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439. The Hortatory Subjunctive is used in the present tense to express an exhortation or a command. The negative is .

Hōs latrōnēs interficiāmus (B. G. 7.38)
Let us kill these robbers.

Caveant intemperantiam, meminerint verēcundiae. (Off. 1.122)
Let them shun excess and cherish modesty.

Note 1— The Hortatory Subjunctive occurs rarely in the perfect (except in prohibitions, § 450)

Epicūrus hōc vīderit. (Acad. 2.19)
Let Epicurus look to this.

Note 2— The term Hortatory Subjunctive is sometimes restricted to the first person plural, the 2nd and 3rd persons being designated as the Jussive Subjunctive; but the constructions are substantially identical.

Note 3— Once in Cicero and occasionally in the poets and later writers the negative with the Hortatory Subjunctive is nōn

Ā lēgibus nōn recēdāmus. (Clu. 155)
Let us not abandon the laws.

a. The 2nd person of the Hortatory Subjunctive is used only of an indefinite subject, except in prohibitions, in early Latin, and in poetry.

Iniūriās fortūnae, quās ferre nequeās, dēfugiendō relinquās. (Tusc. 5.118)
The wrongs of fortune, which you cannot bear, leave behind by flight.

Exoriāre aliquis ultor. (Aen. 4.625)
Rise, some avenger.

Istō bonō ūtāre dum adsit, cum absit nē requīrās. (Cat. M. 33)
Use this blessing while it is present; when it is wanting do not regret it.

Doceās iter et sacra ōstia pandās. (Aen. 6.109)
Show us the way and lay open the sacred portals.

For negative commands (Prohibitions), see § 450.

b. The imperfect and pluperfect of the Hortatory Subjunctive denote an unfulfilled obligation in past time.

Morerētur, inquiēs. (Rab. Post. 29)
He should have died, you will say.

Potius docēret. (Off. 3.88)
He should rather have taught.

Nē poposcissēs. (Att. 2.1.3)
You should not have asked.

Saltem aliquid dē pondere dētrāxisset (Fin. 4.57)
At least he should have taken something from the weight.

Note 1— In this construction the pluperfect usually differs from the Imperfect only in more clearly representing the time for action as momentary or as past.

Note 2— This use of the subjunctive is carefully to be distinguished from the potential use (§ 446). The difference is indicated by the translation, should or ought (not would or might).

440. The Hortatory Subjunctive is used to express a concession.1 The present is used for present time, the perfect for past. The negative is

Sit fūr, sit sacrilegus: at est bonus imperātor (Verr. 5.4)
Grant he is a thief, a godless wretch: yet he is a good general.

Fuerit aliīs; tibi quandō esse coepit? (Verr. 2.1.37)
Suppose he was [so] to others; when did he begin to be to you?

Nēmō is umquam fuit: nē fuerit. (Or. 101)
There never was such a one [you will say]: granted.
(Let there not have been)

Nē sit summum malum dolor, malum certē est (Tusc. 2.14)
Granted that pain is not the greatest evil, at least it is an evil.

Note— The Concessive Subjunctive with quamvīs and licet is originally hortatory (§ 527.a-b).

For other methods of expressing Concession, see § 527. For the Hortatory Subjunctive denoting a Proviso, see § 528.a.


1. Many scholars regard the Concessive Subjunctive as a development of the Optative Subjunctive in a wish.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.