Calcidius on Plato's Timaeus, 276:

Omnia tamen haec in unum aiunt concurrere, ut et generata sit ea quae subiecta est universo corpori silva [=materia]

The English translation:

In all this, they (the Jews) say, they agree that matter, underlying all bodies, was generated

I could not find this structure in grammar books:

demonstrative pronoun + relative clause + antecedent noun

There are almost similar examples in A&G 307b, such as:

quae grātia currum fuit vīvīs, eadem sequitur

But I am not sure it corresponds to the above text. Please refer me to a source on this structure.

  • 1
    I'd suggest the following replacement: demonstrative pronoun + relative clause + antecedent noun > demonstrative determiner (traditionally, "demonstrative adjective") + relative clause + postcedent noun
    – Mitomino
    Aug 17, 2022 at 5:55
  • @Mitomino Shouldn't it be succedent noun? Aug 17, 2022 at 19:00
  • @SebastianKoppehel In my opinion, both terms ("postcedent" and "succedent") are appropriate here. I'm not sure about the English grammatical tradition but it seems that the term that is more often used is "postcedent" (e.g. see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antecedent_(grammar)#Postcedents ).
    – Mitomino
    Aug 18, 2022 at 15:11
  • @Mitomino I am being a little facetiously over-pedantic, but the problem with postcedent is that there's no such verb as postcedere. Aug 18, 2022 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


That the antecedent noun follows the relative clause happens occasionally. In this case the demonstrative adjective and the noun are separated, which is an example of hyperbaton, and hyperbata are quite common in Latin.

Here is Cicero in De officiis 1, 69:

Multi autem et sunt et fuerunt, qui eam, quam dico, tranquillitatem expetentes a negotiis publicis se removerint …

Rather similar also Brutus 83, 287:

At quid est tam fractum, tam minutum, tam in ipsa, quam tamen consequitur, concinnitate puerile?

I would not expect ordinary grammar books to give examples of every possible word order around relative clauses. That said, this Austrian website explicitly mentions the possibility of the relative clause being “embedded” in the main clause, and was my source for the first Cicero quote. In this view, this is just a particular case of the more general idea of embedding, like Caesar, Bellum Gallicum 1, 1:

minimeque ad eos mercatores saepe commeant atque ea quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent important

We could also imagine eas, quae ad effeminandos animos pertinent merces important.

  • I'm not sure if I'd qualify this case as an example of hyperbaton. BTW, the link to this Austrian website is very useful! Longum iter per praecepta, breve et eficax per exempla.
    – Mitomino
    Aug 17, 2022 at 6:04
  • @Sebastian Koppehel: In Cicero's "de Officiis" 1.69; looking at the whole (long) sentence, why deploy (perfect) subjunctives, "removerint" & "perfugerint", as opposed to indicative verbs?
    – tony
    Aug 21, 2022 at 8:52
  • @tony I'd say subjunctive of characteristic, common with multi sunt and similar phrases. Aug 21, 2022 at 20:22

This is just a follow-up answer to the excellent one provided by Sebastian Koppehel. He is probably right when saying "I would not expect ordinary grammar books to give examples of every possible word order around relative clauses". For topics like the one at issue here, it can be useful to take a look at "unordinary grammar books". For example, I've just seen that in the 2nd volume of his monumental The Oxford Latin Syntax, Pinkster (2021: 497) deals with this syntactic phenomenon and provides some interesting examples. Here is the relevant quote (italics and bold are his) excerpted from Section 18.12 "The relative order of the adnominal relative clause and its head":

"The relative clause may also be enclosed between a determiner and its head. Examples are (d)–(g). Note that in theory quem in (f) could be taken as the determiner of numerum, the whole clause (and in that analysis, autonomous) being determined by eum, as in the second relative construction of (g). For more examples of this construction, see § 18.16.

(d) . . . exponit ea quibus abundabat plurima et pulcherrima vasa argentea... (‘. . . he set out those most lovely and numerous silver vessels, of which he had an ample stock.’ Cic. Ver. 4.62)

(e) Discessu Liburnarum ex Illyrico M. Octavius cum iis quas habebat navibus Salonas pervenit. (‘At the departure of the Liburnian ships from Illyricum, Marcus Octavius went to Salonae with the ships he had available.’ Caes. Civ. 3.9.1)

(f) . . . atque eum quem supra demonstravimus numerum expleverat. (‘. . . and had thus filled up the number I stated above.’ Caes. Civ. 3.4.6)

(g) At ii qui in iugo constiterant . . . neque in eo quod probaverant consilio permanere, ut se loco superiore defenderent, neque eam quam profuisse aliis vim celeritatemque viderant imitari potuerunt . . . (‘But the part which had taken post on the ridge . . . could neither abide by the plan that they had approved, namely that they would defend themselves on higher ground, nor could they imitate the vigour and the speed which they had seen to be of assistance to others . . .’ Caes. Gal. 6.40.6)

Supplement: . . . pro meis in vos singularibus studiis proque hac quam perspicitis ad conservandam rem publicam diligentia ... (Cic. Catil. 4.23); ... ea ipsa de qua disputare ordimur eloquentia obmutuit. (Cic. Brut. 22); ... celeriter ad eas quas diximus munitiones pervenerunt ... (Caes. Gal. 3.26.2); Ea quae secuta est hieme ... Usipetes Germani et item Tenctheri magna multitudine hominum flumen Rhenum transierunt ... (Caes. Gal. 4.1.1); En illa, illa quam saepe optastis libertas ... (Sal. Cat. 20.14); ... illa quae iniuria depulsa fuerat ancilla totam faciem eius fuligine larga perfricuit ... (Petr. 22.1)

  • I had tried to find this structure in Pinkster 2021 but I had not succeeded. Thanks a lot.
    – Ali Nikzad
    Aug 17, 2022 at 9:16
  • Very nice. Pinkster (or perhaps Hofmann-Szantyr) is indeed the sort of unordinary, or even extraordinary grammar book I had in mind when I wrote that. Aug 17, 2022 at 19:05

Sebastian Koppehel's answer is correct. I would like to add that Reginaldus Foster, the rather eccentric, but by all accounts effective, educator devotes the better part of a chapter of his first year text book to exactly this issue, which can easily trip up new students whose native language is English.

His textbook is called Ossa Latinitatis Sola (the mere bones of Latin). His chapter Experience 1, Encounter 11 Pronomen Relativum: Brevitas, Antedentis Omissio, Ordo begins, "Contact with Latin literature will convince anyone and everyone of how the Romans loved to deal with and hear the relative pronoun."

Later he continues, "After reading out loud several paragraphs of Latin literature from all ages, the first thing that must strike the reader is the location of both the relative pronoun and the relative clause within the overall discourse. Namely, the Romans, because of the freedom of their sentence structure and style, loved to put the relative clause locally in front of the word it describes, which it anticipates. While this is nearly impossible to do in English, the Romans love it..."

He gives quite a few examples. Here are a few:

Quem misisti perutilis est liber. (The book, which you sent, is very useful.)

Quae venerant nos salutaverunt. (The women who had come greeted us.)

Quae audivisti falsa sunt. (The things you have heard are false.)

Quas laudas, honoro. (I honor the women you are praising.)

Qui tibi scribo, benevolentia significo. (I, who am writing to you, make known my good will.)

Much more discussion and many more examples round out this chapter. As Foster points out this sort of construction is confusing when you first encounter it, but you will quickly get used to it with a bit of practice.

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