Latin/grammar

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Question
Dear Maria,
Could you please help me with the following sentences, all from de Amicitia:
1. “atque ut tamquam a praesentibus coram haberi sermo videretur.” (3)
Can you give a literal translation of this sentence?

2. “Catonem induxi senem disputantem, quia nulla videbatur aptior persona quae de illa aetate loqueretur quam eius qui et diutissime senex fuisset et …” (4)
Is “persona” understood after “eius”?

3. “Tu autem, Fanni, quod mihi tantum tribui dicis” (9)
I thought we need an infinitive (passive) “tribueri”, but “tribui” does not seem to be an infinitive. Do we have the accu.+infinitive structure after “dicis”?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.Here’s the literal translation of “...atque ut tamquam a praesentibus coram haberi sermo videretur.” (Cicero, De amicitia, 3):
”and (ATQUE)so that(UT) the conversation(SERMO) seemed (VIDERETUR.Personal construction.Final clause) to be held (HABERI.Passive infinitive present) by (A) persons who were present (PRAESENTIBUS.Ablative of Agent) like as (TAMQUAM) face to face (CORAM, used as an adverb)”, i.e. :
“in order to create the impression that the conversation was held  among people that were present and were speaking in person”.


2.In  “Catonem induxi senem disputantem, quia nulla videbatur aptior persona quae de illa aetate loqueretur quam eius qui et diutissime senex fuisset et …” (4) the term “persona” is just understood after “eius”, i.e. “quam eius [persona]”, where “persona” is the  the second member of the comparison whose first member is “nulla .... aptior persona”.

Please note that  the comparative (“aptior” in this context) may be followed by QUAM (than) and when QUAM is used, the two things compared are put in the same case, i.e. in the nominative in this sentence where the first member of the comparison is just the nominative “nulla .... aptior persona”, while the second member is “eius [persona]” in the same case (nominative).


3. In  “Tu autem, Fanni, quod mihi tantum tribui dicis...” (9) the verb “tribui”  is exactly a passive infinitive present of the verb TRIBUO  which belongs to the 3rd conjugation, NOT to the 2nd.conjugation like e.g. MONEO whose passive infinitive present is MONERI.

In short, the verbs of the 3rd.conjugation add  the ending “–i “ to the present stem to form the infinitive present passive (see “tribu-i” or “leg-i”), while the verbs of the 1st, 2nd and 4th conjugation add the ending “-ri” as in “ama-ri”, “mone-ri” and “audi-ri”.

Finally there is  exactly the accusative+infinitive structure after “dicis”  as “Tu autem, Fanni, quod mihi tantum tribui dicis quantum ego nec agnosco nec postulo...” literally means :
”You (TU) then ( AUTEM), Fannius (FANNI), since (QUOD.Causal conjunction) you say (DICIS) that so great [merit] (TANTUM)  is ascribed (TRIBUI) to me (MIHI) such as (QUANTUM) I  (EGO) neither (NEC) admit (AGNOSCO) nor  (NEC) request (POSTULO)...”, i.e.:
“as for your saying that so great merit is ascribed to me such as I neither admit nor request ...”.

Hope all is clear enough.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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

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