Category Archives: Perfect Example Of

Perfect example of…well, I don’t know what to call this

In Apuleius’ Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass, we see a neat use of the subjunctive. In Book III.3, when the head of the nightwatchmen is giving his testimony about seeing Lucius supposedly kill three brigands, he uses the subjunctive in a cool way and I guess you could call it something like “the subjunctive of thwarted action” or something. I don’t know what its actual name is, but here you go:


Et ipse quidem conscientia tanti facinoris merito permotus statim profugit et in domum quandam praesidio tenebrarum elapsus perpetem noctem delituit. Sed providentia deum, quae nihil impunitum nocentibus permittit, priusquam iste clandestinis itineribus elaberetur, mane praestolatus ad gravissimum iudicii vestri sacramentum eum curavi perducere. (III.3)

My translation

But that one there, being rightly moved by the knowledge of such a crime, immediately fled into some house, having escaped by the protection of the darkness, he hid throughout the whole night. But by the providence of the gods, which allows nothing unpunished to the guilty, before that one could escape along clandestine paths, I, having waited for him in the morning, have arranged to lead him to the most grave case of your court.


Because the action never came to fruition, that is, Lucius was not able to escape before he was captured by the nightwatchman, the verb is in the subjunctive.  If anyone knows the actual name of this, please feel free to tell us in the comments.

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A perfect example of the dative of degree of difference

I’ve been thinking of starting a little ‘series’ on the blog called “A Perfect Example Of…” where I point out good examples of different grammatical concepts in the texts I’m reading. I figure most people won’t benefit from this because they already know it, but the random first year Greek or Latin student may do a google search and find these examples, so hopefully they’re helpful.  Today I’ve got a good example of the dative of degree of difference from Thucydides. Thucydides says that a little more than three hundred men entered Plataea. The Greek is:

Θηβαίων ἄνδρες ὀλίγῳ πλείους τριακοσίων…ἐσῆλθον…ἐς Πλάταιαν (Peloponnesian War, Book II, Sec. 2)

The ὀλίγῳ is the dative here and it’s showing a degree of difference. So, the men of Thebes were more than three hundred by a little.

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