Around the line 100 of the page 236 of Lingua Latina per se illustrata, there is the sentence

Tum vēro nova et mīra rēs accidit: delphīnus, cantū allectus, repente hominem natantem subiit eumque in dorsō suō sedentem vēxit et in lītore Graeciae salvum 100 exposuit.

Is this sentence we have "repente hominem natantem", which would mean that the action of the verb "subeo" would be applied against the object hominem natantem, implying that the dolphin is riding Aríón which does not make any kind of sense.

Like wise we have "dorsō suō sedentem vēxit" where the verb veho is being used in active form with Arion being the object, thus meaning that the dolphin is riding Aríón.

And so on there plenty of this anomalous phenomena in the entire page 236.

  • 1
    By the way, if you are interested in Dolphins, you might enjoy Pliny the Younger's Dolphin Story (Ep. 9, 33), which is an easy read and a masterfully told tale with one hell of a plot twist. Also features the historical infinitive. Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 14:17
  • I'm afraid the second question (that which was added in a later edit) is unrelated to the first one. Clearly some context is missing in the quote (like who is the the subject of abirent) - at any case it is most probably case of indirect speech as vivere and fuisse hint.
    – d_e
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 14:54
  • @d_e The context is Nautae, interrogati, num scirent ubi esset Arion, responderunt hominem, cum inde abirent, in terra Italia fuisse &c., in other words, yes, it is indirect speech (although Ørberg has the habit of putting indirect speech in quotation marks). Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 17:11
  • Very stupid question by me.
    – Dolphínus
    Commented Nov 12, 2023 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


I think the confusion can be resolved by diving into the verbs meaning and usage.

  1. subeo: it might be helpful to keep in mind that the prefix sub- *sometimes* means the direction from which the action occurred - while the action itself goes the opposite direction. A prominent example is the verb surgo (which is sub + rego) - from below up. Hence in this context the verb subeo probably means approached from below - from deep in the sea towards to surface/person hence hominem nantantem is accusative - as the approach is towards him from below.

  2. veho - this verb in active is actually very much like porto/fero as every decent dictionary should reveal like Lewis & Short So the human - being the object - really means the human is being carried. To ride a horse then one should say vehor in equo - or even without in (using ablative of means). in some cases (not common though) vehi as we can read - despite being passive - can be attached with an accusative. making vehor almost a deponent verb

(Though, the avid reader of L&S will find that in "rare" cases veho can use basically to ride. "to be borne, to ride, sail, etc., upon any thing (rare, and perh. only in the part. pres. and in the gerund):"; [If I may to reject the inclusion of the gerund here, since the gerund can also be used passively.)]


You seem to be under the impression that subire and vehere mean “to ride.” In reality, neither means anything of the sort, so that is probably where your confusion arises.

Subire means “to go under,” so the dolphin goes under the boy. Vehere means “to carry,” so the dolphin carries the boy. In effect, that means that the boy rides the dolphin. (I will grant that the passive vehi is frequently used in the sense of “ride,” so maybe it's easy to get confused.)

Whether you think a human riding on a dolphin is plausible is another question – but it's the story that's being told here.

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