What I am looking for is best illustrate by an example, so please excuse the detour. In Finnish there are two words for "and": "ja" and "sekä". When used together, "ja" joins things on a lower level and "sekä" on a higher one in the following sense. Suppose there are two couples, one consisting of Marcus and Maria and the other one of Lucius and Lucia. If I want to invite both couples to party, I could list them in Finnish as "Marcus ja Maria sekä Lucius ja Lucia". Here one level of "and" joins two people into a couple and the other one joins the two couples. This structure emphasizes that I am speaking of two couples, not just listing four individuals. I am not familiar with a similar device in English so my example is drawn from Finnish.

Are there two levels of "and" available in Latin in a similar fashion? I am tempted to use either one of these despite never seeing them in action:

  1. Marcus et Maria atque Lucius et Lucia
  2. Marcus Mariaque et Lucius Luciaque

But is such a construction with two levels of "and" attested in classical (or perhaps later) Latin? What is the idiomatic choice?

(The core question in Finnish in case someone searches for it: Miten erotetaan 'ja' ja 'sekä' latinaksi?)

  • (may I ask, what the Latin for a sheet-bend is? [ref. the insignia on yr flag])
    – Hugh
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 15:49
  • @Hugh I have no idea. But you can always ask a separate question about that. There's no question too small.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 17:55
  • I wonder if you could perhaps use velut … sic in a pinch, e.g. velut Marcum et Mariam, sic Lucium et Luciam invitabo ad convivium – this is how we do it in German (so + wie = sowie), but in Latin velut + sic usually is correlative. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 22:17
  • @SebastianKoppehel A quick search produces "velut in cantu et fidibus quae ἁρμονία dicitur: sic ex corporis totius natura et figura varios motus cieri tamquam in cantu sonos" (Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes), "uelut ante deuictarum gentium Numantinus et Isauricus, ita Sergius Orata et Licinius Muraena" (L. Iunius Moderatus Columella, De Re Rustica), "quippe q non constat aliter quam duabus c et u, b velut vel k quod esse q vides muti soni; q velut et u, c quoque et uu plenius quod postmodum sic in unam q" (Terentianus Maurus, De Litt.). Perhaps something like that could indeed work.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 23:19
  • @Joonas llmavirta: In English "and also" would divide the two pairs of nouns. "I invited A and B and also C and D.". These words are not the same: "and" is a conjunction; "also" is an adverb--"in the same manner"; "in addition"; "as well". Further, it prevents the clumsy repetition: ".....A and B and C and D.". The second pair may be of a lower priority: "I invited the Prime Minister and his wife and also a minister and his wife." You would not say: "I invited a minister and his wife and also the Prime...". The Latin is "necnon" = "and also", an adverb.
    – tony
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 12:40

1 Answer 1


From the beginning of Plautus's Amphitruo (so a bit pre-Classical), spoken by Mercurius, god of messages and commerce:

Ut vos in vostris voltis mercimoniis
emundis vendundisque me laetum lucris
afficere atque adjuvare in rebus omnibus,
et ut res rationesque vostrorum omnium
bene expedire voltis peregrique et domi,
bonoque atque amplo auctare perpetuo lucro
quasque incepistis res quasque inceptabitis,
et uti bonis vos vostrosque omnis nuntiis
me afficere voltis…

As all of you want me to cause great gain in the buying and (que) selling of your goods, and (atque) help in all affairs, and (et) as you want me to advance your dealings and (que) plans, both abroad and (que-et) at home, and (atque) to increase with good and (que) vast eternal profits all the things you've started and (que-que) will start, and (et) as you want me to bring about good news for you and (que) yours, every one of them…

From this, it seems like et has the broadest scope, que the narrowest, with atque in the middle.

After this there are three more ets in the sentence, one joining participles, one joining nouns, and one joining adjectives, and all without any other "levels" of conjunctions in the same phrase. So it does seem to be about the "nesting", not about the parts of speech they're joining.

  • Note, I can translate out the rest of the sentence if it would be useful; it's just a lot of text without many conjunctions to show off.
    – Draconis
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 18:23
  • Thanks! So you'd say that my option 2 is valid for this purpose?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 18:36
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta Definitely; I'm not sure if this is a universal "hierarchy" or just in Plautus, but it seems certainly to be precedent for that usage.
    – Draconis
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 18:47
  • @Draconis: The English translation displays the ugly repetition of "and"; is that why three versions of this were used? Why have Mercury speaking in this way, was it a satire?
    – tony
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 16:50
  • @tony I'm sure there was some humor intended, given that it's Plautus, but I don't know if it was satire directed at anyone in particular.
    – Draconis
    Commented Dec 22, 2020 at 17:18

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