In the TV-series, "I Claudius" (BBC, 1976), episode 6, Drusus (Son of Emperor Tiberius, nicknamed, "Castor") stops a prefect, in the street, who was arresting one of his friends. The haughty official said:

"I am on imperial business and may not be interfered with, not even by the son of the Emperor!".

In an attempt to translate this, is it the verb: "negotior imperii"--"I do the business of the empire"; or, the noun: "negotium imperii ago"? In Lewis & Short the verb seems to be used e.g. "to do business with [someone]".

The "interfere" part is approached with an jussive, passive, present subjunctive giving:

"negotium imperii ago et non intercedar ne filio quidem Caesaris!"

Is this correct?

Thanks to Tyler & Joonas for comments. How about:

"negotio imperii fungor et non impediar ne filio quidem Caesaris!"

  • 1
    There are different ways to say this, but the pertinent verb is "impedior". Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:38
  • 3
    I think fungor with ablative is going to be better than ago with accusative.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 8:10
  • @Joonas llmavirta: There are exs., from early Latin, of "fungor" taking the accusative: "tu tibi istos habeas tutures piscis, avis, sine me alioto fungi fortunas meas."--"You just keep those swabs of yours and your fish and your game for yourself, and leave me to my garlic and my lot," (Plaut. Most. 45). I haven't seen "tu tibi istos" altogether before! This, from the 3rd.C BC.
    – tony
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 9:57
  • 2
    @tony True, the accusative seems possible too. My main point was that agere doesn't fit the job nearly as well as fungi.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 10:08

1 Answer 1


A couple of suggestions:

  • Use fungi instead of agere. (This you did in your revised attempt.)
  • Use an adjective like in English. Imperiale is better than imperii.
  • I think the second part works better when phrased more along the lines of "and nobody can interfere". There are many ways to go about this, including the use of quis as "anyone".
  • When using ne...quidem, put the most emphatic word in between. It's not "Caesar's not even a son" but "son of not even Caesar".

My suggestion would be this, and I emphasize that it is not the one and best solution:

Negotio imperiali fungor nemoque impedire potest, ne Caesaris quidem filius!

My thinking here is that nobody would be physically able to resist. If it is about not being allowed rather than being unable, switch from impedire to licet:

Negotio imperiali fungor neminique impedire licet, ne Caesaris quidem filio!

You might well replace negotio by munere. I would be tempted to do so, but nuances like this depend on context.

  • 1
    Maybe use licet instead of potest? This sounds to me like it's saying that it's impossible for anyone to interfere.
    – TKR
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 18:03
  • 1
    @TKR Good point! I took the original as meaning that nobody would be physically able to resist, so I went with a stronger wording. I added a note on that and a second formulation option with licere at the end.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 21:00
  • @Joonas llmavirta: Thank you. You have used the adjective!! In my very first attempt at this I wrote, "rem imperialem facio..."--"I'm doing/on imperial business..."; then, thinking about e.g. "his friend", expreesed with a genitive, "amicus eius"--"friend of him", I plumped for genitive-of-noun, "imperii".
    – tony
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 8:36
  • 2
    @tony As a broad rule, I would say that Latin uses an adjective rather than a genitive more often than English whenever such an adjective exists. In some situations there's no adjective (like your eius). The verb facio doesn't work either. I haven't thought of anything better than fungor. The negotium could well be munus instead.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 10:37
  • @JoonasIlmavirta Georges has no better ideas than res, negotium and causa. Res is boring and causa too suggestive of legal proceedings, so I think negotium really fits best here. Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 8:20

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