Dear Maria,
I have a few short questions (all from de Senectute):
(1)“Sed tamen est decorus seni sermo quietus et remissus” (28)
Is “sermo” the subject and "est" the verb? Does decorus modify sermo? Why seni and not senis (adj.)?
(2)“ut adulescentis doceat” (29)
Why adulescentis (gen.) and not adulescentum (accu.) as the object of doceat?
(3)“quam ad suavitatem nullis egebat corporis viribus” (31)
What is the subject in this sentence? Can the entire phrase “quam ad suavitatem” be the subject?
(4)"Cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae, eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est dat” (33)
Could you give a literal translation of this sentence?

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

here are my answers:

(1)In “Sed tamen est decorus seni sermo quietus et remissus” (Cicero, De Senectute, 28)  the nominative  “sermo” is the subject and "est" is the verb; “decorus” used as a predicate adjective in “est decorus” agrees with “ sermo”,  and finally  there is the dative “seni “ (from the noun SENEX) because the adjective DECORUS takes the dative.
See the literal translation:” But (SED)  however (TAMEN) a quiet (QUIETUS) and gentle ( REMISSUS) speech (SERMO) is  (EST) decorous/suitable(DECORUS)  for a old man(SENI)”

(2) In “ut adulescentis doceat” (29) the word “adulescentis” is not a genitive, but an archaic form for “adulescentes” in the  plural accusative just as the direct object of “doceat”,since the verb "docere" is constructed   with double accusative of person and thing.
Literally, “in order to (UT)  instruct (DOCEAT) young men (ADULESCENTES)”

(3)In “quam ad suavitatem nullis egebat corporis viribus” (31) the subject  of the imperfect indicative “EGEBAT”  is Nestor  who is mentioned in the  previous sentence   “videtisne, ut apud Homerum saepissime Nestor de virtutibus suis praedicet?...).
As for “quam ad suavitatem” (literally, “in regard to /for (AD) this/which (QUAM) sweetness(SUAVITATEM), please note that  the preposition AD is used here with the accusative SUAVITATEM to express purpose.
In fact, the literal translation of “quam ad suavitatem nullis egebat corporis viribus” would be:” For (AD) which/this (QUAM) sweetness (SUAVITATEM)  [Nestor] needed (EGEBAT+ the ablative) of no (NULLIS)physical ( CORPORIS, lit."of the body") strength (VIRIBUS used in the plural of VIS)”.
Note that the relative adjective QUAM (from QUI.QUAE.QUOD) agreed with SUAVITATEM refers to what you can read in the previous sentence (etenim, ut ait Homerus, ex eius lingua melle dulcior fluebat oratio" meaning "For as Homer says, “Speech sweeter than honey flowed from his tongue").
In fact,when the antecedent is in a different sentence, the relative is often equivalent to a demonstrative  as in "For (AD) which/this (QUAM)".[AG 303].

(4)Here’s the literal translation of "Cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae, eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est data” (33):
“The course (CURSUS)  of lifetime (AETATIS)  is fixed (EST CERTUS) and  only one (ET UNA) path (VIA) has been allotted [DATA EST which is at the end of the phrase] to nature (NATURAE), and that (eaque ) [“path” implied ] is (this verb  implied)  single (SIMPLEX ), and to each stage (-QUE CUIQUE PARTI)  of existence (AETATIS) has been allotted  (DATA EST) its own (SUA-) character(TEMPESTIVITAS)”.
Note that in "suaque cuique parti" the enclitic -QUE attached to SUA (possessive in the nominative feminine singular agreed with TEMPESTIVITAS) means "and"; CUIQUE is the dative singular  of the pronoun/adjective  QUISQUE (each)agreed with PARTI (dative of PARS,stage); the feminine nominative singular SUA agreed with TEMPESTIVITAS means "its own".

Hope this is clear enough.

Best regards,



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