Dear Maria,

Please help me understand the sentence below.(Ars Amatoria 1,144)

Hic tibi quaeratur socii sermonis origo,
Et moveant primos publica verba sonos.

What's the subject of 'moveant'? Isn't it actually 'tu' same as in the previous part, though in the passive?. Then, it should be 'moveas', I think. Please correct me, if I am wrong.

Thank you.


Dear John,

in “Hic tibi quaeratur socii sermonis origo,/ Et moveant primos publica verba sonos “(Ovid, Ars Amatoria 1,144-145)  the subject of "moveant" is “publica verba”, as the order for translation would be the following:
”et publica verba (plural subject+ adjective)  moveant (hortatory subjunctive agreeing with the plural subject) primos sonos (direct object, accusative plural + adjective)”, literally meaning:
” and let usual/banal/common  words produce the first sounds”, where “let...produce” corresponds to “moveant”; “usual/banal/common  words” corresponds to “publica verba” and “the first sonos” matches “primos sonos”.

So, apart from the literal translation, this line means :”let some  banal words begin a conversation”, just to indicate that one must find occasion to begin discourse,even starting from general matter.

As for the line 144 “Hic tibi quaeratur socii sermonis origo” whose word order for translation is the following:
”Hic (adverb) origo (subject) socii sermonis (genitive + adjective) quaeratur (hortatory subjunctive, passive verb agreeing with “origo”) tibi (dative of Agent) ”  literally meaning:
” At this time let the beginning of a friendly discourse be sought by you” where “at this time” is “hic”; “origo” means “the beginning” ;”socii” corresponds to “of friendly/common”; “sermonis” matches “discourse/conversation”; “ sought” corresponds to “quaeratur”;”tibi” means “by you”.

So, apart from the literal translation, this line means :”At this time look for  an opportunity to talk to her (i.e. the girl/woman by whom he sits)”.

Best regards,



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