This sentence comes from chapter XXII of Lingua latina per se illustrata: Colloquia Personarum (emphasis mine in the word I find difficult to understand):

Putāsne mē tantum atque tam pulchrum ānulum aureum octō sēstertiīs vendere.

I understand its meaning, but I have some doubts about its construction. The first one is that, because of the presence of -ne, I believe it's a question. So, shouldn't it be an interrogation mark at the end?

The second one is about the role of the conjunction atque. I think that the sentence makes sense without this atque:

Putāsne mē tantum tam pulchrum ānulum aureum octō sēstertiīs vendere?

So, what's the role of "atque" in the above cited sentence?

1 Answer 1


Yes, the sentence should end with a question mark. Maybe Ørberg is playing a little loose with punctuation.

The role of atque does not seem particularly mysterious to me: tantus atque tam pulcher anulus aureus = such a big and pretty golden ring. In particular, two adjectives modifying the same noun have to be joined with a conjunction in Latin if they are on the same footing, i.e., not if one of them forms a closer bond with the noun than the other. This is shown here with aureus; "golden" as an attribute of "ring" is not on the same footing as "big" and "pretty," a golden ring is a type of ring, which can be big or small, pretty or plain, etc. -- at least that's how the Romans saw it.

  • 1
    I see... I thought that the meaning of "tantum" was "only" and qualified "octō sēstertiīs".
    – Charo
    Nov 25, 2023 at 15:11
  • 3
    @Charo That seems to be the key to the confusion, then. Here tantum is masculine singular accusative of an adjective.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Nov 25, 2023 at 16:04
  • 1
    @Charo Tantum for only usually goes right behind the phrase expressing the limit (here octo sestertiis), or at least close to it, if in a non-poetic context. Nov 27, 2023 at 13:25

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