A TEI Project

Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar


598. The main rules for the Order of Words are as follows:—

a. In any phrase the determining and most significant word comes first:—

  1. Adjective and Noun:—

    omnīs hominēs decet, EVERY man ought (opposed to some who do not).

    Lūcius Catilīna nōbilī genere nātus fuit, māgnā vī et animī et corporis, sed ingeniō malō prāvōque (Sall. Cat. 5), Lucius Catiline was born of a NOBLE family, with GREAT force of mind and body, but with a NATURE that was evil and depraved. [Here the adjectives in the first part are the emphatic and important words, no antithesis between the nouns being as yet thought of; but in the second branch the noun is meant to be opposed to those before mentioned, and immediately takes the prominent place, as is seen by the natural English emphasis, thus making a chiasmus.1]

  2. Word with modifying case:—

    quid magis Epamīnōndam, Thēbānōrum imperātōrem, quam victōriae Thēbānōrum cōnsulere decuit (Inv. 1.69), what should Epaminondas, commander of the THEBANS, have aimed at more than the VICTORY of the Thebans?

    lacrimā nihil citius ārēscit (id. 1.109), nothing dries quicker than a TEAR.

    nēmō ferē laudis cupidus (De Or. 1.14), hardly any one desirous of GLORY (cf. Manil. 7, avidī laudis, EAGER for glory).

b. Numeral adjectives, adjectives of quantity, demonstrative, relative, and interrogative pronouns and adverbs, tend to precede the word or words to which they belong:—

    cum aliquā perturbātiōne (Off. 1.137), with SOME disturbance.

    hōc ūnō praestāmus (De Or. 1.32), in THIS one thing we excel.

    cēterae ferē artēs, the OTHER arts.

Note— This happens because such words are usually emphatic; but often the words connected with them are more so, and in such cases the pronouns etc. yield the emphatic place:—

    causa aliqua (De Or. 1.250), some CASE.

    stilus ille tuus (id. 1.257), that well-known STYLE of yours (in an antithesis; see passage). [Ille is idiomatic in this sense and position.]

    Rōmam quae apportāta sunt (Verr. 4.121), what were carried to ROME (in contrast to what remained at Syracuse).

c. When sum is used as the Substantive verb (§ 284. b), it regularly stands first, or at any rate before its subject:—

    est virī māgnī pūnīre sontis (Off. 1.82), it is the duty of a great man to punish the guilty.

d. The verb may come first, or have a prominent position, either (1) because the idea in it is emphatic; or (2) because the predication of the whole statement is emphatic; or (3) the tense only may be emphatic:—

    (1) dīcēbat idem Cotta (Off. 2.59), Cotta used to SAY the same thing (opposed to others' boasting).

    idem fēcit adulēscēns M. Antōnius (id. 2.49), the same thing was DONE by Mark Antony in his youth. [Opposed to dīxī just before.]

    facis amīcē (Lael. 9), you ACT kindly. [Cf. amīcē facis, you are very KIND (you act KINDLY).]

    (2) prōpēnsior benīgnitās esse dēbēbit in calamitōsōs nisi forte erunt dīgnī calamitāte (Off. 2.62), liberality ought to be readier toward the unfortunate unless perchance they REALLY DESERVE their misfortune.

    praesertim cum scrībat (Panaetius) (id. 3.8), especially when he DOES SAY (in his books). [Opposed to something omitted by him.]

    (3) fuimus Trōes, fuit Īlium (Aen. 2.325), we have CEASED to be Trojans, Troy is now no MORE.

    loquor autem dē commūnibus amīcitiīs (Off. 3.45), but I am SPEAKING NOW of common friendships.

e. Often the connection of two emphatic phrases is brought about by giving the precedence to the most prominent part of each and leaving the less prominent parts to follow in inconspicuous places:—

    plūrēs solent esse causae (Off. 1.28), there are USUALLY SEVERAL reasons.

    quōs āmīsimus cīvīs, eōs Mārtis vīs perculit (Marc. 17), WHAT fellow-citizens we have LOST, have been stricken down by the violence of war.

    maximās tibi omnēs grātiās agimus (id. 33), we ALL render you the WARMEST thanks.

    haec rēs ūnīus est propria Caesaris (id. 11), THIS exploit belongs to Cæsar ALONE.

    obiūrgātiōnēs etiam nōn numquam incidunt necessāriae (Off. 1.136), OCCASIONS FOR REBUKE also SOMETIMES occur which are unavoidable.

f. Antithesis between two pairs of ideas is indicated by placing the pairs either (1) in the same order (anaphora) or (2) in exactly the opposite order (chiasmus):—

    (1) rērum cōpia verbōrum cōpiam gignit (De Or. 3.125), ABUNDANCE of MATTER produces COPIOUSNESS of EXPRESSION.

    (2) lēgēs suppliciō improbōs afficiunt, ‘dēfendunt ac tuentur bonōs (Legg. 2.13), the laws VISIT PUNISHMENTS upon the WICKED, but the GOOD they DEFEND and PROTECT.

Note— Chiasmus is very common in Latin, and often seems in fact the more inartificial construction. In an artless narrative one might hear, “The women were all drowned, they saved the men.”

    nōn igitur ūtilitātem amīcitia sed ūtilitās amīcitiam cōnsecūta est (Lael. 51), it is not then that friendship has followed upon advantage, but advantage upon friendship. [Here the chiasmus is only grammatical, the ideas being in the parallel order.] (See also p. 395: longissimē, minimē, proximī.)

g. A modifier of a phrase or some part of it is often embodied within the phrase (cf. a):—

    dē commūnī hominum memoriā (Tusc. 1.59), in regard to the UNIVERSAL memory of man.

h. A favorite order with the poets is the interlocked, by which the attribute of one pair comes between the parts of the other (synchysis):—

    et superiectō pavidae natārunt aequore dammae (Hor. Od. 1.2.11).

Note— This is often joined with chiasmus: as, arma nōndum expiātīs ūncta cruōribus (id. 2.1.5).

i. Frequently unimportant words follow in the train of more emphatic ones with which they are grammatically connected, and so acquire a prominence out of proportion to their importance:—

    dictitābat sē hortulōs aliquōs emere velle (Off. 3.58), he gave out that he wanted to buy some gardens. [Here aliquōs is less emphatic than emere, but precedes it on account of the emphasis on hortulōs.]

j. The copula is generally felt to be of so little importance that it may come in anywhere where it sounds well; but usually under cover of more emphatic words:—

    cōnsul ego quaesīvī, cum vōs mihi essētis in cōnsiliō (Rep. 3.28), as consul I held an investigation in which you attended me in council.

    falsum est id tōtum (id. 2.28), that is all false.

k. Many expressions have acquired an invariable order:—

    rēs pūblica; populus Rōmānus; honōris causā; pāce tantī virī .

Note— These had, no doubt, originally an emphasis which required such an arrangement, but in the course of time have changed their shade of meaning. Thus, senātus populusque Rōmānus originally stated with emphasis the official bodies, but became fixed so as to be the only permissible form of expression.

l. The Romans had a fondness for emphasizing persons, so that a name or a pronoun often stands in an emphatic place:—

    [dīxit] vēnālīs quidem hortōs nōn habēre (Off. 3.58), [said] that he did n't have any gardens for sale, to be sure.

m. Kindred words often come together (figūra etymologica):—

    ita sēnsim sine sēnsū aetās senēscit (Cat. M. 38), thus gradually, without being perceived, man's life grows old.

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So called from the Greek letter χ ( chi ), on account of the criss-cross arrangement of the words. Thus,
(see f below).