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nē ūllum tēlum se laederet

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nē ūllum tēlum se laederet

Postby phil » Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:50 am

In an English to Latin exercise I am doing, there is He bore a shield so that no weapon might hurt him. and the answer given is scūtum ferēbat nē ūllum tēlum se laederet.. But I read that as 'He bore a shield so that no weapon might hurt itself'., because I thought that reflexive pronouns referred to the subject of the clause in which they stand, and I take 'nē ūllum tēlum se laederet' to be that clause. My answer was scūtum ferēbat nē ūllum tēlum eum laederet.

The next exercise is 'He bore so big a shield that no weapon could hurt him', and the answer is 'tantum scūtum ferēbat ut nūllum tēlum eum laedere posset'. Which I agree with, but makes me more suspicious about the preceeding one.

Can someone set me straight? Cheers, Phil.
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Re: nē ūllum tēlum se laederet

Postby petitor » Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:25 am

The first sentence is a purpose clause, in which case "se" reflects the subject of the main verb, "ferebat".

The second sentence is a result clause, in which case "se" would refer to the subject of the subordinate verb(s), "laedere posset". Here, however, since "nullum telum" is the subject of the subordinate clause, "eum" is used to denote that someone/something else is the object.

Just remember: in a purpose clause, "se" refers to the subject of the main verb; in a result clause, "se" refers to the subject of the subordinate verb.

Although Allen & Greenough's New Latin Grammar (ISBN 1-58510-027-7) does explain this somewhat in sections 299-301, more concise rules are given in sections 108 and 109 of "Latin: Essentials of Grammar" (ISBN 0-8442-8540-4). Perhaps other members can cite better references.
ignorantes latinam deo minore nati
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Re: nē ūllum tēlum se laederet

Postby Imber Ranae » Thu Sep 09, 2010 1:11 am

Petitor is quite correct, though the rule he gives about purpose clauses and result clauses may be extended further: as a general rule of thumb, any subordinate clause which represents the words, thoughts, perceptions, intentions, reasoning, or understanding of the subject of the independent clause will regularly use an indirect reflexive to refer back to that subject.

This includes not just purpose clauses, but jussive noun clauses (e.g. imperavit servis ut aquam ad se adferrent "he ordered his slaves to bring him water"), indirect discourse (accusative + infinitive), indirect questions, causal clauses with a subjunctive verb (to show that the reasoning is the subject's), clauses introduced by dum or antequam with a subjunctive verb (to indicate the subject's purpose or expectation), etc., etc.
Ex mala malo
bono malo uesci
quam ex bona malo
malo malo malo.
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