Passage: “Quam autem civitati carus fuerit, maerore funeris indicatum est.” Cic. Amic. 11

My translation in English: «Moreover, how dear he was to the citizenry was indicated by the grief of his funerals.»

My translation in French: “De plus, le chagrin éprouvé lors de ses funérailles indiqua à quel point il était cher au corps citoyen.”

Question: why is “fuerit” in the subjunctive mood? This does not look like an independent use of the subjunctive, nor like a future perfect, so can “quam” introduce subjunctive adverbial clauses ? To what syntactical category would these clauses belong?

  • Off topic, but shouldn't the French read indiqua (since chagrin is singular)?
    – TKR
    Jun 3, 2020 at 1:06
  • Oh oui vous avez raison, j'ai écrit trop rapidement, merci ! Jun 3, 2020 at 1:49

2 Answers 2


This is an indirect question and indirect questions always use the subjunctive (also known as conjunctive) mood. If you want more examples and details, please the linked discussion in Allen and Greenough.

Although not needed here, I thought I should mention a relatively common use of this mood where the reason is semantic rather than syntactic. From Allen and Greenough's Latin Grammar, 591.1:

A Subordinate clause takes the Subjunctive when it expresses the thought of some other person than the speaker or writer (Informal Indirect Discourse).

  • llmavirta: "...the reason is semantic rather than syntactic."; "...the reason is the meanings (of words) rather than the sentence construction (the ordering of the words). In the link to ( A & G), the difference between examples in sections (1) & (2) is that, in (2), the verbs are to do with "saying", or related terms. Unusually, with yourself, I'm not following this.
    – tony
    Jun 4, 2020 at 10:38
  • llmavirta: The ruling for informal indirect discourse appears to be the reverse of that for a subordinate clause in normal indirect speech. If the subordinate clause is independent of the main statement, it has been added by a person other than the original speaker/ writer, then the verb remains in the indicative e.g. original speaker: "The girls are beautiful.". A second party, reporting this, with location/ activity details: He said that the girls, who are now walking in the garden, were beautiful = dixit puellas, quae in horto nunc ambulant, pulchras esse. Is this correct?
    – tony
    Jun 4, 2020 at 10:56
  • @tony The phrasing in A&G is confusing. Consider: "John was scared because there was a dog." The causal clause with quia takes the indicative if the existence of the dog is a fact or is considered such by the speaker or writer. If the speaker or writer wants uses conjunctive instead, then the existence of the dog is given as John's view. It is a matter of focusing on the fact itself (indicative) or on the effect on John's action (conjunctive). In your example you can have ambulant or ambularent depending on whether you consider being in the garden factual.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 4, 2020 at 11:28
  • The informal indirect discourse thing is a side remark here. If you want to discuss it further, ask a new question. The actual answer is that we have an indirect question.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 4, 2020 at 11:29

I am not sure about the grammatical reason behind this, however I can say the translation in English sounds fine, and the language doesn't really give/require anything else than "was"; the translation in French could use subjonctif instead of indicatif imparfait, but it still sounds ok; in Italian I would translate "quanto sia stato (congiuntivo passato) caro alla cittadinanza..." but also "quanto fu caro (indicativo passato remoto)" or use imperfetto indicativo. In Latin you would not put "fuit", it would sound weird maybe, you would rather use fuerit, as Latin uses it for the subordinate proposition (subjective proposition in this case I think?). You wouldn't use esset as it goes for an action that relates to present, so it's not suitable for dead people I guess. This is the grammar I remember from a long time ago, compounded with a bit of "ad sensum" translation.

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