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Vocative of Deus...?

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Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:36 pm

When using Deus as a proper noun, what would the vocative case be? I think that in Ecclesiastical Latin it is the same as the nominative case. What about in Classical Latin?
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby Sigma » Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:56 pm

According to Wheelock (pg 39 in the 6th edition), the vocative singular of deus is the same as the nominative.
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby timeodanaos » Tue Dec 27, 2011 4:27 pm

I have never seen deus used in the vocative or 'vocatively' in classical Latin. The name of the god, a quality, or perhaps dive, but deus used as a vocative, that's Christian.
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:25 pm

Sigma wrote:According to Wheelock (pg 39 in the 6th edition), the vocative singular of deus is the same as the nominative.


I have the same book and I see what you mean. I am a little confused by the accent mark over the "e" in the vocative, though. It doesn't have it in the nominative. Maybe Adrianus will explain, since he seems to be a master of such things.

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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:33 pm

timeodanaos wrote:I have never seen deus used in the vocative or 'vocatively' in classical Latin. The name of the god, a quality, or perhaps dive, but deus used as a vocative, that's Christian.


I guess that makes sense. It must have been among the Christians that the word "God" began to be thought of in terms of being a personal name. Otherwise, among the Greeks and Romans, any personal name of a god had been names such as Zeus, Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Mars, etc. Right?

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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby adrianus » Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:32 pm

timeodanaos wrote:I have never seen deus used in the vocative or 'vocatively' in classical Latin. The name of the god, a quality, or perhaps dive, but deus used as a vocative, that's Christian.

Minimé. Et classicé exstat dei nomen vocativo casu.
Not at all. Even classically the vocative of "deus" makes good sense.
Georgius Helmreich, Scibonii Largi Conpositiones, LXXXIV, pagina tricesima septima wrote:Et, o bone deus, hi sunt ipsi, qui imputant suam culpam medicamentis quasi nihil proficientibus.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scribonius_Largus

Carmina Priapea, XLII, http://www.ipa.net/~magreyn/priapea.htm#42, wrote:Laetus Aristagoras natis bene vilicus uvis de cera facta dat tibi poma, deus.


Vide http://www.jstor.org/pss/270330
Last edited by adrianus on Tue Dec 27, 2011 9:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby adrianus » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:51 pm

jamesbath wrote:I am a little confused by the accent mark over the "e" in the vocative, though. It doesn't have it in the nominative. Maybe Adrianus will explain, since he seems to be a master of such things.

I'm not a master but I can explain.
Non magister sum, capax autem respondendi.
Wheelock, in editione sextâ paginâ tricesimâ septimâ, wrote:déus, -i, m., voc. sg. deus,

The acute accent in déus (nominative here, not vocative) indicates where the word stress lies. The same acute is not required when giving the vocative (deus) because it's understood to be in the same place.
Déus, nominativo casu, scribitur, quo accentum acutum vim vocabuli denotat. Deus vocativo casu accentum denotatum non requirit quod subauditum.
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: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:25 am

Adriane,

Thanks for your help.
Tibi gratias pro auxilio tuo ago.
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby timeodanaos » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:46 pm

Adrianus, I revise my otherwise lapidary statement in the just as lapidary tradition of Madvig: The vocative 'deus' of deus is not used in the good writers of Classical Latin.
One thing is to attest it in one or two places (has anyone actually ever read Scribonius?), and another is to show that it found actual use. TLL does cite "Gramm Suppl." (I'm not very familiar with the grammarians, especially not the anonymi) veteres dicebant deus pro dee, but I would as always be more cautious than you to make use of that testimony. Interestingly, TLL doesn't cite the example from the Priapea even though the lemma has the little star to indicate completeness. Hm.

Pace the support of an anonymous grammarian hardly to be placed at any definite point in time and two citations from the early Empire, I think it would still be wise to avoid laying too much weight on the existence of the vocative deus. There is, I presume, a reason, be it ever so aesthetically grounded, why the 'good writers' avoided its use, and I would never use it myself - unless writing a hymn the Christian God, and I don't see that happening any time soon.
My argument can be reduced to the question of usus: even though it is an argument ex silentio to discard the vocative deus, it should be remembered that when talking about Latin, there is always a divide between talking about the language as such and talking about the language in use (the literature), and two examples from 'lesser authors' can hardly constitute accepting this particular form as canon in the literature. Things might seem different from the viewpoint of an academically oriented linguist, but this is written by someone who is primarily interested in the language as literature, thus oriented towards the high style of most written Latin literature. I would expect a remark about 'subliterary use' or 'vulgar' in a commentary on each of the two examples you cite.

With that said, considering the evidence, it should not surprise me to hear a Roman farmer consecrating his harvest beginning with the words o deus! if I were ever to visit Republican Latium.


Interesting note: Horace uses filius as vocative at C. I.2.43: Filius Maiae patiens vocari / Caesaris ultor, perhaps metri causa. This is according to the index of Domenico Bo, contra Nisbet-Hubbard I,34. ... disregard that, I think it is nominative too.

EDIT: I didn't see the article you linked to. Very interesting, reading it just now. Will comment in a minute.
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby timeodanaos » Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:14 pm

I have now read the article by John Rauk, and I concur on most of his points, and I hope Adrianus can agree that his 'not at all' should be modified to a more cautious 'not necessarily'.
There are three arguments that interest me:

(1) The textual uncertainty he claims at the two quoted examples of voc. deus. There is not much to say on this, one may accept them as true readings or discard them on the basis of textual criticism; this applies mostly to the Scribonius example, as the Priapea line, though problematic, does have the needed support for the reading of deus. The choice will therefore amount to prejudice on the side of the reader: do I believe in this vocative or not? In the past, people have claimed inauthenticity of passages they simply did not like for hardly a better reason than that. Four words should suffice: "ille ego qui quondam ..." - it would help any argument if there were examples to be found (of both forms) in Cicero, Vergil and other favourites; these two (maybe) uncertain passages necessarily makes the discussion rather speculative, as is seen in the grammarians' discussions.

(2) The question of euphonic antiptosis, if I may call it so. This is a moot point. Neither deus nor dee can be said to be pleasing, not to my ears at least, and ex silentio we might assume the same for classical writers. This is not to say, again, that neither existed in actual, foremost oral, language use, but argues against its use in writing. The question then is why we need to discuss this: to establish a usage for writing Latin, or to establish classical usage. In the latter case, we should note the two examples from Priapea and Scribonius but also that they are the only ones; in the first case, we should also establish what kind of Latin to write. Not myself a purist, I think it is perfectly alright to make use of non-classical forms and phrases, in this case especially considering 1500+ years of Christian tradition.

(3) The speculative discussions of the ancient grammarians. The anonymus Bernensis (who I cited in the post above, from TLL) is from the tenth century; although citing "grammaticus" (=Priscian), the word veteres is his own. At that point in time, I believe Tertullian, Augustine and other may be included under that heading. I can't call to mind where I read it, but I have read one or more discussions of literary chronology in Late Antiquity and Middle Ages arguing this same thing. Believe my memory or not, the span of 500 years nevertheless qualifies this understanding of veteres. I think Rauk is right in assuming that the discussions he quotes are mostly speculative without foundation in actual usage or for that matter linguistics in the modern sense. Charisius e.g. has a short discussion of the vocative of ego - which would never be relevant in any context. Here, there is a sort of relevance, but as the Christian usage deus was already established, the relevance only applies to grammatical discussions: perhaps tidying up irregular usage with fancy logic.

Lastly, I concur with the last statement of the article: "In the end it is necessary to recognize that for all the armament of scholarship that can be brought to bear upon it, the vocative of deus is a question that must be left open. All that we can do is say what the vocative of deus might have been. We cannot say what is was." (p.149)

I hope this tidies up my views on the subject somewhat: I didn't make my initial, lapidary assumption to disregard the evidence available (as I had done no research at all), but rather as a rule of thumb for readers of Latin, as it is the empiric results of my own reading that classical writers don't use deus in the vocative but seek to replace it with other words. To return to Horace, he even only has the vocative dive in one place; everywhere else, he uses epithets or names for the gods he calls upon.
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Sat Dec 31, 2011 2:06 am

timeodanaos wrote:I hope this tidies up my views on the subject somewhat...


Your exposition is thought provoking. I will read it again.
expositio tua cogitatio provocantes est. Legam litteras tua iterum.
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Dec 31, 2011 4:38 pm

As I'm just coming up with this as I go along, I really do hope it makes sense. Otherwise, disregard the following and read the last line of the post.

jamesbath wrote:Your exposition is thought provoking. I will read it again.
Rather than thought provoking, I think it shows some of the difficulty of retaining one's "academic integrity" while at the same time working with indirect and very inconclusive evidence. It leads to oft-committed crimes such as conjectural arguments ex silentio or even aesthetic or religious preferences.

The silent evidence points to an extremely restricted use of deus in the vocative form identical to the nominative, with just two examples of it in prechristian Latin. We furthermore cannot adduce a single example of the regular o-stem vocative in prechristian Latin. However, I should think, and I ask you now again to take caution, for I have no positive references except my memory, that Latin in all non-christian genres is ripe with deus in the vocative plural. This, in my view, points towards the aesthetic thoughts I have mentioned in my earlier post: that there is nothing wrong with the word, not even in invocations, but that the singular is simply displeasing.

The fact that Christians seem to have no problem with the form (we take note that dee is almost unheard of), might point in two directions:
(1) the need to find a Latin equivalent to the Greek. I cite the Gospel of Matthew 27.46: θεέ μου θεέ μου, ἱνατί με ἐγκατέλιπες; Deus meus, Deus meus, ut quid dereliquisti me? Since other words denoting divinities in Latin seem inappropriate to the concept of the Christian god (divus might not seem divine enough, numen in any case too impersonal), and since deus was considered etymologically connected with the Greek θεός, the choice was easy. Why did the vast majority of Christian choose not to use the analogically defensible dee? Perhaps because it did not exist.
(2) Since there is, however scanty, evidence that deus as vocative existed in pre-christian Latin, we might assume, as I also claimed above, that it was in use in subliterary, or vulgar, language, since it was no problem to make use of the form as soon as the need arose.


The question with which I hope to make my final post this year, and perhaps even my final thoughts on this subject could look like this: As we have seen that pagan Latin writers avoid the use of deus as a vocative, we must assume that they had some sort of objection to it; as we have seen that Christian Latin writers do not avoid the use of the same form, we must assume that they knew the word and had (religious?) reasons to make use of it, since they in other aspects do not scorn literary Latin; the question begging not to be answered thus goes: which do you prefer?


Happy new year!
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:59 am

timeodanaos wrote:Happy new year!


May we enter the new year in wonder!
novus annus nos intremus in admirationem!
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby beerclark » Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:54 am

While this is apparently an old scholarly argument, I'm not sure why it is even a discussion outside of some trying to separate christianity from classic latin..... and for what reason I am not sure.

Based on my very novice understanding... doesn't every noun have a vocative? At least per the basic rules of grammar? The actual use of it would be irellevent. While some more common words have exceptions to how the vocative is done (ie. Filius - Filii), wouldn't a word that doesn't happened to be found in classical literature simply follow the standard rules? After all...there are many classical writings that have been lost, so just because it isn't found...doesn't mean it wasn't used.

Even the article adrianus showed us seems to basically show this whole argument as made up without basis.

Just as a thought about usage.. isn't it possible that some soldier for Caesar one day yelled to Mars by saying "God of War!..[insert request here]" in the middle of battle???
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby jamesbath » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:51 pm

beerclark wrote:While this is apparently an old scholarly argument, I'm not sure why it is even a discussion outside of some trying to separate christianity from classic latin..... and for what reason I am not sure.


Quaesivi de vocativo casu Deus de curiositate. Credo latina antiqua cives deos coluerunt, non unum sed multa. scio etiam plures Christiani uti verbo Deus ut personalem nomen Dei sui. Sed perplexa sane foret vocare deos veteres unusquisque ab eodem nomen personale.

I asked about the vocative case of Deus out of curiosity. I believe ancient Latin citizens worshipped not one but many gods. I also know that many Christians use the word God as a personal name for their god. But it would be confusing indeed to call each one of the ancient gods by the same personal name.

Vive diu, et prospera!

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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby beerclark » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:51 pm

I understand the philosophical discussion but this apparently leads some to think the that since the concept may be valid that the grammar will follow. That is what I don't understand. I think the grammatical discussion is moot.

Let me make it clear though that I am certainly not a latin scholar... yet! :D . So maybe I'm way off base here. So I'd like to understand this whole thing.

But let me give you some context of what I see. The book Carpe Diem talks about Winston Churchill's autobiography. [Please keep in mind I'm going from memory so I may be paraphrasing but my point should be clear]. Churchill is in his latin class telling his teacher about the declensions for "Chair" ( sella?). When the teacher corrects him that he needs to include the vocative and that it is to 'call' the chair, Churchill responds "But I wouldn't do that!". The point being that Churchill implies that it is silly to have a vocative for something you won't 'call for', but it doesn't matter...the rules of grammar have one!

So based on what I have to date learned about declensions, and Chruchill's story(!), I have been assuming that all nouns have a vocative. And in the absence of a specific exception of how a word is declined, it follows the rules of the particular declension. And from what I understand of this thread, the ONLY argument for the vocative of "Deus" being something other then the same is philosophical one.

[EDIT: I may show complete ignorance of latin here but I really want to understand this whole argument.]
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Re: Vocative of Deus...?

Postby timeodanaos » Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:26 pm

beerclark wrote:So based on what I have to date learned about declensions, and Chruchill's story(!), I have been assuming that all nouns have a vocative. And in the absence of a specific exception of how a word is declined, it follows the rules of the particular declension. And from what I understand of this thread, the ONLY argument for the vocative of "Deus" being something other then the same is philosophical one.

Deus is linguistically different from most other nouns of the second declension, e.g. dominus, in that its root is not separated from the stem-ending by a consonant. This is of course also the case of filius, but in that case (and certainly other words ending in -ius/-ium) there are other factors in play: the form dee, which analogically should be the vocative form, is possible but unnatural to Latin. That is why I proposed earlier that writers chose not to use it until the need arose together with Christianity (see my above post for the argument).

My argument ends with the conclusion that the choice of forms to invoke a god or God is largely one determined by two factors: (1) aesthetic preference and (2) dogmatic translation.

(1) because neither deus or dee are aesthetically satisfactory, pagan writers generally chose not to use it; for that reason, there is scanty evidence, in fact only the two examples Adrianus cites above, of which one might be spurious.
(2) because the Greek New Testament very often uses the vocative of theos, thee, Latin Christians needed to reflect that in their writing. They generally chose the form identical to the nominative.

This leads to the very thin conclusion about the nature of the original, sub-literate use of deus in invocations: that the form in use may predominantly have been deus; this is pace Tertullian who in fact does use the form dee - as the only Latin writer.
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