All Subjunctive Tenses in Subordinate Clauses

Despite their affinity to result clauses, clauses of prevention are only very rarely introduced by ut… non. quominus means literally “by which the less”, and is therefore closely comparable to the English “lest”.

Context will usually permit a clear distinction between relative clauses of purpose and of characteristic. Contrast exierunt senatores qui pacem ab hostibus petant “Senators have gone out to seek peace from the enemy” with, for example, cives mali sunt [n.b. not a verb of motion] senatores qui pacem ab hostibus petant “Senators such as seek peace from the enemy are bad citizens”.

pecuniam servo qui non laboraverit numquam dabo is ambiguous, since laboraverit may be either future perfect indicative or perfect subjunctive. The meaning may therefore be either (construing laboraverit as fut. perf. ind.) “I will never give money to the (particular) slave who has not (will not have) worked” or (construing laboraverit as perf. subj.) “I will never give money to a (any) slave who has not worked”.

The spolia opima “rich spoils” were Rome’s highest military honor, awarded to a commander who killed his counterpart in single combat. They were won only three times, by Romulus, who killed Acro, king of the Caeninenses, by Aulus Cornelius Cossus, who killed Lar Tolumnius, king of the Veientes in the mid-5th century and by Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who killed Viridomarus, king of the Gaesatae, a Celtic tribe, in 222 BC. In 29 BC, Marcus Licinius Crassus, grandson of the Triumvir, claimed the spolia opima, after killing Deldo, king of the Bastarnae, a tribe in the Balkans, but Augustus, wishing to keep military glory in his own family, found a specious reason not to allow it, arguing that Crassus was acting only as his lieutenant (Livy, History of Rome 4.20). [Especially in the early years of his rule, Augustus felt the need to emphasize his family’s military successes: Marcus Claudius Marcellus was the ancestor of Augustus’ like-named nephew and intended successor, and Romulus had long been claimed as an early ancestor of the Julian family.]

Family Members

Latin has rather more specific terms for some family members than does English. This may suggest that family ties were closer than in modern society, or that the law was more sensitive to such matters when questions of marriage or inheritance arose. Many of them distinguish between the paternal and the maternal side of the family. For example:

pater familias, with its archaic genitive termination in -as, is a venerable fossil, appropriate to the power and dignity of the “head of the household”. A pater familias had all but absolute control over his sons even after they married and had families of their own, and over his daughters until they married into another family. “Numa Pompilius [the second king of Rome] was commended for amending the law which allowed fathers to sell their sons into slavery; he gave immunity to married sons, so long as the father of both bride and groom had approved the marriage, for he regarded it as unfair that a woman who married a man whom she thought to be free should find herself living with a slave” (Plutarch, Life of Numa 17). Vestal Virgins were the only Roman women freed from the control of their fathers, husbands or brothers; there were only six Vestals at any one time.