Quod putavi et praemonui fit – bewilderment is a mighty force

Teaching is a great way to discover gaps in your understanding.  Here is the sentence I read without a hitch but have difficulty explaining because of the nomenclature.  Pompey is writing to Ahenobarbus about Caesar’s wicked vise:

Quod putavi et praemonui fit ut nec in praesentia committere proelium tecum velit et omnibus copiis conductis penitus te implicet…

The translation is straightforward: “What I thought and forewarned about is happening – that he doesn’t want to join battle with you at present, and at the same time, with all his his troops concentrated, enfolds you through and through…”

The hickup comes when students ask you: “Isn’t that a result clause?”  Huh?  Why should that be a result clause?  You check Bennett and see that at section 297, he does indeed classify ut clauses after fio as noun clauses of result.  Allen & Geenough do the same at 569.2.  Ditto about Woodcock at section 168.  Keller & Russell call them “substantive ut clauses, mentioning in a footnote that “[t]hese noun clauses are sometimes known as Substantive Clauses of result” (at section 133, p. 424).  My Latin grammar from Bulgaria calls the ut after verbs like fio  ut explicativum – because (I translate) “the ut sentence the specific content of the action or state in the main clause.”  However, it too classifies these ut explicativum clauses as result for reasons that utterly espaced me at the time, and continue to escape me in praesentia.  Which is why I haven’t registered it.

Let me understand: what Pompey thought and predicted is happening, and what’s happening results in the wicked vise in which Caesar holds Ahenobarbus.  Doesn’t make sense – Pompey is a pretty straightforward dude who writes letters in the bullet-point form and leaves nothing unclear.  As a matter of fact, he repeats himself ad nauseam (which makes his letters a piece of cake to read – ask Scott), and he’s been predicting the events in the ut clause for ages.

It is obvious from my translation that I don’t treat the above ut clause as a result clause.  To me, it is rather an apposition, or explication if you want (the ut explicativum  registered somewhat): X (what Pompey thought and foresaw) is happening – namely Y (that Caesar doesn’t want to join battle with Ahenobarbus at present, and at the same time, with all his his troops concentrated, enfolds the latter through and through).

Result clause?  Give me a break.  “It’s happening that I am bewildered by all those nonsensical classifications.”  What on earth is happening, as a result of which I am bewildered??  My mind’s minding?


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