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Sequence of Tenses: a passage from C. Nepos

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Sequence of Tenses: a passage from C. Nepos

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:41 pm

Salvete!

I have difficulties understanding the intricacies of the sequence of tenses. I have looked at Wheelock's Latin and A&G's New Latin Grammar, but I still cannot make head or tail of it.

Here is the relevant passage from Nepos (XV. Epaminondas, 1):
Cornelius Nepos wrote:At philosophiae praeceptorem habuit Lysium Tarentinum, Pythagoreum; cui quidem sic fuit deditus, ut adulescens tristem ac severum senem omnibus aequalibus suis in familiaritate anteposuerit; neque prius eum a se dimisit [note: some manuscripts have dimiserit], quam in doctrinis tanto antecessit condiscipulos, ut facile intellegi posset pari modo superaturum omnes in ceteris artibus.


Okay, following the rules of the sequence of tenses I have to first identify the type of tense of the main verb (fuit). In this example fuit is perfect tense and therefore a historical/secondary tense.

Next I have to find out whether the dependent verb denotes a completed or an incomplete action. The (first) dependent verb is anteposuerit which is (this being a result clause and therefore in the subjunctive) a perfect tense. Why perfect tense? I would have expected an imperfect tense instead. The preference shown by Epaminondas to the philosopher is by nature a result of his feeling dedicated to him and therefore denotes an incomplete action, doesn't it? Even if it were complete, wouldn't in that case anteposuisset the correct word?

Or is this the special case given in A&G (§ 485c)?
A&G wrote:In clauses of Result, the Perfect Subjunctive is regularly (the Present rarely) used after secondary tenses. [...] This construction emphasizes the result; the regular sequence of tenses would subordinate it.


Should that be the case, would the following be correct if no emphasis is intended?

[...] cui quidem sic fuit deditus, ut adulescens tristem ac severum senem omnibus aequalibus suis in familiaritate anteponeret; [...]

Can anyone help me?

Carolus Raeticus
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Re: Sequence of Tenses: a passage from C. Nepos

Postby Nesrad » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:36 pm

I also would have expected anteponeret, but the explanation you fished out of A&G seems to apply here. Also, you should be aware that the authors often disregard the rules of sequence to convey a particular meaning, so don't be surprised if this comes up again elsewhere.
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Re: Sequence of Tenses: a passage from C. Nepos

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:46 pm

Salve Nesrad!

Nesrad wrote:Also, you should be aware that the authors often disregard the rules of sequence to convey a particular meaning, so don't be surprised if this comes up again elsewhere.

You are right. Cornelius Nepos repeatedly uses the perfect subjunctive when I would have expected something else.

Vale,

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