Cum clauses

By gerases, in 'Latin Grammar', Sep 5, 2009.

  1. gerases Member

    Location:
    Cincinnati
    These are answers from some exercises in Wheelock.

    Cum mensa exposita esset, isti ridiculi numquam dubitabant tantum vinum bibere quantum invenire poterant.
    Why is it esset and not erat? According to Wheelock, when a precise time is known, it's a cum temporal clause. Is the precise time not known in this one?

    Cum rumores conferrent, viderunt eos ulla veritate egere.
    Why conferrent and not contulerant since the time is known and the part about rumors happened before vederunt?

    Cum auxilium amicis suis referrent, eos servare non potuerunt.
    The translation in Wheelock for this one is: although they brought help back to their friends, they couldn't save them. Didn't brought back happen before they couldn't save them? In other words should it not be Cum auxilium amicis suis rettulissent, ...
  2. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    Cum-clauses can certainly be difficult.

    I think your third question is perhaps the easiest to answer. As you seem to know, this is what is called a cum-concessive, so the subordinate verb is (in classical Latin) in the subjunctive.

    It happens to be imperfect here, rather than perfect or pluperfect. It may help to think of the sentence as meaning "Although they were bringing back help to their friends, they were unable to save them".

    If we make the subordinate verb pluperfect (as you suggest), one might well read the sentence as "Although they had brought back help to their friends, they were unable to save them".

    In your first sentence, I suppose you mean numquam rather than mumquam ?

    Even if this subordinate verb were indicative it would of course be exposita erat, not erant, mensa being singular.

    This cum is indeed a cum-temporal, but it does not really define a particular time; it falls, I think, under that sub-category of cum-temporal that we may well call cum-narrative. This is a classical construction-- Plautus, I think, probably would have written exposita erat.

    Your second sentence is likewise (I think) a cum-narrative, and the verb therefore subjunctive; it might indeed be pluperfect, but the meaning would then be (a little) different. As it stands we have something like "In collecting the reports, they saw that..." Incidentally, this seems to me an unusual use of ullus. Was some negative adverb or particle perhaps omitted?
  3. gerases Member

    Location:
    Cincinnati
    I was thinking that could be the possible translation. Cool.

    Yes, sorry!

    Yep, you're absolutely right.

    No, that's word for word from Wheelock. Why does it seem strange? I'm curious.
  4. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    Hmmm. The sentence as it stands, though perfectly grammatical, seems clumsy to me, for sure...but it's not easy to explain why. I'm very far from being an expert on such things, and perhaps some other of our colleagues may wish to express an opinion.

    But I think the problem lies in that ullus. As a general rule ullus occurs mostly in negative contexts, or in questions, or in in conditonal or temporal clauses, or in comparisons. It can occur in positive declarations-- but such uses are uncommon.

    I afraid that that's the closest I can come to an explanation.
  5. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Saxonia
    My experience is that you shouldn't be too nit-picking about the question of cum temporale vs cum narrativum. When you read Cicero, you sometimes get the impression that even he failed to read Wheelock or any other modern grammar or textbook. He uses subjunctives in cum clauses where you can hardly justify them by logic ... or uses cum clauses when logic would dictate si ... My impression is that his feelings regarding such questions were not as dogmatic as ours :)

    After all, the narrative and the temporal cum are often interchangable.

    You could justify both I assume. If I had had to write that sentence in Latin, I would probably have chosen rettulissent, but it really depends on the context you have in mind: If they supported their friends with machinery/arms/troops before a battle, then went on to engage in a fight and lost, the pluperfect works. However, if they joined a raging battle and still failed to turn the tables, the imperfect makes sense.

    I don't think so. For ullus to be used, it takes a sentence to have a negative sentiment, but not necessarily a negation. That's what egere achieves, which could roughly be replaced with something like non habere.
  6. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Cum auxilium amicis suis referrent, eos servare non potuerunt.

    The imperfect here also helps to emphasize the fact that it is something that they were doing over and over again (progressive/repeated action). Although they were doing this, were in the process of doing it, were doing it repeatedly, etc. You can think of it kind of like this sentence:

    Although he was taking his medicine (every day), he died.

    Obviously the taking of the medicine was done before he died, and die is in the perfect, but it wasn't that he "had taken" the medicine, it is more of a repeated, continual thing that he used to do/was in the process of doing.

    I agree that cum clauses can seem a bit vague sometimes, especially when more than one translation makes sense in the context.
  7. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Saxonia
    Well, that's what it does in the indicative ... in this sentence the imperfect (subjunctive) is required due to the sequence of tenses; there's no indication as to the aspect ... but in a sentence like this I would expect the imperfect to emphasise the conative aspect more than the progressive one anyway (e.g. "auxilium amicis referebant, sed eos servare non potuerunt" would best be translated as "they tried to help their friends, but couldn't save them")
  8. Damoetas Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Chicago
    Iynx, I think your intuition was correct about that being a strange usage of ullus. In fact, that whole combination rumores ... ulla veritate egere struck me as unusual, so I did a bit of research about it on Perseus under Philologic (http://perseus.uchicago.edu/latin.html). I can't be sure that I've mastered the search procedures, so take these results as tentative; but the verb egeo occurs 157 times in Caesar, Cicero, Livy, and Sallust; it is never once used with veritas, and ullus never occurs as a modifier in its clause. I.e, you simply "lack" something, you don't "lack any of that something." When the thing lacked is plural, you occasionally find omnis modifying it, e.g. etsi egeo rebus omnibus, 'I am lacking in all things,' Cicero Att. 11.3.3. There is also this sentence: ... te quae facias tuo iudicio et tua sponte facere nec cuiusquam egere consilio, 'that what you are doing, you are doing of your own judgment and free will, and that you are not lacking in anyone's advice,' Cicero Att. 14.17A.2.

    I also looked up all the contexts in which rumor occurs; rumores can be certi, veri, or falsi, but I didn't see any combinations with veritas. So it seems that Latin doesn't normally talk about "rumors lacking in any truth." It would probably be more natural just to say that they're "false":

    Cum rumores conferrent, viderunt eos falsos esse.
  9. gerases Member

    Location:
    Cincinnati
    Oh yeah, the repetitive aspect of the imperfect tense ... I forgot about that. Thank you for reminding me.
  10. gerases Member

    Location:
    Cincinnati
    Fellow Latin fans, thank you all for taking the time to answer another one of my silly questions. Much obliged as always.
  11. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    As Bitmap pointed out, I was a little misguided there I am afraid. The sequence of tenses says, with respect to the imperfect subjunctive that we were talking about...

    From Learn to Read Latin:
    "These tenses of the subjunctive have no absolute time value of their own; they have only relative time. The imperfect subjunctive is used to represent an action that is simultaneous with the main verb or subsequent to the main verb. The pluperfect subjunctive is used to represent an action that is prior to the main verb."

    Also, it says that if it is a Concessive Cum Clause, with a verb in the subjunctive, it is to be translated "although..." and that the verb in the subjunctive should be translated "as if it were indicative."

    So, the main verb was perfect, the imperfect subjunctive tells us that the bringing aid was happening at the same time. But, my confusion was in whether the imperfect subjunctive should come into English as perfect-in accordance with the sequence of tenses, or, since it is an imperfect subjunctive in a concessive cum clause, it should come into English as if it were indicative....and be treated as a progressive action, like the imperfect indicative?

    Who has an answer? :whistle:
  12. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Sorry, Decimvs, but I don't really understand the question. English lacks a subjunctive mood almost entirely so I don't understand what it means to translate it "as if it were indicative". What do you mean by that?
  13. gerases Member

    Location:
    Cincinnati
    I think what Decimus is talking about is that when translating subjunctive into English, often times auxiliaries such as may, might, etc can be used -- but not with all subjunctive situations. An auxiliary can/should be used with purpose clauses for example. E.g.: opus meus facio ut pecuniam habeam (Hey, I just invented a sentence!). The "habeam", according to Wheelock, could be translated as "so I might have money". Cum clauses, according to Wheelock, should be translated without any auxiliaries and that's what Decimus was saying. If you have Wheelock, you'll find it in chapter 31 I believe.

    Decimus, I see what you're saying about the sequence of tenses. You're right on: if a cum clause starts with a historical tense, then the only tenses allowed are imperfect (if the action is simultaneous) and pluperfect (if the action is before). So, in the example I gave the only possibility is that the action is happening at the same time and should be translated as such (in my opinion).

    Hmm. Why do you think it could come into English as perfect?
  14. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Cum auxilium amicis suis referrent, eos servare non potuerunt.

    What I am trying to say is, I am wondering how one would know, with respect to a concessive cum clause, if this would be more properly rendered in English with the cum clause having a progressive/repeated aspect, or one of the aspects of the perfect tense.

    Although they 'brought' back aid for their friends, they were not able to save them. - Expressing that at the time that they showed up with the aid, which they did once, although they completed this action, at that same time, they were not able to save them.

    or

    Although they were bringing back aid... - Expressing the fact that they were engaged in this process of bringing aid back for them, and although at that time they were doing that, they were not able to save them.

    I was just trying to tease apart how to determine the aspect of the imperfect subjunctive when it is in a concessive cum clause.

    Using a concessive cum clause, would it be possible in Latin to say something like: Although I was taking my medicine every day, I became sick.

    Is it possible to show progressive/repeated aspect in a concessive cum clause?
  15. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Okay, I think I understand what you mean now. Short answer: yes, you can, but only by implication through the use of the word quotidie.

    Cum circumstantial clauses are historical tenses and thus by definition imprecise about the grammatical aspect of the action. There might be an implication one way or the other, as is true even for the present and future tenses of the indicative, but as said above the subjunctive tenses only show time relative to the main verb, not aspect. If you want to be more precise you can always do that by using cum temporal with an indicative verb, usually after an expression of time like eo tempore, or use quando instead, or even just eo tempore quo "during that time in which". Cum temporal (indicative) with an imperfect verb in the main clause and pluperfect in the cum clause is also used for repeated actions, as in Si quid dixerat, credebatur "If he had [i.e. whenever he] said anything, it was [always] believed." There's also a special construction with the indicative called cum inversum, where the cum clause actually contains the emphatic notion of the sentence, e.g. Vix agmen processerat, cum Galli cohortati sunt inter se "Scarcely had the column advanced when the Gauls exhorted one another."

    For concessive and causal cum clauses, remember that concession and cause can be expressed in many different ways in Latin. If you need to, you can always use quamquam or [tam]etsi with the indicative to indicate a concession and yet retain the aspectual distinctions; and quod, quia, and quoniam all express cause and generally take the indicative. I think new Latin students often become flustered when they first learn that cum may mean "although" or "because" in addition to "when", because they don't realize how easily the temporal meaning lends itself to the suggestion of cause or concession. You have to keep in mind that the primary meaning of cum has always been temporal and that the other uses developed from this temporal notion. This is a common phenomenon in all languages, including English. Think of the words "since" and "while", and imagine how confused a person learning English must feel when he or she is first told that, in addition to their primary temporal meanings, "since" can also mean "because" and "while" can also mean "although": naturally, the first question to come to their mind is "how the heck do I know when it means one or the other?" The answer is context, which we as experienced speakers of English instantly recognize when we read or hear it. If the primary temporal meaning of these words makes little sense in context, then we automatically understand that it must be conveying something else.

    The same is true for cum in Latin. My advice to beginners is, when you come upon cum with a past tense subjunctive and don't know which meaning best applies, to simply translate it in your head as "when" and continue on with the sentence. Once you've translated the rest of the sentence, or at least the relevant parts of it, and understand the context, go back to the cum clause and see whether it makes sense and sounds natural to translate it as "when". If it doesn't, then you know it's probably not circumstantial but causal or concessive (even if "when" sounds natural, however, it may technically still be causal when cause is implicit in the English word as well, as I just demonstrated in this sentence. In fact, in many contexts it is impossible to distinguish cum circumstantial from cum causal, because both meanings are equally valid.) If a causal link is obvious, translate cum as "since" or "because"; if the cum clause seems to go against what was said in the main clause, translate it with "although". Sometimes the author will even make the concessive idea explicit by inserting an adversative word like tamen into the main clause.

    I realize I'm rambling a bit now, but does any of what I've said make sense to you (or to anyone)? By the way, did you purchase an edition of this book yet? I believe I suggested it to you in another thread, when you asked about a beginner's edition of De Bello Gallico. I ask because the abridged grammar at the end explains the different uses of cum clauses rather succinctly.
  16. Cato Consularis

    • Consularis
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
  17. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Saxonia
    Makes sense to me :) It's quite an interesting phenomenom. Other Germanic languages also have cognates of the English "while" to express causation; or cognates of the English "when" to express condition (similar to Cicero's occasional mingling of cum and si).

    They're also free of grammatical aspects (as English was in times of Old English) and express such ideas with adverbs. It's not always necessary for a language to express every single bit of grammatical information with grammatical items :)
  18. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:

    Thank you so much Imber, that is the exact explanation/information that I was looking for!
  19. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Ludoviciana
    Yes, it makes sense. Great explanation, thanks a lot! I'm saving it.
  20. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Same here. :)

    Hurry up and come out with a textbook Imber! Not a first year text, but a nice text that has the types of explanations of concepts like the one above. I like the way that you explain things.

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