Syntax: placement of subordinating conjunction

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Dib, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    I understand that subordinating conjunctions in Latin (like in English and many other modern European languages) are placed at the beginning of a subordinate clause, e.g.
    Cum ego te vidi, (tum) tu in agro fuisti (or, eras?).
    When I saw you, you were in the field.

    My question is, is it also possible to push the conjunction into the subordinate clause? e.g.
    Ego cum te vidi, tu in agro fuisti.


    The inspiration for this question comes from the sentence #5 in Livy's History, book I:
    "Ibi egressi Troiani, ut quibus ab immenso prope errore nihil praeter arma et naves superesset, cum praedam ex agris agerent, Latinus rex aboriginesque, qui tum ea tenebant loca, ad arcendam vim advenarum armati ex urbe atque agris concurrunt."

    I guess, shorn of all the embellishment, the basic skeletal sentence looks like:
    "... Troiani ... cum praedam ex agris agerent, Latinus rex aboriginesque ... armati ... concurrunt."


    Does this analysis of Livy's sentence look correct?
    Is this word order normal?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  2. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member


    The structural analysis of Livy's sentence looks impeccable to me, and especially in verse, metrical requirements may involve postponement of such conjunctions. Moreover compound conjunctions (priusquam, postquam &c.) may be subject to tmesis (nolite hinc ante abi quam ego redeam - "Don't leave here until I return").

    There are probably whole treatises on this by learned Germans, but unfortunately all my books are in store at the moment because of a domestic removal, so I cannot immediately offer any more help. Perhaps others may?

  3. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Thanks, Scholiast, for your views.

    I am reading Greenough's edition of the History. He generally annotates profusely, and points out when Livy uses a poetic or post-classical linguistic element. In this case, however, he is silent about the word order, which got me thinking that it might have been normal. Additionally, I am a native Indo-Aryan speaker, where - including in Sanskrit - the subordinating conjunction may be put either at the beginning or inside the subordinate clause. So, it got me interested to find out whether it was true for Latin too. Or whether it felt archaic/poetic (as you mentioned) in Latin.

    Thanks for this pointer. But in those cases ante, prius, etc. are properly taken to be adverbs belonging in the main clause, right? The subordinating conjunction is then simply "quam", which is still placed at the beginning of the subordinated clause. Do you think, this analysis makes sense?
    Btw. shouldn't it be "abire" in your example sentence?

    I also hope, someone will have an answer to this. If you come across a definite answer later on when you can access your resources, I'll still be eager to hear it. Thanks again for your help. :)
  4. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Salvete iterum!

    Of course it should have been. I wrote celerius quam accuratius.

    Quam maxime fructus sum indulgentia tua.


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