ut cum in forum venerint

Trevor John

New Member
Hello, just begun the Satyricon, in fact, this has me puzzled on the first page.


Nunc et rerum tumore et sententiarum . . . hoc tantum proficiunt ut cum in forum venerint putent se in alium orbem terrarum delatos.

1. 6 Satyricon Loeb

Does "cum in forum venerint" mean "whenever they come to court" rather then "when . . ." With "venerint" as fut. Ind. Perf. ? I have seen it translated as "when" but cum is not temporal, I believe, when used with a perfect subjunctive.

Many thanks.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Yeah, cum has kind of an indefinite sense here, like "whenever". "when" could make sense, as long as you understand that it's a repeated/indefinite action rather than referring to a specific time.
 

Trevor John

New Member
Yeah, cum has kind of an indefinite sense here, like "whenever". "when" could make sense, as long as you understand that it's a repeated/indefinite action rather than referring to a specific time.

Thank you, Dantius. I was picking my way through "Fifty Letters of Pliny" until recently and wondering why I had bothered learning Latin, in as far as I can claim to have learnt it, but Petronius has revived my faith.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Venerint is in the perfect subjunctive rather than indicative basically because it was attracted into the subjunctive due to being within the ut clause. If the whole had been an independent sentence with an indicative main verb, the verb of the cum clause would have been indicative as well. (Cum in forum venerunt, putant se in alium orbem terrarum delatos.)

At least, that is the most likely explanation from a classical-Latin point of view. In later Latin, you can regularly find mixed sentences like cum in forum venerint, putant...* Not sure if the Satyricon is late enough for this, though. One would need to see if it contains any such construction outside of ut clauses and other situations where the subjunctive can be explained classically.

*In such a construction, venerint could be future perfect rather than perfect subjunctive, but as most forms are identical and there was a lot of confusion between the two, it's hard to tell for sure what authors had in mind. I think some didn't even conceive of future perfect and perfect subjunctive as two different things.
 
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