quid ni? why not? by Anthony Gibbins

Why not? is a strange and wonderful expression. Here is its entry on the Cambridge Dictionary site:

why not?

used to make a suggestion or to express agreement:

Why not use my car? You'll fit more in.

‘Let's go out for Italian tonight.’ ‘Yes, why not?’

The first example is making a suggestion, and the second expressing agreement. Latin too has an expression that does this, but it isn’t why not? A literal translation of why not? would be cur non? As in, cur in Italia non habitas? Why do you not live in Italy? So, you might use cur non? like this: ego in Italia non habito? I do not live in Italy. cur non? Why not? Which is great if you want to know why I do not live it Italy, but terrible for making a suggestion or expressing agreement.

The expression we need is quid ni? quid ni? is constructed from two words; quid? what? and ni. I’m not even sure what to suggest as a literal meaning, but here is how to use it.

quid ni in Italia habites*? pulcherrima est! Why not live in Italy? It’s very beautiful!

visne mecum in Italia habitare? Do you want to live with me in Italy? quid ni? Sure, why not.

*By the way, habites is Present Subjunctive.

This man, meanwhile, (more or less known to you) is waiting for his associate Ravena. Perhaps you now would like to find out his name. Sure, why not? His name is Frank. 

follow me! by Anthony Gibbins

There have been many Imperative Verbs in the Legonium stories so far. People are often telling others what to do. Here is a handy table from a previous post, showing the various Imperative endings based on Conjugation and the Number of people being ordered.

Conjugation    Verb                                                  Singular Imperative     Plural Imperative

1st                    do, dare, dedi, datum                         da       give!                 date

2nd                  video, videre, vidi, visum                   vide    see!                   videte

3rd                   lego, legere, legi, lectum                   lege    read!                 legite    

4th                   audio, audire, audivi, auditum           audi    listen!               audite

Mixed               capio, capere, cepi, captum              cape    seize!               capite

Far rarer is the elusive Passive Imperative. While it certainly appears in Latin literature, it isn’t frequently spotted. And I don’t think I’ve used a single example in Legonium. Passive Imperatives have meanings such as dare be given! videre be seen! legere be read! audire be heard! and capere! be seized! It doesn’t help one bit that they look like an Infinitive! But, as I said, they are rare. Here is a table, showing the Passive Imperative in the Singular and Plural.

Conjugation    Verb                                                  Singular Imperative        Plural Imperative

1st                    do, dare, dedi, datum                         dare       be given!         damini

2nd                  video, videre, vidi, visum                   videre    be seen!           videmini

3rd                   lego, legere, legi, lectum                   legere    be read!            legimini    

4th                   audio, audire, audivi, auditum           audire   be heard!          audimini

Mixed               capio, capere, cepi, captum              capere    be seized!        capimini

Despite the rarity of the Passive Imperative, this table is still incredibly important, because of Deponent Verbs. Deponent Verbs are a club of Verbs (they exist in every Conjugation) that have lost their regular Active Forms. Instead, they use Passive forms and look Passive even though they are Active. And this includes their Imperatives. (This also means that Deponent Verbs can’t actually BE Passive, but they seem to deal with this okay). Here is a table showing the ACTIVE Imperatives of a Deponent Verb.

Conjugation    Verb                                                Singular Imperative        Plural Imperative

1st                    conor, conari, conatus sum              conare    try!                  conamini

2nd                  polliceor, polliceri, polilicitus sum   pollicerepromise!         pollicemini

3rd                   sequor, sequi, secutus sum             sequere    follow!            sequimini    

4th                   mentior, mentiri, menitus sum        mentire   lie!                    mentimini

Mixed               patior, pati, passus sum                   patere suffer!                 patimini

Luckily, Deponent Verbs have Passive looking Infinitives (conari, polliceri, sequi, mentiri, pati), so there is no risk of confusing the Infinitive and Imperative Forms. All that remains to be said is that Jessica uses a Plural Imperative of a Deponent Verb on today’s page, when she shouts to her crew me sequimini! follow me!

Then they all run down the stairs. ‘Follow me!’ Jessica shouts. She climbs the lamp to the high roof of the bank, the others following with some difficulty.

an Alternate reality by Anthony Gibbins

This morning I received a top surprise from the wonderful Magistra Jacqui Bloomberg. Her Latin III students, who had read Legonium as far as episode ten, were set the challenge of predicting and producing the tale’s ultimate end. All were marvelous, but this one from Lindsay really made me smile. Thank you Magistra for allowing me to share it here. And thank you to Lindsay and all her condiscipulae for making my morning. nota bene: As the students did not yet know Frank's name, they called him Nemo.

Salve, lector. Fortasse quaeris de consilio Mirandae. Nunc te narrabo. Scis Mirandam et Marcellum et Iessicam et Claudiam in cafeā sedere.

“Optimum consilium habeo,” Miranda inquit. “Consilium meum est difficile sed omnibus consilium conficiendum est ut liber futurus sit tutus. Iuvabitisne me?” “Ita vero!” Marcellus et Claudia et Iessica respondent. Miranda pergit: “Ibimus domum Marcelli. Expectabimus ibi donec Ravena et Nēmo veniant et sarcinam capiant. Cum intraverint, eos capiemus.” “Optimum consilium, Miranda!” exclamant omnes.

His celantibus in domo Marcelli Claudia sonum audit. “Ecce! Est Pico!” exclamat. Pico a tecto descendit et per fenestram saltat ut in cenaculo sedeat. Mox Ravena et Nemo et Hadrianus molliter intrant et sarcinam petunt. Subito Iessica sub mensam esalit et clamat, “Desistite, fures!” Marcellus et Claudia etiam esaliunt et Iessica sarcinam tenens ianuae obstat.

Irata Iessica inquit, “Vos pessimi estis! Hadriane, cur vis capere librum? Communica cum omnibus!” Hadrianus respondet, “Volo librum capere quod volo discere de Romā antiquā! Nolo cum omnibus librum comunicare!” Tunc Claudia exclamat, “Ita vero, Hadriane! Tecum sto! Cur debet communicare librum cum omnibus si communicare non vult? Omnēs de libro etiam nesciunt!”

“Gratias, Claudia!” Hadrianus exclamat. “Te amo propter me defensam. Esne caelibatus?” Claudia laetissime respondet, “Ita vero!” Hadrianus rogat, “Visne sumere cafeam interdum?” “Ita vero, Hadriane!” Claudia respondet. Tunc ambulant manibus iunctis ad cafeam.

Interea Ravena et Nemo picturam Marcelli vident. Ravena inquit, “Amō picturam Monae Lisae.” Nemo etiam dicit, “Ita vero. Pulcherrima est!” Ravena et Nemo ad Marcellum ambulant et rogant, “Quanti constat emere hanc picturam? Est pulcherrima et eam habere velimus.” “Gratias!” Marcellus respondet. “Centum dollaribus solvere debetis ut hanc picturam habeatis.” Ravena et Nemo pecuniam Marcello dant. Marcellus laetissimus est. Tunc Miranda Ravenam Neminemque capit et affert eos ad carcerem.

Tunc Iessica chartam geographicam animadvertit. “Inveniam librum et eum omnibus dabo. Hoc mihi conficiendum est.” Tunc Jessica et Pico ambulant e ianuā et Romam, quae primus locus in chartā geographicā est.

Multis post annis omnes laetissimi sunt! Miranda multam pecuniam habet quod Ravenam Neminemque comprehensit. Marcellus tablinum habet ut homines possint emere picturas. Nunc Marcellus multam pecuniam habet! Iessica, libro invento et cum omnibus communicato, praemio utitur ut zoopolium expandat. Nunc zoopolium partem Piconi habet! Claudia et Hadrianus in amore sunt et in matrimonio coniunguntur et cum filio, Antonio, circum mundum navigant. Omnēs laetissimi sunt et semper laetissimi erunt.


Without delay, Jessica carefully replaces the original map and all the money into the suitcase so that Marcellus can replace the suitcase intact under his bed.

exemplum by Anthony Gibbins

Here is Livy on the virtues of writing and reading history: What chiefly makes the study of history wholesome and profitable is this, that you can behold the lessons of every kind of example set forth as on a conspicuous monument; from these you may choose for yourself and for your own state what to imitate, from these mark out for avoidance what is shameful in the conception and shameful in the result. And on writing on Rome specifically: For the rest, either love of the task I have set myself deceives me, or no state was ever greater, none more righteous or richer in good examples.

Now, while I don’t agree with Livy’s thoughts on Roman exceptionalism, I am interested in his thoughts on history; that it might provide examples to be followed or avoided, and that the value of a state’s history might lie in the examples that it offers. The Latin word that Livy is using here is exemplum.

Here is a selection of the meanings offered for exemplum in the Oxford Classical Dictionary; that which serves to exemplify, a typical instance or specimen, a precedent, an archetype, a pattern, an example for imitation, a warning example, a deterrent. And from Cassell’s; an example of what may happen, warning, object-lesson, an example to be followed, a model. This all reminds me of the title of a very good documentary series I once viewed: The Nazis: A warning from history.

Tucked away at the end of both dictionary entries is a much more prosaic definition for exemplum a copy. Both offer this quote from Cicero, litterarum exemplum tibi misi I have sent you a copy of the letter(s). This is the meaning I have in mind for today’s (and yesterday’s) page, as Miranda asks Marcellus to make an exemplum copy of the map.

‘Without a doubt,’ Marcellus replies confident, ‘I am able to do it.’ Marcellus, by quickly painting, makes an extremely similar copy. ‘Excellently [done]!’ Miranda says.

reflexive pronouns by Anthony Gibbins

English has a range of Reflexive Personal Pronouns; myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, and themselves. For most of these, Latin does things a little differently, by simply using the existing Personal Pronouns. Here are some examples. Note, that for the case of simplicity, I’ll only be using Pronouns in the Accusative Case.

di me amant the gods love me.                me amo I love myself.

di te amant the gods love you.                 te amas you love yourself.

di nos amant the gods love us.                nos amamus we love ourselves.

But for himself, herself, itself and themselves, Latin has a Reflexive Pronoun se. se is the same in every Gender and even in the Plural. Here are some examples.

di eum amant the gods love him.             (ille) se amat he loves himself.

di eam amant the gods love her.              (illa) se amat she loves herself.

di eos amant the gods love them              se amant they love themselves.

se also gets used very often in Indirect Statements. Indirect Statements must have and Subject in the Accusative Case, and quite often that Subject is the same as the speaker/hearer/thinker etc. (People love to speak/hear/think about themselves!). Compare these two pairs of sentences.

Marcus deos amat.                           Quintus dicit Marcum deos amare.

Marcus loves the gods.                     Quintus says Marcus to love the gods.

                                                           ie: Quintus says that Marcus loves the gods.

deos amo.                                          Quintus dicit se deos amare.

I love the gods.                                  Quintus says himself to love the gods.

                                                           ie: Quintus says that he loves the gods.

One final use of se is with certain Latin Verbs that demand an Object (although they might not in English). For example, it would be quite normal in English to say I turn toward the gods. But in Latin, we must say I turn myself toward the gods me ad deos verto. Likewise, if we want to say The priest turns toward the gods we must say, in Latin, The priest turns him/herself toward the gods sacerdos se ad deos vertit. There is another option, and that is to use a Passive Verb. sacerdos ad deos vertitur The priest is turned toward the gods.

Then Miranda turns (herself) towards Marcellus. 'Now there is need of your skill, Marcellus. Are you able to paint a copy of this map with the utmost speed?'

The Wonderful World of ut by Anthony Gibbins

Today, an exploration into the wonderful world of ut. While this post will not be all inclusive, it will show you the most common uses of this fascinating little word. ut, for example, can mean how at the beginning of a question, such as ut vales? how are you doing? Used with an Indicative Verb, as it is on today’s page, it can mean as. Femina Mirabilis est fortissima, ut dicunt Wonder Woman is very strong, as they say. ut as can be pared with sic such. haec res sic est ut narrant This matter is such as they say. ut might also be understood as meaning when. ut ad vicum advenit, vicani laete clamaverunt. When she arrived at the village, the villagers cheered happily.

Then ut has several uses with Subjunctive Verbs. It appears at the beginning of a Purpose Clause. nam ad vicum advenerat ut vicanos liberaret for she had come to the village to free the villagers. If the Purpose is to avoid an outcome, often called a Negative Purpose, ne will be used instead. advenerat ne vicini fame morerentur she came lest the villagers die of famine. ut is also used to begin an Indirect Command. primum militibus imperavit ut arma deponerent first she ordered the soldiers to put down their arms. And ut is used to begin a Result Clause. deinde Femina Mirabilis tam fortiter pugnavit ut omnes milites facile superaverit then Wonder Woman fought so bravely that she easily overcame all the soldiers.

So, in summary: Femina Mirabilis et fortissima, ut dicunt. haec res sic est, ut narrant. ut ad vicum advenit, vicani laete clamaverunt. nam ad vicum advenerat ut vicanos liberaret. advenerat ne vicini fame morerentur. primum militibus imperavit ut arma deponeret. deinde Femina Mirabilis tam fortiter pugnavit ut omnes milites facile superaverit.


Then, with everyone watching, Jessica pulled a map out of the suitcase. Hadrian, as he said, hid the map in the suitcase.


dies natalis reginae 3 of 3 by Anthony Gibbins

I guess if I was writing about this page I would have drawn attention to the three Perfect Passive Participles in the second and third sentences; aperta having been opened, extractam having been extracted, and destricto having been drawn. Just for kicks, here is what it would take to write the second and third sentences without Participles.

Jessica sarcinam aperit. Jessica opens the suitcase. Jessica pecuniam e sarcina extrahit. Jessica extracts the money from the suitcase. Jessica pecuniam in solum deicit. Jessica throws the money onto the floor. Jessica cultrum destringit. Jessica draws a knife. partem sarcinae interiorem cultro subito secat. She suddenly cuts the interior part of the suitcase with the knife.

Jessica, however, is not at all bothered. She throws the money [having-been] extracted from the [having-been] opened suitcase onto the floor. Then she suddenly cuts the interior part of the suitcase with a [having-been] drawn knife.

dies natalis reginae 2 of 3 by Anthony Gibbins

If I was going to write something about this page, it would probably be about the two Active Participles, regressus having returned and erubescens blushing. Or maybe something about how Marcellus - at this moment - feels just a tinge of embarrassment for having spent some of the found money. 

Marcellus, having returned, gives the suitcase to Jessica. Jessica says ‘thanks’. ‘Pardon me,’ Marcellus says to her, blushing, ‘but not all the money is present.’