De Bello Gallico: Liber Primus - Forum Book Club

By Decimvs, in 'De Bello Gallico', May 18, 2010.

  1. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    To be honest, I don't see how this tangent has anything to do with the reading anymore. Maybe it should be split into a new thread?

    Anyway, as regards the much-discussed sentence Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen, a Belgis Matrona et Sequana dividit I think something was missed, albeit a very minor point. Clearly there is ellipsis in the two clauses, as has been mentioned, but by the same token there are only two clauses, not three. Matrona and Sequana are both nominative subjects in the second clause: the et between them, and the fact that a Belgis applies to both, does not fit the pattern of hypozeugma (or whatever it's called). This means that the singular verb dividit does in fact have two subjects in the second clause, at least nominally.

    The reason why the verb remains singular, I believe, is because the Marne and Seine rivers are being conceived of as a single boundary. This is quite evident when you look at a map, as the Marne, which flows into the Seine, looks roughly parallel with the Seine after the confluence, whereas the Seine itself flows up from the south until it joins its tributary, then continues westward.
  2. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Translation for Chapter 2 (from The Perseus Project website)

    [2] Among the Helvetii, Orgetorix was by far the most distinguished and wealthy. He, when Marcus Messala and Marcus Piso were consuls [61 B.C.], incited by lust of sovereignty, formed a conspiracy among the nobility, and persuaded the people to go forth from their territories with all their possessions, [saying] that it would be very easy, since they excelled all in valor, to acquire the supremacy of the whole of Gaul. To this he the more easily persuaded them, because the Helvetii, are confined on every side by the nature of their situation; on one side by the Rhine , a very broad and deep river, which separates the Helvetian territory from the Germans; on a second side by the Jura , a very high mountain, which is [situated] between the Sequani and the Helvetii; on a third by the Lake of Geneva, and by the river Rhone, which separates our Province from the Helvetii. From these circumstances it resulted, that they could range less widely, and could less easily make war upon their neighbors; for which reason men fond of war [as they were] were affected with great regret. They thought, that considering the extent of their population, and their renown for warfare and bravery, they had but narrow limits, although they extended in length 240, and in breadth 180 [Roman] miles.

    C. Julius Caesar. Caesar's Gallic War. Translator. W. A. McDevitte. Translator. W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper's New Classical Library.

    Chapter 3 (taken from The Latin Library)

    [3] His rebus adducti et auctoritate Orgetorigis permoti constituerunt ea quae ad proficiscendum pertinerent comparare, iumentorum et carrorum quam maximum numerum coemere, sementes quam maximas facere, ut in itinere copia frumenti suppeteret, cum proximis civitatibus pacem et amicitiam confirmare. Ad eas res conficiendas biennium sibi satis esse duxerunt; in tertium annum profectionem lege confirmant. Ad eas res conficiendas Orgetorix deligitur. Is sibi legationem ad civitates suscipit. In eo itinere persuadet Castico, Catamantaloedis filio, Sequano, cuius pater regnum in Sequanis multos annos obtinuerat et a senatu populi Romani amicus appellatus erat, ut regnum in civitate sua occuparet, quod pater ante habuerit; itemque Dumnorigi Haeduo, fratri Diviciaci, qui eo tempore principatum in civitate obtinebat ac maxime plebi acceptus erat, ut idem conaretur persuadet eique filiam suam in matrimonium dat. Perfacile factu esse illis probat conata perficere, propterea quod ipse suae civitatis imperium obtenturus esset: non esse dubium quin totius Galliae plurimum Helvetii possent; se suis copiis suoque exercitu illis regna conciliaturum confirmat. Hac oratione adducti inter se fidem et ius iurandum dant et regno occupato per tres potentissimos ac firmissimos populos totius Galliae sese potiri posse sperant. (always helpful)

    Map of Roman Gaul

    Thanks to all those who have contributed to the wonderful discussion! :)

    Thanks to Imber for driving us back on topic. :)
  3. Reziac Member

    Interesting idiom.

    Did they distinguish "look to [between]" and "faces" as English does?

    The house looks to the north
    The house faces north

    Subtle but it's not quite the same thing. The first is more active, as if it was purposefully done or has some function; the second is wholly passive.
  4. angus New Member

    Thank you Imber ranae for the clarification. Very helpful.
  5. Euphorbus New Member

    Habere can be used of holding or keeping a person in a condition. Lewis and Short give the example Men. 4, 2, 12; 21: “miserrimum ego hunc habebo amasium,” along with a host of others. Angustus can refer to condition of mind or character, and seems to fit in with the rest of the very broad list of conditions + habeo the dictionary offers.

    Re: Prose and reading out loud

    In general, I'd assume prose is the same as other literature: meant by Romans to be read out loud. Consider for instance the careful attention to clausulae at the end of sentences in prose.

    Caesar wrote for an audience. If that audience was used to having prose read out loud, Caesar would do well to assume that is what they'd do with his text too.
  6. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Well, "looks" is not in this case actually more active, since a house cannot have intentionality. I see no real difference in meaning between the two, except that one sounds a bit more metaphorical and in that sense is a more vivid description. But here we're moving out of the realm of denotation and into the realm of connotation and word associations.

    In Latin, spectare can simply be used with localities to mean "lies in the direction of". The idiom probably doesn't retain any real notion of sight.
  7. root Member

    'or was that simply his own level of literacy?'

    For what I know, Caesar's writing style is what in those times was known as the attic style.
  8. Euphorbus New Member

    1.3 is a lot trickier than the first two. It took me some time to see constituerunt kicks off an indirect statement, and then boy does the sequence of tenses gets a full work out.

    I'm uncomfortable with the tense in 'ante habuerit'. I've seen the perfect subjunctive put to work in secondary sequence in a variety of weird exceptional circumstances -- is this the case here? Love to hear your opinions.
  9. Reziac Member

    That's way beyond any level of Latin I ever got to, but when I read the words it reminds me of the English constructions, "he used to live [there]", or "before he had it".
  10. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Translation for Chapter 3: (Taken from the Perseus Project)

    [3] Induced by these considerations, and influenced by the authority of Orgetorix, they determined to provide such things as were necessary for their expedition-to buy up as great a number as possible of beasts of burden and wagons-to make their sowings as large as possible, so that on their march plenty of corn might be in store-and to establish peace and friendship with the neighboring states. They reckoned that a term of two years would be sufficient for them to execute their designs; they fix by decree their departure for the third year. Orgetorix is chosen to complete these arrangements. He took upon himself the office of embassador to the states: on this journey he persuades Casticus, the son of Catamantaledes (one of the Sequani, whose father had possessed the sovereignty among the people for many years, and had been styled "friend" by the senate of the Roman people), to seize upon the sovereignty in his own state, which his father had held before him, and he likewise persuades Dumnorix, an Aeduan, the brother of Divitiacus, who at that time possessed the chief authority in the state, and was exceedingly beloved by the people, to attempt the same, and gives him his daughter in marriage. He proves to them that to accomplish their attempts was a thing very easy to be done, because he himself would obtain the government of his own state; that there was no doubt that the Helvetii were the most powerful of the whole of Gaul; he assures them that he will, with his own forces and his own army, acquire the sovereignty for them. Incited by this speech, they give a pledge and oath to one another, and hope that, when they have seized the sovereignty, they will, by means of the three most powerful and valiant nations, be enabled to obtain possession of the whole of Gaul.

    C. Julius Caesar. Caesar's Gallic War. Translator. W. A. McDevitte. Translator. W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper's New Classical Library.

    Chapter 4 (Taken from The Latin Library)

    [4] Ea res est Helvetiis per indicium enuntiata. Moribus suis Orgetoricem ex vinculis causam dicere coegerunt; damnatum poenam sequi oportebat, ut igni cremaretur. Die constituta causae dictionis Orgetorix ad iudicium omnem suam familiam, ad hominum milia decem, undique coegit, et omnes clientes obaeratosque suos, quorum magnum numerum habebat, eodem conduxit; per eos ne causam diceret se eripuit. Cum civitas ob eam rem incitata armis ius suum exequi conaretur multitudinemque hominum ex agris magistratus cogerent, Orgetorix mortuus est; neque abest suspicio, ut Helvetii arbitrantur, quin ipse sibi mortem consciverit.

    No Dictionaries version

    Map of Roman Gaul

    Thank you to all of you who participate in the Latin Forum Book Club!

    Discussion and questions about previous chapters is still welcome of course. :)
  11. Labienus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Eee gad, I have some catching up to do! If only there were more time in the day.

    You may well be right, Imber, but I consulted an old book of mine and at least Du Pontet (1963) makes the same mistake as me; although, he only refers to the construction as 'zeugmatic'. I added the prefix only because of its positioning in the sentence.

    Anyway, I hope to find the time to do some more reading. These discussions are great.
  12. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Hmm... the edition I used when I first read Bello Gallico had habuerat instead of habuerit, but that appears to be a correction made by the editor rather than a true textual variant. To me it seems an elegant solution, however, both because I see no real reason for the relative clause to be attracted into the subjunctive (which doesn't mean it can't be, of course) and because the broken tense sequence just feels bizarre to me. But some other sources I've found say that this isn't the only place in Caesar where the sequence of tenses is broken in relative clauses, so perhaps habuerit is indeed correct and it's just a quirk of Caesar's prose style.
    Godmy likes this.
  13. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    I think you've misunderstood me. I'm not saying there's no verb ellipsis/hypozeugma in the sentence, because there is. I'm only saying that Matrona et Sequana functions as the single subject of one half of the sentence, while Garumna flumen serves as the subject of the other half, i.e. (elided words in brackets) Gallos ab Aquitanis Garumna flumen [dividit], [Gallos] a Belgis Matrona et Sequana [flumen] dividit.
  14. angus New Member

  15. Labienus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    This was the source of my confusion, Imber, and, given your latest post, I must have misunderstood you, since I read the Latin in exactly the same way you did :) I just thought your post at the top was saying that because it did not fit the pattern, it was not it. No worries.
  16. Tactixian New Member

    Questions for chapter 3:

    in tertium annum
    For the third year

    What is the accusative construction here? Not accusative of duration, is it? Is it the notion of moving towards the third year?

    se suis copiis suoque exercitu illis regna conciliaturum confirmat.
    He confirms that, with his own wealth and his army, he would acquire kingdoms for them. [regna (plural) is "sovereignty"? my dictionary has sovereignty under "regnum" in the singular]

    ius iurandum dant et regno occupato per tres potentissimos ac firmissimos populos totius Galliae sese potiri posse sperant.
    ...they give oaths and they hope that, when the kingdom is seized, they are able to grasp (possession) of all Gaul by means of the three most powerful and strongest nations.

    Does regno occupato function similarly to an ablative absolute, except that it describes some circumstance that is yet to be?
    Is "possession" implied by the phrase totius Galliae?
  17. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    yes ... kind of ... they 'moved' the profectio into the 3rd year.

    it's probably plural because the beneficial object illis is plural as well. That's not unusual.

    even better, it is an ablative absolute. The ablative absolute with a PPP refers to actions that happen before the action in the clause it refers to. In this case, you have a futuristic expression (sperare potiri posse), so the ablative absolute stands instead of a future II ("when the kingdom will have been seized").
    So - yes, it describes some circumstance that is yet to be

    no, by potiri (alicuius rei), which means "to grasp possession of something".
  18. Tactixian New Member

    Thanks, Bitmap. Looks like I'm mostly caught up. Now for Ch 4.
  19. Decimvs Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Translation for Chapter 4 (Taken from The Perseus Project)

    [4] When this scheme was disclosed to the Helvetii by informers, they, according to their custom, compelled Orgetorix to plead his cause in chains; it was the law that the penalty of being burned by fire should await him if condemned. On the day appointed for the pleading of his cause, Orgetorix drew together from all quarters to the court, all his vassals to the number of ten thousand persons; and led together to the same place all his dependents and debtor-bondsmen, of whom he had a great number; by means of those he rescued himself from [the necessity of] pleading his cause. While the state, incensed at this act, was endeavoring to assert its right by arms, and the magistrates were mustering a large body of men from the country, Orgetorix died; and there is not wanting a suspicion, as the Helvetii think, of his having committed suicide.

    C. Julius Caesar. Caesar's Gallic War. Translator. W. A. McDevitte. Translator. W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper's New Classical Library.

    Chapter 5 (Taken from The Latin Library)

    [5] Post eius mortem nihilo minus Helvetii id quod constituerant facere conantur, ut e finibus suis exeant. Ubi iam se ad eam rem paratos esse arbitrati sunt, oppida sua omnia, numero ad duodecim, vicos ad quadringentos, reliqua privata aedificia incendunt; frumentum omne, praeter quod secum portaturi erant, comburunt, ut domum reditionis spe sublata paratiores ad omnia pericula subeunda essent; trium mensum molita cibaria sibi quemque domo efferre iubent. Persuadent Rauracis et Tulingis et Latobrigis finitimis, uti eodem usi consilio oppidis suis vicisque exustis una cum iis proficiscantur, Boiosque, qui trans Rhenum incoluerant et in agrum Noricum transierant Noreiamque oppugnabant, receptos ad se socios sibi adsciscunt.

    No Dictionaries Version

    Map of Roman Gaul

    Thank you to all who participate in the Latin Forum Book Club. :)
  20. Tactixian New Member

    Die constituta causae dictionis
    Given: On the day appointed for the pleading of his cause

    How does this work? dies, diei is masculine, so how could constituta modify it?
    I had "On that day, the matter of pleading the cause having been decided [(re) causae dictionis constituta]"

    incitata armis ius suum exequi conaretur
    Given: incensed at this act, was endeavoring to assert its right by arms
    Could incitate armis not mean "incited to arms"?

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