Pliny's letter re Christians -- subjunctive?

By Callaina, in 'Reading Latin', Aug 13, 2019.

  1. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Belgium
    Yeah, it makes sense to call it adverbial.
    Callaina and Bitmap like this.
  2. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
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    Cygnea, Gena

    I was talking about the question as to whether it fulfills a syntactic function in the sentence.
  3. Godmy A Monkey

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    From my Czech grammar training (and also having checked some grammar books) the "quālecumque esset" (with its subclause quod) would be in fact [by meaning] another adjacent main clause to dēbēre pūnīrī (= on the same level but not lower, subjected/subjugated/"subordinated" also to dūbitābam), then it doesn't stand to reason it would be in subjunctive, if the Latin syntax* wouldn't allow an infinitive with the "quālecumque" expression introducing the clause. The "quālecumque" would be just a type of connecting expression (translating from Czech) just like you have "and" or "but" with main clauses...
    Last edited by Godmy, Aug 14, 2019
  4. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
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    Cygnea, Gena
    I haven't heard of that before – unless it comes down to what I tried to describe as a parenthesis.


    What does it connect?
  5. Godmy A Monkey

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    Just some follow up before I answer:

    Livy has this bit of reported speech (PHI):
    Bacchanalia tota iam pridem Italia et nunc per urbem etiam multis locis esse, non fama solum accepisse uos sed crepitibus etiam ululatibusque nocturnis, qui personant tota urbe, certum habeo, ceterum quae ea res sit, ignorare: alios deorum aliquem cultum, alios concessum ludum et lasciuiam credere esse, et qualecumque sit, ad paucos pertinere.

    -> Here the subjunctive follows most probably as a side effect of the reporting. (when translated to Czech, the Czech grammars do not doubt it's NOT a subordinated clause, it's likely it's not a Czech thing only...)

    The examples are scarce, but then there is one from Cicero, with indicative though (a counterexample):
    hoc, qualecumque est, te scire volui.

    -> but one could probably say that with "velle" one doesn't really "report" anything and that "velle" is just a "desiderative modifier" to the "main intended [lexical] verb (sciō, scīre)" and it just happens that the IndoEuropean syntax puts the main lexical(meaning carrying) verb to infinitive and the modifier to the finite tense (it may be different in different types of languages, right, as linguistics suggests).
  6. Godmy A Monkey

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    I think it does! I think you were more or less on the right track, I wasn't sure myself, I understood the sentence as most of us, I translated it to Czech and went through the Czech grammars since that's where I'm fluent.



    the dēbere pūnīre with the quālecumque clause or vice versa, since they should be on the same level (no subordinance).
  7. Godmy A Monkey

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    Another (boring) follow up to my "desiderative modifier":

    One could counter-argue that, if I classify things this way, what is then "dubito + infinitive" other than a "dubitative modifier" of the true lexical (=carrying meaning) verb in infinitive, but unlike the volitive/desiderative one, it triggers subjunctives. To that, I would probably say that, yes, it is then a "dubitative modifier" but that it, perhaps much more than the volitive one, by its semantics simply moves the whole proposition to irreality (putting things into doubt) => thus triggering subjunctives in subordinate clauses. Then one could as well cease to call it, in this one case, a 'reported speech'.
  8. Laurentius Weebus Maximus

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    Antium
    Imho it's because he goes into the hypothetical realm, something like the English "whatever they'd confess". It has nothing to do with what they confessed but it was rather their obstinacy that demanded punishment.
  9. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
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    Cygnea, Gena

    Well, Pacifica is right in pointing out that such indefinite relative clauses (with quisquis, quicumque, qualiscumque ...) are usually in the indicative in Latin, even though English would put them in the subjunctive (i.e. construct them with may or would) ... the subjunctive is more likely to be explained by the fact that it's an indirect statement ... same in Godmy's Livius example, whereas it's no indirect statement in the Cicero one.
    Laurentius likes this.

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