Latin/grammar

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Question
Dear Maria,
Could you please help me with the following (all from de Senectute)
(1)“delectabatur cereo funali et tibicine” (44)
Question: what is cereo? Couldn’t find it in the dictionary.

(2)“Cupidis enim rerum talium odiosum fortasse et molestum est carere,...(47)
Am I correct to think that even though “carere” takes an abl. object, “cupidis rerum talium” (to those who are desirous of such things) is not its object? So “carere” in this sentence has no object. Is this correct?

(3)“eadem, ut se erigat, claviculis suis quasi manibus quicquid est nacta complectitur; quam serpentem multiplici lapsu et erratico, ferro amputans coercet ars agricolarum,” (52)

Is eadem the subj. of complectitur? Is quam the obj. of coercet? It would help me to understand these questions if you could give a literal translation for this sentence.

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

(1)In “delectabatur cereo funali et tibicine” (Cicero, De Senectute, 44)  the word “ cereo” is the ablative singular of the adjective “cereus”  meaning “waxen, of wax”.
So, “cereo” agrees with the ablative “funali” from the neuter noun “funale” meaning “torch” and thus “delectabatur cereo funali et tibicine...” literally means “ he was delighted (DELECTABATUR) by a wax-torch (CEREO FUNALI) and a flute player(ET TIBICINE) ..”. In short, a torch-bearer and a flute player attended Gaius Duellius, who is mentioned in the previous sentence of this passage.

(2) With regard to “Cupidis enim rerum talium odiosum fortasse et molestum est carere,...(47) you are correct in thinking that, even though “carere” takes an abl. object, “cupidis rerum talium” (to those who are desirous of such things) is not its object, but the dative depending on "odiosum fortasse  et molestum est".
So, “carere” in this sentence has an implied  abl.object which  would be  “iis rebus” (such things) that would stand for “rebus veneriis” (the delights of love)  that you read in the previous phrase.
In short,  Sophocles replied  to a certain man who asked him, when he was already old, if he still indulged in the delights of love, that “for those who are eager  (CUPIDIS) for such things (RERUM TALIUM)  the want (CARERE.Infinitive used as a subject) [of them = iis rebus] is perhaps unpleasant (ODIOSUM)  and  grievous (MOLESTUM)".

(3)In “eadem, ut se erigat, claviculis suis quasi manibus quicquid est nacta complectitur; quam serpentem multiplici lapsu et erratico, ferro amputans coercet ars agricolarum,” (52) the feminine pronoun “eadem” is just  the subj. of “complectitur” and the relative accusative feminine pronoun “quam “ is the obj. of  “coercet”.

Here’s the  literal translation  that however would sound very strange in English, because of its structure:
”the same (EADEM, related to the previous subject VITIS, vine), in order to(UT. Final clause) stand erect (SE ERIGAT),  embraces (COMPLECTITUR) by its (SUIS)  tendrils ( CLAVICULIS ) like (QUASI) hands(MANIBUS being agreed with CLAVICULIS) whatever  (QUICQUID.Direct object of COMPLECTITUR) it (related t o "vine")  has found (EST NACTA from NANCISCOR) ; the workmanship(ARS)  of the farmers (AGRICOLARUM), by pruning (AMPUTANS) ) with the knife/sickle (FERRO)  it (QUAM related to VITIS, vine),  keeps within limits ([QUAM] COERCET)it (vine)which is creeping (SERPENTEM from the verb SERPO.Present participle agreed with QUAM) with various (MULTIPLICI) erratic (ET ERRATICO) running (LAPSU)”.

Note that the relative feminine pronoun QUAM  agrees  with EADEM (i.e. VITIS) and refers to what you can read in the previous sentence (eadem, ut se erigat, claviculis suis quasi manibus quicquid est nacta complectitur “).

In fact, when the antecedent is in a different sentence, the relative is often equivalent to a pronoun , i.e. the English pronoun IT related to “vine” in this context.

Hope all is clear enough.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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