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Sometimes, when you divide something into many pieces, the many pieces overwhelm you, like what happened to Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. This suggests a variation on divide et vinces:

Divide et vincere.

But does this have the clarity or punch of English "Divide and be conquered"? I'm wondering because vincere is the infinitive as well as the 2nd-person passive—which could be vincĕre or vincēre for present or future, possibly further blurring the meaning in a terse phrase. Is there a better way to put this thought in Latin?

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  • What about a subjunctive? – cmw Oct 4 '16 at 22:54
  • @C.M.Weimer Can you illustrate? I wouldn't want to say "May you divide and be conquered" (at least not unintentionally). :) – Ben Kovitz Oct 4 '16 at 23:03
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    "Mickey Mouse in Fantasia" > "the sorcerer's apprentice in Goethe". – fdb Oct 4 '16 at 23:07
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    Divide et vincaris, "Divide and may you be conquered," which really expands to, "If you divide, you may be conquered." – cmw Oct 5 '16 at 19:32
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In your phrase Dīvide et vincēs, the second verb is future rather than imperative, so if you're OK with that phrasing you could do the same here to avoid the ambiguity of form: Dīvide et vincēris.

For "Divide and rule" Wiki gives the Latin versions Dīvide et imperā and Dīvide ut regnēs. Passivizing the first (Dīvide et imperāre) doesn't avoid the ambiguity, and a purpose clause seems unsuitable in this case. But you might consider a conditional: Sī dīvidēs, vincēris.

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  • Of course—*vinceris*! Thanks. I haven't touched Latin in a couple months and looked at a grammar table, and vincere caught my eye first. Wow, I'd even forgotten that after reading questions like this and this I had resolved to just avoid those alternate -ere forms! – Ben Kovitz Oct 4 '16 at 23:14

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