Latin/grammar

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

1.Quid enim potest esse tam flexibile, tam devium quam animus eius qui ad alterius non modo sensum ac voluntatem sed etiam vultum atque nutum convertitur? (93)
Is it also correct to use “se convertit” instead of “convertitur”? If so, is there any difference in meaning?

2. “horum est assentatio molesta, cum ad vanitatem accessit auctoritas.” (94)
Just want to make sure my understanding is correct: their flattery (the flattery of high position people) is troublesome when their power is added to their insincerity. I don't understand why Cicero singled out the flattery of high position people and called it dangerous.

3. “Quanta illi, di immortales, fuit gravitas, quanta in oratione maiestas! ut facile ducem populi Romani, non comitem diceres.” (96)
(a) Is the following order for translation correct: “quanta gravitas fuit illi in oratione, quanta maiestas fuit in oratione”?
(b) Which of the two is the correct understanding of the “diceres” clause: double accu. “ut facile [eum] ducem populi Romani, non comitem diceres” or accu + infinitive “ut facile [eum esse] ducem populi Romani, non comitem dicers”? Or maybe none of them is correct.

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Quid enim potest esse tam flexibile, tam devium quam animus eius qui ad alterius non modo sensum ac voluntatem sed etiam vultum atque nutum convertitur? (Cicero, De amicitia, 93)  it is also correct to use  the reflexive “se convertit” instead of  the medial-passive  form “convertitur” for there is no  difference in meaning.


2. As for  “horum est assentatio molesta, cum ad vanitatem accessit auctoritas.” (94), meaning “the flattery of these men (i.e. these high position people) is troublesome for  power is added to their insincerity”, note that Cicero singles out the flattery of high position people and called it dangerous because those men that are superiors in birth, fortune and reputation  become dangerous flatterers just because their falsity is supported by their high position, so that they can be trustworthy and then can easily influence public opinion much more than everybody else.


3.In “Quanta illi, di immortales, fuit gravitas, quanta in oratione maiestas! ut facile ducem populi Romani, non comitem diceres.” (96) it is  correct to say as a word order for translation  “quanta gravitas fuit illi in oratione, quanta maiestas fuit in oratione” literally meaning:” What  (quanta) dignity (gravitas) in speech (in oratione) belongs (fuit) to him (illi.Dative of possession depending on "fuit"), what (quanta) majesty (maiestas) in his speech (in oratione)”, i.e. “What dignity and majesty there were in his speech...”

As for “ ut facile ducem populi Romani, non comitem diceres “  the correct understanding of the “diceres” clause  is “ut facile [eum] ducem populi Romani, non comitem diceres” , literally meaning:
”how  (ut. Exclamatory adverb ) easily  (facile) you would have described (diceres) [him/ eum] as a leader (ducem.Predicate accusative) of the Roman people (populi Romani), not (non) as a  comrade (comitem.Predicate accusative).

In short, “ducem” and “comitem” are two accusatives used as Predicate accusatives along with the direct object , i.e. “eum” which is implied here (see AG 396).

Anyway, we could also say that  “ut facile [eum esse] ducem populi Romani, non comitem diceres” (how easily you could have said that he was a leader of the Roman people, not a comrade) is an accusative + infinitive, for in this context the meaning is the same.

Hope all is clear.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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