plural form of vis

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plural form of vis

Post by arslongus » Mon Aug 22, 2005 7:23 pm


I am using Groton and May's "38 Latin Stories to accompany Wheelock's" and am wondering about the following sentence which appears in the story for Wheelock's Ch. 15:

Istum inveniam et, si potero, meis viribus vincam.

my translation of this is
This one I will find and, if I am able, by my strength, will overcome.

the form meis viribus is what I am wondering about. viribus is the ablative plural. Is this one of those idioms where the word is plural in form, but singular in meaning? Or do I simply have the translation wrong?

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Lucus Eques
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Post by Lucus Eques » Mon Aug 22, 2005 8:09 pm

Saluē, Arslongus! Your translation is perfectly correct. And you are also right in noting that "uīs" in the plural has the connotation of "strength" or "power," as well as "forces."
L. Amadeus Ranierius


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Post by benissimus » Tue Aug 23, 2005 2:04 am

It's not that it has a singular meaning in the plural, it just has slightly different meanings in the singular and plural. vis means "force, power, etc." whereas vires means "strength".

A reasonable comparison in English would be the word "force". In the singular it often means "power", but in the plural it often means "military personnel"... yet we do not think of the word "forces" as having a singular meaning. insidiae "treachery" would be a word with singular meaning in the plural, as would English "ethics".
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae

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