The first sentence of Hyginus' Prometheus is:

Hominés anteá ab immortálibus ignem petébant neque in perpetuum serváre sciébant; quod posteá Prometheus in ferulá détulit in terrás, hominibusque mónstrávit quómodó cinere obrutum servárent.

Before, people sought fire from the immortals and didn't know how to keep it continuously [lit]; quod afterward, Prometheus brought it down to earth on [the end of] a fennel stalk and showed people how to keep it buried in ashes.

What is quod doing here? It doesn't seem to be a relative, it doesn't seem to be "since," it doesn't seem to be functioning adverbially. I realize Hyginus is hardly the stylist's stylist, but it's still bugging me.

2 Answers 2


I'd take this as quod "but, though", sense VII in Lewis and Short.

  • 1
    This answer has been flagged as low-quality... is there anything else you could add to back up this interpretation? Feb 27, 2016 at 18:08
  • Strangely, my original link to Lewis and Short disappeared (was edited away?), so I've added the link again. The reading "but" seems to make good sense in this context -- certainly more than any other sense of quod that I know of. "Before, people sought fire from the immortals... but afterward, Prometheus brought it down to earth".
    – TKR
    Feb 28, 2016 at 1:01

The word quod probably means 'therefore' (or 'in respect of which'). (My dictionary mentions this meaning but gives no examples.) This would imply that Prometheus was dissatisfied with the situation described before the semicolon and therefore took action.

Another possibility is that quod is a relative pronoun referring to ignis. That would make quod the object of detulit. The problem is that ignis is masculine, so it should be quem instead. I can offer three explanations:

  • It is a later copy error. It was originally quem but it was "corrected" to quod which more often begins a sentence.
  • Neuter was chosen because ignis is inanimate.

It would explain the form if quod refers to the whole preceding sentence or something other than ignis, but that doesn't make much sense as the object.

  • These are all great suggestions, but I'm not sure I buy them. For "in respect of which," latinlexicon.org (I love them, by the way!) gives two Terence examples, "quod me accusat, sum extra noxiam" and "siquid est Quod meā operā opus sit vobis," in which quod seems to be operating as a relative in a way that I don't think works here. Hyginus was a contemporary of Augustine, and I don't think inanimate objects were taking neuter pronouns in Latin at that time. A scribal error seems possible, but it's such an obvious one, wouldn't it have been corrected by now? Feb 27, 2016 at 13:39

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