5.2.1 Constructions without Relative Clauses

The first example from Cato is a prototypical instance of left-dislocation. The dislocated element is a noun, resumed by a pronoun in the main clause that immediately follows. This example has served as an example of left-dislocation (nominatiuus pendens) in numerous treatments. However, this is the only example of such a construction type in Cato, and, even if not completely without parallels—see, in particular, (62) in chapter 3 and (35) below from Sallust—the construction is not the usual type of left-dislocation in Latin.

(1) cancer ater, is olet et saniem spurcam mittit, albus purulentus est, sed fistulosus et subtus suppurat sub carne

‘The black ulcer has a foul odour and exudes putrid pus, the white is purulent but fistulous, and suppurates under the surface.’2

This sentence appears in the final part of the work, in the so-called ‘praise of cabbage’. In this paragraph, we are told, first, that cabbage cleanses suppurating wounds and tumours, then instructions on how to use cabbage are given. In (1), Cato makes a side remark about two different types of ulcers. The cancer is thus an Active element in the context as well as the topic in this sentence. In the latter part, a contrast is created with (cancer) albus. After this, ulcers are mentioned in one further sentence (157.4 in ea uulnera huiusce modi teras brassicam, sanum faciet; optima est ad huiusce modi uulnus), after which the topic shifts to other uses of cabbage.

I now move on to patterns used more frequently in Cato’s prose: anticipation of the main clause case, in the accusative. In (2), Cato describes the optimal overseer (starting at Agr. 5.1 haec erunt uilici officia) and his duties.

(2) amicos domini, eos habeat sibi amicos

‘He must consider the master’s friends his own friends.’

The passage where the overseer’s duties are enumerated is extensive, but (2) is the only example of a left-dislocation. The master (dominus) is an Active element, but the master’s friends have not been mentioned previously. I interpret amicos domini as the topic and sibi amicos as the focus, with a contrast between domini and sibi. Generally, in Cato, we find the standard pattern, meaning that even initial topical objects that are Brand New elements and not necessarily anchored with, for example, a relative clause are not resumed in the main clause (as if *aminos domini habeat sibi amicos). This is because the technical style allows for reference to previously unmentioned elements, if they are identifiable in the context by that sole reference. To explain this particular instance, we must assume that there was something in this particular sentence that triggered left-dislocation. One possibility is that, because humans in this work are not among the typical objects, a semantic explanation would be fitting here—namely, that the resumption was prompted by the need to mark humans as the object.

The same syntactic pattern, anticipation of the main clause case, in the accusative, is found in the following passage (instructions concerning the land type appropriate to certain plants). The instruction preceding (3) does not have resumption (Agr. 8.1 ficos mariscas in loco cretoso et aperto serito). Then follows (3), with a contrast drawn with the type of land where this particular group of plants are to be planted.

(3) africanas et herculaneas, sacontinas, hibernas, tellanas atras pediculo longo, eas in loco crassiore aut stercorato serito

‘The African, Herculanean, Saguntine, the winter variety, the black Tellanian with long pedicles, plant these in soil which is rather rich or manured’

The focus here is on in loco crassiore aut stercorato, and the initial list of plants (africanas … tellanas atras) may be taken as contrastive topic (‘These plants, on the other hand, you should plant in rather rich or manured land’). Further examples of such listing LD are cited below in sub-section 5.2.3.

Similarly, in (4), oleas tempestiuas constitutes a contrastive topic after oleae caducae quam plurimum in the preceding clause. Storing (condito) is present already in the preceding context and is topical, and, in the verbal part, parcito uti quam diutissime durent is focal.

(4) oleae caducae quam plurimum condito; postea oleas tempestiuas unde minimum olei fieri poterit, eas condito, parcito, uti quam diutissime durent

‘Store all the windfall olives you can and later the mature olives which will yield very little oil. Issue them sparingly, and make them last as long as possible.’

The next example has a very long dislocated constituent, and the resumption in the main clause can be explained as being caused at least partly by this. The long description of the land to be chosen is necessary in this context. Example (5) is the first sentence after the rubric of the paragraph (seminarium ad hunc modum facito).

(5) locum quam optimum et apertissimum et stercorosissimum poteris et quam simillimum genus terrae eae, ubi semina positurus eris, et uti ne nimis longe semina ex seminario ferantur, eum locum bipalio uertito, delapidato circumque saepito bene et in ordine serito

‘Choose the best, the most open, and the most highly fertilized land you have, with soil as nearly as possible like that into which you intend to transplant, and so situated that the slips will not have to be carried too far from the nursery. Turn this with a trench spade, clear of stones, build a stout enclosure, and plant in rows.’

In (5), locum quam optimum is clearly the topic, and the predicates (uertito, etc.) in the main clause carry the focus.

Yet another example of main clause case anticipation is found in (6), which, however, is an exceptional construction, in that the initial element is a (nominalized) adjective, referring to cupam in the preceding sentence (cupam facito p x, tam crassam quam modioli postulabunt, media inter orbis quae conueniat):

(6) crassam quam columella ferrea erit, eam mediam pertundito

‘Drill a hole in the middle as large as the iron pivot, so that the latter may be inserted in it.’

In (6), crassam (with cupam understood) is the topic and mediam the focus.

In the next two passages, the dislocated elements are neuters, and, as such, can be either nominative or accusative. However, the accusative is the more probable interpretation, because it is the case of the co-referent element in the main clause.

The sentence that precedes, (7), is about the same topic, the storing of leaves for the winter (Agr. 5.8 frondem populneam, ulmeam, querneam caedito per tempus, eam condito non peraridam, pabulum ouibus).

(7) item faenum cordum, sicilimenta de prato, ea arida condito

‘Second-crop hay and the aftermath should also be stored dry.’

There is a contrast here between the way the frondem populneam, etc., should be stored (non peraridam ‘before they are entirely dry’) in the previous sentence and the way the faenum cordum and sicilimenta in (7) are to be stored (arida, ‘dry’). The pragmatic organization of (7) is similar to that of (3) and (4). In all three sentences, the initial element—a list in (3) and (7)—expresses a contrastive topic, and the focus is on the object or another verbal complement.

In (8), the object pronoun id in the main clause is not formally the resumption of the initial noun prata irrigiua, despite being loosely co-referent with it:

(8) prata irrigiua, si aquam habebis, id potissimum facito

‘If you have a water supply, pay particular attention to water meadows.’

In this and the preceding paragraphs (Agr. 8 and 9), Cato gives instructions on what to do with different types of land. Prata irrigiua can be taken as the topic, if we accept that focus falls on potissimum. Water as an element is present in the preceding sentence, where Cato mentions plants that will fare well in damp ground. Hence prata irrigiua is to some extent Accessible in the context.

The next example features an apparently unmotivated accusative at the head of the sentence. However, as I have argued earlier (Halla-aho 2009: 117-118), a verb must be understood to go with terram, as this type of unmotivated accusatives are a demonstrably much later phenomenon in Latin:

(9) terram quam maxime cretosam uel rubricosam, eo amurcam infundito, paleas indito

‘Take very chalky or red earth, pour amurca over it and add chopped straw.’

Here, the specific type of earth to be used may be analysed as the topic of the predication. Another example of a seemingly unmotivated accusative is Cato Agr. 7.4 oleas orchites, posias, eae optime conduntur uel uirides in muria uel in lentisco contusae. There, the initial accusative is caused by the predicates of the preceding sentence serito aut inserito (Agr. 7.4), which we must understand here, too, to explain the case form (Svennung 1935: 186 fn. 1). Because of the need to supply a verb form to explain the case, these two constructions cannot be classified as left-dislocation.