Translating ..., quam minimum credula postero

By Maximus VII, in 'Latin Beginners', Sep 3, 2015.

  1. Maximus VII Member


    The well known and well reported pharse carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero is typically translated as "seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow".

    I believe I have understood the translation carpe diem = seize the day [literally pluck the day], but I am having difficulty understanding how quam minimum credula postero works

    quam = the relative pronoun (acc. s. f.) or "than"
    minumum = least (nom. / voc. s. nt.), adj.
    credula = trusting in (nom. / voc. / abl. s. f.), adj.
    postero = coming after (abl. s. m./nt.), adj.

    What is the literal meaning? Is there another noun or verb that is understood? How is the typical translation arrived at?

    Many thanks indeed!
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris

    Quam + superlative = as... as possible, very very...

    You can understand diei with the adjective postero.

    So literally:

    Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible/trusting very little the following one (i.e. the following day, tomorrow).
  3. Maximus VII Member

    Hi Pacis puella,

    Thank you so much for your kind help again. I didn't recognize you at first with your new avtar :)

    May I just clarify my understanding here with you?

    The subject of the sentence is understood through the imperative to be "you (s.)". credula attaches to this substantive and since the adjective is in the feminine we understand that a feminine subject is being addressed.

    Diei (the understood substantive) is in the dative as is the adjective postero. How do these words relate to the rest of the sentence grammatically? If credula was a passive participle then I could see that Diei postero would be the indirect object of this verbal adjective. However if credula is just an ordinary adjective, as I believe, then can I ask from a grammatical point of view how it is being governed by diei postero?

    Minimum looks like a neuter singular adjective, so I am wondering how it agrees with cedula, which is a feminine singular adjective? Of course credula could be neuter plural but this would not agree with the singular subject that carpe implies. If it were minime, the adverb, and if credula were a passive participle again then I could see the linkage that way. So again I'm struggling to understand how minimum is operating grammatically.

    Many thanks indeed for any further help!
    Last edited by Maximus VII, Sep 4, 2015
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    The dative modifies credula. Adjectives can also work with various cases, not so differently from what happens in English: think of things like "similar to something", "reminiscent of something", "hard for me"...
    Minimum is indeed basically an accusative neuter singular adjective, but it works adverbially here, like minime would.
  5. Maximus VII Member

    I see, thank you very much!

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