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Actum Erat

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Actum Erat

Postby TonyLoco23 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:28 pm

I am reading the Viris Illustribus 3a,

The second paragraph under the sub-heading: CLAUDIUS NERO ET MARCUS LIVIUS SALINATOR, it says:

Actum erat
de imperio Romano,
si iungere se Annibali potuisset.

Literally translated, it seems to say:

It was done
of the Roman Power,
if he (Hasdrubal) could join with Hannibal.

I am assuming that what it really means is:

Roman Power would be finished (i.e. done away with/destroyed),
if he (Hasdrubal) could join with Hannibal.

Is this right? In which case the expression "actum est" can also mean "brought to an end/destroyed"?
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Re: Actum Erat

Postby lauragibbs » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:02 pm

Yes, Tony, that's it exactly: "actum est" has an idiomatic meaning something like the English idiom "over and done with" or something like that.

Here is a passage in Lewis & Short which documents this Latin idiom (the dictionary entry for ago is LONG; this is way down towards the bottom; idiomatic and metaphorical usages are usually buried deep down in the dictionary entry):

Res acta est, the case is over (and done for): acta haec res est; perii,this matter is ended Ter. Heaut. 3, 3, 3: hence, actum est de aliquo or aliquā re, it is all over with a person or thing : actum hodie est de me, Plaut. Ps. 1, 1, 63: jam de Servio actum, Liv. 1, 47: actum est de collo meo, Plaut. Trin. 3, 4, 194.—So also absol. : actumst; ilicet me infelicem, Plaut. Cist. 4, 2, 17: si animus hominem pepulit, actumst, id. Trin. 2, 2, 27; Ter. And. 3, 1, 7; Cic. Att. 5, 15: actumst, ilicet, peristi, Ter. Eun. 1, 1, 9: periimus; actumst, id. Heaut. 3, 3, 3.—
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Re: Actum Erat

Postby Imber Ranae » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:50 am

Another thing to mention about this passage is the peculiar use of the pluperfect indicative actum erat in place of the expected pluperfect subjunctive for the apodosis of a contrary-to-fact past conditional statement. This is occasionally done when the author wishes to convey more vividly the imagined consequences of some averted danger.
Ex mala malo
bono malo uesci
quam ex bona malo
malo malo malo.
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