maneat...ostentandi...

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Scholiast, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Greetings all

    At Tac. Ann. 15.21, Thrasea Paetus gives a speech in the senate regarding the insolent behaviour of a Cretan magnate who had vaunted his claims to be able to determine whether formal votes of thanks were to be offered to outgoing Roman officers.

    decernaturque et maneat provincialibus potentiam suam tali modo ostentandi.

    "Be it decreed, and let it remain open for provincials to vaunt their power in such a way"

    I know the passage has caused both textual scholars and others some headaches, because of the genitive of the gerund ostentandi. There appears to be no explanation in A&G, or in Gildersleeve. Without immediate access to (e.g.) Lehmann/Hoffmann/Szantyr, I am obliged to ask here for guidance from the wise - in order to transmit something plausible to my students in a couple of days' time.

    Any ideas most gratefully received,

    Σ
     
  2. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    What's wrong with ostentandi?

    There seem to be two strands of commentary on this passage: either the genitive gerund is taken as a bit of syntax peculiar to Tacitus (with similar examples at Ann 15.5.3 and 13.26.4), or some scribal error is assumed (someone left out a word like ius or combined two words into one potestas sententiam potentiam). I think the main thing is to reassure your students that this passage is problematic and that they won't encounter this sort of structure with any regularity.
     
  3. William Stein Senior Member

    San Jose, Costa Rica
    American English
    Do you think "maneat" could be a typo for "moneat"? - and let provincials be warned against vaunting their power in such a way.
    or maybe: let provincials vaunting their power in such a way be warned.

    After all, every art history student knows how easy it is to confuse Manet and Monet :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  4. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    This might help a little in explaining the genitive of ostentandi, but it introduces several new problems:
    • The person reminded/advised/warned should be in the accusative (so provinciales not provincialibus).
    • There is no subject for moneat (you cheated by using the passive voice in your translation :D).
    • The meaning doesn't fit in with the rest of the passage.
    So if there is an emendation to be made in this sentence, I don't think it involves maneat.
     
  5. William Stein Senior Member

    San Jose, Costa Rica
    American English
    That's true about the dative, but for the rest:
    - moneat could equivalent to the singular imperative "warn provincials", which is the same as "let them be warned"
    - IMHO the meaning "warn" fits in much better with the rest of the passage than "let it remain open for provincials to vaunt their power in such a way", After all, it's a blameworthy conduct, so why on earth would you want to ensure that it's possible for provincials to keep acting that way?
     
  6. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    I disagree. The jussive subjunctive is not equivalent to a 2nd person imperative, and I don't think you can use it with an implicit subject to mean "let someone/everyone/people in general [do something]". (If you find some grammatical authority saying otherwise, with examples, I would be interested in the reference.) In other words, moneat can only mean "let him (her, it) warn", referring to someone specifically identifiable in the context (and there is no such person in the passage at hand). The form corresponding to "let them be warned" would be moneantur.
    Thrasea is contrasting two types of provincial conduct here, and he argues that overzealous prosecution is not as bad as false flattery. So he is saying let them prosecute ([accusatio] decernatur) and leave them this possibility of showing off their power (maneat ostentandi), but the bogus votes of thanks should be prohibited as something really bad and barbaric.
     
  7. William Stein Senior Member

    San Jose, Costa Rica
    American English
    Where did I say it was equivalent to a 2nd person imperative? I said it was equivalent to the singular imperative, in this case 3rd person, with the meaning let one/him do this, which is the same in effect as "let it be done", without quibbling over the identity of the agent, which is relatively trivial. The fact that the addressee is not specifically identified doesn't prove anything either way.

    That may be one valid interpretation but I don't why you suddenly become so sure of yourself after stating in post #5 that the text is highly controversial, the text is probably corrupt, the experts differ widely in their interpretations and " I think the main thing is to reassure your students that this passage is problematic"
     
  8. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    You said it was equivalent to the imperative "warn provincials", which can only be interpreted with a 2nd person subject.
    This is like saying that the difference in sense and usage between "Let someone warn the provincials" and "Let him warn the provincials" in English is relatively trivial. It's not. If someone mixes those up, he doesn't have a good grasp of English grammar. Again, in your English versions, you keep switching to the passive voice ("let them be warned", "let it be done"). You would have to do the same in Latin in order to suppress the identity of the agent.
    I said absolutely nothing about the interpretation of the text in post #5. The syntax of the sentence is problematic (and as already established, changing the verb to moneat doesn't help us with that). The meaning of the passage is rather straightforward.

    Anyway, all editions agree that the verb is maneat. As far as I know, no one has ever seriously suggested that it should actually be moneat. Are you still suggesting that?
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  9. William Stein Senior Member

    San Jose, Costa Rica
    American English
    If a general says "Warn the troops", "Let the troops be warned", the effect is exactly the same, because the general couldn't care less whether the action is performed directly by the interlocutor (2nd person imperative) or by other subordinates (which would be tantamount to a 3rd person imperative in effect, although not in grammatical form). As to the possibility of "Maneat" referring to an unidentified individual or authority, you have to admit that Tacitus didn't earn his name by being particularly explicit about every detail.


    You mean you didn't use the word "interpretation" but it's implied throughout. Are you seriously arguing that the interpretation and hence the meaning can be clear if the syntax is a mess? If there are two strands of commentary that interpret the phrase differently and there are even missing words [ some scribal error is assumed (someone left out a word like ius or combined two words into one potestas sententiam → potentiam)], the meaning cannot be as straightforward as you claim.
    The fact that all the editions have the same typo is no proof, because scribes used to copy all their manuscripts from the same or closely related master copies, so the typo (if it is one) would perpetuate itself.

    In any case, I am not trying to refute your interpretation, which I find interesting, I just object to apodictically trying to rule out any alternative interpretations (I have to admit I'm not too fond of absolutists in general) in a case where there is clearly room for interpretation. You can utterly discount my interpretation if you like, which I admit is pure speculation, but you have to admit that Scholaist's interpretation is completely different from yours and he's certainly a competent Latin scholar, so it's absurd to claim that the meaning is straightforward.
     
  10. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    I stand by everything I have already said in reponse to your contributions to this thread. I am all for discussion, but not repetition, and I think I have given your arguments the consideration that they merit. Perhaps some competent Latin scholar will take an interest.
     
  11. William Stein Senior Member

    San Jose, Costa Rica
    American English
    I don't believe I was being repetitive, I was merely pointing out your obvious contradictions, which you never admitted, hence a certain degree of insistence seemed necessary.
     
  12. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    pax, please, gentlemen!

    Apologies to William, but I am convinced that the received maneat is right, and not only on the grounds that CapnPrep has argued.

    My original dubitation was in any case about the genitive gerund ostentandi, and I am now in my own mind satisfied (even if I cannot quite explain it to my students) that this is a typically Tacitean bit of linguistic or rhetorical experimentation, where the strict grammar (as Caesar or Cicero might have regarded it) of the gerund and the infinitive has been somewhat merged.

    Thank you CapnPrep, for the further references to Ann. 15.5.3 and 13.26.4, which have helped me to my conclusion.

    All best all round.

    Σ
     

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