De Bello Gallico I.14 Pronouns/Antecedents et al in Indirect Speech

By EricDi, in 'Latin Grammar Questions', Mar 12, 2013.

  1. EricDi Member

    Much of Caesar’s indirect reporting of his own comments in de Bello Gallico I.14 is difficult for me, but I will limit my questions to a piece at a time. I have problems with antecedents of pronouns and omissions, especially in indirect speech, and I seek an understanding of why each subject or reference is what it is.

    Latin source

    De Bello Gallico I.14 (line numbers inserted) [Q# index questions that follow after the excerpt]

    1 [Q1] His Caesar ita respondit: [Q2] eo sibi minus dubitationis dari, quod eas res quas legati Helvetii commemorassent memoria
    2 teneret, atque eo gravius ferre quo minus merito populi Romani accidissent; ...

    Literal translation:
    To these remarks (or ambassadors) Caesar responded so: the (or in this account the) less of hesitation is given to him, because those things which the Helvetian envoys related he remembers, and, the more heavily he bears (those things), by which the less they happened according to the merit of the Roman people; …

    Questions: (Links to translational references summarized at end)
    Q1 His (Line 1): (Granted, not indirect speech yet) Options for antecedents of His: 1) His =”to these remarks” mentioned by the envoys. –Loeb. The Classics Internet Archive (ICA) echoes this translation with His =”to these words”. But Finch has 2) His =to these ambassadors. I readily accept Loeb/ICA. The things just mentioned were most of para. 13 and 14 (not included here, but a link is above) and only the leader of the envoy Divicus had spoken to Caesar. It would be awkward to refer to the envoys without explicitly repeating such an antecedent; i.e. legatiis.
    Am I understanding correctly?

    Q2 eo. In general, I just do not know to what eo is really referring. Even if reduced to “the”, it seems it should have some reference, given its prominent position in the sentence and entire response. Options: 1) eo =”the” -Loeb. Here eo appears near a comparative (minus) as an Abl. of Degree of Difference, alone, without the correlative pair eo…quo =the…the… from which syntax is derived per A&G414aNote. 2) eo =”the” as in (1), but considered as just a third correlative with the two eo’s joined by atque; i.e., eo…atque…eo…quo… 3) eo=”on this account” -Finch, where “this” refers to the general notion of the quod clause that follows, but still an Abl. of Degree of Diff. or of Cause. 4) eo =“on this account”, where eo also refers to the general notion “this” of the quod clause that follows and eo is an Abl. of Specification or Cause. 5) eo=”on this matter”, where eo refers back to Caesar’s general activity discussed in prior I.12-13 and not to the notion of the quod clause that follows; here eo is still either Abl. of Specification or Cause. Or 6) eo ="on this account the" where "this" refers to the general notion of the quod clause that follows but combines Abl. Specification/Cause and Comparative character. Do any of the above Options capture the situation well? (As I bounce around possibilities for this section, somehow I think I would be tripping less had Caesar used se instead of sibi in this clause and shifted the subject of dari squarely to himself.)

    I hope the above is asked clearly enough. (As mentioned above, I have more questions on this passage, and will add them incrementally in the same thread, assuming that is a reasonable way to proceed.)

    Link to Finch:
    Link to The Classics Internet Archive
    A&G refers to "New Latin Grammar"
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris

    About his: yeah, you're right, it's much more likely to be "these words". Sure actually.

    About eo: it refers to quod. So literally: Caesar responded so: that by this (eo) less hesitation was given to him, that (quod) those things... Of course in a less literal translation you can say something like "he felt less hesitation/hesitated less because of the fact that..." or something of the kind.

    Edit: Just a little precision. The expression eo... quo is used with a comparative with each one. So the first eo couldn't have been followed by quo, as there's no comparative in eas res etc. When "the thing by wich you're more or less this or more or less that" (eo) isn't "a thing that is itself more or less this or more or less that (causing you to be more or less something in the same proportion)", but just a simple "fact", without comparative, you find eo... quod.

    Illustartion: eo magis gaudeo, quo magis gaudes = (lit. by this I rejoice more, by which you rejoice more) the more you rejoice, the more I rejoice (it is proportional).
    Eo magis gaudeo quod gaudes = (lit. by this I rejoice more that you rejoice) I rejoice more because you rejoice (proportion not mentioned).
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Mar 13, 2013
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  3. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    If it were "to these things/words" I'd have expected ad haec, but I'm not certain that things responded to can't be put in the dative, either. I don't know, to be honest.

    Surely minus dubitationis is the subject accusative of the AcI clause, not direct object of dari, which is better analysed as passive voice rather than middle. sibi is an indirect reflexive, not a direct reflexive, so it's just "...that less doubt was being given to him because...", in better English "that he was given less doubt because..."

    eo is proleptic, i.e. looking forward to quod, as PP said. Its close connection with minus is probably the reason that some analyse it as ablative of degree of difference, similar to how we can say in English "all the more because...", where "the" is not a definite article but an old instrumental relative [OE þȳ] that's been affixed to the comparative. However, although the precise classification is irrelevant to the meaning, it's more straightforward to take eo as ablative of cause/source.
    EricDi likes this.
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Just checked. At respondeo, the OLD says "with dat. denoting the questioner or his words, etc."
  5. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Okay. Surely it mentions the use with ad as well, though? (e.g. summā constantiā ad ea, quae quaesita erant, respondebat Cic.Phil. 1, 1, 2) That's what I'm used to seeing, and it has the advantage of not being ambiguous.
  6. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Yes, of course it mentions ad as well. Both can be done. Here seeing the text I really think his represent the words rather than the ambassadors.
  7. EricDi Member

    Hi. ::): (Despite my verbose question, I failed a simple one word courtesy. :doh:)

    Thank you Pacis puella and Imber Renae. Beautiful responses both and each in their entirety. My absorption of the concepts remains tenuous, but I see light and will utilize your comments as I trudge through. The descriptive words/concepts of “proportional” and “proleptic” are particularly helpful for me to queue.

    Regarding [Q1] His:
    Is it safe to say that use of pronouns, even in Latin, can be ambiguous and that Caesar here may have been so? That is, although the writer thinks himself clear, he is not as he uses the multi-gender "his" without explicit reiteration of its antecedent and the reader is left to struggle to fill in the intended antecedent him/herself? Still, I would not say that the situation here is at all egregious.

    Regarding [Q2] eo:
    Yes, that's me. On each read, the appearance of minus is what initially triggers me to queue a comparative in my mind as I read, but as
    (reinforced by Imber Renae.)

    This relationship eo…quod seems a more natural resolution of the syntax, earlier in the the read, despite my tendency to reach across to the later eo...quo, a tendency somewhat goaded by atque, but more by other confusions.

    As I said earlier, I am weak on much of I.14 (still some in these same clauses). Is it best to continue with additional questions about it with this same thread?

    In the meantime, thanks again.
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Yes, one can say that forms that are the same for all three genders can be ambiguous. Seeing the sentence alone without its context, there would be no way to tell whether his represents persons or things. But here, seeing that that his appears right after a relatively long passage consisting only of what the guy said to Caesar, one feels it represents those thing that were said. If it represented the envoys mentioned quite a few lines back already, I think, as you said yourself, that legatis would have had good chance to have been repeated. And, as you also said, only one spoke to Caesar - if they'd been several to say all that, it'd have been different, but "one guy said balablabla, and to these persons he responded..." doesn't fully make sense. All that gives the feeling that his is just "to these words/things".
    No, the first eo has nothing to do with the second eo and the quo that goes with it. They're two separate couples. Eo... quod. Eo... quo.
    Yes, you can continue in this thread.
    You are welcome.
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Mar 14, 2013
  9. EricDi Member


    I am drafting additional questions on this passage in this thread, but I am having difficulty formulating them coherently and succinctly, so I will take more time before I ask.
    Thank you.
  10. EricDi Member

    Continuing with new questions regarding antecedents in De Bello Gallico I.14....not succinct, but hopefully coherent enough.

    General problem: Pronouns in indirect speech in Latin tend to throw me faster as the verbs tend to be more ambiguous in the infinitive form, especially when explicit subjects are omitted which Caesar does often in this passage. When reading, I look for verbs and their subjects first, and ground on the antecedents of pronouns as soon as I can; otherwise I am queuing too much Latin for my brain. So, in general, for each clause, my desire is to glean what are the fastest pointers to nailing the subjects and antecedents. First the Latin, then the questions/comments for review.

    DBG I.14 partial (as above, from Latin source Bracketed and parenthetic texts are my own and indicate [antecedents] and (omissions), respectively. I numbered the lines differently than at the start of the thread in order to break them down more according to clauses and/or phrases.

    1 His Caesar ita respondit:
    2 eo sibi [/Caesari] minus dubitationis dari,
    3 quod eas res quas legati Helvetii commemorassent memoria (Caesar/eo) teneret, 4 atque eo gravius (se) ferre (eas res)
    5 quo minus merito populi Romani [eae] accidissent;...

    Questions/comments for review:
    Line 2/3: Upon seeing that the subject of dari is really minus, sibi seems to float for a bit. The first clue that it might be Caesar is that Caesar is the subject of respondit, governing this indirect speech, but can't be sure at this point. But then Caesar fits well in teneret. However, I tend not to look to a subordinate clause to govern the use of the reflexive sibi/se in a main clause (dari). Still, it is the combined force of respondit (Caesar) and that Caesar fits teneret, that solidify Caesar as the subject of teneret and antecedent of sibi.
    Reasonable? (But also Caesar did remark pretty strongly on "eas res" in a prior chapter, so that context helps too.)

    Line 3/4: Caesar omitted the subject of teneret (Caesar) in line 3 and then omits both the subject (Caesar) and direct object of ferre (arrgh!) in line 4. Also ferre is a versatile verb and can have both active (e.g., carry) and ~passive (e.g., bear/bore/receive) meanings, so difficult for me.

    How and at what point are we sure that Caesar is the subject of ferre without the aid of an explicit subject (se)?

    Why is Caesar avoiding using se/referring to himself? Is it because it is a formal/diplomatic manner of speech? Actually, I can see a more logical flow with such a thought in mind.

    Thanks. :)
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  11. malleolus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    As the first clue you gave clearly indicates, you have to start out with acknowledging Caesar as the subject of respondit. You are absolutely right in not looking to a subordinate clause to govern the use of the reflexive sibi/se in a main clause (dari).

    well, he did not exactly omit the subject since you can infer that Caesar himself is the subject from eo sibi [/Caesari] minus dubitationis dari (main clause of indirect speech)

    It is versatile indeed , yet you have to keep in mind that in gravius ferre you've got a set phrase meaning "take it ill ".

    Caesar's use of direct reflexives (when you would expect them) is not something you can count on. That's why most commentaries add "eo gravius <se> ferre " to this sentence.

    One also has to keep in mind that ample use of indirect speech was part of Caesar's manipulative rhethoric. He strived to convey a (seemingly) detached view on things.
    That the Helvetii had gone unpunished so far was definitely not what the Hevetii themselves thought.
    Last edited by malleolus, Mar 17, 2013
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  12. socratidion Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I like your questions, by the way... so, what, you're trying to evolve a mental system to make the process of reading more reliable, more fluent?

    This puzzles me, that you say 'upon seeing that the subject of dari really is minus, sibi seems to float for a bit'. By the time you reach dari, there shouldn't be anything floating except 'eo', which is still waiting to be explained by the 'quod' that's just about to come up.

    I wonder if your uncertainty about 'sibi' is just result of your basic methodology, looking for verbs and subjects first etc. In my experience, however comforting it may seem to do it this way -- effectively jumping around the Latin to fill in the blanks in English order -- it almost invariably leads to greater confusion and ambiguity. If you read the Latin as it comes, the word order itself helps to steer you away from ambiguities, and to make easy inferences about what's really being said. (One proviso: only well-written Latin is like this!). The more you do it, the more you train your instincts to spot the signals...

    But yeah, I find it very depressing when they leave out 'se' in indirect statements. Usually you can figure out from the context, but all the same... have a heart... you know?

    Sorry, PS, your reasoning about whether 'sibi' refers to Caesar makes sense. But also, there is no other candidate, so I don't see what ambiguity there is here.

    PPS: why did Caesar leave 'se' out? Almost certainly because it was inelegant to leave it in, after 'sibi'. Too fussy, all this change of case, especially since 'sibi minus dubitationis dari' is just a long-winded way of saying 'se minus dubitare'.
    Last edited by socratidion, Mar 16, 2013
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  13. EricDi Member

    Thank you. Glad I am clear enough.
    On the approach to reading/my desire:
    You are nails on, sacrotidion; I will try what you suggest more often and aggressively than I have so far in my studies. Thinking Latin seems far away, but I need to step out of my comfort zone to get there. (The closest I get is accidentally reading “v’s” in English as “w”. J)

    Repeating the passage in question for convenience (same numbering as in my Mar 15th posting above):
    1 His Caesar ita respondit:
    2 eo sibi [/Caesari] minus dubitationis dari,
    3 quod eas res quas legati Helvetii commemorassent memoria (Caesar/eo) teneret,
    4 atque eo gravius (se) ferre (eas res)
    5 quo minus merito populi Romani [eae] accidissent;...

    On early recognition of the antecedent of sibi (Line 2)
    I am convinced of this now with the cumulative assistance of the comments to this point. To summarize:
    1) The subject of the verb governing indirect speech is a natural candidate for an antecedent.
    2) sibi is indirect (object/reflexive), and dari begs for one, thus…above.
    3) eo…quod couplet is distinct from the eo…quo couplet.

    I think that the eo..quod couplet was my weakest link, and I let doubt on it derail the rest.

    On early recognition of the subject(/meaning) of ferre (line 4):
    Ah. No, I had not fit the two together so well; that helps much. eo gravius ferre…quo minus…="the more…ill he takes/bears (eas res)…the less…”

    Regarding Caesar’s style in this chapter/book:
    Nicely put malleolus. (I am queuing this one for later as I address later parts of I.14.)

    Thanks all. I will apply your cumulative comments to this and the rest of the passage (and other readings) and re-consider the other questions that I had anticipated for I.14 before posting. Thanks! :)

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