I was reading Plautus and came across quacum, which set in motion a few observations:

  1. Most beginning Latinists are familiar with the following constructions with first- and second- person and reflexive pronouns, which usage seems to mandate in all cases.

    • cum + te = tecum
    • cum + nobis = nobiscum, etc.
    • idem for se, vobis, and me
  2. Other constructions (according to my cursory research) appear to be optional. I have seen this especially with relative pronouns:

    • cum + qua = quacum or cum qua
    • cum + quibus = quibuscum or cum quibus
  3. Everything else seems simply forbidden:

    • cum + Marco =/= Marcocum
    • cum + filio =/= filiocum
    • cum + eo =/= eocum

I have a few related questions:

  1. Are there good counterexamples where cum + personal pronoun is not combined, e.g. cum te?
  2. Are there examples of cum being added at the end of a word not in the first or second category?
  3. Is there any difference between cum qua and quacum?

Let me know if this seems too broad.

2 Answers 2


From Lewis/Short, s.v. cum:

Cum in anastrophe. So always with the pers. pron.: mecum, tecum, secum, nobiscum, etc.; cf. Cic. Or. 45, 154; Prisc. pp. 949 and 988 P.; and in gen. with the rel. pron.: “quocum (quīcum), quacum, quibuscum, quīcum (for quocum),” Cic. Or. 45, 154; Liv. 38, 9, 2; Cic. Att. 5, 1, 4; Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 31, §§ 76 and 77; Caes. B. G. 1, 8; Cic. Rep. 1, 10, 15; id. Att. 4, 9, 2; id. Off. 1, 35, 126; Quint. 8, 6, 65; 10, 5, 7; 11, 2, 38. But where cum is emphatic, or a demonstrative pron. is understood, cum is placed before the rel.; cf.: “his de rebus velim cum Pompeio, cum Camillo, cum quibus vobis videbitur, consideretis,” Cic. Fam. 14, 14, 3: “adhibuit sibi quindecim principes cum quibus causas cognovit,” id. Off. 2, 23, 82; Liv. 1, 45, 2.—

  • Could you format this so it's more readable?
    – anon
    Jul 30, 2016 at 2:51

The enclitic use of cum is actually much broader than just these cases, but this is obscured by modern choices about the use of spaces. A phrase like magna cum laude probably had enclitic cum. The Romans, who didn't use spaces, wrote it as MAGNACVMLAVDE; if they'd used spaces, it's possible they would have written magnacum laude, just like tecum.

  • I think this is more than just a matter of spaces: magna cum laude is natural word order whereas tecum reverses it. It would be more like saying laude cum...
    – brianpck
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:28
  • @brianpck I don't see how one is more natural than the other -- "logical" word order would be cum magna laude and cum te. In both cases cum becomes enclitic instead of proclitic.
    – TKR
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:34
  • 1
    sorry--I was unclear. My point was the presence of spaces isn't material: I could just as easily ey asking why the Romans write te cum or qua cum. The point is not that they are combined into one word, but that the preposition follows the (pro-)noun it modifies.
    – brianpck
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:38
  • @brianpck OK, thanks for clarifying. I think they're still underlyingly the same thing, though -- postposing of cum isn't really a syntactic phenomenon (preposition follows the head of the noun phrase it governs) but a phonological one (preposition becomes enclitic and follows the first word in the phrase it governs). At least, that's how linguists think of it these days; it's a common phenomenon in Indo-European generally.
    – TKR
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:46
  • 1
    @Hugh I believe the same is true of Roman inscriptions that use interpuncts. I wonder if there are any cases of the magna cum laude construction in those.
    – TKR
    Jul 8, 2016 at 16:11

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