This sentence is from "De antiquitate regum Norwagiensium", which was written by Theodoricus Monachus. Here is the sentence and my thoughts about it:

Northmanni, inquit, de Scythia inferiori (illam procul dubio volens intelligi superiorem, quam nos Svethiam apellamus)

Thoughts: I don't understand what the passive infinitive verb "intelligi" is supposed to be here. The clause which is written inside a paranthesis doesn't look like an accusative with infinitive to me, so I have doubts that "intelligi" is a verb here, but at the same time I have trouble considering it a direct object here, as there is no other verb here except for the present participle "volens". Or is it perhaps "volens" that takes "intelligi" as a direct object?


1 Answer 1


There is an AcI: there's your accusative illam, there's your infinitive intellegi, and there's your verbum cogitandi volens. “Wanting that to be taken to mean the upper.” (The basic construction, which is a bit unusual and may be giving you trouble, is intellegere with a double accusative = “to take something to mean/to be,” like Hominem divitem intellegimus cui magna pecunia est = “We take a man to be rich who has a lot of money” etc.)

Note that the text is quoting Hugo of St. Victor, the author of a chronicle. Let's add quotation marks:

Hugo […] ita meminit gentis nostrae in Chronica sua: «Northmanni», inquit, «de Scythia inferiori» (illam procul dubio volens intelligi superiorem, quam nos Suethiam apellamus) «egressi, classe advecti in Gallias […] omnia depopulati sunt ferro et flamma.»

So, the author of the text temporarily interrupts the quote to clarify the quoted text. Hugo wrote of Scythia inferior, and your author explains how he interprets this expression, which implies the existence of a Scythia superior: He thinks: Illam [Scythiam] procul dubio [≈ sine dubio] superiorem intellegi vult, quam nos Suethiam apellamus. “He doubtless wants that Scythia to be taken to be the upper one, which we call Suethia.”


In his chronicle, Hugo mentions our nation thus: “The Northmanni,” he says, “having left Lower Scythia [he surely considers that region to be Upper Scythia which we call Suethia] and having landed with their fleet in Gaul, devastated everything with sword and fire.”

  • Could illam superiorem be a single noun phrase? "doubtless wishing that upper region of Scythia to be understood [rather than what he said]" May 29 at 21:07
  • @Kingshorsey Intuitively it seems more plausible to me to have the relative clause without a demonstrative antecedent than to have no demonstrative connection to the quoted text. Ultimately it makes no real difference in meaning anyway, right? May 29 at 21:15
  • Sure, it's pretty similar. I was just imagining how I would use this construction (an admittedly dangerous exercise), and I thought I would use it without a double accusative. If I saw a picture of a dog with the caption "felis latrat", I might comment "procul dubio volens canem intelligi" as a parenthetical. May 29 at 21:24
  • Also, I think ille [adjective] ... qui is such a common and natural construction that if the author didn't want it to be understood [intelligi!] correlatively, he almost needed a second demonstrative to break it up. Something like: illam volens intellegi hanc superiorem, quam May 29 at 21:29
  • @Kingshorsey ah, now I understand, and I think you are right. It makes much more sense that way, because the velle then describes something Hugo actually wants and not something he should have said. And of course it makes a big difference, because the Northmanni in that case did not come from Suethia. May 29 at 22:04

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.