all—I find myself scratching my head over a very simple neo-Latin construction. Saint Lawrence writes: "tam vili pendendus est Christus ? tam parvi faciendus ?"

For sense, I want to parse pendendus as a future passive participle/gerundive from pendere (third conjugation), to weigh out and hence more broadly to value. But that seems to virtually always take a genitive of value, and vili must be either an ablative or a dative.

So, perhaps pendendus comes from pendere (second conjugation), which often takes an ablative. "Is Christ to be hung from such a cheap thing"? This comes after a passage discussing how Christ was placed in a manger, rather than some fancier place, so perhaps it has less to do with value and more with positioning?

Have I misunderstood the sentence or is it possible that, in later Latin, other cases were employed with pendere?

With faciendus, we've got a garden-variety genitive of value (I think): to be esteemed so little. Right?


2 Answers 2


Indeed, vīlī ought to mean 'for cheap' and go with verbs like vēndere, emere 'to sell, buy'; pendere 'to value', just like facere, goes with the genitive of very few words: magnī, minōris, nihilī, floccī. These are genitives of value, as you say.

It seems that what we have here instead is the medieval-only compound verb vīlipendere 'to value lightly, think little of, to slight'. I would regard the separate writing in Corpus Corporum as incorrect word division due to reanalysis; if it appears in the manuscripts, then the mistake is due to the scribe.

The verb might derive from the phrase vīle pendere where the verb is used transitively and means 'to think to be [of little value]'; however if you hit the "Inverse" switch under Logeion's logo, you'll find a whole host of parallel compound formations with -pendere including a gem like reparvipendere. This verb then is probably formed to the same highly-productive pattern.

What about those two tam - don't they modify the adjectives vili and parvi to mean 'so cheap, so little', meaning the writer treated it as a phrase? It's possible, but if so, the writer probably felt they were lexicalised adverbs and not standalone case forms, because the two cases are different but fixed; both appear with the same pendere in medieval Latin, but neither the gen. vīlis nor the abl. parvō do. However, it's possible that tam simply modifies the entire compound verb to mean 'in such a manner, like that' instead of meaning 'to such a degree' as an adj./adv. modifier. For this use see L&S tam under II.B.3 'With verbs'.

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    Of course, productive pendere makes sense. Medieval orthography can be very inconsistent regarding compound words. Sometimes you even see enclitics like ne and ve written separately. Apr 9, 2022 at 13:06
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    @Kingshorsey Very much so, but enclitics and proclitics (prepositions) are spaced arbitrarily based on whether the writer considers phonetic or lexical word as the basis - this ambiguity was no different with the Romans and the same goes for modern languages. But separating the elements of lexical+lexical compounds means the writer considers it a syntactic phrase with the first word a standalone lexeme. And it seems to me this is only possible when they erroneously analyse vili as the ablative of vīlis; you wouldn't expect a separate privi legium or primo genitus. Hence I say "mistake" Apr 9, 2022 at 19:39

Searching for "vili pend*" in Corpus Corporum yielded several hits from several medieval authors. However, some of these same authors continue to use the genitive with other words, e.g., parvi pendebat. I don't have an answer for why this construction occurs, but at least you know it's not just a grammatical idiosyncrasy of your author.

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