Suetonius, Caius (Caligula) 58:

alii [tradunt] Sabinum summota per conscios centuriones turba signum more militiae petisse et Gaio 'Iouem' dante Chaeream exclamasse: 'accipe ratum!' respicientique maxillam ictu discidisse. iacentem contractisque membris clamitantem se uiuere ceteri uulneribus triginta confecerunt; nam signum erat omnium: 'repete!' quidam etiam per obscaena ferrum adegerunt.

Though this passage is written indirectly, the reply from Caligula (Gaio dante--with Caius giving) is inside quotation marks so should be direct-speech, "luppiter"; why the acc., "lovem"?

Supplemental questions about the same passage:
- Present Participles: can "respicienti be part of an ablative absolute in this sentence?
- Switches Between Direct & Indirect Speech in Suetonius-Supplemental

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, Iovem should be indirect speech, as you say, without quotation marks, because of the accusative. Then it would be translated as follows:

...and that, when Gaius gave Jupiter (as the password), Chaerea exclaimed...

We moderns may be inclined to put Jupiter in quotation marks, lest the passage be read as if Caligula were handing over the god Jupiter to someone: for he gives the word Jupiter, not Jupiter himself. That is why the editor added quotation marks, which the Romans did not use. The distinction between direct and indirect speech was perhaps not so strict in Latin as we would have it.

  • Cerberus: Thank you. I'll re-submit the other two parts. Been meaning to ask; if nobody wanted to go to Hades, why was a three-headed dog required to guard the door? Cheers.
    – tony
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 8:42
  • 1
    @tony: Good! // Well, I am there to keep the dead where they belong! Stupid people like Hercules and Orpheus interfere with my work.
    – Cerberus
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 14:32

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