This relative prominence corresponds to that indicated in English by a graduated stress of voice (usually called emphasis).
a. The difference in emphasis expressed by difference in order of words is illustrated in the following passages: -
NOTE: This stress or emphasis, however, in English does not necessarily show any violent contrast to the rest of the words in the sentence, but is infinitely varied, constantly increasing and diminishing, and often so subtle as to be unnoticed except in careful study. So, as a general rule, the precedence of words in a Latin sentence is not mechanical, but corresponds to the prominence which a good speaker would mark by skilfully managed stress of voice. A Latin written sentence, therefore, has all the clearness and expression which could be given to a spoken discourse by the best actor in English. Some exceptions to the rule will be treated later.
The first chapter of Caesar's Gallic War, if rendered so as to bring out as far as possible the shades of emphasis, would run thus: -
GAUL,1 in the widest sense, is divided2 into three parts,3 which are inhabited4 (as follows): one5 by the Belgians, another6 by the Aquitani, the third by a people called in their own7 language Celts, in ours Gauls. THESE8 in their language,9 institutions, and laws are all of them10 different. The GAULS11 (proper) are separated12 from the Aquitani by the river Garonne, from the Belgians by the Marne and Seine. Of THESE13 (TRIBES) the bravest of all14 are the Belgians, for the reason that they live farthest15 away from the CIVILIZATION and REFINEMENT of the Province, and because they are LEAST16 of all of them subject to the visits of traders,17 and to the (consequent) importation of such things as18 tend to soften19 their warlike spirit; and are also nearest20 to the Germans, who live across the Rhine,21 and with whom they are incessantly22 at war. For the same reason the HELVETIANS, as well, are superior to all the other Gauls in valor, because they are engaged in almost daily battles with the Germans, either defending their own boundaries from them, or themselves making war on those of the Germans. Of ALL THIS country, one part - the one which, as has been said, the Gauls (proper) occupy - BEGINS at the river Rhone. Its boundaries are the river Garonne, the ocean, and the confines of the Belgians. It even REACHES on the side of the Sequani and Helvetians the river Rhine. Its general direction is towards the north. The BELGIANS begin at the extreme limits of Gaul; they reach (on this side) as far as the lower part of the Rhine. They spread to the northward and eastward.
Gallia est omnis d=iv=isa in part=is tr=is, qu=arum =unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aqu=it=an=i, tertiam qu=i ips=orum lingu=a Celtae, nostr=a Gall=i appellantur. H=i omn=es lingu=a, =instit=ut=is, l=egibus inter s=e differunt. Gall=os ab Aqu=it=an=is Garumna fl=umen, =a Belg=is M=atrona et S=equana d=ividit. H=orum omnium fortissim=i sunt Belgae, proptere=a quod =a cult=u atque h=um=anit=ate pr=ovinciae longissim=e absunt, minim=eque ad e=os merc=at=or=es saepe commeant atque ea quae ad eff=eminand=os anim=os pertinent important, proxim=ique sunt Germ=an=is, qu=i tr=ans Rh=enum incolunt, quibuscum continenter bellum gerunt. Qu=a d=e caus=a Helv=eti=i quoque reliqu=os Gall=os virt=ute praec=edunt, quod fer=e cot=idi=an=is proeli=is cum Germ=an=is contendunt, cum aut su=is f=inibus e=os prohibent, aut ips=i in e=orum f=inibus bellum gerunt. E=orum =una pars, quam Gall=os obtin=ere dictum est, initium capit =a fl=umine Rhodan=o; contin=etur Garumn=a fl=umine, =Ocean=o, f=inibus Belg=arum; attingit etiam ab S=equan=is et Helv=eti=is fl=umen Rh=enum ; vergit ad septentri=on=es. Belgae ab extr=em=is Galliae f=inibus oriuntur: pertinent ad =inferi=orem partem fl=uminis Rh=en=i; spectant in septentri=onem et orientem s=olem. Aqu=it=ania =a Garumn=a fl=umine ad Pyr=enae=os mont=is et eam partem =Ocean=i quae est ad Hisp=aniam pertinet; spectat inter occ=asum s=olis et septentri=on=es.
1GAUL: emphatic as the subject of discourse, as with a title or the like.
2Divided: opposed to the false conception (implied in the use of omnis) that the country called Gallia by the Romans is one. This appears more clearly from the fact that Caesar later speaks of the Gall=i in a narrower sense as distinct from the other two tribes, who with them inhabit Gallia in the wider sense.
3Parts: continuing the emphasis begun in dívísa. Not three parts as opposed to any other number, but into parts at all.
4Inhabited: emphatic as the next subject, ``The inhabitants of these parts are, etc.''
5One: given more prominence than it otherwise would have on account of its close connection with quárum.
6Another, etc.: opposed to one.
7Their own, ours: strongly opposed to each other.
8THESE (tribes): the main subject of discourse again, collecting under one head the names previously mentioned.
9Language, etc.: these are the most prominent ideas, as giving the striking points which distinguish the tribes. The emphasis becomes natural in English if we say ``these have a different language, different institutions, different laws.''
10All of them: the emphasis on all marks the distributive character of the adjective, as if it were ``every one has its own, etc.''
11GAULS: emphatic as referring to the Gauls proper in distinction from the other tribes.
12Separated: though this word contains an indispensable idea in the connection, yet it has a subordinate position. It is not emphatic in Latin, as is seen from the fact that it cannot be made emphatic in English. The sense is: The Gauls lie between the Aquitani on the one side, and the Belgians on the other.
13Of THESE: the subject of discourse.
14All: emphasizing the superlative idea in ``bravest''; they, as Gauls, are assumed to be warlike, but the most so of all of them are the Belgians.
15Farthest away: one might expect absunt (are away) to have a more emphatic place, but it is dwarfed in importance by the predominance of the main idea, the effeminating influences from which the Belgians are said to be free. It is not that they live farthest off that is insisted on, but that the civilization of the Province etc., which would soften them, comes less in their way. It is to be noticed also that absunt has already been anticipated by the construction of cultú and still more by longissimé, so that when it comes it amounts only to a formal part of the sentence. Thus, - ``because the civilization etc. of the Province (which would soften them) is farthest from them.''
16LEAST: made emphatic here by a common Latin order, the chiasmus (§ 598. f).
17Traders: the fourth member of the chiasmus, opposed to cultú and húmánitáte.
18Such things as: the importance of the nature of the importations overshadows the fact that they are imported, which fact is anticipated in traders.
19Soften: cf. what is said in note 15, p. 394. They are brave because they have less to soften them, their native barbarity being taken for granted.
20Nearest: the same idiomatic prominence as in note 1 above, but varied by a special usage combining chiasmus and anaphora (§ 598. f).
21Across the Rhine: i.e. and so are perfect savages.
22Incessantly: the continuance of the warfare becomes the all-important idea, as if it were ``and not a day passes in which they are not at war with them.''
AQUITANIA extends from the Garonne to the Pyrenees, and that part of the ocean that lies towards Spain. It runs off westward and northward.
b. The more important word is never placed last for emphasis. The apparent cases of this usage (when the emphasis is not misconceived) are cases where a word is added as an afterthought, either real or affected, and so has its position not in the sentence to which it is appended, but, as it were, in a new one.