Latin/grammar

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Question
Dear Maria,
Could you help me with the following (all from de Officiis)

1. Itaque quae erant prudentiae propria (143)
Does “propria” require dat. or gen.?

2. sic videndum est in vita ne forte quid discrepet, vel multo etiam magis, quo maior et melior actionum quam sonorum concentus est (145)
Could you give a literal translation? I am not sure, but it seems there are two comparisons in this sentence. I think  one is “actionum [concentus] est maior et melior quam sonorum concentus”. Does “quo” together with “multo magis” also form a comparison but what is the grammatical role of “quo”?

3. Ex oculorum optutu (146)
Couldn’t find the word “optutu” in the dictionary.

4. Quo in genere non est incommodum, quale quidque eorum sit, ex aliis iudicare (146)
According to Walter Miller’s translation, it seems that “eorum” refers to “ours” and not “others”. I thought it refers to “others”.

Thank you,
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In“Itaque quae erant prudentiae propria…” (Cicero, De Officiis, I, 143) the neuter plural “propria” (from the adjective  “proprius” meaning “peculiar”) requires  the genitive, i.e "prudentiae" in this sentence.


2.Here’s the literal translation of ”….sic videndum est in vita ne forte quid discrepet, vel multo etiam magis, quo maior et melior actionum quam sonorum concentus est..” (I, 145):
“ …so (sic) it is to  be provided/we must take care  (videndum est) so that (ne) in life(in vita) nothing (quid, instead of “aliquid” as it is preceded by “ne”) by accident(forte, adverb)sounds discordantly (discrepet), also (etiam) even (vel) much (multo, ablative of degree) more (magis), far  greater (maior)and better (melior) is (est)  harmony (concentus) of actions (actionum) than (quam) [harmony] of sounds (sonorum)”, in the sense that we must try to have no dissonance  in our life especially because harmony of actions is far better and far more important than harmony of sounds.

Therefore you are right in thinking that there are two comparisons in this sentence so that   one is “actionum [concentus] est maior et melior quam sonorum concentus”.

As for the grammatical role of “quo”, which goes  together with “multo magis” as a  form a comparison, it is used as  an ablative of Degree of Difference (AG 414) just to denote the Degree of Difference that modifies the comparatives “maior” and “melior”.


3. In “ Ex oculorum optutu…” (I, 146) the ablative singular “optutu” derives from  the masculine noun “optutus”  which is a rare variant of “obtutus” (4th declension) meaning “glance”, so that “Ex oculorum optutu/obtutu…” means “ from a glance of the eyes..”


4. In “Quo in genere non est incommodum, quale quidque eorum sit, ex aliis iudicare, ut, si quid dedeceat in illis, vitemus ipsi…” (I, 146) literally meaning:” In which (quo in) respect/in respect to this (genere) it is not inconvenient/useless (non est incommodum) to judge (iudicare) from the others (ex aliis) what is the sort  (quale) and what  [is]the nature quidque  sit) of their (eorum)[actions] so that (ut) we ourselves (ipsi)  avoid [such behaviour] (vitemus), if  anything (si quid)  is unbecoming (dedeceat) in them (in illis)”,the genitive “eorum” refers grammatically to "ex aliis" (from the others).

As you can see,  “eorum” refers  to “others”, just in the sense that it is very useful to judge  the nature of  other people’s  actions so that we can avoid what is unbecoming in them .

Best regards,

Maria

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