cetera nox, et nos, et turris conscia novit' [Singular verb, multiple subjects]

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Copperknickers, May 1, 2014.

  1. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    I have seen many times verbs which look singular have an apparently plural meaning, usually in poetry. What is the reason for this? Am I just identifying it wrong? An example is:

    'cetera nox, et nos, et turris conscia novit'

    '[Only] we, the night, and the mindful tower know the rest.' (from Ovid: Heroides 18)

    Am I right in saying that 'novit' is third person singular active? And even if it were for some reason passive, it would still refer to the plural 'cetera'.
     
  2. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Salvete!

    Well observed Copperknickers, yes indeed novit is 3rd-person singular active, and yes, this use of singular verbs after a string of nominative subjects (known sometimes as "attraction") is a regular feature in poetry, often metri gratia (as, arguably, here), but is found, albeit less often, in prose too. Unfortunately all my books and notes are still in store, so I cannot help with any further chapter-and-verse examples, but perhaps other forenses may have palmary examples to offer.

    cetera, however, as your translation indicates, is the accusative object of novit.

    Σ
     
  3. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    This is how A&G put it (§317c):
     
  4. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    thank you.
     

Share This Page