Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Here you can discuss all things Latin. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Latin, and more.
Post Reply
hlawson38
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:38 am

Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by hlawson38 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:36 pm

Sybil replies to the thanks of Aeneas, whom she has just guided into and out of the Underworld. In his thanks, Aeneas confessed uncertainty whether she might be human or divine.


'nec dea sum,' dixit 'nec sacri turis honore 130
humanum dignare caput, neu nescius erres,
lux aeterna mihi carituraque fine dabatur,
si mea virginitas Phoebo patuisset amanti.

"I am no goddess," she said, "nor is my human person [humanum . . . caput] worthy of the honor of sacred ritual incense, but so that you might not wander in ignorance, eternal light without end was on offer to me, if I, being a virgin, had only taken Phoebus as lover."

literally, as I think: if my virginity had opened to Phoebus as lover. [Perhaps too graphic for English?]

I request also a grammatical rationale for the verbs in the last two lines, and their clauses.

dabatur: imperfect, passive, indicative
patuisset: pluperfect, active, subjunctive

Aetos
Textkit Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Aetos » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:14 pm

Hi Hugh,
I'm sure Hylander or MWH are going jump in here, but this is my thinking:
dabatur is an inceptive imperfect, indicating that eternal light was given in the past and continues to the present.
patuisset in the conditional clause,follows the sequence of tenses as a completed condition prior to eternal light being given, which is in the imperfect, so the completed condition would be in the pluperfect.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1448
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Hylander » Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:27 pm

dabatur, si . . . patuisset -- This is a contrary to fact condition with the apodosis in the imperfect indicative. Usually both the protasis and apodosis of contrary to fact conditions are subjunctive, but not always.

Allen & Greenough discuss this at sec. 517b:
b. In the apodosis of a condition contrary to fact the past tenses of the Indicative may be used to express what was intended, or likely, or already begun. In this use, the Imperfect Indicative corresponds in time to the Imperfect Subjunctive, and the Perfect or Pluperfect Indicative to the Pluperfect Subjunctive:—

“sī licitum esset, mātrēs veniēbant ” (Verr. 5.129) , the mothers were coming if it had been allowed.
“in amplexūs fīliae ruēbat, nisi līctōrēs obstitissent ” (Tac. Ann. 16.32) , he was about rushing into his daughter's arms, unless the lictors had opposed.
“iam tūta tenēbam, nī gēns crūdēlis ferrō invāsisset ” (Aen. 6.358) , I was just reaching a place of safety, had not the fierce people attacked me.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0001

See also 517c.

Perhaps the idea could be expressed as "eternal life was going to be given to me/was almost within my grasp -- if only my virginity had been available to Apollo". The indicative perhaps conveys how close she was to becoming immortal. But nothing is too graphic for English these days.

dignor is a deponent, and dignare is imperative: "do not deem a human head worthy of the honor of holy incense". Usually prohibitions (negative commands) take ne + perf. subj. or other constructions, but I think ne + imperative here gives a coloring that is both archaic and peremptory, as befitting the Sybil. As in the Aeneid, she's bossy almost to the point of rudeness and contempt to Aeneas.

erres : here, just "err" or maybe "go astray", but not "wander".

hlawson38
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 579
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:38 am

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by hlawson38 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:25 pm

Many thanks to Aetos for his offering, even though I believe Aetos and I should study Hylander's careful reply.

I'll be spending time on that study.

Aetos
Textkit Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Aetos » Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:52 pm

Hylander's right, of course. Where I went wrong was assuming she took the offer!

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1448
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Hylander » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:05 am

There should be a period/full stop, not a comma, after caput. That's the way Tarrant's Oxford edition punctuates it. Of course, the Romans didn't use punctuation much if at all -- it has to be inferred from context, and sometimes it can make a big difference in interpretation. But here I think it's clear.

Aetos
Textkit Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Aetos » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:20 am

I don't know which edition Hugh is using for this selection, but I just checked in Loeb and it's punctuated with a comma in the 1916 edition, where the Latin text is taken from the Ehwald edition of 1898. The Perseus version which is taken from that from Hugo Magnus in 1892, shows a full stop. What's interesting is that Miller (Loeb) lists both editions in his bibliography, but elected to go with Ehwald for most of the text.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1448
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Hylander » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:55 pm

Anderson's Teubner has a comma. I guess that's ok: neu = ne ue, where ue is a coordinating conjunction capable of joining two independent sentences (not just two subordinate clauses introduced by ne).

Aetos
Textkit Member
Posts: 144
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Aetos » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:06 pm

When I first read it, I roughly interpreted it as "and so that you don't err out of ignorance," or even more freely "and just so you know". The two independent sentences combine via neu to tell us that she is not a goddess and why. Thanks also for pointing out that dabatur...si patuisset was a contrafactual conditional.
I saw the indicative and assumed she accepted. Having now read the whole story (just Sibylla, not the whole book!), I see how impossible that would have been.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1448
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Ovid, Metam., XIV, 130ff.

Post by Hylander » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:32 pm

I think Aetos' original suggestion that dabatur is an inceptive imperfect is a good one, and not inconsistent with treating the whole sentence as a contrary to fact conditional. The imperfect indicative conveys the idea that process of immortalization was in the works and would have reached completion had the Sibyl not refused to make her virginity available to Apollo.

Petronius, Satyricon sec. 48:

Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum illi pueri dicerent: σίβυλλα, τί θέλεις; [Sibylla, quid uis?] respondebat illa: ἀποθανεῖν θέλω [mori uolo].”

Post Reply