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Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

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Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:25 am

Just a small question here, really. I'm likely overlooking something that's otherwise perfectly obvious, and if so, it wouldn't be the first time; if that does prove to be the case, I apologise in advance.

Reading a part of Tacitus, I came across a sentence (2.69) that seems odd to me: at Germanicus Aegypto remeans cuncta quae apud legiones aut urbes iusserat abolita vel in contrarium versa cognoscit. Given that the subjunctive is used for subordinate clauses within indirect speech, why is iusserat that and not iussisset ? Is it because it isn't really indirect speech, or because it's a general rule and not really a concrete one, or because Tacitus simply doing it his own way (or another possibility, of course)? I know it's not a big deal, but challenges to one's confidence in grammar are always a little bothering.

On an unrelated note, I was also wondering if anyone could offer any help as to reflexives in indirect statements. That's to say, we're all aware of se being used to indicate the subject remains the same in the indirect statement, but then what happens when you actually need to express a reflexive action in that indirect statement? Do you repeat the se? (Apologies too if that question isn't clear).

Thanks in advance, everyone! :)
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby adrianus » Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:41 pm

Oratio obliqua non est.
It's not reported speech: "all that he had ordered the legions and the cities"

Caecilius wrote:Do you repeat the se?

You do. Id repetis.

"He thought that he had hurt himself" = "Putavit se sibi nocuisse."
"He says that he knows himself" = "Dicit se se noscere."
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:21 am

[Forgive my accidental double-posting.]
Last edited by Caecilius on Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:21 am

Thank you for the reply, adrianus.

Regarding the repetition of the reflexive pronoun, that's great to know; perhaps I've overlooked it in looking around for it, but I couldn't find a reference for that.

On Tacitus, however - is that not a relative clause within the cognoscit-initiated indirect statement? In other words:
at Germanicus Aegypto remeans cuncta (quae apud legiones aut urbes iusserat) abolita vel in contrarium versa ['esse'] cognoscit.
But Germanicus, returning from Egypt, found out that all the things (which he had ordered [amongst] the legions and cities) had been abolished or countermanded.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby adrianus » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:25 pm

Yes, it's a relative clause but it's not reported speech, unless I'm mistaken.

Non est "which they said he had ordered" vel "which he is said to have ordered".

Clausula relativa quidem, non autem, nisi fallor, oratio obliqua.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:44 pm

Thanks for your patience again.

I see what you mean, and maybe I didn't express myself more clearly.

You're right that nec "which they which they said he had ordered" nec "which he is said to have ordered", but I'm not quite translating the sentence with that. Reported speech/indirect statements are, as you well know, introduced by a good deal of verbs: "it is well known that", "he hopes that", placet (it is agreed/seems good that), etc. Hence here, would not cognoscit would serve in the measure (he [Germanicus] 'realised'/'found out'/'learned' - with historic present obviously - that...).

In other words, when I take my translation above and add further punctuation to stress the indirect statement (and changing the syntax to a literal reading for English), where |> stands for the beginning of the indirect statement and the parentheses mark the relative clause within that:
at Germanicus, Aegypto remeans, cognoscit |> cuncta (quae apud legiones aut urbes iusserat) abolita vel in contrarium versa ['esse']|.
But Germanicus, returning from Egypt, learned/discovered that |> all the things (which he had ordered [amongst] the legions and cities) had been abolished or countermanded|.

Thus would not the relative clause here in situated inside the indirect statement, and hence require a subjunctive in lieu of the indicative 'iusserat' (as mentioned in my first post)?

Thanks for the patience.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Nesrad » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:28 pm

There is no indirect speech here. Adrianus is correct.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:21 pm

Thanks! It was just to clarify.

Could you please then explain the sentence's syntax - does cognoscit mean something else here, or do abolita/ in contr... versa work as simply passive perfect participles, etc.? What would be your translation?
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby adrianus » Sat Jan 19, 2013 6:14 pm

Sic verbatim anglicè verto: "but on returning to Egypt Germanicus finds [/found] all the things that he had ordered in the case of the legions and the cities abolished or reversed."

"Ab eis Caesar haec facta cognovit, qui sermoni interfuerunt;" (Caesar, Bellum Civile, 3.18)
"Caesar was informed of these things by those who took part in the discussion."

Perhaps the best explanation is: // Forsit hoc: "A Subordinate Clause merely explanatory, or containing statements which are regarded as true independently of the quotation, takes the indicative" (A&G§583).
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:28 pm

Edit: I've updated my thoughts on this in the post below. My comments in this post here still stand, of course.

Yes, so there's no indirect statement and the abolita/in contr. versa are merely perfect passive participles, with no implied 'esse' to act as the auxiliary in forming a perfect passive verb.

Thanks for that, then. I didn't realise that you could translate cognosco simply as a transitive 'to find', since it wasn't displayed as that in my dictionary.

One last thing that confuses me, though - and I sincerely appreciate your patience with me, it must be tiring.

You cite Caesar, but that line seems different to me, not being an indirect statement at all: Ab eis Caesar haec facta cognovit, qui sermoni interfuerunt = Caesar found out these things (haec facta) by those (ab eis), who etc. What I had done with the Tacitus was different, as I mentioned before: it had turned into an indirect statement with 'cognoscit' setting off the statement and 'abolita esse vel in contr. verba esse' acting as the main verbs (I had imagined an implied 'esse', as I said earlier). It would therefore have translated as 'found out that those things, (-- which ... relative clause --), had been abolished or countermanded'.

Now you've mentioned A&G's explanation of subordinate clauses in indirect statements being able to take the indicative (and I found the rest on Perseus: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... section=12), does this mean that the Tacitus is still not an indirect statement? Or that it is, but with iusserat taking the indicative as explained by this rule? Sorry about the winding nature of this conversation.
Last edited by Caecilius on Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:58 am

I don't mean to contradict the wonderful advice provided here, and thank you for responding. But since adrianus provided such a rule, I couldn't help but go back over the Latin to ensure it wasn't the case here - in which case, that is, 'cognoscit' would still set off an indirect statement.

All translations that I found online seem to back my translation up (i.e., translating it as an indirect statement).

E.g.
Fisher (from Perseus): Germanicus meanwhile, as he was returning from Egypt, found that all his directions to the legions and to the various cities had been (i.e., adding an implied 'esse' to make it a verb) repealed or reversed.
Jackson (from here): On the way from Egypt, Germanicus learned that all orders issued by him to the legions or the cities had been rescinded or reversed.

Of course, those are public domain translations, though I still think they merit inclusion here. I don't have a modern copy of Tacitus in English to look it up, but I'm fairly confident it is an indirect statement, unless someone is able to perhaps explain why it is not. I understand that the posts above mine translate it transitively - "... [Germanicus] found/finds all his orders" + abolita/versa used as adjectives/participles ("found all his orders abolished or countermanded") instead of seeing as an indirect statement: "... found/finds out that all his orders had been" (with an implied 'esse' for 'had been'); as to why the latter is not the correct option, especially now given those other translations, would be really helpful.

At the moment, I'm thinking that it is an indirect statement after all, but that the verb of the subordinate clause within that ('iusserat') is not subjunctive but indicative because of the A&G rule adrianus mentioned; I found another reference to that which makes me more confident: "if a clause in the middle of a report in indirect discourse has a verb in the indicative, this means only that the speaker is adding this point at the time that he is speaking, and that he is not claiming that they were part of the original statement. There is one apparent exception to this: that is, when both the original statement and the speaker could be referring to a clear and present fact, then the speaker often puts that fact in the indicative -- but this usually applies to things at hand, things seen or things the speaker could point to." (See http://classics.osu.edu/subordinate-clauses).

I would love your thoughts on this nonetheless, of course.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Nesrad » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:33 pm

I'm surprised at your tenacity. It's not oratio obliqua, neither in the Latin nor in the translations you provided. The word "that" in English is used for relative clauses as well as indirect speech.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Alatius » Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:59 pm

I suppose it might be possible to understand it both ways. In any case, I see no reason to dismiss it as _not_ being indirect speech; as we know, Tacitus is very fond of not putting out forms of "esse" when it is understood from the context. This, for example, is from Annales 2.12.1: "Caesar transgressus Visurgim indicio perfugae cognoscit delectum ab Arminio locum pugnae", which is obviously oratio obliqua.

Regarding the indicative in the relative, what do you all think about this sentence from Caesar? "Ibi cognoscit LX naves, quae in Meldis factae erant, tempestate reiectas cursum tenere non potuisse atque eodem unde erant profectae revertisse."
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby adrianus » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:39 am

I do now see it as an indirect statement with an indicative clause because separate from the thought, possibly.
Id orationem obliquam esse nunc cognosco, cum clausulâ indicativo modo, quod in oratione obliquâ non includitur eadem clausula, ut mihi videtur.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Caecilius » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:05 am

Thank you very much for your thoughts, and adrianus for letting me know about the indicative rule. It's much appreciated. I hope my own later posts were not offensive in any way - I do find it a little affronting to be accused of 'tenacity' when really a genuine incomprehension (and therefore desire to persist in discussing the topic) was the case. That is, after all, the point of a forum. That said, I understand now where everyone is coming from; through your responses I imagine you're all implying those are participles and not complemented by ('esse') to form verbs, as I said. I see that, so thank you.

Nesrad, I am aware that 'that' serves as a relative pronoun in restrictive relative clauses in English. That doesn't change the fact that the order of its use in a sentence changes its meaning. E.g. "I found out/learned that those jewels were expensive" as opposed to "I found those jewels that were expensive" (i.e., which were expensive). The first is an indirect statement and would be in Latin, whereas the latter would not, being simple a relative clause. Hope that helps to clarify my own views, and of course if this is wrong I'll gladly accept it so.

If I may put in my paltry two cents regarding Alatius' citation from Caesar as an attempt ('ibi cognoscit LX naves, quae in Meldis factae erant, tempestate reiectas cursum tenere non potuisse atque eodem unde erant profectae revertisse'), I think that the fact that the naves in Meldis factae erant perhaps could fall under the 'merely explanatory' rule? I wonder how much the indicative instead of subjunctive tends to be used; I suppose I'll have to watch out for it!
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby Alatius » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:51 am

Caecilius wrote:through your responses I imagine you're all implying those are participles and not complemented by ('esse') to form verbs, as I said.

For what it is worth (perhaps not much) I am more inclined to see it as you did, with a non-existing but understood 'esse'.

Caecilius wrote:I think that the fact that the naves in Meldis factae erant perhaps could fall under the 'merely explanatory' rule?

I suppose so; at least I don't know if there is any other explanation.
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Re: Tacitus: subjunctive in indirect speech

Postby thesaurus » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:17 pm

I've read the original Latin about a dozen times now, and I find it hard to construe it as anything other than indirect speech. I'm surprised at the steadfastness by which other have been claiming otherwise, especially when the opposing argument just comes down to restating the conclusion that it isn't oratio obliqua.

My 2 cents: while you'd generally expect a subjunctive relative clause in reported speech, sometimes the sequence of tenses/moods isn't followed in every case. I'm sure that we could find analagous examples where the usual bounds of English grammar are bent somewhat by an accomplished writer. When a writer breaks the flow of their sentence with an aside, they may not subordinate it fully but leave it as a parenthetical.

Personally, when I come across a slightly divergent case, I tend to just shrug my shoulders and keep reading (provided that I feel I understand the Latin, as I do in this case).
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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