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In his answer to Q: '...quo plus..., eo plus ... ' translation?, Joonas offered the example:

"quo plus edo, eo laetior sum." = "The more I eat, the happier I am.",

in which,

"quo plus...eo plus" = "the more...the more".

Continuing, Joonas: "'quo' & 'eo' are neuter ablatives, but it may be better to see the pair as a fixed-phrase."

An example offered by Cerberus, in CHAT, recently:

"quo plus eo melius." = "The more the better."

This example is slightly different; the second adverb "plus" replaced by adverb, "melius".

In these, "quo" is the (neuter-ablative) relative pronoun; by/ with/ from/ in, agreeing with an antecedent noun, "whom" or "what"; but, there isn't an antecedent noun in these examples.

Easier to understand is the role of demomstrative pronoun, "eo" = "in this (situation)" (presumably).

What is the role of "quo" in these examples?

What if it was omitted?

"plus...plus" = "more and more" (Oxford);

"plus eo melius" = "the more, in this situation, the better"?

In order to say:

"The more you have, the meaner you become!";

using this construction, is it:

"quo plus habes, eo avare fis/ es!"?

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    It isn't correct to say that quo has no antecedent. The antecedent is eo.
    – cnread
    May 28 at 19:07

2 Answers 2

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Quo is (based on) a relative pronoun, but it is used cataphorically: quo refers forward to eo.

A similar construction you will be familiar with:

Eam, ex qua natus es, caedes.

"Her, of whom you were born, you shall slay."

This can be reversed:

Ex qua natus es, eam caedes.

"Of whom you were born, her you shall slay." (This word order is strained in English, but perfectly fine in Latin.)

Caedes ex qua natus es.

"You shall slay of whom you were born." (We'd normally add an explicit antecedent "her" here in English, but, in Latin, this is less necessary.)

So ex qua...eam here is the same construction as was originally quo...eo.

I suspect the 'postcedent' eo is less required in poetry, but I'm not sure about prose. The relative quo cannot be omitted.

Do not be confused by English "the" in "the more, the better": this is a very special use of the article, a kind of parallelism perhaps, which is typical of English, but not normally possible in Latin. The Latin language uses adverb/demonstrative + conjunction/relative instead: quo...eo, cum...tum, ita/eo/tantus/etc...ut, tam...quam, tantus...quantus, tot...quot, talis...qualis, is...qui, etc.

Plus...plus: this kind of parallelism is also uncommon in Latin: I do not think this is possible. Constructions like alius...alius, "one...the other", are limited, and of a slightly different kind.

Instead of eo avare, you should use the comparative, eo avarius.

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This is a correlative construction based on the ablative of degree of difference (A&G 414).

quo - by what amount/degree

eo - by that amount/degree

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