Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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12.3.3 Continuity of perspective

In this section I deal with three different phenomena which involve some sort of parallelism between successive sentences.

On p. 50 we have looked at verbs which allow two constructions without a clear semantic difference. There it was remarked that with a number of verbs the construction of a sentence B is determined by the structure of the preceding sentence A, e.g. (44)–(45):

(44) castra ab urbe haud plus quinque milia passuum locant; fossa circumdant; fossa Cluilia … appellata est (`They locate the camp no further than five miles from the city; they surround it with a trench; it has been called the "fossa Cluilia"', Liv. 1.23.3)

(45) ad eam multitudinem urbs quoque amplificanda visa est. addit duos colles, Quirinalem Viminalemque; inde deinceps auget Esquilias, ibique ipse, ut loco dignitas fieret, habitat. aggere et fossis et muro circumdat urbem (`With an eye to this crowd it seemed necessary to him to enlarge the city. He added two hills, the Q. and the V.; then he enlarged the E. and moved there himself, in order to make the place more respected. He surrounded the city with a rampart, canals and a wall', Liv. 1.44.3)

In (44) castra has been mentioned in the preceding sentence (as Object). In fossa circumdant the same castra is again chosen as Object. Fossa, then, `automatically' becomes an ablative, even though semantically the accusative would also have been possible. The construction with circumdat–with urbem as Object–in (45) is slightly more difficult to explain. Urbs has been discussed in the preceding context. In the sentence with circumdat the Subject of the immediately preceding sentence is continued, so that urbs does not qualify for the function Subject [added 01-09: (in a passive sentence)]. It now fulfils the function Object (so aggere is Complement). With three-place verbs the function Object seems to be `more important' than the function Complement, and urbs, having already been mentioned, is in this case a better candidate for this function than aggere. [31] The perspective is, thus, kept continuous (an attempt is made to establish syntactic `harmony' across sentence-boundaries), which in both cases cited here results

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in the assignment of the function Object to the constituent that had already been mentioned (castra and urbs, respectively) and in the choice for the acc. + abl. construction with circumdare. In the following example with aspergere (`to sprinkle') the acc. + dat. construction can be explained according to the same principle:

(46) igitur horum siderum diebus si purus atque mitis aer genitalem illum lacteumque sucum transmisit in terras, laeta adulescunt sata; si luna qua dictum est ratione roscidum frigus aspersit admixta amaritudo ut in lacte puerperium necat (`If, therefore, on the days of these stars with clear and mild weather this fertile and milky liquid descends upon the earth, then the crops will grow well; if, however, the moon, in the manner I have described, causes a cold dew to descend, then the added acidity kills the young crops, as is also the case with milk', Plin. Nat. 18.282)

In this instance the constrast with the preceding context makes that which is sprinkled (frigus roscidum) into the most prominent candidate for the function Object. Note that, just as in (44)–(45), if the Subject of the preceding sentence had not been continued, the constituents that are now assigned the function Object could have been Subject of a passive sentence. The tendency observed here to keep the perspective constant is not a cogent rule, but does play a dominating role in the structuring of successive sentences. Further research is warranted here. [32]

The same tendency–to keep the perspective constant–possibly (in part) determines the choice between active and passive, since there Subject and Object with the same predicate seem, as it were, to trade places. Here, however, another factor also plays a role, viz. the fact that in the passive the constituent that would be Subject in the active is as a rule not explicitly present (see p. 9). The tendency to keep the perspective constant might, for instance, be an explanation for the choice of scinditur in (47), whereas it is followed by advolvunt:

(47) procumbunt piceae, sonat icta securibus ilex
fraxineaeque trabes cuneis et fissile robur
scinditur, advolvunt ingentes montibus ornos (`Down drop the pitchy pines, the ilex rings to the stroke of the axe and ashen logs and the splintering oak are cleft with wedges, and from the mountains they roll in huge rowans', Verg. A. 6.180–2)

Within the framework of the `tree-chopping' activities fissile robur is put on a par with the ilex and piceae, i.e. as Subject. The passive is, then, necessary to express an action like scindere, Then a new kind of activity begins, and the perspective changes with advolvunt. [33]

We have seen that the choice of case patterns with three-place verbs such as circumdare and the choice between active and passive depend to some extent on the structure of the surrounding context. A slightly different type of

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contextual influence on the choice between syntactically different, but semantically equivalent constructions can be discerned in the Nominativus cum Infinitivo (NcI) (see p. 130), see [modified 01-09: the partly ambiguous sentences (48a-d):

(48a) Cicero dicit Caesarem Helvetios vicisse (`Cicero says that Caesar has defeated the Helvetians')

(48b) Caesar dicitur Helvetios vicisse (`Caesar is said to have defeated the Helvetians')

(48c) Helvetii dicuntur a Caesare victi esse (`The Helvetians are said to have been defeated by Caesar')

(48d) Caesarem Helvetios vicisse dicitur (`It is said that Caesar has defeated the Helvetians') ]

The NcI pattern (48b [added 01-09: and 48c ]) can be chosen (but is by no means obligatory; the AcI is not excluded) to answer a question as to the identity of the [modified 01-09: person who has defeated the Helvetians (quis dicitur Helvetios vicisse?)], or of the persons who have been defeated by [modified 01-09: Caesar ], i.e. the identity of constituents belonging to the embedded predication while the AcI is chosen when the identity of the reporter is concerned, i.e. the identity of a constituent belonging to the main predication. In such cases, i.e. when Focus function is assigned to a constituent of the governing sentence, the NcI is impossible. The NcI may be expected to predominate in cases of relative connection and other types of continuation of a constituent about which later something is said in indirect speech. [34]

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Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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