A Story with Participles

salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! Here, as promised, is the one of the first “real” Tres Columnae story that features participles qua participles, not just as slightly-unusual adjectives.  It was originally scheduled to appear on Wednesday, but life intervened! 🙂  In Tuesday’s post, we looked at the introduction of the aspect of participles and at some of the exercises that we’ll use to practice the idea. We deliberately said very little about the voice of participles; we’ll look at that in more detail later.

A bit of background: as you may recall, if you’ve been reading for a while, the Tres Columnae metastory features three primary families:

  • the wealthy Valeriī;
  • the rather poor Lolliī, their clients; and
  • the very wealthy Caeliī (Valerius’ wife is the sister of Caelius the paterfamiliās).

Many of the stories we’ve shared have focused on the children of each family:

  • Lucius Valerius, his older sister Valeria, and their little sister Caeliōla;
  • Cāius Lollius and his big sister Lollia; and, of course,
  • Caelia Prīma, Caelia Secunda, and their annoying little brother Cnaeus.

By the time of Lectiō XXIV, the girls are all old enough (at least in the Roman world) to be married, and there are a number of weddings in this part of the Metastory. There are probably also some bruised feelings, as children who have grown up together (and, if human nature hasn’t changed that much, possibly had crushes on each other from time to time) are moved into the adult roles required by Roman arranged marriage. Another factor, of course, is the difference in social standing among the families: Valerius, as we’ve seen, is unusually solicitous of this set of clients (and we still don’t quite know why!), but the Lollii are of a distinctly lower social standing than their equestrian patrōnus. We’ll explore the social and emotional issues along with the linguistic ones in the stories in this Lectiō.

In any case, with Valerius’ help, Lollius has arranged for his daughter to marry young Marcus Vipsānius, a slightly-poorer cousin of Valerius’ daughter’s future husband. In this story, we see the family preparing for their daughter’s upcoming wedding. If you’ve read Cicero’s letters regarding his daughter (especially when he mourns her untimely death), you’ll see the inspiration for Lollius’ emotional reaction. Of course, the “official” party line among Roman men was that daughters were distinctly inferior to sons….

Maccia in cēnāculō stābat et lacrimās retinēre temptābat. Lollia mātrem lacrimantem audīvit et sollicita “māter mea, cūr lacrimās?” rogāvit. “num trīstis es, quod diēs nūptiārum meārum advenit?” Maccia ā Lolliā sīc interrogāta, “ō mea fīlia,” respondit, “lacrimās laetās effundō! mātrem tamen decet lacrimāre cum fīlia nūptūra sit. tertiā enim post diē tū mātrōna et uxor eris! tertiā enim diē ille Mārcus Vipsānius tē in mātrimōnium dūcet! laetissima sum; ergō lacrimō.”

Lollia “ō māter mea, tē amplectī cupiō!” exclāmāvit. mātrem vehementer amplexa sē quoque lacrimīs trādidit. Cāius ūlūlātūs fēminārum audīvit et attonitus, “heu! num quis mortuus est? num in servitūtem pater vōs vēndit? num in servitūtem nunc iam vēnītis? cūr igitur lacrimātis?” rogāvit. fēminae tamen haec dicta neglegēbant et continuō lacrimābant. Cāius attonitus “fēminās īnsānās! vae virīs!” exclāmāvit et per iānuam cēnāculī celeriter exiit. “domum Valeriī festīnō, ubi omnēs iam mentis sānae sunt!” ēgrediēns clāmāvit, et iānuam firmē clausit.

Maccia fīliō ēgressō valēdīxit et “virōs īnsānōs! nihil intellegunt! vae fēminīs!” exclāmāvit. tum Lollia et Maccia cachinnīs, nōn lacrimīs, sē trādidērunt. Lollius, ē popīnā regressus, fīliam et uxōrem cachinnantēs per fenestram audīvit. “vae mihi!” sēcum susurrāvit, “quid nunc? mē valdē taedet nūptiārum! quārtā post diē maximē laetābor, quod fīnem īnsāniārum vīderō!”

haec verba locūtus Lollius ad popīnam regressus “heus caupō!” exclāmāvit, “fer mihi pōculum maximum!” mox caupō attonitus Lollium quoque lacrimantem cōnspexit. “num ēbrius es, mī amīce?” rogāvit sollicitus. “multōs enim per annōs tē amīcum habeō, numquam tamen tē ebrium cōnspiciō? quid agis?”

Lollius haec rogātus rīdēre temptābat et, “mī amīce,” respondit, “tertiā post diē fīliam in matrimōnium ductam vidēbō. lacrimō ergō quod laetus sum.” caupō, “certē, mī amīce,” respondit, “nōnne ego quoque nūptiās fīliārum quattuor iam celebrāvī? nōnne laetissimus quoque sum, quod iuvenēs optimī eās dūxērunt?” tum caupō pōculum vīnō implēvit. pōculum vīnō implētum hausit et lacrimīs quoque sē trādidit.

As you might imagine, reading-comprehension questions will focus on the time (or aspect) relationships between the participles and the sentences in which they occur. For example, consider the sequence in the second and third paragraphs:

Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō, ubi omnēs iam mentis sānae sunt!” ēgrediēns clāmāvit, et iānuam firmē clausit. Maccia fīliō ēgressō vale dīxit et “virōs īnsānōs! nihil intellegunt! vae fēminīs!” exclāmāvit.

We’ll ask questions like this:

quandō Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō” clāmāvit?

  • postquam exiit
  • quandō exībat
  • priusquam exīret

Learners who correctly choose quandō exībat receive positive feedback like this:

ita vērō! ēgrediēns is a participium temporis praesentis, so the exiting is not marked for completion.  It happened at the same time as his shout.

Those who choose the other responses receive corrective feedback like this:

heus! Please take a closer look at the word ēgrediēns. cuius temporis participium est?

with choices of praesentis, perfectī, or futūrī. If they correctly choose praesentis, they see this:

ita vērō! So, since a participium temporis praesentis is imperfective, quandō Cāius “domum Valeriī festīnō” clāmāvit?

If they wrongly choose perfectī or futūrī, we’ll probably send them back on a “loop” through the quid novī cycle about participial aspect or tense, as we described it in yesterday’s post.

We’ll also ask this question about the next sentence:

quandō Maccia fīliō vale dīxit?

  • postquam Cāius exiit
  • quandō Cāius exībat
  • priusquam Cāius exīret

Again, if you correctly choose postquam exiit, you’ll receive sustaining feedback:

ita vērō! ēgressō is a participium temporis perfectī, so the exiting is marked as complete before Maccia spoke. If you are (or ever have been) a teenager, you may be familiar with conversations that involve slammed doors! 🙂

Otherwise, you can probably imagine the cycle of feedback.

quid respondētis, amīcissimī?

  • First, what do you think of the story itself?
    • Do you find it culturally authentic … or at least plausible?
    • Or are you skeptical of so much emotion from those “stoic” Romans?
  • Then, what do you think of the use of participles?
    • And what do you think of the comprehension questions?
    • And what about the feedback for correct and incorrect answers?
  • For those who haven’t tried using Latin questions to get at the meaning and the grammar of a passage, can you see how this could actually be made to work in your classroom or learning situation?
  • Or are you still skeptical?

Tune in next time (which may be Saturday, not Friday, depending on life!), when we’ll take a look at your comments … and we’ll also return to our previous theme of infinitives. Now that we know how participles work, it will be a lot easier to deal with the perfect passive and future active infinitives, won’t it? 🙂 We’ll also find out a bit more about our characters’ experiences during the eruption of Vesuvius … and afterwards.  In the process, we’ll also take up the issue of participles’ voice.

In the meantime, grātiās maximās omnibus legentibus et respondentibus. Please keep those comments, emails, and Trial Subscription requests coming!

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  1. […] weddings; if you’re a long-time reader of the blog you may remember that back in March, in this post, we saw preparations for the wedding of Lollia. By this point in Cursus Prīmus, our participants […]


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