What counts as conditional? ("dummodo" vs. "nisi")

Salvete!

As I move deeper into Latin, I try to be more aware of the moods of the verbs, especially subjunctive vs. indicative.
Personally, I find subjunctive verbs relatively easy to translate.
The difficulty comes in understanding why a subjunctive is used instead of an indicative, or vice-versa.

Sometimes though I can't quite reason out the logic.
Take these two sentences from Ch. 34 of Lingua Latina

1. Ego quoque ludis et certaminibus studeo, dummodo alios certantes spectem!
(I also am eager for games and fights, provided that I am watching others fighting!)

Dummodo sets off a hypothetical condition ("provided that..."), so I think that is why the subjunctive (spectem) is used here.
The next sentence, which comes from a description of the gladiatorial battles in the amphitheater, is a little less clear to me:

2. ...qui reti implicitus est non potest se defendere et sine mora interficitur, nisi tam fortiter pugnavit ut spectatores eum vivere velint.
(...he who is wrapped in a net is unable to defend himself and is killed without delay, unless he has fought so bravely that the fans want him to live.)

The tam... ut construction makes velint subjunctive.
But why is pugnavit indicative? How is this any less of a hypothetical condition than the dummodo example above?

I appreciate your insights,
Cornelius
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Sometimes though I can't quite reason out the logic.
Take these two sentences from Ch. 34 of Lingua Latina

1. Ego quoque ludis et certaminibus studeo, dummodo alios certantes spectem!
(I also am eager for games and fights, provided that I am watching others fighting!)

Dummodo sets off a hypothetical condition ("provided that..."), so I think that is why the subjunctive (spectem) is used here.
That is close to a conditional—I guess it is a subcategory of it, really—but the precise term for it is proviso clause. Those take the subjunctive in Latin, as a rule.
But why is pugnavit indicative?
Perhaps you should go back to your earlier si/nisi thread. You asked a similar question there. The verb is indicative because you're simply saying "if he has fought", not "if he should have fought", "if he were to have fought" or "if he had (contrary to fact) fought".
 
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1. Thanks for clarifying the proviso clause – I hadn't learned that exact terminology before.

2. Those comparisons are very helpful – I see now that nisi... pugnavit is more of a qualified statement than hypothetical condition.
 
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