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Interesting Construction - Comments?

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Interesting Construction - Comments?

Postby steventyra » Sun Aug 24, 2014 10:45 am

I came across the following construction in a work of Martin Luther (d. 1546):

hoc modo perpetuo disputat Diatribe contra suum inpsius institutum, quo se non sic disputaturam promisit, sed quendam conatum liberi arbitrii ostensuram, cuius tamen non meminit multum tota serie argumentorum, tantum abest, ut probet, quin contrarium potius probat, ut ipsa potius omnia ridicule et dicat et disputet.

Luther is arguing against the "Diatribe" of Erasmus, and often personifies it ("Lady Diatribe") as in this passage.

I'm particularly interested in the last couple of clauses, which is a variant of the "tantum abest ut . . . ut" construction that I'd never seen before. Where you'd expect the second "ut" you have instead a "quin" clause - "quin contrarium potius probat."

I couldn't find a similar example in classical dictionaries, so I ran the words through an early modern databse and found a couple of other sixteenth and seventeenth century examples. For instance, here's the Google book link to a treatise discussing Isaac Newton:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ciiFmq ... &q&f=false

Interestingly, in all the cases I've found the sense is always "so far is X from proving what he set out to, that in fact he proves the opposite" - with the key words being "probare" and "oppositum," or in Luther's case "contrarium."

Perhaps my surprise is simply due to my inexperience, but this seemed an odd use of "quin" to me. I was hoping somebody could help explain why "quin" would be used and not simply the normal second "ut."






"
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Re: Interesting Construction - Comments?

Postby Qimmik » Sun Aug 24, 2014 2:48 pm

I'm not sure I have much to offer here, but I would have expected probat in quin contrarium ipsum probat to be subjunctive probet, as it is in the passage you linked to.

Normally, tantum abest takes two ut clauses, both with subjunctive. Allen & Greenough 571b:

The phrase tantum abest, it is so far [from being the case], regularly takes two clauses of result with ut : one is substantive, the subject of abest; the other is adverbial, correlative with tantum :—

“tantum abest ut nostra mīrēmur, ut ūsque eō difficilēs ac mōrōsī sīmus, ut nōbīs nōn satis faciat ipse Dēmosthenēs ” (Or. 104) , so far from admiring my own works, I am difficult and captious to that degree that not Demosthenes himself satisfies me. [Here the first ut-clause is the subject of abest (§ 569. 2); the second, a result clause after tantum (§ 537); and the third, after ūsque eō .]


Lewis & Short quin + indicative:

C For corroboration. 1 But, indeed, really, verily, of a truth: Hercle quin tu recte dicis, Plaut. Merc. 2, 3, 77: credo; neque id injuria: quin Mihi molestum est, Ter. Heaut. 3, 3, 20: te nec hortor, nec rogo, ut domum redeas, quin hinc ipse evolare cupio, Cic. Fam. 7, 30, 1.— Esp. in reaching a climax or adding a stronger assertion or proof: quin etiam, yea indeed, nay even: credibile non est, quantum scribam die: quin etiam noctibus, Cic. Att. 13, 26, 3; 14, 21, 3: quin etiam necesse crit cupere et optare, ut, etc., id. Lael. 16, 59: quin etiam voces jactare, Verg. A. 2, 768: mortem non esse metuendam, quin etiam si, etc., nay, not even if, etc., Lact. 3, 27 fin.; cf.: quin et Atridas Priamus fefellit, Hor. C. 1, 10, 13.— 2 Rather, yea rather: nihil ea res animum militaris viri imminuit, quin contra plus spei naotus, Liv. 35, 26.—

D In corrections, nay, rather: non potest dici satis quantum in illo sceleris fuerit, Quin sic attendite, judices, etc., Cic. Mil. 29, 78 sq. (cf. Halm ad loc., and Lorenz ad Plaut. Most. 164).


I suspect Luther has conflated two constructions here: tantum abest ut . . ., ut . . . , which ought to require a second result clause with a subjunctive verb, and quin + indicative, meaning something like "no, rather . . .", resulting in a kind of anacoluthon.

In any event, I don't think there's any doubt as to what the author was trying to say.

I'm not sure I see how the second part of the sentence, beginning with tantum abest, is linked to the first part.

"In this way, Diatribe constantly argues against her own program [presumably, the grounds she set for herself], in which she promised she would not argue in this manner, but would display some sort of free judgment, much of which, however, she loses sight of [is the complement of memini cuius or multum? or is multum adverbial?] in the whole series of arguments--far from proving it . . . no, rather she proves the contrary--how instead she herself rather states and argues everything in a laughable manner."

How do you translate the whole sentence?
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Re: Interesting Construction - Comments?

Postby Qimmik » Sun Aug 24, 2014 4:48 pm

Perhaps tantum abest, ut probet, can stand alone as more or less exclamatory, without a second ut clause: "[Diatribe] doesn't prove it--far from it; no, instead she proves the exact opposite: how, rather, she states and argues everything in a laughable fashion."

And the sentence works better for me, at least, with a semicolon instead of a comma before tantum abest.
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Re: Interesting Construction - Comments?

Postby steventyra » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:25 am

Your suggestion regarding the "quin" clause being a corrective - "no, rather," makes a lot of sense. "Probat" is indeed in the indicative (I double checked), and the commas are simply the punctuation provided in the Weimar Ausgabe (the standard critical edition of Luther's Works). But of course the punctuation may have shifted over 500 years of editing and can be questioned.

Here's what the more or less standard English trans. of this treatise (De Servo Arbitrio, 1525) reads:

"This is the way Diatribe continually argues, contrary to her own intention and her promise not to maintain any such position but to demonstrate connative power in the free choice. Of this, however, she makes little mention in the whole series of her arguments, and so far is she from proving it that she rather proves the opposite, so that it is rather she herself who persistently speaks and argues absurdly." (Luther's Works, Vol. 33, p. 130)

My method for reading is to work through the Latin on my own, do my best rendering, and then test my work against this translation, which is generally considered the most "literal" of the available English versions. When I came to the "quin" clause above, however, I was bewildered. It looks very much as if the translator (Philip Watson) treated it as a standard "tantum abest ut . . . ut" (i.e. "so far is she from proving it that she rather proves."

Obviously no translation is sacrosanct though, and this may well be a place where a better rendering is possible.
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Re: Interesting Construction - Comments?

Postby steventyra » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:39 am

Ah, here's something interesting. I went and looked at an old 19th century translation by Henry Cole and he indeed takes "quin" as a corrective, beginning a new thought:

"This is the way in which the Diatribe argues throughout, contrary to its own purposed
design; wherein, it promised that it would not argue thus, but would prove a certain endeavour
of "Freewill;" of which however, so far from proving it, it scarcely makes mention in the whole
string of its arguments; nay, it proves the contrary rather; so that it may itself be more properly said to affirm and argue all things ridiculously."

I like how Cole has connected the previous thought to the "tantum abest" - "of which however, so far from proving it, it scarcely makes mention in the whole string of its arguments." That might help to explain the comma before "tantum abest" rather than the semicolon, as you noted.
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Re: Interesting Construction - Comments?

Postby Qimmik » Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:03 pm

I took the ut ipsa potius clause (with some hesitation) as an indirect question depending on probat and amplifying contrarium, but the other translations took it as a result clause. I guess they're probably right.
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