For positive commands, Latin uses the imperative: Da mihi librum "Give me the book."

For negative commands, it uses a number of constructions of which noli + inf. is most common: Noli mihi gladium dare "Don't give me the sword."

What if I want to coordinate the two and say "Don't give me the sword, but the book"?

I can think of several possible ways to say this:

  1. Noli mihi gladium dare, sed da mihi librum. (Grammatically impeccable, but clunky.)
  2. Da mihi non gladium, sed librum. (?)
  3. Noli mihi gladium dare, sed librum. (??)

Are 2 and/or 3 correct classical Latin? And are there other constructions attested for this kind of coordination?

  • 2
    The closest I could find: Doce me non an fortitudo animal sit, sed nullum animal felix esse sine fortitudine ... (SenPhil.Ep.113.27.2)
    – d_e
    Jul 23, 2021 at 13:42
  • 2
    For comparison, this line from Publilius Syrus: Ignoscito saepe alteri, numquam tibi. We see a positive imperative with two arguments, one of which is modified by a negative adverb. Jul 25, 2021 at 15:55
  • 1
    I agree with the two comments above: your option 2) would seem most natural to me (or simply the reverse: da mihi librum, non gladium). I have my doubts about option 3): I think there is a problem of scopes.
    – Cerberus
    Jul 26, 2021 at 22:15
  • 1
    also consider: Si non ingenium, certe brevitatem approba (Phaedrus). though it not quite the same because of the si and certe but I think it shed more light on the issue at hand.
    – d_e
    Aug 23, 2021 at 8:00


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