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Seneca EM 7.5

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Seneca EM 7.5

Postby GJCaesar » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:36 am

Good morning,

I have a question regarding a line in Seneca's EM 7.5.

The line is as follows in all editions I could find:

"Age, ne hoc quidem intellegitis, mala exempla in eos redundare qui faciunt?

I was wondering whether anyone can tell me why faciunt should not be a subjunctive. I remember the rule that subordinate clause in an accusativus cum infinitivo-construction should almost always be in a subjunctive mode.

Thanks in advance.

GJCaesar
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby anphph » Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:17 am

I'm not sure I understand what is there to explain. Almost always means almost always, just like Brexit. I guess you could make the point that you'd expect a subjunctive, or even argue for it critically (though then it'd be a lectio difficilor* [i.e. facilior, see below]), but the reason it's "almost" is to include precisely those instances where it is not subjunctive.

A literary way of approaching it would be to say that there is no ambiguity, and it's a strong moral stance being posited here; there's no ground for uncertainty, hence the choice of the less common (but possible, and not at all ungrammatical) conjugation option.
Last edited by anphph on Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby Hylander » Tue Sep 25, 2018 2:30 pm

I haven't looked at the context, and I'm not sure I understand this properly, but the "rule" that a subordinate clause in indirect speech (acc. + inf.) takes a subjunctive verb comes into play where the subordinate clause is part of reported speech, and the writer is not necessarily taking responsibility for the accuracy of the statement in the subordinate clause. In this passage, S. is stating a fact he regards as true and accurate. The subjunctive makes it clear that the subordinate clause is part of what the speaker (as opposed to the writer or narrator reporting the speaker's words in the inf + acc construction) said, not a comment or clarification by the writer/narrator.

"Come on, don't you even understand this: that bad examples come back to bite those who make them?" Or something like that.

S. here is stating a fact that he regards as true, not a claim or statement made by his (imaginary) interlocutors: in fact, it's a truth they're supposedly unaware of. So Seneca uses the indicative, not the subjunctive, in the relative clause.

Allen & Greenough, sec. 583 and 583a:

583. A Subordinate Clause merely explanatory, or containing statements which are regarded as true independently of the quotation, takes the Indicative:—

quis neget haec omnia quae vidēmus deōrum potestāte administrārī; (Cat. 3.21), who can deny that all these things we see are ruled by the power of the gods?

cûius ingeniō putābat ea quae gesserat posse celebrārī; (Arch. 20), by whose genius he thought that those deeds which he had done could be celebrated. [Here the fact expressed by quae gesserat , though not explanatory, is felt to be true without regard to the quotation: quae gessisset would mean, what Marius claimed to have done.]

[*] Note.--Such a clause in the indicative is not regarded as a part of the Indirect Discourse; but it often depends merely upon the feeling of the writer whether he shall use the Indicative or the Subjunctive (cf. §§ 591-593).

[*] a. A subordinate clause in Indirect Discourse occasionally takes the Indicative when the fact is emphasized:—

“factum êius hostis perīculum ... cum, Cimbrīs et Teutonīs ... pulsīs, nōn minōrem laudem exercitus quam ipse imperātor meritus vidēbātur ” (B. G. 1.40) , that a trial of this enemy had been made when, on the defeat of the Cimbri and Teutoni, the army seemed to have deserved no less credit than the commander himself.

* * *


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=AG+583&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0001
Last edited by Hylander on Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby Hylander » Tue Sep 25, 2018 3:48 pm

anphph: The lectio difficilior is usually preferred, because it's considered unlikely that an easy reading would be corrupted into one that's more difficult, rather than vice versa. But here faciant would not be a lectio at all: it would be a conjecture with no ms. authority (I assume), and it would clearly be wrong for the reasons I stated in my previous response. I don't think there's any argument in favor of faciant here.
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby anphph » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:33 pm

Hylander wrote:anphph: The lectio difficilior is usually preferred, because it's considered unlikely that an easy reading would be corrupted into one that's more difficult, rather than vice versa. But here faciant would not be a lectio at all: it would be a conjecture with no ms. authority (I assume), and it would clearly be wrong for the reasons I stated in my previous response. I don't think there's any argument in favor of faciant here.


Hylander, thank you. I actually miswrote; I did mean facilior, otherwise what I said wouldn't make sense (I meant he'd be correcting it into the rule). Thanks for the attention and pointing it out.

You're also right that de rigueur it would not be a reading at all, but is the word not applicable if we're dealing with something without manuscript attestation? After all, we do say that "Conte reads so and so where Mynors reads such and such."
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby Hylander » Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:18 pm

I think the rule of thumb difficilior lectio potior generally refers to a choice between two manuscript readings, not between a ms. reading and a conjecture. I could be wrong. Of course, many manuscript readings are themselves conjectures, though sometimes it's difficult to tell.

To recapitulate, the "rule" that verbs in subordinate clauses in acc + inf constructions are "usually" subjunctive is very misleading and fails to capture the semantic force of the subjunctive. The rule should be reformulated in a way that makes it clear that the subjunctive indicates that the writer/narrator is simply reporting what a speaker said, and not necessarily taking responsibility for the accuracy of the information in the subordinate clause. Otherwise, the indicative is used in subordinate clauses in acc + inf constructions, as here.
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby GJCaesar » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:48 pm

Thank you both for the explanation and clear examples. I now understand why the indicative mode is preferred in this context.
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Re: Seneca EM 7.5

Postby hlawson38 » Sun Sep 30, 2018 8:49 pm

Very helpful thread!
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