The Comparative Degree of the Adjective

The Comparative Degree of the adjective compares the degree to which on entity possesses a quality with the degree to which the same quality is possessed by another entity.  Thus, you can say, "Sarah is smart, but Linda is smarter."   Or, "Elephants are is more powerful than rabbits."  In the first example, the "smartness" of Linda and Sarah is compared; in the second, the smartness of elephants and rabbits as groups.  Whenever we make such comparisons in Latin we use the comparative form of the adjective and the proper English translation is to use "-er" or "more" according to English idiom.  Note that when specific comparisons are explicit, you may use quam like the English word "than"clariora quam lux or you may use the Ablative of Comparisonclariora luce.   Both of these Latin sentences = "[things] clearer than light"

In Latin, however, one may also use the comparative degree to compare an entity with the norm or the average.  In such cases, you the norm or average is always implied.  As a result, the translation into English does not usually use the "-er" or "more" idioms.  Instead, you say, "Jones is rather tall" or "Jones is pretty tall" or "Jones is kind-a tall." In all cases you mean, "Jones is taller than average", which is the essential meaning of the comparative without an explicit comparison.  NOTE: when you say "taller than average" you have, in effect, divided people into two groups:  taller than and shorter than.  Latin altior = "he belongs to the 'taller than' group."  Any translation that makes sense is allowed under these circumstances.  In fact, you might consider more exactly what the principle or standard of division is.  In Latin the following standards are also common:

The right and proper, or the ethical norm:  If Jones is taller "than what is right or proper," he is "taller than he should be" or "Too Tall Jones."  Thus, the comparative degree in Latin offers the speaker some playful resources, just like English:   consider "too cool."

The expected:  "taller than expected" = "surprisingly tall."

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