previous next


[13arg] How many and what varieties of meaning the particle quin has, and that it is often obscure in the earlier literature.

THE particle quin, which the grammarians call a conjunction, seems to connect sentences in various ways and with divers meanings. For it seems to have one meaning when we say, as if chiding or questioning or exhorting, quin venis? “Why don't you come?” quin legis? “Why don't you read?” or quin fugis? “Why don't you flee?”; but it has a different meaning when we affirm, for example, that “there is no doubt but that (quin) Marcus Tullius is the most eloquent of all men,” and still a third, when we add something which seems contradictory to a former statement: “Isocrates did not plead causes, not but that he thought it useful and honourable so to do.” In the last of these sentences the meaning is not very different from that which is found in the third book of Marcus Cato's Origins: 1 “these I describe last, not but that they are good and valiant peoples.” 2 Also in the second book of the Origins Marcus Cato has used this particle in a very similar manner: 3 “He did not consider it enough to have slandered him privately, without openly defaming his character.”

[p. 255] I have noted, besides, that Quadrigarius in the eighth book of his Annals has used that particle in a very obscure manner. I quote his exact words: 4 “He came to Rome; he barely succeeds in having a triumph voted.” 5 Also in the sixth book of the same writer's Annals are these words: 6 “It lacked little but that (quin) they should leave their camp and yield to the enemy.” Now I am quite well aware that someone may say off-hand that there is no difficulty in these words; for quin in both passages is used for ut, and the meaning is perfectly plain if you say: “He came to Rome; he with difficulty brought it about that a triumph should be voted”; 7 and also in the other passage, “It almost happened that they left their camp and yielded to the enemy.” Let those who are so ready find refuge in changing words which they do not understand, but let them do so with more modesty, when the occasion permits.

Only one who has learned that this particle of which we are speaking is a compound and formed of two parts, and that it does not merely have the function of a connective but has a definite meaning of its own, 8 will ever understand its variations in meaning. But because an explanation of these would require a long dissertation, he who has leisure may find it in the Commentaries of Publius Nigidius which he entitled Grammatical. 9

[p. 257]

1 Frag. 73, Peter2.

2 This rather difficult example I do not find in our grammars.

3 Id. 36.

4 Frag. 70, Peter2.

5 Quin = “why not”; see note 4 below.

6 Id. 58.

7 This translation, which Gellius rightly rejects, neglects the negative in quin. Both examples from Quadrigarius might be explained as dubitative questions in the paratactic form; e.g. “Why should not a triumph be granted him?”

8 quin is formed from qui, the ablative of the interrogative and relative stem qui-, and -ne, “not.” It is used in both dependent and independent sentences. See Lane, Lat. Gr.2 1980 ff.

9 Frag. 52, Swoboda.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), VIA´TICUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ANTI´CYRA
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: