I'm writing this Latin verse parser/scanner, and all is fine and dandy until I load up Ov. Met. V. This book features the following verse in my source text, which is usually very good:

adgnovitque deam 'ne' c 'longius ibitis!' inquit;

My parser balks at this because it is not designed to handle c, a 'syllable' without a vowel.

I have found other versions of the text online, by Googling "adgnovitque deam" and "agnovitque deam", which represent a more sensible version (also, it scans properly!):

agnovitque deam 'nec longius ibitis!' inquit;

This seems to solve my original question, which was 'what does this even mean and how is this pronounced', but I'm confused as to why multiple reputed online resources would feature the 'ne' c version at all. Can this make sense, or is it just an OCR artifact or typo that was copied around by some of the available online resources?

I'm basically looking for a decent explanation and/or someone with access to an annotated text, preferably something like a dusty old Loeb or OCT book, which might shed some light on this.


1 Answer 1


The C is a -que. It is quite common to abbreviate neque (= ne+que) as nec.

I see two ways to parse that verse and interpret the C:

  1. And he noticed the goddess and said: "Don't go further!"
  2. And he noticed the goddess, said: "And don't go further!"

(I didn't read around that verse, so the translation may not be optimal. But that's beside the point.)

The difference is in the position of "and", which is the -c of nec. In the second option the "and" is inside the quote, so it makes sense to punctuate it that way. In the first option it is not, so it makes sense to pull it out of the quotation. This is problematic in Latin because the "and" is a suffix (enclitic) -c, leading to that awkward separate C.

As far as we know, Ovidius did not use any such punctuation, so the quotation marks are a more recent addition to aid modern readers. Therefore there was nothing awkward in his time, but modern punctuation makes it look a little silly.

  • So you're thinking that at some point a copying monk or editor said "well, this is awkward, there's no conjunction between adgnovit and inquit" and decided that what first looks like nĕc must be nē + c, with the -c a sort of -que (but not used as a suffix to the last verb) ?
    – blagae
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 10:53
  • I must admit that it sounds plausible, given that editors sometimes shoehorn their own linguistic instincts into thoroughly weird 'solutions' for things that I don't find awkward at all
    – blagae
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 10:58
  • 1
    FYI I am aware of other instances where -que is not used as a strict enclitic (e.g. Ov. Met. I, 735, finiat ut poenas tandem, rogat 'in' que 'futurum), so that is not the issue here.
    – blagae
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 13:33
  • 1
    @blagae See this question about replacing -que with -c. I would always consider the -que a strict enclitic, so to me in que futurum looks as odd as ne c longius. But it is true that -que makes up a syllable on its own, unlike -c.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 14:28
  • 4
    -que is not a strict enclitic in Ovidius. It seems like he really liked isolating it in quotations: I have found 9 instances in the first 5 books of the Metamorphoses where he does the exact same thing as 'in' que 'futurum (while Vergilius doesn't isolate -que at all in the Aeneis).
    – blagae
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 14:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.