Timeo danaos et dona ferentes

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by Sandraseijas, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. Sandraseijas

    Sandraseijas Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    Buenas tardes a todos!
    seguro es muy fácil pero yo no logro descifrar...¿sabeis que significa esta frase?
    Timeo danaos et dona ferentes

    Does anybody know what it means?

    Gracias por la ayuda!
    Thanks for your help!
  2. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Here's a literal translation:

    I fear those who are like Danaus and them bringing gifts.

    The meaning should be, also according to the Italian Wikipedia, I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.
  3. clares3

    clares3 Senior Member

    Murcia, España
    español España
    La he visto traducida de dos formas:
    temo a los griegos y a los que hacen regalos
    temo a los griegos aunque hagan regalos

    Segura Munguía, en su diccionario de Latín-Español, la traduce "temo a los griegos hasta cuando hacen regalos". Yo me quedaría con esta.
  4. Sandraseijas

    Sandraseijas Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    Gracias chicos, habéis sido de gran ayuda!
    Buena tarde...
  5. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    [quidquid id est,] timeo Danaos et dona ferentis

    This is a famous passage in the second book of Virgil’s Aeneid: “[Whatever it is,] I fear the Greeks even bringing gifts.”

    The Danaids are Greek women, the 50 daughters of Danaus (Greek:Δαναός *)), a figure in Greek mythology. (It is a rather bloody history). Relevant for this quotation is that the plural masculine word - the descendants of Danaus’ daughters - realized as Danaans in English, was used to denote Greeks in general, and especially in connection with the Trojan War. And the Aeneid is precisely a continuation of Homer’s epic poem about the same war.

    An interesting, but well-known comment – the deux ex machina-resolution, as it were, of a paradox – should be born in mind. It is formulated like this in Wikipedia:

    *) The accent on the last syllable of this Greek name will appear in Latin as a long syllable in the hexameter. The quoted line (including the words in square brackets) constitutes one hexametric line.
    :) :)
  6. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    The origin of the phrase has been said before.

    It is been used sometimes as a set phrase, to say you distrust someone no matter what he does. Even if he does something it is suppossed to be very kind and altruistic, you should not trust it and search which is the hidden agenda.
  7. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    I am not sure if the accusative plural has an allomorph but ferentes seems the best-known version.
  8. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Ferentes vs. ferentis: -is was the regular ending until the Augustan period.
    For sake of consistency, textbooks often use only the -es form. My copy of the Aeneid has ferentis in this line.

    An aside, but relevant, I hope, as the issue has been raised.
  9. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    Hi all,

    When I was in high school, I memorized this line with "ferentis," along with the beginning part of the sentence, "Quidquid id est, timeo..."--"Whatever it is, I fear..."

    The "et" here must be taken as "even" and cannot be the conjunction "and."

  10. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    The version I adopted does indeed look strange according to what we usually learn in school, but it is correct ;) – as Cagey points out. It looks like a genitive, but it isn’t. The genitive singular would constitute a short vowel in the metre – not that that would matter; this last syllable of the hexameter would have tolerated both! – but the i in ferentis is long, and it is an oldish version of the accusative plural which (syntactically in casu) stands in apposition to Danaos. (I can’t see how a genitive would fit in syntactically in any case).

    As for Danaos, it could be seen as a Greek accusative plural in Latin (like pater familias is a Greek genitive sing. in Latin). My point with the “footnote” was to focus on the Greek accent of this name, a name which became synonymous with Graecus when talking (in Latin) about the Trojans (who were not Trojans, but Greeks...). When saying Danaus [nom. sing. = the name] in Latin, I don’t think the accent would be on the last syllable! But in the metre – because the o is long (and has to be long to fit the metre!) - it looks as if it has the accent à la grecque.

    No wonder this passage is “problematic”...
    :) :)
  11. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    I'm not sure what you mean. This is just the Latin accusative plural. Wouldn't a Greek accusative plural be Danaūs?

    I've only seen this explained as the inherited form of the genitive singular which survives only in a few set phrases but was generally replaced by analogy (with the 2nd declension).
  12. Spectre scolaire Senior Member

    Moving around, p.t. Turkey
    Maltese and Russian
    I suppose you mean that Latin has got acc. pl. -ōs where Greek has -ūs. Would there be any difference in the Latin script?

    In order to stick to names which are relevant to the Trojan War, I wonder what Teucros would have been in acc. plural. As far as I know – I would have to consult a Latin dictionary – this name does not have a Latin equivalent, but, of course, it wasn’t submitted to the same metonymic change as Δαναός; it doesn’t possess a plural. Supposing that Δαναός – as the Greek name it notoriously is – had a Latin nom. sing. form *Danaǒs, what would acc. plur. have been?

    Whatever, I let the Latin-Greek imbroglio go too far. Our Aeneid passage invited me to do so...:D

    I always thought pater familias was a “Greek genitive” in Latin, and so it was called in class – perhaps “entre guillemets”. An archaism sounds much more plausible.;)
    :) :)
  13. modus.irrealis Senior Member

    English, Canada
    Wouldn't the difference be us vs. os? But looking it up in Allen & Greenough, it seems that, even with those Greek 2nd declension nouns that were partially declined the Greek way, the accusative plural was always formed the Latin way, so I guess any such accusative would have -os.

    And just for completeness, I looked up the names in the dictionary, and there's Danaus coming from Δαναός and Teucer from Τεῦκρος, which are normal adaptations. And you also have Teucri for "Trojans" (although Τεῦκροι seems to have been used that way in Greek as well).
  14. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    "Quiquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis."

    In what form is the verb "dōnā́re" here? So far I found "dōnā" only as the imperativus praesentis activi (I conjugation sg.). In the English translation it's in the present participle, right?

    Also, are there any other instances where "et" functions as "even"?
  15. Agró

    Agró Senior Member

    Alta Navarra
    Not a verb in this case, but a noun, acusative plural of donum, -i (given things, presents, gifts).
    Ferentes/Ferentis is the present participle and dona its direct object.
  16. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    I see, I got it all wrong then!

    So, when we break down the sentence we have:

    quiquid id est - whatever it is
    timeo - the 1st person singular present active of "timēre" meaning "to fear, to be afraid of"
    Danaos - the plural accusative of "Danaus" standing for "Danaans, the tribe of Danaus, a mythical king of Egypt"?
    et - normally "and", here functioning as "even" - why isn't it "etiam" which dictionaries usually translate directly as "even"?
    dōna - the accusative plural of "donum" meaning "gift, present"
    ferentes/ferentis - the present participle of "ferre" meaning "to bear, to carry"

    Please correct me, if I still got something wrong here and clarify the lines ending with a question mark. :)
  17. Agró

    Agró Senior Member

    Alta Navarra
  18. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Ah, yes, of course, it was Beleus, the father of Danaos, who was the king of Egypt (and after him, Danaos' brother Aegyptus). Danaos, escaped from his brother ruling in Egypt and went to Argos, when he later became the king. :)

    As for et being an adverb meaning "even" could you give me some other examples from the classical literature? I would really appreciate such help.
  19. Agró

    Agró Senior Member

    Alta Navarra
    The "Timeo Danaos..." example is the only one that comes to mind right now, but there are similar uses (also, and yet):

    Veniet et mater eius: His mother will also come. (I guess "Even his mother will come" would be appropriate here, too).

    Hoc adhuc non amisi, et videtis annos: I have not yet lost this faculty, and yet you see/notice my years/age.
  20. Perseas Senior Member

    That's mythology, of course :D . I' ve heard that the root "-dan" meant "water" and that the etymology of Danube, Dniester, Don etc is related with this root.

    I think that the function of the participle "ferentis" makes "et" to mean even. What I mean:"ferentis" is an adverbial participle denoting concession. This participle can be analysed in an adverbial clause denoting concession, but I can't help any more. I left Latin since I was 18.
  21. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Have a look at section H ("= etiam") of the L&S entry.

    I'm afraid that this is not a good analysis.
  22. Perseas Senior Member

    I'm not convinced that you' re right.

    Can you provide us your analysis, to test if it's a good one?
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011
  23. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    This is very helpful! Thank you very much.

    I also appreciate all previous Agró's and Perseas's contributions. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2011
  24. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Mine is the same as everyone else's. The problems I have with your concessive adverbial participle idea are:

    1. This is a concept from traditional Greek grammar, not generally recognized in Latin.
    2. Even for Greek, the term "adverbial" is problematic, since the participle plainly modifies a noun, not the verb, and shows adjectival agreement.
    3. Let's say Virgil is using Greek syntax here (given the literary tradition of making the Trojans speak Greek). But concessive participles appear before the main verb and modify the subject. Here we have the participle after the verb, modifying the direct object.
  25. Perseas Senior Member

    1. This is not true. On the contrary, the Latin school book says that it is very common in Latin the adverbial usage of the participle (of time, condition, concession, cause).
    pugnans cadit: the participle expresses time
    moriturus tremit: the participle expresses cause

    2. In this case, the participle "ferontes" can not be adjectival. It modifies the verb. The meaning of the sentence is very clear.

    3. a. There's no such a rule in the Greek syntax.
    b. Apart from a., your reasoning is not adequate to conclude that the participle is necessarily adjectival .
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011
  26. CapnPrep Senior Member

    There can be no doubt that ferentes modifies Danaos. On this point, the syntax of the sentence is very clear. There is no way to argue (morphologically, syntactically, or semantically) that ferentes modifies the verb timeo.

    Of course we all agree that the sentence has a concessive interpretation. The question is whether this comes from et or from the participle (or both, or neither). It seems to me that we could have the same meaning in a sentence like Timeo Danaos et stultos ("I fear Greeks, even foolish ones"), and there is no participle here, or anything that can be considered adverbial.
  27. Perseas Senior Member

    The participles because of their nature have double characteristics (nominal and verbal); hence the agreement (on any level) with the noun.

    I think the most important here is the concessive interpretation, on which we all agree that there is. In such a context I couldn't define this participle other than concessive. It wouldn't make sense to me, if I considered it as adjectival.

    I' l try to make myself clearer. From what I know, an adjectival participle can be analysed to a relative clause, while a concessive to a concessive clause.
    I couldn't translate "even those who bear gifts", but I could translate "even if they bear gifts".

    In your example now, if you translate "even foolish ones" , I ' ll agree with you. But, could you translate "even if they are foolish"? The meaning in the second case is different, and if you inserted a participle , it could be so.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011

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