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Uses of "quod"

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Uses of "quod"

Postby ArthurusNoviEboraci » Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:36 pm

I was wondering if there is a rough rule-of-thumb for distinguishing between “quod” when used as pronoun, and when it is used as “because = quia, quoniam”.

Today I bumped into this:

Ibo ut, erus quod imperavit, Alcumenae nuntiem…

The commas seem to have been placed by the autor of my textbook, since the original Plautus doesn’t seem to have them…

I translated as:

I will go so – because the master has ordered – I would announce to Alcumena.

(Word order to keep the original word order… I would much have preferred to have said “Because the master has so ordered, I will go so I would announce to Alcumena”).

When my solution in the textbook translated that “quod” as pronoun:

I will go so – what the master has ordered – I would announce to Alcumena.

(Again, word order not being my favorite, but by now I realize that authors of antiquity play all this much with word order, too much for my liking!).

Is there something inherently wrong with translating “quod” as because and not as “quod” from “qui, quae, quod”…

I can think of one reason: not having it as pronoun leaves my verb “nuntiare” without a direct object (i.e. announce WHAT???)... This, however, doesn't strike me as a huge issue... Anyone? Comments? Disagreement?

If I were to say:

“Ibo ut, quod erus imperavit, Alcumenae illud nuntiem”…

Would that take care of both issues and allow me to freely translate “quod” as “because”…

Once, on this forum, earlier in my studies, I had asked about:

“Quod est ante pedes, nemo spectat”.

… whose most natural translation is “That which is before (their) feet, no one sees”… Would it be too far-fetched to interpret it as “BECAUSE it/he/she is before (their) feet, no one sees it/her/him”.

Give me some advice so I no longer confuse the uses of “quod”, please!…
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Re: Uses of "quod"

Postby thesaurus » Tue Mar 31, 2009 6:26 pm

I wish I had a wonderful tip to give you about distinguishing quod from quod, but I don't. I get tripped up from time to time, though I can usually work it out in context. (Some helpful texts will mark tricky adverbs with an accent mark like hîc, "here" vs hic "this," similarly quòd).

But in addition to context, keep a close eye on syntax even though Latin likes to play fast and loose with word order.
Ibo ut, erus quod imperavit, Alcumenae nuntiem…
Notice that erus precedes quod which is a sign that quod is not a conjunction, which you can expect at the beginning of a phrase unless they are post-positives (which are words like "enim" "igitur," and "autem" which cannot begin a sentence; a word is either post-positive or are not, and you know that quòd is not).

Syntactically, it makes sense to have quod be a relative direct object here, stating "what the master ordered." As you pointed out, it makes sense to have a direct object pronoun here based on these verbs.

I translate the sentence "I go to report to Alcumena what the master has ordered." Changing the order of the clauses is a good idea in English, which doesn't like compounded clauses as much as Latin.

You can't switch the pronoun for the conjunction depending on preference. Sure, it may be that it's up to the interpreter (you) to decide, but there will be one correct reading which the author intended. “Ibo ut, quod erus imperavit, Alcumenae illud nuntiem” would have the possibility of a different meaning because of the new word order, as you point out. But you can only translate "quod" as because in this sentence, not the one from Plautus.

Sorry I couldn't give you a straight forward answer.
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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Re: Uses of "quod"

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:07 am

"cum" as a conjunction can occur in second place, e.g. from Caesar: Caesari cum id nuntiatum esset,... So Latin word order can be a little extreme. But having said that, I agree with thesaurus and in my (admittedly limited) experience, I don't think I've ever seen "quod" go second when it meant "because."

Another reason that I read it as "that which" was that it occurs inside the ut-clause -- it would've been odd if it's a because-clause inside the ut-clause, since the because-clause logically goes with "ibo". I don't think that's very clear but hopefully you get what I mean.

Lots of times when "quod" means because, there is another word that it links to, e.g. I know I've seen things like "eo, quod" = "for that reason, because." But even though this is nice when it occurs, I don't know how often it occurs, and it's certainly not necessary to make "quod" mean "because." But I'll go out on a limb and say that I suspect that if you're not sure it means "because", it probably means "that which", and that Latin authors will avoid ambiguity by using one of the other ways to mean "because", e.g. quia. But I'm not sure...
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Re: Uses of "quod"

Postby thesaurus » Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:14 am

modus.irrealis wrote:Lots of times when "quod" means because, there is another word that it links to, e.g. I know I've seen things like "eo, quod" = "for that reason, because." But even though this is nice when it occurs, I don't know how often it occurs, and it's certainly not necessary to make "quod" mean "because." But I'll go out on a limb and say that I suspect that if you're not sure it means "because", it probably means "that which", and that Latin authors will avoid ambiguity by using one of the other ways to mean "because", e.g. quia. But I'm not sure...


"Propterea quod" comes to mind, which still means "because," but I read that it carries the sense of a very strong logical connection between the parts it conjoins. Cicero uses it occasionally.

As modus.irrealis says, don't stress too much about "quod" because it's one of those issues that are really quite minor when reading Latin, but seems disproportionally troubling to beginners who don't have as much context. That is, if you just learned about the two uses of quod, and then one of your very few sample sentences has "quod" in it, you feel like it's integral to your understanding of the Latin language. In reality you'll seldom see it and when you do you'll quickly figure it out.
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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