4

I have been using working through some latin translations and stumbled across conscio, -ire, -ivi in my latin dictionary, which it lists as a transitive verb meaning "to have on one's conscience." I looked it up online a few places, and everything I've been able to find supports it as not having a fourth principal part, e.g., here is latin-dictionary.net's definition) (note the dash where the fourth principal part would normally be).

It does not appear to be a deponent verb (latin-dictionary.net, for instance, normally says "voice: deponent" for deponent verbs, e.g., conor), correct? If so, what kind of verb is this that is not deponent but does not have a fourth principal part?

7

The short answer is, it means that form is never attested. The authors of the dictionary have never seen a form of consciō using its fourth principal part. But that's not necessarily a satisfying answer, because there are plenty of verbs that have certain forms unattested, but we can easily extrapolate what those forms would have been.

The long answer is, there are two related verbs: consciō "have on one's conscience" and consciscō "resolve upon". The bases of these are sciō "know" and sciscō "learn" (which is itself derived from sciō), and they look the same in the perfect system: conscīvī, conscītus.

Theoretically, then, we would expect conscītus to mean either "had on one's conscience" or "resolved upon" (as a participle). But we only ever see it with the latter meaning.

Is this just an accident? Possibly. Neither of those were especially common verbs; a corpus search turns up only three hits from the Classical era, two in Pliny and one in Livy. And it's entirely possible that other Latin-speakers used conscītus to mean "had on one's conscience" but their works didn't survive.

But, we don't have evidence for that. Since we do see conscītus used to mean "resolved upon" and don't see it used to mean "had on one's conscience", the authors of your dictionary seem to have decided not to list it with the latter meaning.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.