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The Volo Command in Roman Comedy

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The contribution aims to show how commands and requests with volo (and nolo), e.g. volo te facere, “I want you to do [this]”, are constrained by social variables, specifically the relationship of hearer to speaker. There are 181 relevant tokens gathered from the corpus of extant Roman comedy. First, three kinds of volo command are distinguished and discussed: volo+bald infinitive, volo+accusativus cum infinitivo, and volo+finite clause with subjunctive. Second, the following are demonstrated: (1.) volo+AcI and volo+subjunctive typically convey peremptory commands; (2.) volo+bald infinitive “prefers” requests compared to the former two expressions; (3.) all three expressions tend to be used in contexts where the speaker enjoys greater authority than the hearer. To conclude, it is suggested that Plautus may use the form to support the authoritative stance of characters in Amphitruo, Casina and Captivi.

Affiliations: 1: University of Massachusetts Boston, Classics and Religious Studies


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