Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

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marcovlatinforum
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Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

Post by marcovlatinforum » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:47 pm

Hello there. I'm not totally confortable with conditional clauses yet, and the sentence in the title makes me a little confusion. I'm wondering about use of the perf. subj.in the protasis.

The common translation for this example goes as "Unless the Lord guard the house, in vain do they watch who guard it", and this makes me think that the imperfect custodiat would have been more suited. As is, I would render Nisi Dominus custodierit domum [...] with something like "Unless the Lord have guarded the house ".

Constantinus Philo
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Re: Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

Post by Constantinus Philo » Sun Jun 30, 2019 7:05 pm

i think yes, conjunctivus perfectus always expresses priority, so it means something like if Lord is not already in charge of the house.... or rather if Lord were not already..... potential subjunctive
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scotistic
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Re: Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

Post by scotistic » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:52 pm

The imperfect is not appropriate here, because the psalmist isn't making a statement about what the Lord was doing over time, but about what would be the case now were the Lord *not* doing something previously.

Keep in mind that the Latin of the Vulgate Psalter often reads kind of funky by classical standards.

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Re: Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

Post by marcovlatinforum » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:07 am

Thank you all for the answers.

I have actually noticed that my grammar textbook doesn't include the couple "subjunctive (protasis) + indicative (apodosis)". Is this combination used (correctly) in other places of (classical) latin? Is it correct to say that, in a conditional clause, apart from a few exceptions the time of the verb is decided following consecutio temporum?

I know that perfect subjunctive is usulaly employed in the protasis in phrases like Ego, si a cornona relictus sim, non queam dicere, where the correct interpretation is something like "If I would be abandoned by the public [...]", and not "If I had been abandoned by the public [...]".

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Re: Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

Post by Constantinus Philo » Thu Jul 04, 2019 2:57 pm

your example is what Gild classifies as an ideal conditional sentence. Prot in con and apod in ind is common in this type.
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talus
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Re: Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam

Post by talus » Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:07 am

This reply addresses the question as if the sentence were from the classical period.
The reply proposes that custodierit is indicative.
In a conditional, if the protasis is knowingly false or contrary to fact or is hypothetical, potential or wishful, the subjunctive is called for. If there is nothing that hints of these subjunctive attributes in the protasis, then the indicative is used.
The future perfect indicative in the protasis has a particular time reference. It refers to an action already completed before the apodosis's action, that is, to an action that shall have been done out of physical or logical necessity before the action of the apodosis. See Allen and Greenough 516, c. Here custodierit as a tense of completed action, though it does not have the sense of an action continuing in the past, has the sense of an action needing to be accomplished every time, in repetition, before the action in the apodosis can be true. See Woodcock's A New Latin Syntax, 194.
The present tense custodiunt is not a present as we normally think of. It is the "present of the general truth," where the present tense is meant to refer to all times. A&G 465, Note.

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