Lectio Quarta

December 01, 2016

Grammar: Infinitives with possum

Topics: Ability, Languages

In America homines anglice loquuntur. Marcus est puer Americanus, ergo anglice loquitur. Marcus linguae latinae in gymnasio studet, sed latine non loquitur. Marcus anglice loqui potest, sed latine loqui non potest. Marcus difficulter latine legere et intellegere et scribere potest, sed loqui non potest. Cur Marcus latine loqui non potest? Latine loqui non potest, quia magister non latine loqui non potest. Vix credibile, sed etiam magistri linguae latinae saepe latine loqui non possunt. Magistri legunt and intellegunt and interdum scribut, sed non loquuntur. Si magistri latine non loquuntur, certe discipuli non loquuntur.

In Italia homines italice loquuntur. Beatrix est puella Itala, ergo italice loquitur. Etiam Beatrix linguae latinae in gymnasio studet, sed Beatrix non solum latine legit and intelligit et scribit, sed etiam loqui potest! Num ceteri discipuli latine loqui possunt? Ceteri discipuli latine loqui non possunt. Num magister latine loquitur? Magister latine loqui non potest. In gymnasio sola Beatrix latine loqui potest.

Cur Beatrix latine loquitur? Latine loquitur, quia pater et mater interdum cum ea latine loquuntur. Pater est professor. Num multi professores latine loquuntur? Non multi, sed pauci professores latine loqunntur. Mater est medica. Num multi medici et medicae latine loquuntur? Hodie non multi, sed pauci medici latine loquuntur. Omnes autem medici multis verbis latinis utuuntur.

Alia discipula colloquium cum magistro habet.

Discipula: “Possumusne latine loqui?”

Magister: “Non possumus.”

Discipula: “Cur non possumus?”

Magister: “Quia homines nunc latine loqui non possunt.”

Discipula: “Sed cur ita est? Nonne est lingua?”

Magister: “Est lingua, sed est lingua mortua! Non est lingua ut aliae linguae!”

Discipula: “Sed Beatrix latine loquitur! Et pater eius latine loquitur.”

Magister: “Ille est sine dubio insanus.”

Beatrix: “Pater meus insanus non est!” Cur ita dicis?”

Magister: “Quia nemo hodie latine loqui potest!”

Grammatica - possum with infinitives

Loci Latini

1. Cicero Pro Caecina

Cicero was a Roman orator who lived during the last days of the Republic in the first century. Not only do we possess many of his speeches, but we also have hundres of letters to his friends and family. For this reason, we know more about Cicero than about any other ancient person. Cicero was already a classic to the ancient Romans, all of whom strove to imitate his style. Cicero's Latin was the most important model through the Renaissance and remains so today.

Quid ergo? Isti homines Latine non loquuntur? Immo vero tantum loquuntur quantum est satis ad intellegendam voluntantem.

2. Cicero Brutus

In addition to writing speeches, Cicero also tried his hand at poetry and philosophy. Not much of his poetry has survived, but we have a number of his philosophical and rhetorical works. In all of his writing, Cicero was influenced by the Greek language and Greek writers. Cicero studied abroad in Athens and spoke Greek fluently. He was even the author of several translations from Greek into Latin. Nevertheless, like a true Roman, Cicero never doubted the preeminence of the Latin language.

Non tam praeclarum est scire Latine quam turpe nescire.

3. Plautus Trinummus

We saw a bit of Plautus in the previous chapter and learned that his comedies are the earliest complete Latin texts which we possess. In his plays Plautus borrowed freely from Greek comedies in way which today would be considered plagerism. But he never copied and translated a Greek play wholesale, but rather adapted and combined various scenes from Greek plays to be relevant and interesting to his Roman audience. In his prologues, he often talks about this process of translation and adaptation.

Huic comoediae nomen est Thesaurus.

Philemo Graece scripsit, sed Plautus vertit barbare.

4. Aulus Gellius

Aulus Gellius was the author of the Noctes Atticae, a collection of interesting facts, stories, arguments, jokes, theories, and anything else that Gellius thought worthy of note. St. Augustine considered Gellius to be among the best writers in the Latin language, and Gellius continued to be read with enthusiasm throughout the medieval period. He has fallen into disfavor recently, but is still read as a source of information about the ancient world. In this selection, Gellius tells us about the Ennius, one of the earliest and most important Roman poets. Ennius wrote tragedies, comedies, and a large historical epic called the Annales, although his works survive only in fragments. Ennius' first language wasn not Latin, but Oscan, an Italic language which, like every other language in the Italian peninsula, declined and died as Latin rose to prominence. Ennius learned Latin and Greek as foreign languages.

Quintus Ennius tria corda habet, quod Graece et Osce et Latine loquitur.

5. Erasmus Colloquia Familiaria

The main purpose of Erasmus' Colloquia Familiaria, as we learned in the previous chapter, was to help people learn to speak Latin in their daily lives. But many of the dialogues also contain a political, philosophical, or theological argument. Erasmus was a big proponent of women's rights and believed that women should have access to the same education as men.

Mihi videris Hebraice loqui, non Latine.

Rarum et insolitum est feminam scire Latine.

 Consilia - On the importance of infinitives and helping verbs; Loci Latini