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September 11, 2007


When people say in medias res, they're not speaking Latin, they're using a borrowed Latin phrase which now has a fixed meaning in English that's different from its Latin origin.

I don't think they're under any compulsion to follow Latin grammar, just as legal scholars can use stare decisis and habeas corpus as nouns.

Sed si quis vere Latine loqui velit, sine dubio illi necesse sit "in mediis rebus" dicere.

We can stake out a middle and, in my opinion, better position here. Neither demand "rebus" (which deprives us of the fun of quoting Horace verbatim) nor tolerate "begin in medias"; rather in an English context we can use an appropriate verb. So Byron says

"Most epic poets plunge ‘in medias res’" (Don Juan)

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