Dear Maria,
Could you help me with the following (all from de senectute).
(1)“Atque etiam cum hominis natura morte dissolvitur”,(80)
The reason I am asking you this question is just to make sure my
understanding is correct.  Falconer translates “hominis natura” as “man”. It seems the literal translation should be “human nature”, although in terms of meaning, “human nature” seems a bit awkward. Probably there is a reason that Cicero wrote “hominis natura” instead of “homo”. Or is this also a case of “concordatio ad sensum”?
(2)“Ex quo intellegitur quales futuri sint…”(81)
What is the literal meaning of “quales futuri sint”?  
(3)“nos, si placet, nostra videamus” (81)
Could you give a literal translation of the above sentence?
(4)“quique caelestium ordinem contemplantes imitarentur eum vitae modo atque constantia” (77)
What does “eum” mean here?
Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1)In “Atque etiam cum hominis natura morte dissolvitur” (Cicero, De Senectute, 80) there is not a “concordatio ad sensum”.
In fact, when  Cicero writes “hominis natura”, he refers to the human body that dissolves by death, not to “human nature” in general.
So, here’s the literal translation:
”Moreover (ATQUE ETIAM), when (CUM) the body (NATURA) of man (HOMINIS) dissolves (DISSOLVITUR) by death (MORTE)...”.
As for Falconer’s translation, he used “man” instead of “human body”/body of man”, without pointing out the difference that we find in Cicero between “man” (composed of body and soul) and the mere body of a man.

(2)Here's the literal meaning of “Ex quo intellegitur quales futuri sint,cum se plane corporis vinculis relaxaverint”(81):

“Hence(EX QUO) we know (INTELLEGITUR. Impersonal form in the 3rd person singular, passive voice) of what nature (QUALES. nominative masculine plural related to ANIMI in ANIMI DORMIENTIUM, i.e.  the souls of those who are sleeping, that are mentioned in the previous sentence) [the souls]will be (FUTURI SINT. nominative masculine plural related to ANIMI),when (CUM) they have  been wholly (PLANE) released (RELAXAVERINT ) from the shackles (VINCULIS) of the body (CORPORIS)”.

As you can see, Cicero uses the nominative plural ANIMI (literally, “the souls”) instead of the singular ANIMUS as this noun refers to the genitive plural DORMIENTIUM (present participle). In English however it’s better to use the singular, i.e. “the soul”.
To sum up, Cicero/Cato says that, since nothing is resembling death so much as sleep, it is when the bodies sleep that the souls most clearly manifest  their divine nature and see the future, so that  it is possible to know what their future state will be when the souls have been wholly released from the shackles of the body.

(3)Here’s the literal translation of :”  Cyrus quidem haec moriens; nos, si placet, nostra videamus” (81):
“Cyrus [said] these things (HAEC) on the verge of death (MORIENS= while dying);let us (NOS) see (VIDEAMUS. Hortatory subjunctive= let us see) our things (NOSTRA), if (SI) you please (PLACET= it pleases you)”, i.e.:
“On the verge of death Cyrus said these words; anyway, let us, if you please, relate to our own history”.

In short, Cato, after mentioning the words of the dying Cyrus, who does not belong to Roman history, wants to mention some political figures of Roman history such as L.Aemilius Paulus and Cornelius Scipio Africanus (see 82) and thus says:” Let us, if you please, relate to our own history”.

(4)In “sed credo deos immortalis sparsisse animos in corpora humana, ut essent qui terras tuerentur quique caelestium ordinem contemplantes imitarentur eum vitae modo atque constantia” (77) the pronoun  “eum”  related to “ordinem” means “it” in the following  literal translation:

” But(SED) I believe (CREDO) that the immortals (IMMORTALIS = IMMORTALES) gods (DEOS) have implanted (SPARSISSE) souls (ANIMOS) in human bodies (CORPORA HUMANA) so that (UT) there were (ESSENT ) those who (QUI) would care for (TUERENTUR) the earth (TERRAS) and (-QUE) who (QUI-) while contemplating (CONTEMPLANTES) the order (ORDINEM) of the celestial things (CAELESTIUM) would imitate (IMITARENTUR) it (EUM) in the moderation (MODO. ablative of shere)  and consistency (CONSTANTIA. ablative of shere) of life (VITAE)”.

Best regards,



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