De Natura Deorum Chapter 1: disputed passage

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Yes, it's used the way you say in many Latin constructions — as in circumstantial, causal and concessive cum clauses, which all indicate absolutely real facts (purpose is still logically potential, though). But that may be (perhaps, in my idea), a deviation from the original basic meaning of the subjunctive, which I imagine was potentiality.
Yes, thinking about it now I can see how most uses of the subjunctive either contain, or could have come out of, some idea of potentiality, except for maybe causal clauses. I suppose this could have come from some hypothesized idea of the cause/effect relationship, i.e. Cum X, Y -> "We know Y happened, and maybe X was its cause", but it feels like a stretch...
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Yeah... I have no idea how causal subjunctive clauses came into being.

Concessive clauses obviously are originally something like jussive subjunctives — like "let this be the case, no matter... this still happens".
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I wonder if there are many languages that use the subjunctive in result clauses, or if Latin is really being odd in this regard. English and French don't, and for what I've seen thus far Greek rather seems to use the indicative too (I'm making no definitive statement because, having read relatively little Greek, I lack the necessary experience to affirm 100% sure that result clauses never take the subjunctive).
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
German doesn't, either (but then German really does just use the subjunctive for "unreal" situations and indirect discourse, at least from what I've seen; it has that clear-cut "real" vs. "unreal" distinction that Latin doesn't).
 

Godmy

A Monkey
Thanks for the long answer Imber Ranae. I just skimmed through it quickly so far, I might read it more in depth & answer later. I could just give a very short and not really satisfactory answer, considering how long you have given, which would be that I think that in those sentences in question it indeed should be rather interpreted as a copula and I would, as I thought yesterday (while I know, of course, as you stated more than few times, that esse per se doesn't have to be a copula, no problem there). But I suppose I could talk more about it after I read better everything you've written.

Anyway, thank you for your answer, I appreciate all the time you've put into this issue! Even though our discussion is not now directly pertinent to what Callaiana originally inquired (even though, in a case that it is indeed just a noun clause, it could at least influence a bit, how the sentence is/should be treated).

I at least hope that Callaina is satisfied in that way, that the passage in question received finally some good discussion ;)
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Yeah... I have no idea how causal subjunctive clauses came into being.

Concessive clauses obviously are originally something like jussive subjunctives — like "let this be the case, no matter... this still happens".
I think causal cum clauses and causal relatives have a slightly different origin. The idea of cause in the former comes mostly from the conjunction cum itself as an indicator of the circumstances behind the main clause, which is proven by the use of causal and concessive cum clauses with the indicative in early Latin. The subjunctive with cum seems mainly to have had the effect of de-emphasizing the temporal aspect of the conjunction, thus making the circumstances the primary idea. It functions as either causal or concessive in much the same way as participial clauses do in both English and Latin: in both the causal or concessive idea is made obvious by the context implying either a cause and effect relationship or a result in spite of some circumstance, according to what makes obvious sense.

In relative clauses the causal or concessive sense of the subjunctive seems rather to be an extension of the characteristic idea ('as the sort that').
I wonder if there are many languages that use the subjunctive in result clauses, or if Latin is really being odd in this regard. English and French don't, and for what I've seen thus far Greek rather seems to use the indicative too (I'm making no definitive statement because, having read relatively little Greek, I lack the necessary experience to affirm 100% sure that result clauses never take the subjunctive).
I'm pretty sure Greek never does.

Btw, Callaina , in the sentence in question quod is more or less equivalent to cur, and Cicero could have just as easily written quid est cur or quid est quam ob rem (where these would be relative adverbs, not interrogative pronouns despite all appearances). The use of the accusative here as a relative adverb is the same phenomenon as can be seen with quid with the sense of 'why' in interrogative sentences.
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Thanks for the long answer Imber Ranae. I just skimmed through it quickly so far, I might read it more in depth & answer later. I could just give a very short and not really satisfactory answer, considering how long you have given, which would be that I think that in those sentences in question it indeed should be rather interpreted as a copula and I would, as I thought yesterday (while I know, of course, as you stated more than few times, that esse per se doesn't have to be a copula, no problem there). But I suppose I could talk more about it after I read better everything you've written.

Anyway, thank you for your answer, I appreciate all the time you've put into this issue! Even though our discussion is not now directly pertinent to what Callaiana originally inquired (even though, in a case that it is indeed just a noun clause, it could at least influence a bit, how the sentence is/should be treated).

I at least hope that Callaina is satisfied in that way, that the passage in question received finally some good discussion ;)
Fair enough, Godmy. We may have to agree to disagree in the end, but I look forward to your response nonetheless.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Imber Ranae dixit:
I'm pretty sure Greek never does.
What about other languages you know? Are there any apart from Latin that take the subjunctive in result clauses?
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
What about other languages you know? Are there any apart from Latin that take the subjunctive in result clauses?
None that I can think of. Gothic is the same as Old English. Classical Sanskrit doesn't properly have a subjunctive, but I'm not sure about Vedic Sanskrit. Greek actually does rarely use the optative in result clauses, but there it's potential in force, not an actual result.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
None that I can think of. Gothic is the same as Old English. Classical Sanskrit doesn't properly have a subjunctive, but I'm not sure about Vedic Sanskrit. Greek actually does rarely use the optative in result clauses, but there it's potential in force, not an actual result.
Yeah, I was thinking of a result that was a fact, since in other cases, when it's only potential, it's just logical if something else than the ind. is used. It seems Latin is probably a bit isolated in its use of the subjunctive in result clauses (although it still may not be the only one, given all the languages that exist and that we don't know).
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Something else I'm unsure about in the first paragraph. The text here appears to be different in various versions and possibly corrupt, but here's what we were given at any rate (and what we'll be tested on):

Cum multae res in philosophia nequaquam satis adhuc explicatae sint, tum perdifficilis, Brute -- quod to minime ignoras -- et perobscura quaestio est de natura deorum, quae et ad cognitionem animi pulcherrima est et ad moderandam religionem necessaria. de qua tam variae sunt doctissimorum hominum tamque discrepantes sententiae ut non magno argumento esse debeat, principium philosophiae esse inscientiam, prudenterque Academicos a rebus incertis assensionem cohibuisse.

I don't understand how magno argumento is being used here. Can anyone else make sense out of this?
 

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
I'd take it to be a dative of purpose, with the AcI clauses that follow being the subject of debeat. I don't see how one is to reconcile the inclusion of non with the most obvious interpretation of the passage, however.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The passage indeed is corrupt (I suppose you've seen the LL version already, which seems to be the original with some (not very helpful) conjectures added in brackets).

I've found this version (probably a clever conjecture) that makes sense:

De qua tam variae sunt doctissimorum hominum tamque discrepantes sententiae, ut magno argumento esse debeat causam et principium philosophiae esse inscientiam, prudenterque Academicos a rebus incertis adsensionem cohibuisse.

I'm sorry, but I can't really make sense of the version you have. :( It just looks plain contradictory to me.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
I'd take it to be a dative of purpose, with the AcI clauses that follow being the subject of debeat. I don't see how one is to reconcile the inclusion of non with the most obvious interpretation of the passage, however.
That's what the commentary suggested (a dative of purpose); but I wonder if it's referencing a different version of the text, since the one we were given doesn't (as you said) really seem to make sense with the non included.
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
The passage indeed is corrupt (I suppose you've seen the LL version already, which seems to be the original with some (not very helpful) conjectures added in brackets).

I've found this version (probably a clever conjecture) that makes sense:

De qua tam variae sunt doctissimorum hominum tamque discrepantes sententiae, ut magno argumento esse debeat causam et principium philosophiae esse inscientiam, prudenterque Academicos a rebus incertis adsensionem cohibuisse.
Yes, that makes a great deal more sense.

I'm sorry, but I can't really make sense of the version you have. :( It just looks plain contradictory to me.
Well, at least I'm not missing something major. I just hope our prof doesn't pick this passage to put on the exam... :(
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Well, at least I'm not missing something major. I just hope our prof doesn't pick this passage to put on the exam... :(
That would really be unfair.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
To clarify things in case: in the version that makes sense (in the other one, it's hard to tell, as it doesn't really make sense in the first place, so it could be either way), the acc.-inf. clause isn't the subject of debeat, but "it" (referring to the preceding) is. The acc.-inf. clause is describing magno argumento: "a great proof that..."
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
To clarify things in case: in the version that makes sense (in the other one, it's hard to tell, as it doesn't really make sense in the first place, so it could be either way), the acc.-inf. clause isn't the subject of debeat, but "it" (referring to the preceding) is. The acc.-inf. clause is describing magno argumento: "a great proof that..."
Ah, that makes even more sense; I hadn't fully grasped what was going on there. Thanks. :)
 

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima
Another small thing: just a nuance, but I'm curious what people think about the subjunctives in this bit, particularly pubescant:

Sunt autem alii philosophi, et hi quidem magni atque nobiles, qui deorum mente atque ratione omnem mundum administrari et regi censeant, neque vero id solum, sed etiam ab isdem hominum vitae consuli et provideri; nam et fruges et reliqua quae terra pariat et tempestates ac temporum varietates caelique mutationes, quibus omnia quae terra gignat maturata pubescant, a dis inmortalibus tribui generi humano putant, multaque quae dicentur in his libris colligunt, quae talia sunt ut ea ipsa dei inmortales ad usum hominum fabricati paene videantur.

I'm thinking purpose? (I.e. the seasons have been provided by the gods in order to ripen the fruits that the earth produces?) And what about gignat -- there doesn't seem to be any good reason for a clause of characteristic there, though I suppose it could be...or is it just subjunctive by attraction?
 
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