In Cic, Catil. 2.3.5 there is:

"hos quos video volitare in foro, quos stare ad curiam, quos etiam in senatum venire, qui nitent unguentis, qui fulgent purpura, mallem secum suos milites eduxisset;" the translation (C.D. Yonge, 1856):

"I wish he had taken with him those soldiers of his, whom I see hovering about the Forum, standing about the Senate house, even coming into the Senate, who shine with ointment, who glitter in purple;".

Cicero expresses his contempt for the acolytes of Catiline (his soldiers) in indirect (accusative-infinitive) speech: "quos volitare"; "quos stare"; "quos venire"; then, he switches to subordinate clauses: "qui nitent"; "qui fulgent".

Why not continue in the full-flow of indirect speech, completing this tour-de-force with "quos nitere" & "quos fulgere"?


1 Answer 1


This interesting syntactic variatio you point out is probably related to the fact that the three infinitival constructions refer to three SPATIAL events WITNESSED by Cicero, who was also THERE. Note also that each spatial verb has its locative or directional complement: volitare in foro, stare ad curiam, and in senatum venire. The two following predicates are not spatial but refer to a different semantic type: nitent unguentis and fulgent purpura are, let's say, ornament predicates. So this grammatical variatio you point out can be said to run parallel to (or, to put it more strongly, to be motivated by) meaning & style differences. As noted, Cicero preferred to construe himself as witnessing (cf. video) the three spatial events in order to emphasize that he was also there! So this pragmatic meaning is the really relevant one here.

This said, as you rightly note, there would be nothing grammatically wrong with putting the following two non-spatial predicates in infinitive, i.e. in tune with the three spatial ones, making then all of them dependent on video. So, if your question is whether there is a grammatical or syntactic reason that accounts for the variatio found in the text, the answer is negative. It is rather a matter of (mainly, pragmatic) meaning & style.

  • Relatedly, the three infinitival phrases denote actions, while the finite verbs denote states; and the actions (unlike the states) are ones that immediately threaten the republic, which helps explain the pragmatic importance of video: "Look, his soldiers are right there, I can see them now!" It would be less rhetorically appropriate to say "I see them shining and glittering", as the "here and now" aspect of those states is not situationally relevant in the same way.
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 13 at 18:52
  • @TKR I agree. BTW, I deliberately avoided discussing the complex issue of their Aktionsart properties since volitare & venire are more dynamic than stare (NB: 'stand' has been (mis)described as a stative verb). As for the stativity of nitere and fulgere (and other similar verbs: cf. latin.stackexchange.com/questions/8848/aret-aridus-est ), they express D(avidsonian)-states, i.e. those states that have an event argument: Cf. "I see them shining" (D-state) vs. * "I see them being tall" (Kimian state). See link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4020-6197-4_4
    – Mitomino
    Commented Mar 13 at 20:20
  • @TKR So note that from a lexical-aspectual perspective, it could be the case that, to the extent that stare is also a Davidsonian state (see the 2nd link above for Maienborn's (2008) claim that "stand" is a D-state), it would go with nitere and fulgere rather than with vol(it)are and venire, which express proper events (cf. your descriptive term "action").
    – Mitomino
    Commented Mar 13 at 21:00

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