Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

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
DrMorbius57
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:04 pm

Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by DrMorbius57 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:23 pm

I've been struggling with this line from Orberg's Familia Romana, Chapter 33 line 119-120:

Cum complures horas ita fortissime a nostris, ab hostibus constanter ac non timide pugnatum esset, equitatus noster repente porta dextra erumpens impetum in latus hostium apertum fecit.

I think it's a cum causal clause, note the subjunctive pluperfect verb pugnatum esset in the subordinate clause and the perfect indicative fecit in the main. Here's how I worked it out.

Since for several hours so very bravely by our men, by the enemy it (the battle) had been fought persistently and not fearfully, our cavalry suddenly charging out of the right gate attacked the open flank of the enemy.

This sounds a little awkward in English but it's as close as I can get. I've seen another post about this same line but that one was from year 2011.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1785
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by Hylander » Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:33 am

Your translation isn't bad.

The trick here is to recognize that fortissime a nostris and ab hostibus constanter ac non timide both modify the impersonal passive verb, pugnatum esset. They are parallel and this is an asyndeton: there is no "et" or other conjuction to join them. They are also arranged "chiastically" (from the Greek letter X or chi): A B B A, where fortissime and constanter ac non timide are the A elements, and a nostris and ab hostibus are the B elements. This asyndeton with chiasmus is a very elegant rhetorical figure, but I think the lack of a coordinating conjunction may have thrown you off.

English doesn't use impersonal passive verbs as Latin does. Putting them into idiomatic English sometimes requires some gymnastics. Here the best solution would probably be to convert the Latin passive verb into English active verbs, since the agents of pugnatum esset are stated and can be transformed into the subjects of the Latin verb. ". . . our men had fought very bravely and the enemy [had fought] persistently and fearlessly".

Cum here, with the subjunctive, is "circumstantial. In general, "circumstantial" cum is distinguished from "temporal" cum with the indicative, which simply tells when an action occurred, without necessarily any relationship to the action of the main verb. However, this is a fine distinction that I believe gradually got lost in later Latin. Circumstantial cum can be translated as "because" (causal), "although" (adversative), or simply "when" if the action of the cum clause is related to the action of the main verb and is not simply a time marker. Here, I think "when" is the best translation. The action of the cum clause pugnatum esset describes the circumstances in which the actions of the main verb impetum fecit. occurred.

Ita probably goes with pugnatum esset rather than fortissime.

"When our men had thus fought very bravely, and the enemy persistently and fearlessly, for several hours, . . ."

The rest of the sentence is good and works well in English. However, if you are focused on translating (rather than simply reading and understanding without translating, which should be the ultimate goal), there's one small point that might be helpful. Latin uses participles more than English, and in particular, where there are two verbal ideas, often puts the less important or subordinate idea in a participle, where English would use two main verbs connected by "and". So you might translate the second part of the sentence this way: "our cavalry suddenly charged out of the right gate and attacked the open flank of the enemy." That seems to me just a little more fluid in English. When you read Latin, you should try to notice how Latin does this, because it's a very common way Latin sentences are constructed, and it's somewhat different from English.

Constantinus Philo
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 376
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:04 pm

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by Constantinus Philo » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:01 am

H ur the best I subscribe under all uve written. I've s question though,does Greek has impersonal passives as Latin. If no, how pugnatur can be best translated into Greek.
Semper Fidelis

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1785
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by Hylander » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:01 pm

does Greek has impersonal passives as Latin. If no, how pugnatur can be best translated into Greek.
I can't say for certain that Greek never uses impersonal passives, but if it does it's very rare, in contrast to Latin.

pugnatur -- Greek, I think, would use the 3rd plur. active form, like English. In the sentence originally asked about, the passive pugnatum esset could easily be transformed into an active verb with the agents as subjects, as I suggested it should be translated into English.

By the way, for real expertise, you should read everything mwh writes.

User avatar
bedwere
Global Moderator
Posts: 3849
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 10:23 pm
Location: Didacopoli in California
Contact:

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by bedwere » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:20 pm

Hylander wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:01 pm
does Greek has impersonal passives as Latin. If no, how pugnatur can be best translated into Greek.
I can't say for certain that Greek never uses impersonal passives, but if it does it's very rare, in contrast to Latin.

pugnatur -- Greek, I think, would use the 3rd plur. active form, like English. In the sentence originally asked about, the passive pugnatum esset could easily be transformed into an active verb with the agents as subjects, as I suggested it should be translated into English.

By the way, for real expertise, you should read everything mwh writes.
The impersonal passive in Latin and Greek

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1785
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by Hylander » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:42 pm

Thanks, Bedwere.

I think the impersonal perfect/pluperfect passive are used much more restrictively than the Latin impersonal passive, though I can't quite put my finger on where it would be used. The perfect reflects a current state of affairs that is the result of past actions, so I don't think a Latin expression such as pugnatum est/erat could be translated into Greek as an impersonal perfect passive.

DrMorbius57
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:04 pm

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by DrMorbius57 » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:53 pm

Thanks, Hylander. Very helpful.
I see what you mean by ita modifying the verb, not fortissime. As in, "After the battle had been fought in this way (ita) for several hours, ..." I also see the chiastic arrangement.
I know we're supposed to concentrate on reading Latin and not translating into English, but when studying a line I want to understand what each word means, why it is where it is in the sentence, and why the sentence is written the way it is.

Hylander
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1785
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:16 pm

Re: Familia Romana Ch 33 Line 119-120

Post by Hylander » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:56 am

when studying a line I want to understand what each word means, why it is where it is in the sentence, and why the sentence is written the way it is.
That's a good goal, and it will help you to progress to the point where you don't need to think about grammar or translation.

Post Reply