Annales I:7

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Why? I think your original thought was correct as I mentioned above.
What gives me pause about ne representing the conjunction here, is that the conjunction ne means "lest", or if you will, "that not". Tacitus' statement would seem to make somewhat less sense to me with these meanings inserted: The man cause for fear was, lest (or: that not) Germanicus, with the power of so many legions, much help from allies, and the Goodwill of the people, would have (read: take) power (now) rather than wait for it. This seems to be saying, with the negation inherent in the conjunction ne, that the fear was that Germanicus would not seize power, but I think that Tacitus was saying the opposite.

I do also have a bit of reservation about ne as interjection in this case: if it is, it seems to me that ut should be present as well, to render the meaning "...indeed that Germanicus...", but in this I may be trying to impose typical English syntactic construction onto a Latin sentence. I am not yet entirely facile with the use of the Latin conjunctions...

We probably need someone with greater facility to help us with this, such as @Pacifica or @Cinefactus.
 
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Michael Zwingli

Active Member
LOL. I don't belong in the same paragraph as @Pacifica ;)
Haha...class of her own, my man, class of her own.

I don't really know who else on here approaches Pax's facility, as they generally don't slum around in the beginners forms that I inhabit. I'm sure there must be others, maybe @Bitmap for Latin poetry....in general the LD gods are as remote from me as was Zeus from Aristophanes. Pax is kind of like Athena, regularly coming down from Olympus to help we lowly Athenians.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Sorry guys, I'm not going to read the whole thread, but if someone could just quote the Latin where the problematic ne is?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I can say one thing straight away, though: ne and lest in fearing clauses translate in everyday English to "that", not "that not".
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Sorry guys, I'm not going to read the whole thread, but if someone could just quote the Latin where the problematic ne is?
Hi, Pacifica. I will copy-paste all the relevant post parts into one neat post for your consideration late tomorrow morning (it is nearly 9 P.M. here where I am). I have had about as much tap-typing on my phone as I can manage for one day, and being on an actual computer tomorrow seems a much kinder process. Look for it at about 5 P.M. your time tomorrow.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Forget about it; if it's that much trouble for you, it's easier for me to just go back and find it:

Causa praecipua ex formidine, ne Germanicus, in cuius manu tot legiones, immensa sociorum auxilia, mirus apud populum favor, habere imperium quam exspectare.

A verb like mallet seems to be missing from that sentence, so let me check the Latin Library. I can already see that ne is indeed starting a fearing clause dependent on formidine, though.

Here's the complete thing. The missing verb was indeed mallet:

causa praecipua ex formidine, ne Germanicus, in cuius manu tot legiones, immensa sociorum auxilia, mirus apud populum favor, habere imperium quam exspectare mallet.

So, as I said, ne starts a fearing clause, the meaning being: "...fear that Germanicus... would prefer to have power rather than wait for it."

This use of ne in fearing clauses translating to "that" often confuses English-speaking beginners, because it seems to them, thinking Englishly, that e.g. timeo ne fiat should mean "I fear that it will not happen". However, it means "I fear lest it happen", "I fear that it will (or may) happen". The logic behind this use of ne is (similarly to what happens with lest in English) that when you fear that something will happen, you wish it not to happen (I'm afraid; let it not happen! ---> I afraid it will happen).

Have I answered the question?
 

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Have I answered the question?
Yes, Pacifica, you have, indeed; @EstQuodFulmineIungo was correct in his initial assessment of this passage.

This use of ne in fearing clauses translating to "that" often confuses English-speaking beginners, because it seems to them, thinking Englishly, that e.g. timeo ne fiat should mean "I fear that it will not happen". However, it means "I fear lest it happen", "I fear that it will (or may) happen". The logic behind this use of ne is (similarly to what happens with lest in English) that when you fear that something will happen, you wish it not to happen...
After looking up lest in the dictionary, I think that I know why this is...I think that I understand the problem that many people have with both English lest and Latin ne in cases where ne is a conjunction.

Lest only has one meaning in English in introducing the complementary clause of a verbal phrase, and that meaning is "for fear that". I must say that I do not like the other common statement of the meaning of lest, "that not", as it seems to give all kinds of misunderstandings, especially for those learning Latin. When lest introduces a complementary clause in a situation in which the main clause of the sentence introduces the speaker's apprehension, either by using the verbs "fear", "worry", etc, or in some other way, that sense of the speaker's apprehension presumes the "fear" in the meaning of lest, and in that case lest simply takes on the meaning "that" (<"for fear that"), and naturally the conjunction that takes the place in introducing the complementary clause in the stead of lest. Since lest always means "for fear that", using lest to introduce a phrase rationalizing an apprehension when the apprehension has already been stated can, given current usage, only lead to a confusing redundancy in the statement of fear, which is why the conjunction that is always used instead.

Today in English, lest is never actually used to introduce a complementary clause in a situation in which the main clause of the sentence introduces the speaker's apprehension. Such a usage, which remains technically grammatical and was apparently once common (maybe in Middle English???), has now become so obsolete as to be virtually proscribed. The conjunction "that" is always used in these cases. Though the construction is not grammatically incorrect, a modern English speaker would never say: I am worried, lest my responses did not impress the interviewer favorably; rather, the conjunction that would be used instead: I am worried that my responses did not impress the interviewer favorably (unless of course the speaker wanted to use some type of affected speech). In modern English, lest is only ever used to introduce a complementary clause in cases for which the full meaning "for fear that" is appropriate, which cases do not include those in which the apprehension of the speaker has been introduced in the main clause of the sentence: Paul doesn't want to go to the park, lest (for fear that) it begin to rain as expected.

I think that the problem for English speaking Latin learners, at least those in the U.S., derives from the fact that as a conjunction, Latin ne simply means lest, or of course "for fear that". When the main clause of a Latin sentence contains a verbum timendum or verba timenda (why they are referred to as verba timendi I cannot understand in the first place, as timendi does not agree in gender with verba), then the thusly expressed apprehension of the speaker displaces the sense of "fear" in the meaning of ne, and the meaning of ne becomes simply "that" ("for fear that"); this is much the same as what happens with English lest in such cases. My basic thought on this is that ne never means "that" (and in fact, ut never really means "that" either...it always means "as" but is sometimes translates as "that" when the English meaning "that" is necessary...I read on one webpage, that Latin has no equivalent for English "that", so ut and ne are translated as "that" in cases where English syntax demands the meaning). Rather, the conjunction ne always means "for fear that", and this meaning is simply reduced (or perhaps "contracted"?, or "syncopated"?) to "that", as it is with English lest, where the sense of the speaker's apprehension has already been expressed. Since as a conjunction, ne is taken to mean lest ("for fear that"), it is difficult for the English speaker to want to use it in Latin sentences in which the apprehension of the speaker is introduced in the main clause of the sentence through the introduction of verba timenda, and acceptance of that has to be trained in.

I assume that the adverbial ne ("no", "not") was the semantic original. Why a Latin negating particle ne (="not") came to fulfill the same semantic role as English lest (= "less that") is another question, and is more obscure.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Yes, Pacifica, you have, indeed; @EstQuodFulmineIungo was correct in his initial assessment of this passage.



After looking up lest in the dictionary, I think that I know why this is...I think that I understand the problem that many people have with both English lest and Latin ne in cases where ne is a conjunction.

Lest only has one meaning in English in introducing the complementary clause of a verbal phrase, and that meaning is "for fear that". I must say that I do not like the other common statement of the meaning of lest, "that not", as it seems to give all kinds of misunderstandings, especially for those learning Latin. When lest introduces a complementary clause in a situation in which the main clause of the sentence introduces the speaker's apprehension, either by using the verbs "fear", "worry", etc, or in some other way, that sense of the speaker's apprehension presumes the "fear" in the meaning of lest, and in that case lest simply takes on the meaning "that" (<"for fear that"), and naturally the conjunction that takes the place of lest in introducing the complementary clause in such cases. Since lest always means "for fear that", using lest to introduce a phrase rationalizing an apprehension when the apprehension has already been stated can, given current usage, only lead to a confusing redundancy in the statement of fear, which is why the conjunction that is always used instead.

Today, lest is never actually used to introduce a complementary clause in a situation in which the main clause of the sentence introduces the speaker's apprehension. Such a usage, which was apparently once common (maybe in Middle English???), has now become so obsolete as to be virtually proscribed. The conjunction "that" is always used in these cases. Though the construction is not grammatically incorrect, a modern English speaker would never say: I am worried, lest my responses did not impress the interviewer favorably; rather, the conjunction that would be used instead: I am worried that my responses did not impress the interviewer favorably (unless of course the speaker wanted to use some type of affected speech). In modern English, lest is only ever used to introduce a complementary clause in cases for which the full meaning "for fear that" is appropriate, which cases do not include those in which the apprehension of the speaker has been introduced in the main clause of the sentence: Paul doesn't want to go to the park, lest (for fear that) it begin to rain as expected.

I think that the problem for English speaking Latin learners, at least those in the U.S., derives from the fact that as a conjunction, Latin ne simply means lest, or of course "for fear that". When the main clause of a Latin sentence contains a verbum timendum or verba timenda (why they are referred to as verba timendi I cannot understand in the first place, as timendi does not agree in gender with verba), then the thusly expressed apprehension of the speaker displaces the sense of "fear" in the meaning of ne, and the meaning of ne becomes simply "that" ("for fear that"); this is much the same as what happens with English lest in such cases. My basic thought on this is that ne never means "that" (and in fact, ut never really means "that" either...it always means "as" but is sometimes translates as "that" when the English meaning "that" is necessary...I read on one webpage, that Latin has no equivalent for English "that", so ut and ne are translated as "that" in cases where English syntax demands the meaning). Rather, the conjunction ne always means "for fear that", and this meaning is simply reduced (or perhaps "contracted"?, or "syncopated"?) to "that", as it is with English lest, where the sense of the speaker's apprehension has already been expressed. Since as a conjunction, ne is taken to mean lest ("for fear that"), it is difficult for the English speaker to want to use it in Latin sentences in which the apprehension of the speaker is introduced in the main clause of the sentence through the introduction of verba timenda, and acceptance of that has to be trained in.

I assume that the adverbial ne ("no", "not") was the semantic original. Why a Latin negating particle "ne" (="not") came to fulfill the same semantic role as English lest (= "less that") is another question, and is more obscure.
Your post shows a few misunderstandings or at least faulty reasonings.

Ne most basically and originally means "not". By the time of classical Latin, though, it had become almost entirely limited* to "not" in contexts of purposes, wishes and commands, whereas non (which itself comes from a compound of ne + oenum, an earlier form of unum) was used in other contexts.

Ne does not intrinsically contain any idea of fear. It only came to be used in fearing clauses because, when you fear that something will happen, you want it not to happen. Of course you're right in at least one thing, and that is that ne never literally means "that". It is just translated that way in fearing clauses because that is how English works.

Lest itself did not originally contain any idea of fear either. It comes from Old English þy læs þe, meaning roughly literally "by which less", where "less" is a kind of euphemism for "not". Its idea is basically that of preventing something from happening, like ne. The dictionary defines "lest" as "for fear that" because that corresponds to the kind of context that it's most commonly found in nowadays, but it's not literally the original meaning.

Verba timendi means "verbs of fearing"; verba timenda means "verbs that are to be feared".





*One notable exception is in the phrase ne... quidem, meaning "not even".
 
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Michael Zwingli

Active Member
I have been thinking about this issue quite a bit, chewing it over in the back of my mind, and I have a few things to say about it. I will, however, open a new thread to address them within the Latin Grammar Questions Forum, in order that the use of in "fearing clauses", and its translation into English as "that" may be searchable for the inquiring.
 
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