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LATIN PROS E.
REV. PERCIVAL FROST, M. A.
LATE FELLOW OF ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
FOR LATIN PROSE.
I. A PROPER sequence of tenses is most carefully to be observed in Latin composition.
When the main verb of a sentence is in the present or future tense, the dependent conjunctive verb, denoting object or result, must be in the present : ex. Quis vult omnibus copiis circumfluere, ut non diligat quenquam ? “Who wishes to have abundance, on condition of loving no one?
When the main verb is in the past, the dependent conjunctive verb is in the imperfect : Dixit se non adduci posse ut hoc crederet à Biante esse dictum, 'He said that he could not induce himself to believe this to have been asserted by Bias.' The
only violation of this rule is afforded by the construction of an historic present with past dependent verbs ; from the principle, that an historic present really describes a past event.
A perfect conjunctive points out time anterior to a main verb in the present: Ei gratias agit quod de se optimum judicium fecerit, ' He thanks him for having thought so highly of him.'
A pluperfect conjunctive points out time anterior to a main verb in the past : Ei gratias egit quod de se optimum judicium fecisset, 'He thanked him for having thought so highly of him.'
A present infinitive points out time contemporary with that of the main verb in whatever tense the main verb is put : Dixit eum collocare matrem homini nobilissimo, 'He said that he was then betrothing his mother to an eminent man.'
A perfect infinitive points out time anterior to that of the main verb, in whatever tense the main verb is put : Dicit or dixit eum collocasse matreni,
He says, or said, that he had previously betrothed his mother.'
II. An inconsiderate rendering of the English word “to,” denoting purpose, leads to numerous errors. When two verbs are connected by the word
“to," and the latter describes the result or purpose of the former, the latter verb must not be constructed in the infinitive mood. The conjunctive with ut, or the preposition ad with the gerundive in dus, or some equivalent construction, must be employed. For instance, 'he sent ambassadors to sue for peace,' can never be translated legatos misit pacem petere, because the suing for peace is the object of sending the ambassadors : it must be either legatos misit ut or qui peterent, or ad pacem petendam, or pacis petendo causâ, or pacem petitum. A gerund governing the case of its verb is not so usual as the gerundive agreeing with the noun: ex. pacem petendi causâ is not so common as pacis petendo causâ, unless it prevent ambiguity.
The following verbs, however, do take the succeeding verb in the infinitive, although connected by the word “to,” viz.: cupio, volo, nolo, malo, pergo, conor, desino, jubeo; and the passives of all verbs of calling, asserting, &c.
III. Any verb conveying a positive assertion that any thing is, or has been actually done, or has taken place, takes the succeeding verb in the infinitive: ex. Legionem urgeri ab hoste vidisset, 'He saw that the legion was hard pressed by the enemy.'