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Speech act conditionals in two works of Cicero: In Verrem and Ad Atticum

Les conditionnelles de l'acte de parole dans deux œuvres de Cicéron: In Verrem et Ad Atticum
Rogelio Toledo Martin
p. 247-254

Résumés

L’objectif principal de cet article est d’éclairer l’interprétation de la protase de la période conditionnelle : soit comme une explicitation d’une des maximes conversationnelles de Grice, soit comme une condition de félicité de Searle. En raison du cadre théorique de l’étude, ces conditionnelles sont appelées les « conditionnelles de l’acte de parole », mais elles peuvent être aussi appelées pseudo-conditionnelles (Pinkster), « conditionnelles illocutoires » (Martín, Wakker), etc. La théorie présentée ici est principalement appliquée à des exemples puisés dans deux œuvres de Cicéron : In Verrem et Ad Atticum ; occasionnellement, quelques exemples des conditionnelles empruntés à d’autres œuvres de Cicéron sont ajoutés.

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Texte intégral

1. Introduction

1The main objective of this paper is to elucidate how the protasis of speech act conditionals can be understood either as the explicitation of one of Grice’s (1975) conversational maxims or as one of Searle’s (1969) felicity conditions. Due to the theoretical framework that I have decided to use, I call these conditionals speech act conditionals, but these same sentences can be called pseudo-conditionals (Pinkster 1990) or illocutionary conditionals (Martín, 2009; Wakker, 1994), etc.

2Just like other linguists, Sweetser (1990) had raised the possibility that speech act conditionals could refer to Grice’s conversational maxims or to Searle’s felicity conditions; also Lauerbach (1979) had asserted that all conditional speech acts could actually be analyzed as either the explicitation of one conversational maxim or the explicitation of one felicity condition, although she did not always explained how; finally, Wakker (1994) had presented an excellent analysis of how this could be done in Ancient Greek conditional sentences.

3In this article, I will analyse in detail speech act conditionals collected mostly from two works of Cicero: In Verrem and Ad Atticum. In some cases, however, I take a few examples of conditional sentences from other works of this same author.

4The corpus of Cicero’s speeches In Verrem and his letters to Atticus provide 2,042 instances of conditional sentences introduced with the conjunction si –716 in the speech against Verres and 1,336 in the letters to Atticus –, the 3% of this total (61 sentences introduced with the conjunction si, 13 in the speech against Verres and 48 in the letters to Atticus) can be very well considered speech act conditionals.

5The article is organized as follows. In section 2, I present a definition of conditionals, in section 3-5, properties of the three main types (content, epistemic, and speech act conditionals). In sections 5.1. and 5.2., I discuss in detail speech act conditionals offered by my corpus. Section 6. contains concluding remarks.

2. Definition of conditional

6Much has already been said about how the philosophical-logical study of conditionals can not be applied to natural language conditionals or about how the traditional grammar definition of conditionals as a supposed cause and its consequence only takes into account prototypical conditional sentences, but leaves others aside. So I will not repeat any of these arguments here, I will rather simply present, following the current definition of the linguistic expression if p then q, how conditional sentences are to be understood within this paper: it suffices that p is the framework within which q is to be considered, this means that “whereas the speaker considers p uncertain or false, he asks the addressee to consider p for a moment true (suppose that p is true), thus establishing a (provisional) framework within which the subsequent utterance, q, is to be judged” (Wakker, 1994, p. 45).

  • 1 This framework of three interpretative domains is more or less equivalent to the Functional Grammar (...)

7With this definition, the great diversity of conditional sentences could be explained, both the prototypical cases and those that were left aside in the traditional grammars. Nevertheless, in order to have a better classification of conditional sentences, Sweetser’s (1990) framework of three interpretative domains can be adopted. These domains are content, epistemic, and speech act.1

3. Content conditional

8Here, the interpretation of a causal or enabling connection derives from the connection between the supposed framework established in the protasis and the subsequent utterance expressed in the apodosis.

(1)

Si bellum omittimus, pace numquam fruemur. (Cic. Phil. 7, 19)

(2)

Sicilia tota, si una voce loqueretur, hoc diceret. (Cic. div. in Caec. 19)

9According to this, we can understand both examples as the following:

(1.1) Let us suppose that we disregard war; in that case we will never enjoy peace.

10And:

(2.1) Suppose the irreality that Sicily could present a unanimous testimony; in that case this would enable the island to say this (whatever it is supposed to have said), not so much that the presentation of the unanimous testimony could cause the island to say this (again, whatever it is supposed to have said).

11As it can be seen from these examples in indicative and subjunctive, the degree of supposition purported by the moods – real, potential, counterfactual – does not present any problem for this kind of analysis, because here it is understood that there is a provisional suppositional frame that works for the second utterance: if the conditional period is real, possible or counterfactual is not very important, since here “the realization of the event or state of affairs described in the apodosis is only the assertive consequence of the supposition of the event or state of affairs described in the protasis” (Sweetser, 1990, p. 114).

4. Epistemic conditionals

12An epistemic conditional means that the knowledge of the information expressed in the protasis allows one to conclude the information expressed in the apodosis; this means that from the supposition and acceptance of the protasis we can conclude the assertion of the apodosis through a deductive process:

(3)

Si peperit, cum viro concubuit. (Cic. inv. 1, 44)
(3.1) So, assuming/based on the information that she gave birth, we can conclude that she slept with a man.

13In this example either a semantic or logical connection can be seen: to give birth naturally implies (except in the case of miracles and artificial insemination) having had sexual relations; and so, from this common knowledge expressed in the protasis, anyone can conclude the information of the apodosis.

5. Speech act conditionals

14It is very important to stress that, insofar as all human utterances are speech acts, all conditional sentences have to be speech acts as well. So, in this sense, all conditionals that are called here speech act conditionals do not refer to other speech acts in opposition to the assertive ones. What I mean here by speech act conditionals is that the connection between protasis and apodosis is directly on the speech act level; the fact of saying the protasis implies the utterance of the speech act expressed in the apodosis. Now, here I have decided to divide these conditionals into two main groups: a) speech act conditionals of assertive apodosis, and b) speech act conditionals of non-assertive apodosis. The protases of the first group are an explicitation of one of Grice’s conversational maxims; whereas in the speech act conditionals of non-assertive apodosis, the explicitation of the protases refers to the Gricean relation maxim or to one of Searle’s felicity conditions. For a better understanding of the distribution of these sentences, I present the frequency results in Table 1.

Table 1: Subtypes of speech act conditionals

Speech act conditionals of assertive apodosis

Protasis – Second conversational maxim

5

8.2%

Protasis – Third conversational maxim

12

19.6%

Protasis – Fourth conversational maxim

5

8.2%

Speech act conditionals of non-assertive apodosis

Protasis – Third conversational maxim

3

4.9%

Protasis – Felicity condition

Protasis referring to the capacity of the hearer

3

4.9%

Protasis referring to the capacity/approval of the hearer

12

19.6%

Protasis referring to the approval of the hearer

8

13.1%

Protasis referring to the will of the hearer

2

3.3 %

Protasis referring to the relationship between speaker and hearer

11

18%

Total

61

100%

5. 1. Speech act conditionals of assertive apodosis

15Protasis – Second conversational maxim. In this first group, one can observe conditional sentences where the protasis purports some cognitive or perceptive limitation of the speaker; this could refer either to his capacity of understanding or to the reliability of the sources. The speaker does not want to be considered a liar, and therefore he uses the speech act expressed in the protasis as protection in case he is mistaken about the information expressed in the apodosis. And so, in this sense, the protasis purports a comment that makes explicit Grice’s second maxim.

16In the following examples, the speech act of the apodosis is emphasized by the adverbs certe and profecto; nevertheless, in the face of such categorical statements in the apodosis, the speaker politely soothes his utterance with the protasis in which he expresses his lack of security in the matter.

(4)

Hoc quid intersit, si tuos digitos novi, certe habes subductum. (Cic. Att. 5, 21, 13)
(4.1) I am not entirely sure about the information I am saying in the apodosis, but considering what I know about your mathematical abilities, certainly you already know what the result is.

(5)

Profecto, si recte homines novi, non mentientur. (Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 175)
(5.1) It is a fact that they are not going to lie – well, I say this statement under the supposition that I know these men well.

17Protasis – Third conversational maxim. This is another type of sentence within the group of speech act conditionals of assertive apodosis. In these conditionals, the function of the protasis is to establish the context where the apodosis becomes relevant, and so in this sense, these conditionals can be explained according to the third Gricean maxim.

(6)

Et si quaeritis, ut ipse de me detraham, illos ego accusatores puto fuisse qui eius modi hominum furta odore aut aliquo leviter presso vestigio persequebantur. (Cic. Verr. 2, 4, 53)
(6.1) In case you are wondering, though this would mean betraying myself, I will tell you what I think: those were the prosecutors who, guided by the traces of smell or by some faint footprint, chased in this way the thefts of men.

(7)

Sed iudicium si quaeris quale fuerit, incredibili exitu. (Cic. Att. 1, 16, 3)
(7.1) But in case you are wondering what kind of trial it was, I tell you that it was one with an incredible conclusion.

18Here, since the protasis is the explicitation that makes relevant the utterance of the apodosis, there is no general protasis that could exemplify these conditionals; the relevant information expressed in the protasis always depends on the context and moment of the enunciation. Nevertheless, in a purely dialogical context it is not uncommon to find the protasis si quaeris.

(8)

Itaque, si causam quaeris absolutionis, […] egestas iudicum fuit et turpitudo. (Cic. Att. 1, 16, 2)
(8.1) So, in case you are wondering the reason for the verdict of not guilty, it was the lack of judges and their shamefulness.

(9)

Si quaeris quid putem, ego fructum puto. (Cic. Att. 12, 2, 2)
(9.1) In case you are wondering what I think, I think it is a profit.

(10)

Et si quaeris (perspexi enim plane), timent otium. (Cic. Att. 14, 22, 1)
(10.1) And in case you are wondering (for I see it clearly), they are afraid of peace.

19Protasis – Fourth conversational maxim. Finally, within the first group of speech act conditionals of assertive apodosis, there is one kind of conditional where the protasis constitutes the explicitation of the manner maxim. Here, however, the obscurity or ambiguity that the speaker tries to avoid is specifically some aspect of the linguistic form expressed in the apodosis. In the next example, one can observe how the protasis is basically a metalinguistic reference.

(11)

(sc. Verres) hanc excogitat rationem, si haec ratio potius quam amentia nominanda est. (Cic. Verr. 2, 4, 40)
(11.1) (Verres) considers this to be a measure, supposing that
this should be called a measure rather than a stupidity.

20In the following example as well, the speaker once again tries to avoid ambiguity by questioning if what he is talking about could be a case.

(12)

Sed ad rem redeo. Meditare adversus Brutum causam meam, si haec causa est contra quam nihil honeste dici possit. (Cic. Att. 5, 21, 13)
(12.1) I go back to what I was saying: to build a case against Brutus, under the supposition that a case could be something where the defendant has nothing honest to say.

5. 2. Speech act conditionals of non-assertive apodosis

  • 2 See Bassols de Climent, 1971, p. 265 and 266; Ernout and Thomas, 1953, p. 375; Kühner and Stegmann, (...)

21At this point, I too should go back to that part in the traditional grammars where conditional sentences that have an imperative, or a jussive or desiderative subjunctive were labeled without much explanation as variations of real conditional sentences.2 This, however, does not entirely agree with their definition of conditionals as supposed cause and effect, since it would be absurd to think that the protasis here is the cause of the order or the desire expressed in the apodosis. In (13), if the protasis were negative, Cicero could order just the opposite, but could it be said that the indirect order of the apodosis is the consequence of a supposed cause in the protasis? And in the same way in (14), Cicero could desire to live, in case he writes something diferent from what he feels, but it could not be said that the truth of the protasis makes the wish its consequence.

(13)

Qui homines […], si stare non possunt, corruant. (Cic. Catil. 2, 21)

(14)

Ne sim salvus, si aliter scribo ac sentio. (Cic. fam. 16, 13, 1)

22Here, according to the theory presented in this paper, the act of ordering – i.e. the directive speech act – is, as mentioned before, simply subject to the provisional frame expressed in the first speech act.

23Protasis – Third conversational maxim. In this type of conditional, the protasis justifies and, by doing so, makes relevant the non-assertive speech act expressed in the apodosis. Otherwise, the isolated utterance of the apodosis would create uncertainty in the hearer. If the speaker did not make explicit the relevance of the directive speech in the protasis, the hearer could certainly ask: Why are you saying this? or What is the reason for your utterance?

24And, in this way, we can understand the last two examples of Cicero as follows:

(13)

Qui homines […], si stare non possunt, corruant. (Cic. Catil. 2, 21)
(13.1) The reason why I am saying that they should run is because I suppose that they cannot stand still – I am not saying they should run just because.

(14)

Ne sim salvus, si aliter scribo ac sentio. (Cic. fam. 16, 13, 1)
(14.1) Let me not live – I say this in case I write differently from how I feel, not just because.

25Protasis – Felicity condition. In other speech act conditionals of non-assertive apodosis, the protasis purports once again an explicative commentary, but in this case, the explicitation can refer to any of the felicity conditions of the speech act expressed in the apodosis. In all of the following speech act conditionals, the apodosis is a directive speech act, sometimes expressed directly, sometimes indirectly (i.e. through another speech act). Now then, the classification of the following conditionals depends on the felicity condition to which the protasis refers.

26Protasis referring to the capacity of the hearer. In this first group, I have collected those examples where the protasis makes explicit the felicity condition referring to the physical capacity of the hearer to carry out the requested action. This protasis is usually constructed with the modal verb posse, but in some cases it is also possible to understand this same felicity condition in protases constructed with grave non esse, commodum esse, and some variations with offensio or offendere. These last protases, however, can also refer to the approval of the hearer, the reason being that the idea of approval can depend on the physical capacity of the hearer, or because these protases can have also an abstract meaning beyond something physical.

(15)

De Flamma, obsecro te, si quid potes. (Cic. Att. 15, 1, 5)
(15.1) Regarding Flamma, supposing there is something you can do, I implore you to do it.

27Protasis referring to the capacity/approval of the hearer. Two things are worth mentioning here: 1) grave is not literally about some physical burden, but rather a moral or ethical inconvenience; 2) it can be observed that the apodosis is an indirect speech act, since the request is expressed as a wish.

(16)

Sed si grave non est, velim scire quid sit causae. (Cic. Att. 13, 42, 1)
(16.1) Supposing that it is not a burden,
I would like to know the cause.

28In the following example, the conditional form si tibi erit commodum conditions the request on the capacity or approval of the speaker of carrying it out. Here, the apodosis, though being expressed as a wish, is really a request.

(17)

Et velim mittas de tuis librariolis duos aliquos […] isque imperes ut sumant membranulam ex qua indices fiant […]. Sed haec, si tibi erit commodum. (Cic. Att. 4, 4a, 2)
(17.1)
I would like you to send me two other librarians and ask them to bring a bit of parchment for the labels, but I am asking these things under the supposition that this will not be an inconvenience for you.

29In the next example, the request of the apodosis is expressed indirectly as a wish through the verb velim; the protasis with offendet, on the other hand, refers either to the physical capacity of the hearer or to his approval.

(18)

Velim igitur, […] si ea te res nihil offendet, videas unde nummi sint, mihi feras expensum. (Cic. Att. 15, 20, 4)
(18.1)
I would like, therefore, under the supposition that there is nothing restraining you from doing this, that you see where the money comes from, and that you tell me how much it is.

30Protasis referring to the approval of the hearer. In this second group, I have put those examples where the protasis makes explicit the felicity condition that refers to the approval of the hearer. Here the protases are constructed with impersonal forms, such as videtur and placet. In (19), the apodosis, despite being uttered in the future indicative, is considered, through an implicature, as a directive speech act. In this case, the approval of the hearer depends on the fact that he considers that doing this is the right thing to do.

(19)

Eum servum, si tibi videbitur, ad me mittes. (Cic. Att. 13, 50, 2)
(19.1) You will send me that slave (i.e. I ask you to send me this slave), supposing that doing so is something
that seems right to you.

31The difference here in (20) is that the approval of the hearer refers to the fact that he considers pleasing, and not only correct, the action that he is asked to do.

(20)

Ciceronem, si tibi placebit, adhibebis. (Cic. Att. 12, 28, 1)
(20.1) You will keep (Marcus) Cicero at your side, supposing that doing this is something
that will please you.

32Protasis referring to the will of the hearer. In this third group, very close in meaning to the second, I have put conditional sentences where the protasis makes explicit the felicity condition referring to the will of the hearer; these protases are constructed with the verb velle.

(21)

Accipite, si vultis, iudices, rem eius modi ut amentiam singularem et furorem iam, non cupiditatem eius perspicere possitis. (Cic. Verr. 2, 4, 38)
(21.1)
Listen, judges, supposing that doing this is something you want to do, such a thing that you would be able to perceive is Verres’ singular lack of sense and madness, not just his greediness.

  • 3 Cf. TLL, s. v. amare: Inter “amare” et “diligere” hoc interest quod “amare” vim habet maiorem.

33Protasis referring to the relationship between speaker and hearer. Finally, in the last group, I have put a very rich selection of conditional sentences where the directive speech act of the apodosis depends on a protasis that refers to the affective relationship between Cicero and Atticus. By doing this, the protasis makes explicit that the situation on which Cicero bases his request is going to be a felicitous one; what is being asked from the hearer is something that the speaker is in position to ask due to the relationship they have. Now then, in this kind of conditional, both the verb amare and diligere can refer to the affection between Cicero and Atticus, to their amicitia, with the difference that the verb amare expresses a vim maiorem than diligere.3 This explains why – knowing that Atticus was Cicero’s best friend – example (22) is the only one in which the protasis is constructed with diligere. In all the other cases, Cicero uses amare.

(22)

Sed si me diligis, postridie Kal. cena apud me cum Petilia. (Cic. Att. 4, 12, 1)
(22.1) I ask you,
considering the affection you have for me, to come to my house to have dinner with Petilia the day after the Calends.

(23)

Librum, si me amas, mitte. (Cic. Att. 12, 6, 2)
(23.1) I ask you, considering the friendship we have, to send me the book.

6. Conclusions

34This approach to the study of conditional sentences in Latin has been achieved, on one hand, through the revision of previous bibliography on the subject, and through the comparison and union of the different theories that were found there. However, many of the conclusions found in this paper on speech act conditionals in Latin come from the observation and analysis of the data that I have found in Ad Verrem and ad Atticum.

35Even though this study is not an exhaustive one, since it is likely that during the research process I did not notice a few other examples of conditional speech acts, this however does not prevent me from applying this theory to the language of Cicero and to conclude that conditional speech act conditionals do not only exist in Latin, but also that Grice’s and Searle’s theories can offer a good explanation to the diversity of speech act conditionals in this language.

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Bibliographie

Bassols de Climent, M., 1971, Sintaxis latina, Madrid.

Bertocchi, A. and Maraldi, M., 2011, Conditionals and concessives, in Ph. Baldi and P. Cuzzolin (eds.), New Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax, vol. 4: Complex sentences, Grammaticalization, Typology, Berlin, p. 93-183.

Ernout, A. and Thomas, F., 1953, Syntaxe latine, Paris (2nd edition).

Grice, P., 1975, Logic and conversation, in P. Cole and J. L. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and semantics, vol. 3: Speech Acts, New York, p. 41-58.

Kühner, R. and Stegmann, C., 1914, Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache, vol. 2, Hannover.

Lauerbach, G., 1979, Form und Funktion englischer Konditionalsätze mit “if”: e. konversationslog. u. sprechakttheoret. Analyse, Tübingen.

Martín Puente, C., 2009, Condicionales y concesivas, in J. M. Baños Baños (coord.), Sintaxis del latín clásico, Madrid, p. 667-675.

Pinkster, H., 1990, Latin Syntax and Semantics, London.

Searle, J. R., 1969, Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language, London.

Sweetser, E., 1990, From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure, Cambridge.

Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, 1900-, Leipzig.

Wakker, G. C., 1994, Conditions and Conditionals: An Investigation of Ancient Greek. Amsterdam.

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Notes

1 This framework of three interpretative domains is more or less equivalent to the Functional Grammar framework of predicational, propositional, and illocutionary levels (cf. Wakker, 1994, p. 49; Bertocchi and Maraldi, 2011).

2 See Bassols de Climent, 1971, p. 265 and 266; Ernout and Thomas, 1953, p. 375; Kühner and Stegmann, 1914, p. 392.

3 Cf. TLL, s. v. amare: Inter “amare” et “diligere” hoc interest quod “amare” vim habet maiorem.

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Rogelio Toledo Martin, « Speech act conditionals in two works of Cicero: In Verrem and Ad Atticum », Pallas, 102 | 2016, 247-254.

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Rogelio Toledo Martin, « Speech act conditionals in two works of Cicero: In Verrem and Ad Atticum », Pallas [En ligne], 102 | 2016, mis en ligne le 20 décembre 2016, consulté le 17 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/3734 ; DOI : 10.4000/pallas.3734

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Auteur

Rogelio Toledo Martin

National Autonomous University of Mexico
deofago@gmail.com

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