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Question
Dear Maria,
Could you please help me with the following (all from de Senectute):
(1)“Multa in nostro collegio praeclara, sed hoc de quo agimus in primis, quod, ut quisque aetate antecedit, ita sententiae principatum tenet, neque solum honore antecedentibus, sed eis etiam, qui cum imperio sunt, maiores natu augures anteponuntur.” (64)

I apologize for asking you to give me a literal translation of this long sentence, but I have difficulty with a few parts of this sentence.

(2)“… habent aliquid excusationis, non illius quidem iustae,…”  (65)
Does the gen. “illius” mean “illius excusationis” with “est” being understood in the “non” clause?
Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,


(1)Here’s the literal translation of “Multa in nostro collegio praeclara, sed hoc de quo agimus in primis, quod, ut quisque aetate antecedit, ita sententiae principatum tenet, neque solum honore antecedentibus, sed eis etiam, qui cum imperio sunt, maiores natu augures anteponuntur” (Cicero, De Senectute, 64):
“[There are] many (MULTA. nominative neuter plural.Literally, “many things”) remarkable [things] in our (IN NOSTRO agreed with COLLEGIO) college (COLLEGIO.Ablative of place where), but (SED) first / chiefly (IN PRIMIS as an adverbial locution) this thing(HOC, nominative neuter singular) we are occupied (AGIMUS) with (DE QUO.Ablative of Subject depending on AGIMUS),[ i.e.] the fact that (QUOD .Conjunction introducing a Substantive Clause.See AG 572 ), as (UT.  Used as an adverb of manner) each (QUISQUE) surpasses (ANTECEDIT that takes the ablative AETATE) in age (AETATE.Ablative of Sphere) [ others], so (ITA) he has (TENET) the first place (PRINCIPATUM)of [saying his]decision/opinion(SENTENTIAE. Genitive depending on PRINCIPATUM), and the oldest (MAIORES NATU) augurs (AUGURES) are preferred (ANTEPONUNTUR)  not only (NEQUE SOLUM) to those that precede (ANTECEDENTIBUS,Present participle, dative plural depending on ANTEPONUNTUR) [them] in public honor (HONORE. Ablative of Sphere ), but even (ETIAM) to those (EIS) that  are (SUNT) with (CUM) power of commanding (IMPERIO)”.

Such a literal translation corresponds to:
” There are many remarkable customs in our college of augurs, but chiefly there is just the custom we are debating now, i.e. the fact that the one  who is  the oldest  has precedence in having his say, and thus the oldest augurs have precedence not only over those of higher official rank, but even over those having power of commanding”.
(Note that the “imperium”, i.e. power of commanding , was a prerogative of the consuls, praetors, dictators, masters of horse, and provincial governors only).


(2)In “… habent aliquid excusationis, non illius quidem iustae,…”  (65) “habent aliquid excusationis” literally means “ have (HABENT) something (ALIQUID)  of excuse   (EXCUSATIONIS .Genitive of the noun EXCUSATIO), and  the gen. “illius....iustae” -agreed with  EXCUSATIONIS- literally means:”not (NON)  right (IUSTAE) however (QUIDEM) .

So, “ac.... ea vitia, quae dixi, habent aliquid excusationis, non illius quidem iustae” means:” and ...those faults that I’ve mentioned have something excusable, not however acceptable”.

Best regards,

Maria

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