The Hortatory Subjunctive / by Anthony Gibbins

In the category of Latin Grammatical Features with Extraordinary Names, the Hortatory Subjunctive has to be a fierce contender. It takes its name, by the way, from a Latin Deponent Verb hortor, hortari, hortatus sum to exhort, incite, encourage. Interestingly, this gave birth to no less than three Nouns, that all appear to mean encouragement or incitement; hortamen, hortamentum and hortatus. Then there is the Noun hortator an inciter or encourager. The Hortatory Subjunctive is a form of the Verb used in Latin to incite or encourage.

Grammatically, the Hortatory Subjunctive is simply a First Person Plural (ie: we) Verb in the Present Subjunctive. For example, festinamus means we are hurrying while festinemus means Let’s hurry! vivemus means we live while vivamus means Let’s live! amamus means we love while amemus means Let’s Love! aestimamus means we value while aestimemus means Let’s value!

Indeed, three of these Hortatory Subjunctives turn up together in one of Latin literature’s most well-known passages, a poem of Catullus.

vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus

rumoresque senum severiorem

omnes unius aestimemus assis!

Let’s live, my Lesbia, and let’s love

and let’s value all the rumors of

too severe old men at a single as!

The fourth turns up on today’s page.

‘I agree with you, Jessica,’ Miranda responds, also rising. ‘Let’s hurry! Lead us to your home, Marcellus. It behooves us to arrive there before those (people).’ They depart from the café together.