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Not sure why 'quo' is used

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Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby pmda » Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:27 pm

In Orberg's LLPSI Cap. XIX he has:

'In media urbe inter colles Capitolium et Palatium est forum Romanum, quo homines ex tota Italia atque ex omnibus provinciis Romanis conveniunt.'

I'm perplexed about the use of 'quo' in this sentence. I take it that it means: '....is the Roman Forum, to which men from all of Italy and from every province come'.

Why ablative? Is it an ablative absolute.. of some sort??
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:15 pm

Salve pmda!

pmda wrote:In Orberg's LLPSI Cap. XIX he has:

'In media urbe inter colles Capitolium et Palatium est forum Romanum, quo homines ex tota Italia atque ex omnibus provinciis Romanis conveniunt.'

Why ablative? Is it an ablative absolute.. of some sort??

In my opinion, in this context quo is a conjunction meaning where to. I know that this is confusing (it was so for me, at least, for quite some time).

Why where "to" when "convenire" means "to assemble, meet" which made me think at the beginning that an ablative ought to be used? But "convenire" contains "venire", which means "to come" and suggests an accusative. A closer look at the way "convenire" works gives another clue. My dictionary gives the following example:

"Omnes in unum locum convenerunt."

The accusative used in this phrase is represented in your sentence - at least I think so - by the conjunction "quo".
Hope that helps,

Carolus Raeticus

PS: By the way, what does pmda stand for?
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby pmda » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:30 pm

Carolus

A colleague of mine tells me it simply means 'in which place' and 'conveniunt' means 'gather' or some such. Whitakker's Words give us: 'quo ADV [XXXDX] lesser
where, to what place'

which I think is what your'e saying, right.

PMDA is a simple user name I use - an acronym of a consultancy I used to run: Paul MacDonnell & Associates....
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby adrianus » Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:33 pm

Oops, you posted a few minutes before to say just that, pmda.
Me paenitet. Hoc justum in epistulâ modò dixisti, pmda.

Whitaker also gives "quo" conjunction.
Apud Whitaker et ut conjunctio et ut adverbium annumeratur quo.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby ptolemyauletes » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:27 am

This is simply an ablative of place, omitting the preposition 'in'. People gather IN a place. I don't think an accusative necessarily needs to be used, though I can understand why the compound form of 'venire' might make it seem to be needed, but in any case, quo is used rather idiomatically in Latin, much as ubi or other such words might be. quo is in reality 'in quo loco'. Phrases using 'loco' itself often leave out the preposition 'in' and 'quo' simply goes one step further, omitting the 'loco' as the phrase is so often used it is implicitly understood.
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby pmda » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:44 am

Thanks ptolemyauletes
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:46 pm

Salvete!

I feel obliged to post again on this subject even though I can almost hear some(one) mumbling: Quousque tandem abutere, Carole, patientia nostra? But I believe that the question discussed has not been properly settled yet.
Let us return to the original sample sentence:
In media urbe inter colles Capitolium et Palatium est forum Romanum, quo homines ex tota Italia atque ex omnibus provinciis Romanis conveniunt.

I deliberately rendered prominent not only the quo but also conveniunt because I believe that the use of quo cannot be properly understood if the verb of the clause is not taken into consideration.

Let's look at quo first. I've had a look at several Latin dictionaries. Some list it as an adverb, some as a conjunction, and others as both (with one saying that its uses as an adverb or conjunction cannot always be clearly distinguished). In the above sentence it is obviously used to introduce a subordinate clause and thus serves as a "relative adverb". See §§ 308 f, g, i and 279 of Allen & Greenough's "New Latin Grammar". § 308 gives a few examples for the use of quo:

  • quô cum vênisset, and when he had come there (whither when he had come)
  • mortuus Cûmîs quô sê contulerat, having died at Cumae, whither he had retired.
  • locus quô aditus nôn erat, a place to which (whither) there was no access
None of these examples use the "place where" meaning but instead use the "place to which, whither" meaning. All the dictionaries I have been checking favour the latter meaning although some do list the "place where" meaning.
The entry quô in the "Langenscheidts Handwörterbuch Latein-Deutsch" is also illuminating:
It lists (among many other uses not directly conveying anything spatial) only spatial meanings which can be translated by "where to". And as far as constructions are concerned, it lists the following examples (bold face placed by me):

  • eo ibimus, quo iusseris
  • mare, quo (= in quod) [really, not in quo but in quod] Rhenus influit
  • omnes, quo (= ad quos) se contulit
All of these use the "place to which, whither"-meaning, and in each case the quo could be replaced by an accusative-construction, not by an ablative.

Now, let's turn to conveniunt and again look at how it is used. Those dictionaries accessable to me and giving information about construction (or even sample sentences) tell that conveniunt uses an accusative construction.
The Langenscheidt, for example, gives in its conveniunt-entry the following examples for the meaning of "gathering, meeting of individuals":
  • ad alqm, e.g. ad me
  • ab, ex loco in/ad locum, e.g. in senatum, Romam, ad templum, in colloquium
  • in loco, apud alqd. [Yes, in loco is an ablative-construction. However, according to Langenscheidt it is unclassical.]

Another dictionary, Walter Ripman's "A Handbook of the Latin Language", also provides examples:
  • Convenîre aliquem
  • Omnês in ûnum locum convênêrunt.
And here again: accusative construction.

Nota bene: I believe that it is important to note that in the sample sentence provided by pmda quo is not an ablative construction - at least as far as I can tell after my in-depth research in this matter. If it were one ought to be able to replace quo with a more obvious ablative relative adverb like ubi. That, however, is not possible as we have seen from the constructions used with conveniunt. Unless, of course, we are opening the flood gates to each and every construction from the later eras of the Latin language, which is not an error as such but probably not what was intended by Mr. Orberg.

As far as conveniunt and its use of the accusative are concerned, §§ 370 b and 388 b from "New Latin Grammar" might be helpful. A&G comment that some compounds (among these convenio) have acquired a transitive meaning, and take the accusative.

This example shows that a construction in English like "gather/assemble", which we feel implies an ablative, does not necessarily use one in actual Latin. Latin is different! Another example: in silvas se abdere - a classical accusative construction (with a possible but unclassical ablative construction).

I did my best to investigate this matter, but of course I am a mere beginner, and perhaps one of the pros would want to comment on this matter.
Thank you, pmda, for the interesting question. I've learned a lot (hopefully the right things).

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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby ptolemyauletes » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:21 pm

Carolus, that is very interesting. I am glad you took the time to look into it further than i did. I remain at least partially convinced that my explanation was correct, if only because I am stubborn, but perhaps I have been misunderstanding quo all this time. An alternative explanation could be that it was originally 'in quem locum', rather than in quo loco, but that this shortened over time to the more familiar quo. I will look into it further. Thanks!
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby ptolemyauletes » Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:29 pm

Another note, on convenio, Carolus you have noted that it seems most often to take the Accusative. This does make sense when one considers the nature of the verb venio, implying motion, but one certainly sees many instances of verbs changing their normal case usage when compounded. Admittedly this is most often a non-transitive verb becoming transitive and taking the Accusative. In any case my attempt to explain the use of the ablative with convenio, while possibly entirely incorrect, is not outside of the scope of possible variety in Latin. Thanks again.
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Re: Not sure why 'quo' is used

Postby ptolemyauletes » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:26 pm

Sorry to post again here.
Carolus, I have found several instances of quo being used in a sense that implies an ablative (or locative) sense, among them;
locus, quo exercitui aditus non erat: Caesar, Gallic Wars 2, 16

But I think overall your point is valid: The accusative idea of 'to what end', or 'where to', is the much more common usage.

A few other ablative seeming instances of this relative (or interrogative) adverb:
respondit se nescire quo loci esset Cic. Att. 8, 10
mitte sectari rosa quo locorum Sera moretur, Horace C. 1, 38

These are ablative in sense to be sure, but the reason I have brought them up is that it sure puts to bed my supposition that quo is a shortening of 'in quo loco', or at the very least it shows that if it were such a thing, the Classical Romans had certainly forgotten it.

Lastly, Lewis and Short list quo as an Ablative or Dative of qui.
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