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More stuff for the classicists

1 February, 2006

More stuff for the classicists

OK, so I’m re-reading Appian on the Gracchi for tomorrow’s class. BTW, can I tell you how absolutely thrilled I was yesterday when, in my freshman-level class, I finished talking about the Punic Wars with a summary of results, one of which was of course the increase of slave labor and the growth of latifundia in a problematic way, and a student in the back of the room held up Appian and said, “Is that what’s going on here in this document?” But I digress, as usual.
So, internets, here is my question (and I would look some of this stuff up in the appropriate prosopographia, but I don’t teach at a place that has such things): is/how is the tribune Marcus Octavius ousted by Ti. Sempronius Gracchus related to the C. Octavius later adopted by C. Iulius Caesar? Also (and this is a probably dumb question to which I am embarrassed I don’t already know the answer) is Scipio Aemilianus’ wife, Sempronia, Cornelia’s daughter and sister to the Gracchi? And really — I think I did use to know this stuff, but my synapses aren’t firing that well these days.* Thanks in advance!

Oh — and for the English language people: Does English have an actual subjunctive, or just a conditional?

*er … OTOH, I played pub trivia the other night for the first time and weeks, and came up with Fifty-Cent’s real name (actually the other way round — but Fitty-Cent?) and argued my teammates out of saying that profiteroles were made of puff pastry, because I was sure it was paté choux. Go figure. I came out with more money than I walked in with, and that’s what counts!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 February, 2006 1:13 am

    My OCD says nothing about any relationship between Octavian and Marcus Octavius, merely stating that Octavian’s father Gaius Octavius was from a wealthy equestrian family from Velitrae and was the first of the family to reach senatorial rank. So, almost certainly no relationship.And yes, Sempronia was the sister of the Gracchi.We now return to our regularly scheduled lurking and our long overdue MA essays.

  2. 2 February, 2006 1:54 am

    I’d answer your question, but those Gracchi, they’re just soooo… Early.

  3. 2 February, 2006 3:13 am

    I think English has a subjunctive: isn’t “If I were a cat, I would be a Siamese” a subjunctive? (Because one can’t actually be a cat. Whereas “If Jenny was at the party, she ran into Sam,” is was, not were, because it’s an actual real possibility, that Jenny was at the party.)Or am I mixing this up with something else?

  4. 2 February, 2006 8:41 am

    Old English had distinguishable forms for the subjunctive. Middle English had distinguishable forms for the subjunctive. Modern English has a subjunctive that is hard to tell from the indicative.But that progression is so typical of changes in the language that I can’t see any good reason to call what remains a “conditional” instead.Like the practice of describing the vestigial genitive as “the possessive case,” it could inspire some people to generate new, historically unjustified, rules* to clutter up grammar books — and, these days, software.*Ever have an encounter with someone who was absolutely sure that it was “illogical” to use a “possessive” as an object in a sentence? And a flat denial that “objective genitive” is a real grammatical term?

  5. 2 February, 2006 3:53 pm

    I suppose the subjunctive question depends on what exactly you’re after. In terms of word formation, yes, the “were” one is pretty much the last hold out. Helping verbs form the optative and most conditional forms. I’ve always wondered about whther “shall” as opposed to “will” didn’t reflect a jussive…

  6. 2 February, 2006 5:41 pm

    Thanks, all! The reason I asked, just so you have the context, is that I did some editing for a colleague and there was a point at which I’d commented on his use of the subjunctive. He claimed it didn’t exist in English ‘as a term’ — that instead, we called it the conditional. OTOH, after some conversation, he wasn’t sure about it, either.

  7. 3 February, 2006 8:47 pm

    argued my teammates out of saying that profiteroles were made of puff pastry, because I was sure it was paté chouxDamn straight. Totally different types of pastry! I have made them both from scratch and I will never ever make puff pastry again, it’s the biggest pain, but paté choux is not that difficult. 🙂

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