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Latin imperatives

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Latin imperatives

Postby sesquipedalianus » Sun Feb 01, 2004 6:12 am

Does anyone have any definitive comments to make on the TO/TOTE form of the imperative? I had always learned that it was a 'future' or 'strengthened' form of the simple imperative, with TO for the 2nd person singular, TOTE for the 2nd person plural, and sometimes ANTO/UNTO for the 3rd person plural. My problem is that in the Kennedy grammars the TO form (as in 'amato') is listed as being used for the 3rd person singular as well as the 2nd, whereas this is not stated in what to me is my 'bible' of grammar, North & Hillard. In extensive reading of Latin texts I have never come across the TO form for the 3rd person. So I'd be grateful - and enlightened - if someone could clarify the issue for me. Thanks everyone!
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Postby benissimus » Sun Feb 01, 2004 6:47 am

-to is 2nd person singular future imperative
-to is 3rd person singular future imperative too
-tote is 2nd person plural future imperative
-nto is 3rd person plural future imperative

These are super rare from what I have heard, appearing in not very many words, mostly in formal documents and so you would not come across them in typical reading very often. The only times I have ever seen it (other than in grammar books) are in the words esto (esse) and memento (meminisse).
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Postby Ulpianus » Sun Feb 01, 2004 9:44 am

I dunno ... but I would usually trust Kennedy. Visigoth actually managed to fish up a live specimen of this peculiarity from his theological treatise the other day. (But I notice that "beginners" grammars, at least in the UK, now seem to ignore it altogether.)

I've never understood what could possibly be meant by a "future" imperative, or (to put it differently) why a present imperative is not to some extent looking to the future anyway. It does seem to me to be more a matter of emphasis than of time.
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Postby Alundis » Tue Feb 03, 2004 2:39 am

It can't be that rare. I've seen scito and scitote used more than once in the Vulgate.
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Postby benissimus » Tue Feb 03, 2004 3:36 am

Oh yeah, scio always uses scito(te) instead of sci(te). There are probably other exceptions...
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Sun Feb 15, 2004 7:14 pm

I suppose a "present" imperative is what you require done immediately - "interfac regem nunc!" whereas a future imperative is to be done in an indefinite or defined future. Just a thought.
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Postby benissimus » Mon Feb 16, 2004 1:12 am

I think they would be especially appropriate when used with an adverb/adverbial expression denoting future time ("bring that book tomorrow") or when in a future context as determined by other verb tenses in the sentence ("when I [will] read that book, take it back to your house").

I don't think that even then it would be necessary to use the future imperative, as it was somewhat of an antiquity and stuffy formality in Classical times from what I have read (with the exception of those words which replaced their present imperative).
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:36 am

Funnily enough, I've never come across the "es/este" imperative in literature, though one example (from the old Latin religious office of Compline) has always stuck in my mind:
"Fratres, sobrii estote et vigilantes". Actually, that could be a good motto for our own times too!
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Postby Evito » Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:07 am

benissimus wrote:-to is 2nd person singular future imperative
-to is 3rd person singular future imperative too
-tote is 2nd person plural future imperative
-nto is 3rd person plural future imperative

These are super rare from what I have heard, appearing in not very many words, mostly in formal documents and so you would not come across them in typical reading very often. The only times I have ever seen it (other than in grammar books) are in the words esto (esse) and memento (meminisse).


I didn't know this either. Well, I found out, after a few hours of searching, when I ran into -I think it was- memento in Ovids Tristia. I used the program "words" to look it up as I couldn't find it in my grammar books. (n)
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:43 pm

Well, of course, we do have the word "memento" in English, meaning a souvenir. There is also the ghastly "memento mortis" (which is always a nice illustration of memini requiring a genitive object!
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Postby benissimus » Tue Feb 17, 2004 2:57 am

I think the phrase is actually memento mori which is even worse because it means "remember to die" :?
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Tue Feb 17, 2004 8:32 am

Eheu mihi! trust me to get it wrong!
Memento homo quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris ...
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Postby Kasper » Tue Feb 17, 2004 9:39 pm

Incidentally, I was reading Phillipians from the Vulgate today, and in chapter 2, 25-30, Paulus speaks of sending one of his companions to them and says:

"...excipite itaque illum cum omni gaudio in Domino et eiusmodi cum honore habetote..."

which is the first time I have actually encountered 'habetote'.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:56 am

Nice to know that some people still know the Vulgate (I was brought up on Church Latin). Now, here's an interesting question: the Vulgate was St Jerome's own Latin style, which had changed quite a bit since classical times - but what language did Paul write his epistles in initially? Was it Latin or Greek?
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Postby Kasper » Wed Feb 18, 2004 9:35 pm

To my knowledge in Greek, but as he was a Roman could it be that at least he wrote his letters to the Romans in Latin?
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Thu Feb 19, 2004 8:17 am

What I was wondering was whether Jerome used Paul's original text in Latin, or whether the epistles are Jerome's translation of the Greek. In other words, I wonder how far some of the epistles are authentic originals, with nothing lost in translation. I suppose we shall never know.
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