Quo usque tandem

Caleb Lewis

Member
So, I was reading Oratio in Catilinam Prima and came across this phrase at the beginning: "Quo usque tandem...." which the English version just translates as "When..." This seems over simplified, can anyone help me with this? Thanks.
 

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Civis Illustris
Not sure what a very idiomatic translation would be ... literally it is something like 'to which very point will you finally stretch our patience?' ...
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
@Caleb Lewis you need to put what you need help with in the subject line. Otherwise we end up with 10,000 posts all titled, "Translation Help"
 

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Civis Illustris
On a slightly more abstract level: The entire Latin sentence would actually be a complete sentence if it only said quo (meaning 'to which point' or, more loosely, 'how much longer') without the usque and the tandem. These words are more or less particles that can be hard to translate into other languages. Their point is essentially to stretch the meaning of 'how much longer?', but in English, it's not easy to find words that match the Latin particles in degree and intensity.

I suppose (and I'm actually serious here) in the parlance of our time you would say 'How much fucking longer ...?'
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I suppose (and I'm actually serious here) in the parlance of our time you would say 'How much fucking longer ...?'
In a different register, though.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
What do you mean?
 

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Civis Illustris
In theory, politicians giving speeches in the Senate or any other kind of parliament should retain some kind of decorum ... in practice, they don't do so anymore.
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
Speaking of this oration, I was revisiting its introductory paragraphs here:
There's a brief explanation of tandem.
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
In theory, politicians giving speeches in the Senate or any other kind of parliament should retain some kind of decorum ... in practice, they don't do so anymore.
Cicero does demonstrate in his Philippics that he can be crude, so I agree with @Pacifica that this is intentionally a more refined speech.
 

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Civis Illustris
Cicero does demonstrate in his Philippics that he can be crude, so I agree with @Pacifica that this is intentionally a more refined speech.
That's 20 years later and in a different situation.

Obviously, he is not swearing in that speech. My point was that that swear is probably the closest you get in contemporary English to mirror the indignation expressed by those particles.
 

LCF

a.k.a. Lucifer
I just remembered about this from Ted Cruz (US Senator)

 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
My point was that that swear is probably the closest you get in contemporary English to mirror the indignation expressed by those particles.
I thought it was a nice way of putting it :)
 

syntaxianus

Civis Illustris
"Quo usque tandem" might be paralleled in English by "Just how long, then (...are you going to be abusing our patience?)" / "Just how long, pray tell...?" / For how long, tell us...?

Quo usque = up to what point
 
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