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meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

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meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby vir litterarum » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:32 am

"ite procul, Musae, si non prodestis amanti:
non ego uos, ut sint bella canenda, colo,
nec refero Solisque uias et qualis, ubi orbem
compleuit, uersis Luna recurrit equis.
ad dominam faciles aditus per carmina quaero."
Tibullus 2.4.15-19

The gerundive in this case does not seem to me to impart the idea of necessity or obligation but rather ability or simply future intention, i.e. "I do not honor you so that war poems can be sung [by me]." However, I can't find any evidence of this usage of the gerundive in my Latin grammar? Does anyone have any thoughts?
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby thesaurus » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:18 pm

I don't know about any usages, but I would translate it the same way you did.

Nescio utrum exstare adnotationes grammaticorum hac de re, sed versio quam proposuisti bona mihi videtur.
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: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby modus.irrealis » Wed Jul 22, 2009 9:56 pm

With the position of "sint" might it have an existential sense, something like "so that there be war songs to be sung"?

A&G mention that the gerundive can also denote "propriety", which could easily be the case here.
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby vir litterarum » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:05 pm

I guess what I'm confused about is how the sense differs from a normal subjunctive in a purpose clause. It seems to me like Tibullus is asserting he has a "do ut des" relationship with the Muses: worship for inspiration. That's why ability seemed like the best translation to me. I can see what you're saying about propriety, Modus, but I just can't get it to work in this context: "I do not honor you so that it may be right/fitting/proper that war poems be sung"? Is that how you would translate it?
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby adrianus » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:33 am

If you are no use to someone in love, Muses, get well away.
I for one am not cultivating you so [with the intention that] wars should be celebrated,
nor am I referring to the Sun's paths and how the Moon, when ever it completes its orbit, always returns with horses facing about.
In poems I am looking for ready ways of getting close to my mistress.
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: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:36 am

Getting "fit" in there, I'd translate it as "I do not honour you so that there may be war poems fit to be sung", or with the implicit "mihi", "...so that I may have war poems fit to be sung". So I wouldn't say "...that it may be fitting that war poems be sung by me..." because that focuses on the wrong thing. I agree with you that there's a "do ut des" relationship as you said, which is why I prefer the existential reading of of "sint" -- although, come to think of it, I'd give your original translation an existential reading as well, since you're not referring to any specific war poems.

So that's how I'd understand the modal force of the gerundive here. It's not just ability here that's being indicated by the gerundive, but that these songs are worth singing. Or basically, he's not asking to be Homer. Obviously, it's not all that different from you're saying but I would say the difference is the one between "ut sint [mihi] bella canenda" and "ut sint [mihi] bella quae canam".
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby modus.irrealis » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:28 am

adrianus, do you then see no difference between "ut sint bella canenda" and "ut bella canantur"?

Just to add some translations I found online:
for the purpose of war poetry
to have wars to sing
pour avoir des guerres à chanter (= previous one exactly)

Seeing "bella" as straightforward "wars" seems a little odd as it's not really in the power of the muse to give wars. I have to note, though, that none of the translations give the modal force I as trying to get at...

Also, I know the gerundive is sometimes called the future passive participle, which suggests that it has non-modal uses. Does the gerundive ever function as a purely future passive? (I guess that that's basically vir litterarum's original question, isn't it?)
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby vir litterarum » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:50 am

I found this comment on the usage; it seems to me that he is taking the gerundive as expressing future intention. Again, having looked at both A&G and NLS, I have found no evidence for this usage of the gerundive, but I guess I'm going to have to consult the Germans for an authoritative description of all the usages of the gerundive.
http://books.google.com/books?id=WS51AA ... yASn4dS6BA
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby adrianus » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:44 pm

modus.irrealis wrote:adrianus, do you then see no difference between "ut sint bella canenda" and "ut bella canantur"?

I would say this (for what it's worth)
Dicam hoc (quod tanti non est):
"ut sint bella canenda" [per quod hôc in contextu versum rectè mensum est // which in this context does scan] = "so that wars may worthily/fittingly be celebrated in verse" = "so that I may worthily/fittingly celebrate wars [in verse]" [where "worthily/fittingly" has a clearer emphasis than "should" in English—quod melius est anglicé, ut opinor.]
"ut bella canantur" [cuius metrum hîc non aptum est // which doesn't scan here]= "so that wars may be celebrated [in verse]"

[Couldn't "bella" also stand for "beautiful things" here? "Wars" seems good to me, though. Nonnè coquè hîc "bella" pro rebus pulchris stare possit? Sed "wars" versionem anglicè aptum esse habeo.]
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: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby ptolemyauletes » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:23 pm

The gerundive in Latin is a future passive participle. It is not commonly used this way, but in this context it is appropriate to use it simply as a participle. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong with a translation of 'I do not worship you so that songs of war should be sung.'
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby vir litterarum » Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:17 pm

"Die Verbindung des Gerundivs (sec. 202) mit esse (sog. passive periphrastische Konjug., Typus laudandus sum) rückt im Spätlatein unter Aufgabe der 'soll'- bzw. 'kann'-Bedeutung an die Stelle des Fut. Pass."
Lateinische Grammatik 175 b

At least in "Spätlatein", then, the passive periphrastic with the gerundive was used to express ability. Perhaps this line in Tibullus could be cited as a classical example?
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Re: meaning of the gerundive in Tib. 2.4.16

Postby modus.irrealis » Mon Jul 27, 2009 2:42 am

There's a similar comment in Madvig: http://books.google.ca/books?id=wrYAAAA ... 3&pg=PA376 §420 obs. that has classical examples after negations and vix, so perhaps the "non" here makes a difference.
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