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Tacitus I'm finding tricky

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Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Σεβαστός » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:56 pm

Hi everyone! I just joined the forum today because I feel I could really benefit from some of the members' obviously superior knowledge on here. I'm studying Latin and Greek hopefully towards university. Today I was reading some of Annals XIV and there was a little bit I was confused about:
ruderi accipiendo Ostiensis paludes destinabat utique naves quae frumentum Tiberi subvectassent onustae rudere decurrerent; aedificiaque ipsa certa sui parte sine trabibus saxo Gabino Albanove solidarentur, quod is lapis ignibus impervius est;
So far I've got something like: 'He established the marshes of Ostia for the rubbish which needed to be accepted and used (present historic infinitive or indirect statement after destine - not sure) the ships which carry up the corn to the Tiber (subjunctive with qui as purpose clause or relative clause in indirect statement - not sure!?) to go down laden with rubbish; and his men made the buildings themselves firm without wood and with Gabine and Alban stone, since that stone is impervious to fire.
Thanks so much for anyone's help in advance.
hic Graeca doctrina ore tenus exercitus animum bonis artibus non induerat.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Σεβαστός » Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:52 pm

Another thing I was stuck on today when trying to progress with Tacitus was a little further on. It goes: Per idem tempus gladiatores apud oppidum Praeneste temptata eruptione praesidio militis, qui custos adesset, coerciti sunt, iam Spartacum et vetera mala rumoribus ferente populo, ut est novarum rerum cupiens pavidusque. So far I've got (very literally): 'During that same time, the gladiators at the city of Praeneste, with a breaking out of a military garrison, which was there as a guard, they were surrounded, and now Spartacus and old bad things were being carried around as rumours by the people, as it is when a person desires and is fearful of news'. I don't really get how the singular of miles fits with the garrison, and how the qui functions... I'm guessing the militis is a quasi-plural and the custos is a guard as a plural entity?
Thanks for anyone's help with this, and sorry for so many questions - I am trying my best!
hic Graeca doctrina ore tenus exercitus animum bonis artibus non induerat.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Nesrad » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:20 pm

Oh my favourite author, let me try.

He designated the marshes at Ostia as a dumping spot for rubble and (decided that) the ships that (had up until now) carried grain on the Tiber would return downstream laden with rubble (to be deposited at the marshes). The buildings themselves were to be solidified in select spots, without beams, with Gabian or Alban stone, because this rock is fire-proof.

Subvectassent: the subj. is used here to convey a sense of indefiniteness or a generic quality. I don't have a grammar handy, so I can't give you the exact grammatical term, but these two sentences will illustrate:
naves quae frumentum Tiberi subvectaverant: The ships that had carried grain on the Tiber.
naves quae frumentum Tiberi subvectassent: Ships that normally carry grain... the kind of ships that up until now carried grain...

decurrerent is simply a purpose clause with uti.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby adrianus » Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:29 pm

Sic vertam, Σεβαστός & Nesrad // I would translate this way, Σεβαστός & Nesrad:

"He was planning for the Ostian marshland to receive the rubble so that the ships which conveyed corn to the Tiber might make the trip laden with the rubble; and that the buildings precisely might be strengthened firm[ly] in their own stead by Gabine or Alban stone without wooden beams, because that stone is fireproof."
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: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Σεβαστός » Mon Nov 19, 2012 7:06 pm

Thanks very much for this guys; it really helped!

Wait, so does the utique function as an ut, or is it just a particle meaning 'at any rate'? I find it hard to take the relative pronoun as functioning both as a relative clause and purpose clause, but then again I did not realise utique[/i could function like [i]ut as a purpose clause. The other thing is that if aedificia ipsa is taken as accus. with destinabat how does the sui fit in, since it must surely refer to the subject of the clause, which would be Nero.
hic Graeca doctrina ore tenus exercitus animum bonis artibus non induerat.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Σεβαστός » Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:43 pm

Regarding my penultimate post I realise how silly I was being in not just taking militaris as singular and then custos as a guard, but I'm still not sure about that subjunctive? Thanks :D.
hic Graeca doctrina ore tenus exercitus animum bonis artibus non induerat.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Nesrad » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:46 am

Uti is another way of spelling ut, and you know what que means when tacked on the end of a word. Coincidentally it looks the same as another word, utique, which means something else entirely.

Sui goes with aedificia, which is nom. plural subject of solidarentur. They were to be solidified in a certain part (certa parte) of them (sui), or as I translated less accurately but more idiomatically "in select spots." Destinabat governs paludes, but not aedificia.

Here's how I understand the other sentence:
During the same time, gladiators in the town of Praeneste attempted to break out and were suppressed by the garrison of soldiers that were to act as guards, while the people were already talking about Spartacus and the usual evils by way of rumours, hoping as usual for revolution and fearing it.

The subj. here is used to convey a sense of eventuality or uncertainty. I suggest reading up on the subjunctive in a grammar. Also, Tacitus likes collective singulars, especially miles and names of nations and tribes.
Last edited by Nesrad on Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Nesrad » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:51 am

About that subjunctive, it could also indicate a purpose for the presense of the milites and might be translated: "who were present in order to guard them." But don't get too worked up. Some shades of meanings are best left untranslated and in this instance I think it would be ok to simply say: "who were guarding them."
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Σεβαστός » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:22 pm

Thanks so much Nesrad, I think I understand what's going on now. I certainly need to bear the qui + subjunctive purpose clauses in mind and the "generic" subjunctives. I'll brush up on my subjunctives!
hic Graeca doctrina ore tenus exercitus animum bonis artibus non induerat.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Nesrad » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:22 pm

This is actually an interesting problem, because I'm not sure how to translate "qui custos adesset" although I think I understand the meaning. There's a sense of purpose (the soldiers were there to act as guards), but this would have been adequately conveyed with an indicative. The subjunctive adds an element of uncertainty or eventuality, as if to say that the soldiers could act as guards in case something went wrong, but otherwise they were just a regular praesidium, like in other towns occupied by the Romans, and weren't especially interested in a rent-a-cop job as gladiator guards. Check out the edited version of my earlier post.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby adrianus » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:19 pm

qui/quae/quod + subjunctive can be translated "because" = "because the guard was arriving/near/in attendance"
cum vel quod conjunctionem vel eâ ratione nonnumquam significat qui/quae/quod cum subjunctivo modo.
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: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Σεβαστός » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:51 pm

I managed to fish out this from a commentary: the subjunctive is apparently 'a compressed or conflated construction, intended to express not only the garrison's presence, but its character and purpose.' She cites also this example: Ceterum obsessis adeo suppeditavisse rem frumentariam constitit, ut horreis ignem inicerent, contraque prodiderit Corbulo Parthos inopes copiarum et pabulo attrito relicturos oppugnationem, neque se plus tridui itinere afuisse and says 'the subjunctive appears to be a kind of virtual oblique, produced by a confused association with constitit: c.f. adesset'. Anyhow, I think I prefer your explanations (either uncertainty + purpose or because).
hic Graeca doctrina ore tenus exercitus animum bonis artibus non induerat.
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Re: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby adrianus » Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:45 am

De qui pronomine ante verbum subjunctivo modo, vide A&G §§521.2.N., 537.2, 535.e.
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: Tacitus I'm finding tricky

Postby Nesrad » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:22 am

Yes, thank you for this, Sebastos. "Its character and purpose" is a good way of describing the use of the subjunctive here, and notice incidentally that character comes first before purpose. I definitely get the impression that the soldiers were not present for the sole purpose of guarding the gladiators, but that their acting as guards was to be conditional on the gladiators causing trouble. I think that's what is meant by the "character" of their presence. At any rate, there's definitely more here than a simple purpose clause with qui.
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