Ave, Imperator...

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Barry Hofstetter
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Ave, Imperator...

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Sun Mar 31, 2019 2:54 pm

When I was but a wee lad taking Latin in high school, my Latin teacher (of blessed memory) taught us the gladiatorial greeting, Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutamus. Being the kind of student I was, I immediately began writing on all my exams Ave, magister/magistra, moriturus te saluto, eventually abbreviating it to AMMTS. Of course, I've passed this down to my own Latin classes, but teaching it recently again made me curious. Alas, I found out it's only attested once in Latin literature in Suetonius:

quin et emissurus Fucinum lacum naumachiam ante commisit. sed cum proclamantibus naumachiariis: ‘haue imperator, morituri te salutant!’ respondisset: ‘aut non...’ (Suet. Claud. 21.6).

The context indicates that it was probably only a one time incident, and a little further digging indicated that "many historians" doubt that it was ever regularly used as a greeting.

I'm mourning the loss of this pleasant Latin class "urban legend." It doesn't even say "Caesar," and it uses the third person not the first...
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Constantinus Philo
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Constantinus Philo » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:15 pm

What does this AUT non actually mean?AUT non morituri?
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:52 pm

Constantinus Philo wrote:
Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:15 pm
What does this AUT non actually mean?AUT non morituri?
Literally, just as we might respond in English, "or not" and something like morientur would be understood from the context just as in English. Suetonius reported how the combatants actually took these words:

‘haue imperator, morituri te salutant!’ respondisset: ‘aut non,’ neque post hanc uocem quasi uenia data quisquam dimicare uellet, diu cunctatus an omnes igni ferroque absumeret, tandem e sede sua prosiluit ac per ambitum lacus non sine foeda uacillatione discurrens partim minando partim adhortando ad pugnam compulit.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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Cathexis
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Cathexis » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:26 pm

Didn't Suetonious also include the tidbit about Augustus banishing the gladiator who responded to the jeering mob in the colosseum by giving them the, " infamis digitus?"
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Wed Apr 24, 2019 11:14 am

Cathexis wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:26 pm
Didn't Suetonious also include the tidbit about Augustus banishing the gladiator who responded to the jeering mob in the colosseum by giving them the, " infamis digitus?"
Pyladen urbe atque Italia summouerit, quod spectatorem, a quo exibilabatur, demonstrasset digito conspicuumque fecisset. (Suet. Aug. 45.4).

Is there "history of interpretation" on this? It looks to me as though it wasn't the type of gesture, but the act of pointing out a disrespectful spectator that got Pylades exiled. One note that I saw online did indeed take this as the "infamis digitus" and referred to Caligula 56.2:

Cum placuisset Palatinis ludis spectaculo egressum meridie adgredi, primas sibi partes Cassius Chaerea tribunus cohortis praetoriae depoposcit, quem Gaius seniorem iam et mollem et effeminatum denotare omni probro consuerat et modo signum petenti "Priapum" aut "Venerem" dare, modo ex aliqua causa agenti gratias osculandam manum offerre formatam commotamque in obscaenum modum.

But that seems to me to be quite a stretch (pardon the expression).
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Constantinus Philo
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Constantinus Philo » Wed Apr 24, 2019 12:11 pm

Cum placuisset Palatinis ludis spectaculo egressum meridie adgredi, is Palatinis Ludis here ablativus loci or temporis?
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Hylander » Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:59 pm

ablativus loci or temporis?
Think of it as just fundamental ablative. Suetonius wouldn't have thought about the distinction here, and you shouldn't either.

Ablative of location and ablative of time are just categories invented by modern grammarians to classify broad ranges of uses of the ablative found in classical texts. The categories are useful as a learning device, but to read fluently you need to get beyond the categories and embrace the Gestalt of the ablative.

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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Constantinus Philo » Wed Apr 24, 2019 3:26 pm

Was it also the approach to the ablative in the antiquity
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Re: Ave, Imperator...

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:41 pm

Hylander wrote:
Wed Apr 24, 2019 2:59 pm
ablativus loci or temporis?
Think of it as just fundamental ablative. Suetonius wouldn't have thought about the distinction here, and you shouldn't either.

Ablative of location and ablative of time are just categories invented by modern grammarians to classify broad ranges of uses of the ablative found in classical texts. The categories are useful as a learning device, but to read fluently you need to get beyond the categories and embrace the Gestalt of the ablative.
"Gestalt of the ablative..." New favorite phrase (and applicable to other cases and constructions)!
Constantinus Philo wrote:Was it also the approach to the ablative in the antiquity
They no more thought about word choice and constructions consciously than you do when you want to say something in your native language. It was just there. Now, we know that native Latin speakers sometimes did reflect on proper usage and that sort of thing -- we have examples such as the lovely story in Gellius' Atticae Noctes 14.5 where two noted grammarians argue over the proper vocative for egregius. But normally, just as you and I in speaking and writing, they simply thought of the best way to say it and then said it.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

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