Early Latin and late Latin

Michèle FRUYT

University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris 4)



13. Evolved features in the 1st century AD

13.1. The indirect reflexive

The new morphosyntax of the indirect reflexive seen in Cyprian (§ 14.3.) is documented in the Vindolanda Tablets at the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd centuries AD (M. Fruyt 2014). The Vindolanda tablet II, 343 provides two occurrences of the new evolved system: a dative form of the anaphor is instead of the classical sibi as an indirect reflexive (line 31) and an occurrence of se (line 35) functioning as the subject of the infinitive clause governed by the main verb introducing the indirect style:

  • Tab. Vindol. II, 343: 31:
    desiderabat coria ei adsignarem… / 34: Idibus / 35: Ianuariis constituerat se uenturum.
    ‘He wanted me to reserve some skins for him… He had decided he would come at the Ides of January.’

In another tablet (Tab. Vindol. II, 250: brigionus petit … ut eum tibi commendaret), the anaphor eum (line 4) used instead of the indirect reflexive se is also an instance of the evolved system, since it is situated in an ut clause (and not an infinitive clause). The same syntactic situation is documented in Tab. Vindol. III, 645 (scribit mihi ut ei notum faciam …), with the anaphor ei instead of sibi.

This evolved system had therefore probably been established in the standard language since before Cyprian’s time. In Petronius, the emergent and evolved system also occurs in a low level of language. The dative illi stands for sibi in:

  • Petr. 38, 4:
    scripsit ut illi ex India semen boletorum mitteretur.
    ‘He ordered in a letter that mushroom seeds should be sent to him from India.’

13.2. Evolved features of endophor and deixis in Seneca

Even Seneca (in the first half and middle of the 1st century AD) shows some emergent and evolved features. In his expressions of endophor and deixis, he uses some data in his prose that developed further in late Latin: firstly the high frequency of ille functioning as a short distance anaphor instead of is:

  • Sen. Nat. 5, 1, 1:
    Nunc, ut ad propositum opus ueniam, audi quid de ignibus sentiam quos aer transuersos agit. Magna illos ui excuti argumentum est quod obliqui feruntur et praerapida celeritate; apparet illos non ire, sed proici.
    (Illos refers to ignibus in the previous sentence.)

And secondly, the use of iste in some functions where the classical language would have hic referring to the present enunciation for ‘what I am speaking about, what I just mentioned’ or anaphoric is:

  • Sen. Nat 5, 1, 6:
    non enim opus est ad efficienda ista magno aeris motu.
    (Ista refers to spectaculis in the previous sentence, instead of haec or ea.)
  • Sen. Nat. 5, 6, 4:
    ad ista efficienda uel remouenda … in ista nube.
  • Sen. Nat. 5, 2, 3:
    Non est autem quod existimemus istas
    (Istas refers anaphorically to areas, which denotes the topic of the passage).

Instead of the anaphoric pair ille vs hic, Seneca may use ille vs iste:

  • Sen. Nat. 6, 12, 1:
    Fulguratio ostendit ignem, fulmination emittit. Illa, ut ita dicam, comminatio est et conatio sine ictu; ista iaculatio cum ictu.
    L’éclair fait voir le feu; la foudre le lance. L’éclair, peut-on dire, est une menace, une tentative non suivie d’effet; la foudre, un coup qui porte.’ (translation P. Oltmare, Paris, Belles lettres, CUF, 1929)
    (Illa refers to fulguration and ista to fulmination.)

Seneca even used iste in his prose for the deixis of what the speaker and the addressees can see and what belongs to their common field of observation, in contrast to ille, which refers to what is far away from them and does not belong to their field of observation. This use of deictic iste became one of the main characteristics of late Latin, as shown in the direct speech in Egeria’s Itinerarium (cf. § 2.1.):

  • Sen. Nat. 7, 8:
    Ergo ex illa profunda copia isti amnes egeruntur.
    (Illa profunda copia refers to the waters hidden underground, that the speaker and the addressees cannot see, while isti amnes refers to the rivers that are seen on the surface of the earth (instead of classical hi amnes).)

Just as in Egeria’s Itinerarium, the verb uides ‘you see’ may be placed in the neighbourhood of deictic iste which is represented in the next passage by the adverb istinc:

  • Sen. Nat. 7, 30, 2:
    Quid porro? Istinc unde tantum tumultum uides metus est, e mari et magno spiritu erumpentibus fluuiis?
    ‘Eh quoi ? toute notre crainte vient-elle de ce que tu vois de tumultueux, de cette mer et de ces fleuves qui s’élancent avec fureur ?’
    (translation P. Oltramare, Paris, Belles Lettres, CUF, 1929)

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