Lines one and two of book 2 of Vergil's Aeneid sparked this question:

Conticuere omnes intentique ora tenebant
inde toro pater Aeneas sic orsus ab alto:

I had two interpretations. My first interpretation is that the -que in intentique links the verbs conticuere (perfect active indicative) and tenebant. However, that makes it unclear as to how the second line connects grammatically to the first unless inde can somehow be used as an introduction to a temporal clause, but I was under the impression (perhaps too narrow) that only dum, cum, donec, postquam, ubi, and ut could introduce temporal clauses.

My other interpretation was that -que links the two clauses with the first line just having a missing conjunction for poetic effect: "All were silent [and] attentive were holding their mouths and from there ...". However, this version feels weird considering the placement of -que.

What would a contemporary Roman perceive the -que as connecting?

  • It occurs to me now that another possibility would be to repunctuate the line (since Vergil's original had no punctuation) and put a period after tenebant. That way inde starts the next sentence and becomes a simple adverb. May 23, 2016 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


Regarding the question in the title, Lewis and Short (seemingly this community's favorite dictionary) lists among the meanings of inde the following: from that time, thenceforward, since, after that, thereafter, thereupon, then. Just in case, there is the same entry on other dictionary. The same idea applies to unde.

Relative pronouns/adverbs that mark location (even with movement) can in fact mark time as well.

Regarding the role of -que, remember that it always works as a suffix to the second term in the conjunction. A valid rephrasing (at least for the sake of understanding) could be:

Conticuere omnes et intenti ora tenebant

A plausible word-to-word translation would be:

They all fell silent and kept their mouths stretched

Looking at a couple of translations, intenti ora tenere is read as pay deep attention, keep rapt gaze. All of them read inde as then or a synonym of it.

Hope it helps.

  • 1
    'Kept their mouths stretched'? Is that an idiom? I think it is "omnes conticuere" et "intenti, tenebant ora" (They all fell silent, and, rapt, they held their tongues / Thereupon, ...).
    – jon
    Jul 14, 2016 at 5:58

What your question really seems to be about is whether inde can serve as a subordinate conjunction, like dum, cum, etc., introducing a subordinate clause, to be translated as "when" or "while". You ask this, because you feel that a conjunction is needed to link the two lines.

If you look at the link to Lewis & Short above, you will see that inde (unlike unde) is exclusively used as an adverb, not as a conjunction. And I have never seen it used as a conjunction. It therefore seems impossible to treat it as a conjunction.

You were correct about -que: it links conticuere omnes with intenti ora tenebant, so it cannot serve to connect this line with the next either.

The "solution" is that the Romans normally used neither commas nor full stops, and the punctuation is not Virgil's. The punctuation chosen in your edition seems to be based on on modern rules; but you can just add a comma between the lines, or even a full stop, to make it work. Or you could read it as an asyndeton, where a conjunction is omitted to rhetorical effect, à la veni, vidi, vici: imagine something like cum or et was omitted. All of this is legitimate in editions of classical Latin texts.

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