Ne

john abshire

Active Member
Hic, veritus ne servi romam ipsam oppugnarent, spartacum interficere constituit.
Crassus (the latter) fearing that the slaves would attack Rome itself, decided to kill Spartacus.
Shouldn’t this be “Crassus, fearing that the slaves would NOT attack Rome itself......”
??
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
No.

When you fear that something will happen, you say ne, like in that sentence.

When you fear that something will NOT happen, you say ut or ne non.

This can feel counterintuitive to an English speaker at first, but there is a logic behind it. When you fear that something will happen, you wish that it will NOT happen, hence the ne. When you fear that something will NOT happen, you wish that it WILL happen, hence the ut or ne non. There is a theory about how these constructions came about. Maybe, in some much earlier stage in the evolution of the language, such statements of fear were actually made up of two separate sentences, like this: Vereor! Ne fiat! = "I'm afraid! May it not happen!"; Vereor! Ut fiat! = "I'm afraid! May it happen!"; Vereor! Ne non fiat! = "I'm afraid! May it not not happen!" And then these gradually came to be felt as single sentences meaning "I'm afraid it will happen" and "I'm afraid it won't happen".
 

john abshire

Active Member
No.

When you fear that something will happen, you say ne, like in that sentence.

When you fear that something will NOT happen, you say ut or ne non.

This can feel counterintuitive to an English speaker at first, but there is a logic behind it. When you fear that something will happen, you wish that it will NOT happen, hence the ne. When you fear that something will NOT happen, you wish that it WILL happen, hence the ut or ne non. There is a theory about how these constructions came about. Maybe, in some much earlier stage in the evolution of the language, such statements of fear were actually made up of two separate sentences, like this: Vereor! Ne fiat! = "I'm afraid! May it not happen!"; Vereor! Ut fiat! = "I'm afraid! May it happen!"; Vereor! Ne non fiat! = "I'm afraid! May it not not happen!" And then these gradually came to be felt as single sentences meaning "I'm afraid it will happen" and "I'm afraid it won't happen".
This gives me some insight;
This example (in this post) came out of my textbook (part of a paragraph).
On a preceding page, I found “verbs of fearing”.
It says “he is afraid to fight”, you use simple infinite (pugnare)
But, if someone is afraid of what “someone else” may be up to, you use ne or ne non (+ subjunctive), but it does not explain that the meaning of ne is “backwards” or ignored, until there are two (ne non); e.g. he is afraid that the enemy may come” timet ne hostes veniant. “He is afraid that the enemy may not come.” Timebat ne hostes non venirent.
I think this will stick now, thanks
 
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