mistake… for 21 years…

The Essential AG: 365n1

The Latin Period

Introduction to the Period

No, not this :         .

The Period is an extended and logically coherent sentence structure, with its subject and main verb placed at or near the final position in order to ‘hold suspense’ of sense until the entire sentence is read.

  • English is given to short sentences, not periodic sentences.
  • Latin (an inflected) is friendly toward period structure because the relationship between all words within a longer sentence are easily comprehended by the specific case of each word. Case lends internal structure or Latin sentences, where English relies on specific word order, clauses and their transitional particles.
  • The Period encourages Latin reads to view sentences as wholes, where English readers view (long) sentences as interrelated parts.
  • The Latin periodus, -ī (complete sentence) is from the Greek περιοδός, -οῦ (cycle, unit) [viz. περὶ + ἣ ὃδος, road]

Period Samples

An English period (rare):

High on a throne of royal state, which far

Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind,

Or where the gorgeous East with richest hand

Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold,

Satan exalted sat. —Milton, Paradise Lost, ii 1-5


A Latin period (appreciably less rare [though not quite common]):

Volscī exiguam spem in armīs, aliā undique abscissā, cum tentāssent, praeter cētera adversa, locō quoquo inīquō ad pugnam congressī, inīquiōre ad fugam, cum ab omnī parte caederentur, ad precēs ā certāmine versī dēditō imperātōre trāditīsque armīs, sub iugum missī, cum singulīs vestīmentīs, īgnōminiae clādisque plēnī dīmittuntur. -Livy, iv.10

The Volscians, determined on trying the slender hope they had in arms, all others now cut off, besides many other disadvantages, having come to an engagement unfavorable for fighting, and still more so for retreat, when they were being cut down on every side, from fighting have recourse to entreaties, having given up their general and surrendered their arms, they are sent under the yoke and dismissed full of disgrace and suffering, with one garment each. (trans. Spillan)

The central verb of the unit, dīmittuntur, is held to the very end, and a grand tapestry of meaning, history and structure is woven from one clause to the next, all hanging in the air until that summary, ultimate note.

The Essential AG: 601

Famous Phrase: quārē nōn, ut intelligere possit, sed, ne omnīnō possit nōn intelligere, cūrandum

[therefore, we must care that the reader be unable to misunderstand, not able to understand]

Related Link: Hyperekperissou, “Translating

(periodic sense-shift in action)