In Cicero Letters to Brutus we find:

desinat igitur gloriando etiam insectari dolores nostros.

Two questions:

  1. Is gloriando here connects with desinat or with insectari. In other words, what would be accurate transtlation: "Let him stop boasting and speak ill(?) of our grieves"; or, "let him stop speaking ill of our grieves by boasting. Leob translation, which does not help me decide, reads:

So let him stop his boasting which is an aggravation of our distresses.

I would generally lean towards the second option (as the follow-up question demonstrates), but then what is this etiam which seems to be lost in translation (or else you read insectari dolores as "apposition" to gloriando?)

  1. General question independent of (1), can we connect desino with abl. gerund (or even gen. gerund) to have the same meaning like the infinitive? e.g., "desino optando" pretty much like the English "stop hoping"? My limited corpus search yielded only this verse from Cicero as a candidate.


I could find another translation(Evelyn Shuckburgh, Evelyn S. Shuckburgh, 1908) which thankfully uses by, but, again, how is etiam rendered?:

Let him cease then from absolutely insulting our misfortunes by his boastful language

1 Answer 1


Lewis & Short, while often obstinately unhelpful to people who just want to figure out the meaning of a word at a glance, usually has copious usage examples. In this case, you can see desino goes with an infinitive or a direct object in the accusative.
In your sentence, insectari must be the argument to desinat, and gloriando can only be a satellite—specifically, as you've figured out, it's an instrumental: "by boasting".

For your second question, Shuckburgh either hasn't translated the etiam (unless it went into his "then" along with igitur) or reflected it as that "absolutely", which I don't think is defensible. Use translations to guide you into seeing structure in the Latin, not as absolute authorities in their own right.

  • I see. For the translations, I specifically used them as a guide, but none has really convinced me; for I still don't understand what is the meaning of etiam if we accept the instrumental gloriando.
    – d_e
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 5:26
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    Lexicis [contingit], quod mulierculis, cum diu in eas invecti sunt viri, ultro ad eas supplicatum veniunt, et commoditatibus illarum uti gaudent (Io. Matthias Gesnerus) Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 18:25
  • A couple of minor points: (1) the term "satellite" is not so widespread as that of "adjunct" (I think that "satellite" is only (?) used by functional linguists: e.g. Dik, Pinkster, et al.). Cf. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjunct_(grammar); (2) I would not recommend to "use translations to guide one into seeing (syntactic) structure in the Latin". (Good) translations must respect content/meaning and information structure of the source text but may have a different syntactic structure.
    – Mitomino
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 18:33
  • @Mitomino, the irony is (as I see that), that this is exactly when one acknowledges that "translations must respect content/meaning and information structure of the source text but may have a different syntactic structure", that he is then ripe to read back into the Latin and seeing the syntactic structure of the Latin. For, after all, different grammatical understanding of a sentence results in different meanings. For my experience at least, translation were very helpful getting the structure of the Latin.
    – d_e
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 19:25
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    @d_e I agree that translations can be helpful when learning Latin syntax but one should be cautious. E.g., consider this very typical text: Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, ... 'Gaul is a whole divided into three parts, one of which is inhabited by the Belgae' (Loeb). Note that a very natural way to translate a rhematic subject like Belgae into English involves using a by-phrase. Good translations can sacrifice syntactic structure (even in radical aspects: e.g. from active to passive) to preserve information structure. Hence my caveat above.
    – Mitomino
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 20:20

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