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Another syntax question: decet

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Another syntax question: decet

Postby pmda » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:48 am

I have recurring difficulty with 'decet'. In Orberg LLPSI Cap III he has: Nec enim quidquam nisi argentum mensam decet viri nobilis.

Does 'deceit' have a subject? Is 'viri nobilis' genitive? How does the syntax work. I know what It means but can't figure out how it works.

Nor is it fitting that anything other than silver adorn the table of a rich man.
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Re: Another syntax question: decet

Postby Craig_Thomas » Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:30 pm

Decet is usually an impersonal verb, i.e., it has as its subject only a vague "it", as in the English saying "it is raining" (what is raining exactly? the clouds? the sky? no --- "it" is). As an impersonal verb it means "it is proper/fitting for". Vōs decēbit nihil dīcere. "It will be fitting for you to say nothing."

Here, it is not impersonal: it has a specific, stated subject, nec quidquam nisi argentum. To translate it literally: "For nothing except silver befits/adorns the table of a notable man."
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Re: Another syntax question: decet

Postby lauragibbs » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:47 pm

You can see those two ways of using decet as being really the same if you treat the infinitive as a noun (when used as a noun, the infinitive is regarded as neuter singular):

Vōs decēbit nihil dīcere.

It will be fitting for you to say nothing = Saying nothing will suit you.

To say nothing, saying nothing: subject - nihil dicere
will be appropriate for, will suit: verb - decebit
you: object - vos
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Re: Another syntax question: decet

Postby pmda » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:03 am

Many thanks to you both.
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