For fickle ventosus was chosen, but trying to render "being fickle" got me into trouble. I would like to use the "in + abl. gerunde" of sum but for some reason it is not in existence.

I was thinking of of cum (when), but for this kind of usage, cum seems not quite right because the idea is that I'm always a fickle. Another option was to have this by a clause:

Non ventosus sum in eo quod sum ventosus

But it feels, maybe unjustified so, heavy and complex.

In a question on this Forum for the motto "No virtue in being a humankind" Joonas offered the simple ablative of the noun (nulla virtus in humanitate), so that brings up the possibility of

non ventosus in mea ventositate

But I'm not sure it works here as good, as I want to keep the vividness/concreteness of being fickle. Not as a theoretical abstract notion.

So the question: what are the different ways to render "in being x"?

  • Can you explain a little more of what you mean by "I'm not fickle in being fickle"? I promise not to get sidetracked from your main question, about "in being x." I'm having a hard time clearly understanding what the sentence means in English; more clarity about that might shed light on your main question.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 17, 2021 at 19:05
  • @BenKovitz, I'm probably not using the correct English word then... . At any case, the meaning intended is 'changing my mind'/'fluctuating between options', or rather more simply 'inconstant'. hence it can be rendered "I'm not inconstant in being inconstant". in other words, I'm stable in my erratic behavior/attitudes towards things. . But as you note this is not the main crux of the question.
    – d_e
    Aug 17, 2021 at 20:32
  • @d_e Thanks, that clarifies it.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 17, 2021 at 22:59
  • Well, both cnread and I have given you non-answer answers! This really is a very interesting question. I hope you get a real answer, even if it goes against the grain of Latin. It will certainly be educational. (Certē docēbit —so much simpler! :)
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 19, 2021 at 20:55
  • @BenKovitz. Actually I think they are both valid answers (the Q was open in its nature). The use of elegant and simple "verb + adv" that you suggested, didn't come up. Also cnread finds great example, and makes me re-consider -- or even re-wire my mind spontaneously towards seeing in mea +abl in a different light; maybe the possessive mea/sua does bring much color here indeed.
    – d_e
    Aug 19, 2021 at 21:07

2 Answers 2


First off, as I've said in a comment, I think Ben Kovitz's suggestion of constanter inconstans is excellent, and the reasoning that led to it is spot-on. But that answer jogged a memory of something in Ovid, which I've now had time to track down. So, even though you've already considered (and discarded as insufficiently vivid) the approach of using in + an abstract noun, I'll point out that that's exactly the approach that Ovid used to render the very same idea of 'not fickle in being fickle.' In (Tristia 5.8.15-18), the narrator describes Fortune as follows:

passibus ambiguis Fortuna volubilis errat
et manet in nullo certa tenaxque loco,
sed modo laeta nitet, vultus modo sumit acerbos,
et tantum constans in levitate sua est.

'...and is constant/non-fickle only in her inconstancy/fickleness'

What I like about this is that Ovid avoids etymologically balancing the adjective constans with the noun inconstantia, which would be the obvious choice, but instead switches to the noun levitas. Although various factors no doubt contributed to this choice (e.g., the demands of the meter and perhaps the clunkiness of in inconstantia), the final effect can be seen to underscore his point in a manner that I find quite vivid and concrete in its own way: even a description of Fortune ends up having something unreliable/inconstant about it.

  • That's fantastic find! thanks.
    – d_e
    Aug 19, 2021 at 20:57

I don't think this answers your question, and it's probably wrong, too. I post it here to attract criticism and correction, which may lead someone to a good answer (or maybe another question).

Latina mente loqui?

I don't think Latin wants you to make constructions analogous to "in being fickle". Beyond Classical Latin's lack of participles for sum, I gather that Latin wants you to exploit its rich grammatical resources to express your proposition in a sentence where the ratio of words to important concepts is 1:1. There should be nothing mysterious or obscure about how your thought maps to your words. Seen from the Latin point of view, constructions like "in being fickle" are circumlocutions forced on you by the clumsy inflectional resources of an analytic language.

When you say "being fickle", a noun phrase, you don't mean a kind of thing that you can be "in". You mean something that you do, or the way that you are when you're doing it. You can always force a spatial analogy onto anything, but in this case that would obscure or mystify how your thought took form in words.

So, an adverb, maybe in a litotes:

Mihi nōn cōnstō nōn incōnstanter.

Better yet, not a litotes:

Cōnstanter incōnstō.

I made up the verb incōnstō so it might be poor Latin, but I think this is the right spirit. (Or "in the right spirit", you might say.)

More conventionally:

Cōnstanter incōnstāns sum.

Or, describing you with an adjective, naming your state as you act:

Cōnstāns errō.

That might be the clearest of all. Compare the directness of that to what it took to express the same thought in English: "I'm stable in my erratic behavior/attitudes towards things."

  • Tenaciter has a good ring to it.
    – Hugh
    Aug 19, 2021 at 2:22
  • 3
    I find your 'constanter inconstans' a very elegant, very satisfying solution to the problem (+1).
    – cnread
    Aug 19, 2021 at 5:01
  • @cnread I'm glad to hear that! I've been wondering why, when I compose a sentence in Latin, it usually sounds dull, while good Latin sounds snappy and succinct. I had dimly been supposing that it's because I'm still thinking in English patterns, but had gotten no further. d_e's question just crystallized an answer.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Aug 19, 2021 at 5:13

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