Latin/grammar

Advertisement


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

1. Quibus vellem satis cognita esset nostra sententia. (II. 7)
Does “quibus” mean: “esset cognita quibus [known to them]? But the strange thing is that the word “them” has never been explicitly said but only understood since the beginning of this paragraph, which is, as you said, an impersonal structure. Is my understanding of “quibus” correct?

2. Non enim sumus ii, quorum vagetur animus errore nec habeat umquam quid sequatur. (II.7)
Is the obj. of “habeat” and the antecedent of “qui” understood?

3. Contra autem omnia disputantur a nostris, quod hoc ipsum probabile elucere non possit (II.8)
(a)Is “contra Omnia” the subj. of “disputantur”?
(b)Is “probabile” a n. adj, modifying “hoc ipsum”? and “hoc ipsum probabile” means “this very thing “probable””?

4. Tibi autem, mi Cicero, quamquam in antiquissima nobilissimaque philosophia Cratippo auctore versaris iis simillimo, … (II. 8)
Is “Cratippo auctore” abl. abs.? What is “iis simillimo”?

Thank you,
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Quibus vellem satis cognita esset nostra sententia” (Cicero, De Officiis, II. 7) the relative pronoun in the dative plural “quibus” (literally, “to whom”) in the beginning of this paragraph refers to  those  “learned   and erudite men“ who are asking Cicero whether he is quite consistent in his conduct.  
As you know, in fact, Latin uses frequently the relative pronoun to link two or more sentences.

As for the  impersonal structure “occurritur” followed by “a doctis et eruditis quaerentibus”, it is quite common in Latin, but corresponds to a personal construction such as here “docti et eruditi occurrunt nobis et quaerunt …”, i.e. :“ learned   and erudite men object to us and ask…...”.

So, “Quibus vellem satis cognita esset nostra sententia” literally means: “to whom (quibus) I wish (vellem, Optative Subjunctive ) our (nostra)  opinion (sententia)  is quite known (satis cognita esset)”,i.e. “I really wish that learned  and erudite men had a proper understanding of my opinion...”.




2. In “Non enim sumus ii, quorum vagetur animus errore nec habeat umquam quid sequatur” (II.7) the obj. of “habeat”  is the indirect question clause “quid sequatur”, so that the “Non enim sumus ii, quorum vagetur animus errore nec habeat umquam quid sequatur” literally means:”In fact (enim) we are not (non sumus) those (ii) whose (quorum) mind (animus) wanders (vagetur) in uncertainty (errore) and never (nec…umquam) has (habeat) what (quid) it (referring to “animus”, mind) can follow (sequatur) ”, i.e. “We, in fact, are not those men whose mind wanders aimlessly and never knows what  it is right to do”.



3. Note that in “ Contra autem omnia disputantur a nostris, quod hoc ipsum probabile elucere non possit …”(II.8):

(a)“omnia” (all things) is the subj. of “disputantur”, while “contra” is an adverb meaning “on the other hand”.

(b)“probabile” is just  a neuter adj, modifying “hoc ipsum”, so that  “hoc ipsum probabile” means “this very thing “probable”, “i.e. “just what is “probable”, with reference to the so-called “probable” (See II. 7, last lines:” sic ab his dissentientes alia probabilia, contra alia dicimus.….” literally meaning:” so differing from those (sic ab his dissentientes)  we say (dicimus) that some things (alia)  [are] probabile (probabilia), but(contra) others (alia) [are improbabile]”.

In short, Cicero talks about the difference among the "certain"/the concept of "certainty", the "uncertain"/"the concept of uncertainty"  and the "probable"/"the concept of probability".


4. In “Tibi autem, mi Cicero, quamquam in antiquissima nobilissimaque philosophia Cratippo auctore versaris iis simillimo, …” (II. 8) “Cratippo auctore” (literally, “being Cratippus [your] teacher/master/guide]” is an abl. abs.

As for  “iis simillimo”, note that the adjective “simillimo” is an ablative agreeing with “Cratippo auctore”, while “iis” is the dative plural depending on “simillimo” as the adjective “similis” takes the dative.

Therefore “…quamquam in antiquissima nobilissimaque philosophia Cratippo auctore versaris iis simillimo” literally means:” although (quamquam) you are involved (versaris) in the most ancient (in antiquissima) and celebrated (nobilissimaque) philosophy (philosophia) with Cratippus as your master /being Cratippus your teacher/ with Cratippus guide (Cratippo auctore) [who is ] very similar (simillimo, agreed with the abl. “Cratippo”) to those (iis) who (qui) ….”


Best regards,

Maria

Latin

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

Education/Credentials
I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.