Clarification on the use of ind./subj. in Seneca's "De brevitate vitae", IV

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marcovlatinforum
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Clarification on the use of ind./subj. in Seneca's "De brevitate vitae", IV

Post by marcovlatinforum » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:54 pm

Hi Textkit. In the following passage, taken form Seneca's De brevitate vitae, IV:
Potentissimis et in altum sublatis hominibus excidere voces videbis, quibus otium optent, laudent, omnibus bonis suis praeferant.
the presence of the three subjunctives is a little confusing to me. Seems it is some kind of coniunctivus obliquus (or coniunctivus fortuitus), but I'm not sure about it (and not even about the adjective fortuitus: my grammar textbook calls it "congiuntivo eventuale", since its aim is to convey "eventuality"). (Subjunctive by attraction?)

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Ser
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Re: Clarification on the use of ind./subj. in Seneca's "De brevitate vitae", IV

Post by Ser » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:28 am

marcovlatinforum wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:54 pm
the presence of the three subjunctives is a little confusing to me. Seems it is some kind of coniunctivus obliquus (or coniunctivus fortuitus), but I'm not sure about it (and not even about the adjective fortuitus: my grammar textbook calls it "congiuntivo eventuale", since its aim is to convey "eventuality"). (Subjunctive by attraction?)
I think these subjunctives are used here because they represent the speech of other people.

Different Latin grammars use different terminology. I don't know what your Italian grammar of Latin would call this, if it discusses this phenomenon at all, but for what it's worth, Allen & Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges (1903, 2nd edition) refers to it as the subjunctive of Informal Indirect Discourse (see subsection 3 of section 592). ("Informal" here doesn't mean "colloquial/familiar/vulgar", but rather it indicates that the verb of speech is not present.)

Alternatively, you could think of them as subjunctives of Clauses of Characteristic (the relevant sections in Allen & Greenough are 534 and 535). This way, the subjunctives would be used here because it is not a rule that all powerful people are like that. You might encounter some who praise leasure time as the best like that, but it's not a guarantee.

As I said, these terms for particular uses of forms are not standardized (although a few terms are very common), so I wouldn't worry too much about things like whether "coniunctivus obliquus/fortuitus" are appropriate.

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