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As is well-known, the predicate of an AUC construction can be a participle (this is the typical case: e.g., Ab Urbe Condita, whose acronym "AUC" is often used to refer to this very peculiar (and, indeed, very interesting!) construction of Latin). It is far less known that the predicate of an AUC construction can also be an adjective and even a noun (see the two examples below from Pinkster (1990: 134)). My question is whether the predicate of an AUC construction can also be a relative clause.

Here is some background on so-called "AUC constructions":

So-called "dominant participle constructions" (also known as "Ab Urbe Condita (AUC) constructions") are defined by Panhuis (2006: 172) as follows: "syntactically speaking, an attributive participle modifies its head noun. But as far as content is concerned, the participle may express the leading idea and thus be the dominant element in the phrase" (Dirk Panhuis (2006). Latin Grammar. Section 363: "Dominant participle").

For more discussion and relevant examples, please see also Pinkster (1990: 7.4.7 "Dominant participle construction") or my answer to this previous question. Importantly, at the end of the abovementioned Section 7.4.7, Pinkster (1990) points out that "the predicate of a dominant participle construction need not necessarily be a verb (i.e., a participle), but may also be an adjective or a noun":

augebat metum gnarus Romanae seditionis et, si omitteretur ripa, invasurus hostis (`The fear was increased by the fact that the enemy was aware of the rebellion among the Romans and would make an invasion if the river bank were no longer guarded'; Tac. Ann. 1.36.2)

filius legati orator publicae causae satis ostenderet necessitate expressa quae per modestiam non obtinuissent (`The fact that the son of a legate acted as champion of the public cause made clear that they had exacted with force that which they had not been able to obtain with modest behaviour'; Tac. Ann. 1.19.5)

NB: AUC constructions are often translated into English/Romance via a nominalization (e.g., ab urbe condita 'since the foundation of the city/Rome'; victa serpente superbus 'glorying in the defeat of the snake') or, alternatively, via a subordinate clause like in Pinkster's (1990) translations above):


Next consider the following example from Caesar (Civ. I, 4, 5):

simul infamia duarum legionum permotus quas ab itinere Asiae Syriaeque ad suam potentiam dominatumque converterat, rem ad arma deduci studebat.

I was wondering if the relative clause can be claimed to function here as a sort of "dominant participle" construction: cf. the AUC [duarum legionum conversarum ab itinere Asiae Syriaeque ad suam potentiam dominatumque]. I find it intriguing that all the translations I've consulted (some English, Italian, Spanish, and Catalan ones; please take a look at your favorite one as well!) appear to accord with this parallelism, i.e., the relative clause expresses the "leading/dominant" idea of the constituent duarum legionum quas...converterat. It is indeed quite clear from the context that the complement of infamiā could not just be duarum legionum, i.e., the discredit is not that of two legions as such but that of the event involved in Pompeius's diversion of two legions to increase his power.

Here is then a possible translation:

'Stirred by the discredit of his diversion of two legions from the route of Asia and Siria for the benefit of his power and domination, he (Pompeius) was eager that the issue was brought to a war'.

Does it make sense to speak of "dominant relative clauses" (along with "dominant participle constructions": e.g., duarum legionum conversarum ab itinere Asiae Syriaeque ad suam potentiam dominatumque)? As far as I know, there is no mention of them in Latin grammars.

  • The third example enjoys some strange translations (Perseus): "Beside the fraudulent step he had taken, in detaining, for the purposes of his own ambition, the two legions destined to serve in Asia and Syria, determined him to use all his endeavours to bring on a Civil war." The Latin does not mention a "civil war"; we just have "rem"; "fraudulent" & "detaining"?? My version: "rem ad arma deduci studebat" = "he was striving after (studebat) the matter (rem) to be lead (deduci) to arms/ war (ad arma)". Doesn't "studeo" take the dative, "rei"? The rest: – tony Feb 25 at 10:19
  • Continuing: "at the same time the treachery of the two legions that (quas) he had diverted (converterat) to the journey to Asia & Syria for his power and absolute rule. Where does "permotus" come into it? It cannot refer to the two legions; it must be JC who "has been moved excitedly"? Thank you. – tony Feb 25 at 10:29
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    @tony The translation from Perseus is not a literal one (I know you typically prefer literal ones ;-)). As for the role of permotus, perhaps you'll see it more clearly in this translation: see page 9 of this Loeb book ryanfb.github.io/loebolus-data/L039.pdf . As for the case selected by studere, this verb selects dative for nominal complements. However, note that here the complement is an infinitival clause whereby the accusative subject "rem" is the expected case. – Mitomino Feb 25 at 16:47

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