Relative Clauses with the Subjunctive

By Dantius, in 'Grammar Tips And Examples', Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Relative Clauses generally take the indicative and state a background fact, or connect one sentence to the next. But what about those times when they take the subjunctive?
    This guide will explain the uses of these clauses and how to identify them in a sentence. Practice sentences will be given at the end.

    (NOTE: For the purpose of this guide "relative clause" is not limited to clauses introduced by "qui, quae, quod" but also "ubi", "quo", "unde", and other similar words.)

    Subjunctive Relative Clauses have a few main uses:
    1. Relative Clause of Purpose
    2. Relative Clause of Characteristic
      1. Result
      2. Cause
      3. Concessive / Adversative
    SECTION 1: SOME POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS (not really Subjunctive Relative Clauses)
    First off, if you see what looks like a relative clause with the subjunctive, check to make sure it isn't one of these things:

    ACTUALLY AN INDIRECT QUESTION: Pacifica has already written a guide here on how to tell apart Relative Clauses from Indirect Questions: Indirect Question vs. Relative Clause.

    For example, in the sentence: "Quaerit Dantius qui Caesarem interfecerint," it is clear that the "qui" clause does not describe Dantius, but is an indirect question: Dantius asks who killed Caesar.

    INSIDE AN INDIRECT STATEMENT: Inside oratio obliqua all clauses must take the subjunctive. If you see a relative clause inside oratio obliqua taking the subjunctive, do not assume it is one of those uses above.

    Octavianus dixit se occisurum eos qui patrem suum Caesarem tam crudeliter necassent
    There is nothing special about this relative clause: Octavian said that he would kill those who had so cruelly murdered his father Caesar.

    INSIDE ANOTHER CLAUSE: Often clauses inside subjunctive-taking clauses will find themselves attracted into the subjunctive.
    Dantius iit ad forum ut cibum emeret quem Marcus venderet.
    Again, there is nothing special about this relative clause in terms of how to translate it:
    Dantius went to the forum to buy the food which Marcus was selling.

    If it isn't any of these, then you know it is in fact a special kind of relative clause. The next sections will discuss these types in detail.

    These relative clauses are roughly equivalent to "ut is/ea/id" as a purpose clause.
    A common use for them is after the verb "mittere" .
    They can be translated as a normal purpose clause, or "who ... was to"

    Imperator legatos misit qui pacem peterent. = Imperator legatos misit ut ii pacem peterent.
    The general sent ambassadors to seek peace. (or who were to seek peace)

    Dantius uxorem Romam misit cui Marcus pecuniam debitam daret. = ut ei Marcus ... daret
    Dantius sent his wife to Rome so that Marcus would give her the money he owed.
    (or to whom Marcus was to give ...)

    • Stands in for purpose clause
    • Usually comes after mittere / compounds of it.
    • There are time when it does not come after mittere. If the relative clause seems to show an objective or purpose to a person, it is probably this type:
    Imperator duos legatos reliquit qui praesidio castris essent.
    The commander left two legeions to be a guard for the camp.

    If there is no antecedent at all, it is translated as some/anyone, some/anywhere, etc.
    Milites perterriti non habebant quo fugerent. The terrified soldiers did not have anywhere to flee.
    Galli rei militaris imperiti quaerunt qui pro iis pugnent. The Gauls, inexperienced with the art of war, seek people to fight for them.
    These are clauses of purpose because the people they are seeking have the purpose of "fighting for them", or the place they are seeking has the purpose of "we can flee to it!"

    Relative Clauses of characteristic show, rather than a definite fact about the antecedent, a characteristic of the antecedent.

    Iulia est discipula quae linguam Latinam amat (fact): Julia is a student who loves Latin.
    Iulia est discupla quae linguam Latinam amet (characteristic): Julia is a student who would love Latin.

    1. Antecedent is "nemo (nullus, nihil, etc.)". A structure "Nemo est qui" will often introduce one of these clauses. In other words the antecedent's existence is denied.
    Nemo est qui te amet. There is no one who would love you. / No one who loves you.
    NOTE: "Quis" in a rhetorical question can also be used in this structure.

    2. Structure "sunt qui" (antecedent is indefinite). Again translated as a normal indicative.
    Sunt qui dicant Ciceronem nimis superbum fuisse. There are some who say that Cicero was too arrogant.

    3. Other general situations where the characteristic, rather than a fact, is described:
    Modum excogitavit, quo malis antea ignotis eos perdere posset. He came up with a method, by which he could destroy them with previously unknown evils.
    This takes the subjunctive because it's not a fact yet. He (Jupiter) has not determined for a fact that with this method, he can destroy them. He's just thinking of a plan, which, in his mind, has the characteristic of "being able to destroy them". (Note: This can also be considered purpose; the purpose of his plan is to be able to destroy them)

    Tu non is es qui a malis fallaris. You are not the type to be deceived by evil men.

    These forms of Relative Clauses are similar to result clauses. They are identified by the same means.
    Nemo est tam fortis qui non morte terreatur. No one is so brave that s/he is not scared by death.

    These relative clauses stand in for "cum is/ea/id". There are no specific words to identify them most of the time. You just have to look at their relation to the rest of the sentence, and see if the relative clause explains the cause of the rest of the sentence.

    Tristis sum qui modo uxorem meam mori viderim. (= cum ... viderim)
    I am sad because I just saw my wife die.

    Caesar, quem Marcus interficere temptasset, parabat eum punire. (=cum eum Marcus ... temptasset)
    Caesar, because Marcus had tried to kill him, was preparing to punish him.

    Publius, qui Romanus esset, tamen pro Germanis pugnavit.
    Publius, although he was Roman, nevertheless fought for the Germans.

    ut, utpote, or quippe will often come before one of these clauses:
    Dantius, ut qui speraret se melius victurum, Romam migravit.
    Dante, because he hoped that he would have a better live, moved to Rome.

    NOTE: The distinction between these types of clauses are very fine. Unlike the grammar books make it seem, you cannot always tell which type of clause any one thing is.

    For instance, the modum excogitavit, quo ... perdere posset could be described as a relative clause of purpose as well: the purpose of his method is being able to destroy them.
    As long as you can understand the meaning of what the author is trying to say, it is good.

    Now come some Practice Sentences adapted from Roman authors. Some are easy, some are hard.
    In each sentence, a relative clause will be bolded (and colored if there are more than one).
    You must say what kind of relative clause this is, and then translate the sentence.

    Actually an Indirect Question
    Inside oratio obliqua
    Inside another clause
    R.C. of Characteristic
    R.C. of Purpose
    R.C. of Result
    R.C. of Cause / Concession

    An answer key will be provided at the bottom.

    1. Nemo est tam fortis qui non re subita perturbetur. (Caesar)

    2. Facile persuasit ei ut cui Tarquinii (a town from which she was trying to get him to leave) materna tantum patria esset. (Livy)

    3. Qui sis, non unde natus sis reputa. (Livy)

    4. Magna pars Fidenatium, ut quibus coloni Romani additi essent, linguam Latinam sciebant. (Livy)

    5. Tum ex consilio patrum Romulus legatos circa vicinas gentes misit qui uxores novo populo peterent. (Livy)

    6. Nihil agis, nihil moliris, nihil cogitas, quod non ego audiam, videam planeque sentiam. (Cicero)

    7. Caesar misit exploratores qui cognoscerent qualis esset natura montis. (Caesar)

    8. Non enim ad regendum quicquam praeter vim habebat ut qui nec plebis nec patrum iussu regnaret. (Livy)

    9. Sunt in nostro numero, patres conscripti, qui de omnium interitu, qui de huius urbis incendio cogitent! (Cicero)

    10. Quis veneficus, quis latro, quis sicarius, quis parricida, quis circumscriptor, quis ganeo, quis adulter, quae mulier infamis, quis corruptor iuventutis, quis corruptus, quis perditus inveniri potest, qui se cum Catilina non familiarissime vixisse fateatur? (Cicero)

    11. Divicus ita cum Caesare egit: in eam partem ituros atque ibi futuros Helvetios ubi eos Caesar esse vellet. (Caesar)

    12. Fuerunt ea tempestate, qui crederent M. Licinium Crassum non ignarum eius consili fuisse. (Sallust)

    13. Tum denique interficieris, cum iam nemo tam improbus inveniri poterit, qui id non iure factum esse fateatur. (Cicero)

    14. Galli deposcunt qui belli initium faciant et sui capitis periculo Galliae libertatem ferrent. (Caesar)

    15. In hac urbe nemo est qui te non metuat, nemo, qui non oderit. (Cicero)

    16. Helvetii legatos ad Caesarem miserunt nobilissimos civitatis, qui dicerent sibi esse in animo sine ullo maleficio iter per provinciam facere. (Caesar)

    17. Cum ibi egressi Troiani, ut quibus ab immenso errore nihil praeter arma et naves superesset, praedam ex agris agerent, Latinus rex Aboriginesque ex urbe concurrunt. (Livy)

    18. Reliqui neque quo se reciperent neque quem ad modum oppida defenderent habebant. (Caesar)

    19. Erant omnino duo itinera, quibus domo exire possent. (Caesar)

    20. Non nulli sunt in hoc senatu, qui aut ea, quae imminent non videant aut ea, quae vident, dissimulent. (Cicero)

    21. Caesar cognovit Vercingetorigem castra movisse atque ipsum cum equitatu expeditisque, qui inter equites proeliari consuessent, insidiarum causa Avaricum profectum. (Caesar)

    22. Consul M. Catonem, per quem senatus populusque Romanus quae gesta essent haud dubio auctore sciret, Romam misit. (Livy)

    23. Qui ea conficeret, Gaium Trebonium legatum relinquit. (Caesar)

    24. Illi autem, quibus salus rei publicae carissima esset, sine recusatione ac sine ulla mora negotium Romae servandae susceperunt. (Cicero)

    1. Result: No one is so brave that they are not perturbed by the sudden occurrence.
    2. Cause: She easily persuaded him because Tarquinii was only his mother's homeland.
    3. Actually an Indirect Question: Think over who you are, not from where you were born.
    4. Cause: A large part of the Fidenates knew Latin, because Roman colonists had been added to them.
    5. Purpose: Then, from the plan of the patricians, Romulus sent ambassadors around the neighboring tribes who were to seek wives for the new people.
    6. Characteristic: There is nothing you do, nothing you plan, nothing you think which I do not hear, see, and plainly sense.
    7. Purpose: Caesar sent scouts to discover how the nature of the mountain was.
    8. Cause: Indeed he did not have anything for ruling except violence, because he was ruling without the order of the plebs or the patricians.
    9. Characteristic: There are people in our number, senators, who think about the death of everyone, and the burning of this city!
    10. Characteristic: What sorcerer, what thief, what assassin, what killer of his father, what cheat, what glutton, what adulterer, what infamous woman, what corrupter of the youth, what corrupt man, what degenerate can be found, who would not confess that he has lived in very familiar terms with Catiline?
    11. Inside Oratio Obliqua: Divicus thus spoke with Caesar: The Helvetians would go into the part where Caesar wanted them to be, and remain there.
    12. Characteristic: There were some at that time who believed that Marcus Licinius Crassus was not ignorant of this plan.
    13. Result: Then you will finally be killed, when no one so wicked can be found, that they would say it was not lawfully done.
    14. Purpose: The Gauls demand someone who would start war and bring liberty to Gaul with danger to his own life.
    15. Both Characteristic: In this city there is no one, who does not fear you; no one, who does not hate you.
    16. Purpose: The Helvetii sent ambassadors, the noblest of the state, to say that they intended to make a journey through the province with no harm done.
    17. Cause: When, having disembarked there, the Trojans were taking the spoils from the field, because after an immense wandering they had nothing left except weapons and ships, King Latinus and the Aborigines run out from the city.
    18. Both Purpose: Those left had neither anywhere to withdraw nor any way to defend the towns.
    19. Characteristic: There were in all two routes by which they could leave home.
    20. Characteristic: There are some in this senate, who either don't see these things which are imminent, or ignore these things which they see.
    21. Inside Oratio Obliqua: Caesar discovered that Vercingetorix had moved the camp and set out for Avaricum with the cavalry and the lightly armed soldiers, who were accustomed to fighting among the cavalry.
    22. Purpose + Actually Indirect Question: The consul sent Marcus Cato to Rome, so that through him, the senate and people of Rome (SPQR) would know from a hardly unreliable source what had been done.
    23. Purpose: He left Gaius Trebonius, the ambassador, to complete those things.
    24. Cause (characteristic is fine too): Those people, however, because the health of the republic was very dear to them, took on the task of saving Rome without refusal or any delay.

    I hope this guide clarified to you the various uses of the Relative Clauses with the Subjunctive.
    Last edited by Dantius, Aug 23, 2016
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Well done again.

    Just a few things:
    "Usually" is a bit of an exaggeration and could possibly mislead people, I think. It's true that mittere is a verb that takes relative clauses of purpose particularly often, but it isn't rare to find such clauses with some other verbs, either.
    It would be much more usual to say linguam Latinam than just Latinam alone.
    I think you should give "There is no one who loves you" as an alternative translation as well. Otherwise some might imagine that the latter would translate with the indicative in Latin, while it wouldn't.
    I'm not sure why you make these two different categories. They're the same, really: the relative clause takes the subjunctive when the existence/presence of someone who.../something that... is negated. It's the case with nemo just as well as with other negatives, so I don't see any reason to give nemo a category all of its own.
    I'm not sure this is the best example to give, because I think the English can theoretically be interpreted in two different ways and it could perhaps confuse a beginner.

    What I mean is:

    If you mean that it's impossible, for someone who wants to buy a good slave, to find a slave for sale who obeys/would obey his master, then you indeed need the subjunctive, because you're denying the existence/availability of a slave who...

    But, if you meant that no slave who obeyed his master got sold — because no slave owner would sell a slave who obeyed him, but he would only seek to get rid of those who disobeyed — then the relative clause wouldn't take the subjunctive, because the point wouldn't be the unavailability of slaves who obeyed their masters, but what happened to slaves who obeyed their masters (you wouldn't be talking about the unavailability on the slave market of a slave who... but you would only be talking about slaves who..., and stating what happened to them — namely, none of them being sold).

    I suppose the first interpretation is more likely, but I have some doubts as to whether it would be completely clear to everyone...
    I would have taken all this as purpose.

    As you yourself say, the lines between the categories are tenuous (and, to my mind, "characteristic" is only a bit of a catch-all category where you put everything that just has, arguably, some nuance of purpose or result or such and such but without being completely clear-cut), but these do feel rather clearly like purpose, to me... I mean, not that it's wrong to say they are clauses of characteristic, but purpose seems prevalent in them to the point that it would seem more precise a definition.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Aug 23, 2016
  3. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Gratias maximas Pacifica! I have made some edits accordingly.
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    I think you missed this:
    It would probably be good to be a little more specific. Something along the lines of "antecedent is nemo, or a similarly negative one (nullus, nihil...), and the existence of a person who.../thing that... is negated."
  5. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Yes, I did miss that :oops:
    Thanks again for your help!
  6. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    No, it isn't a relative clause of characteristic. The subjunctive is used there because it's a sort of reported speech: "He showed me the house which (as he said) he had bought very recently". With the indicative, the author of the sentence would simply be stating "which he had bought very recently" as a fact; they would be saying it on their own part and not putting it in the mouth of the person who showed them the house.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Dec 31, 2016
    Phoebus Apollo likes this.
  7. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Strange. I got an email notification that Phoebus Apollo had made a comment here, but when I went to reply to it, I didn't see it. But now you've replied to it, yet I still don't see the original comment,
    Phoebus Apollo likes this.
  8. Phoebus Apollo Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Thank you Pacifica! :) Sorry, I actually moved my post because I wasn't sure if we could post here (that's why the post will have gone haha).
    Dantius likes this.
  9. Phoebus Apollo Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Yes, sorry about that! My fault :oops: But thanks both :)
  10. Phoebus Apollo Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Sorry to keep asking, but just to clarify is this a qui-causal clause?

    cives, qui nollent Catilinam consulem fieri, Ciceronem creaverunt.

    Also happy new year to you both :)
  11. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    That does seem to be causal.
    Thanks! ;)
    Phoebus Apollo likes this.
  12. Phoebus Apollo Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris

    Thank you!

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