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In a relative clause of characteristic, the subjunctive "generalizes" the sense of the clause by making the antecedent indefinite, i.e. the antecedent no longer refers to a specific person or thing:
In other words, it describes the character rather than the actions of the antecedent, which is how the construction got its name.
There are two other important subjunctive constructions to know. Wheelock's text includes the second (Subordinate Clauses in Indirect Discourse), but not the first (Relative Clauses of Purpose). Both may appear on tests.
A relative clause of purpose entails the simple substitution of qui, quae, quod for ut in purpose clauses. For this to occur, the subject of the purpose clause must be cited somehow in the main sentence, which allows the relative pronoun to link the dependent clause to the main sentence, e.g. Milites miserunt qui dicerent . . ., "They sent the soldiers to say . . ." (literally, "They sent the soldiers who would say . . ."). If the purpose clause contains a comparative adjective or adverb, quo is used: Scutum deiecit quo celerius fugeret, "He threw away his shield in order to flee more quickly." Note that relative clauses of purpose are often associated with verbs of motion and that the rules for sequence of tenses apply.
Because Wheelock does not introduce this construction formally—however, see " Roman Witticisms Cited by Cicero" (page 203, note 15)—here are some examples of relative clauses of purpose:
The subjunctive is often seen in clauses embedded in indirect discourse (Indirect Statement, Indirect Question, Indirect Command). This has less to do with the sense of uncertainty which originally defined the subjunctive than with the ancient Romans' habitual use of the mood in various types of subordinate clause. That is, by the Classical Age the Latin subjunctive had begun to lose its association with specific functions (prohibition, volition, potentiality, etc.)—the job of relating the particular connotation of a clause had devolved onto specific adverbs like cum, dum, ut, etc.—and this mood ended up serving as little more than a way of signalling that a clause is dependent. In other words, the subjunctive had become the mood of "general subordination."
At heart, the dative shows "reference"—and when it signifies only that, it's called the "Dative of Reference"—that is, it implicates a person or thing in the action of the sentence or puts it in a certain perspective. See the examples in Wheelock (page 183). Another use of this case is the dative of purpose ("he came to us for help"), so named because it explicates the reason "for" something. The datives of purpose and reference are often seen together in a construction called "the double dative." Study carefully page 375 in Wheelock where he explains these constructions and gives examples of them. All these uses of the dative (Reference, Purpose, Double Dative) may appear on tests.
consul: A political term, this word designates one of two annually elected magistrates. The consulship was the most powerful executive office in Rome.
opus: This noun is often seen in the idiom opus est, "it is necessary," literally "there is work (to be done in regard to . . .)." It may take (1) the dative case + infinitive ("for him to do something"), or (2) ut + subjunctive ("that he do something").
consumo: This verb is a compound of sumo, sumere, sumpsi, sumptum ("take"). The prefix con- adds the sense "completely, wholly" ("take completely" = "use up").
defendo: Note that there is no difference between the present and perfect bases of this verb. Thus, defendit/defendimus can be interpreted as present- or past-tense.
dubito: If followed by a direct object, this verb means "doubt"; with an infinitive, it means "hesitate (to . . .)." Originally a frequentitive (dub- + frequentitive suffix -ito), dubito is built upon the base dub- ("[torn] in two ways") which is linguistically related to duo ("two"). Frequentitives show repetitive or habitual action, cf. exagito ("keep on the move"), essito ("be accustomed to eating"), loquitor ("chatter"). For the most part, they belong to first conjugation and are regular.
metuo: Like timeo with which it shares meaning, metuo has no passive participle. It is often followed by a clause of fearing.
fatum: This noun originated as the neuter substantive of the perfect passive participle of for, fari, fatum ("speak"); it means literally "the thing having been said," i.e. "what has been pronounced as one's destiny (i.e. by the gods), one's sentence or doom."
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