Latin/grammar

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

1. "…Miserrima …. est ambitio honorumque contentio,  de qua praeclare apud eundem est Platonem..” (I, 87)
This is a follow-up question. It seems “ambitio honorumque contentio” is treated as a sing. f. because of the use of “est” and “de qua”. Grammatically speaking, my understanding of the first half of the sentence is: “ambition honorumque contention est miserrima”. In other words, “ambition honorumque contention” is the subject, “est” the verb, and “miserrima” the predicate adj. Am I correct?

2. modo ne laudarent iracundiam et dicerent utiliter a natura datam.(89)
Is “iracundiam” understood after “dicerent” and with “datam” form accu.+inf. structure? To make sure I understand the meaning, does this sentence imply that Peripateticis praised anger (iracundiam)?

3. Atque etiam in rebus prosperis et ad voluntatem nostram fluentibus … (90)
Is “in rebus” understood after “et”?

4. Panaetius quidem Africanum auditorem et familiarem suum solitum ait dicere (90)
Is “solitum” an adv.? Why is it in neuter form? I thought it refers to “ait” and therefore to “Panaetius”.

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

In "…Miserrima...est ambitio honorumque contentio,de qua praeclare apud eundem est Platonem..” (Cicero, De Officiis,I,87) you are correct in thinking that “ambitio honorumque contentio” is treated as a singular feminine.

This happens because “ambitio honorumque contentio” is a hendiadys, i.e."a figure of speech in which a single complex idea is expressed by two words (“ambitio” and “ contentio”) connected by a conjunction (-que) and used as a singular form".

Concerning this, note that the Late Latin hendiadys  derives from ancient Greek ἕν διὰ  δυοῖν,transliterated as “hčn diŕ dyňin”( literally, “one through two”.)

In short, grammatically speaking, “ambitio honorumque contentio” is the subject in the singular, “est” is the verb, and “miserrima” the predicate adj.



2.In “… modo ne laudarent iracundiam et dicerent utiliter a natura datam” (I, 89) the accusative “iracundiam”(or better the pronoun "eam" which stands for "iracundiam") is understood after “dicerent” and goes with “datam” form in the accu.+inf. Structure, so that the sentence literally means:
”….if only they did not praise (modo ne laudarent) anger (iracundiam) and tell (dicerent) that it [eam, i.e. iracundiam] has been given (datam [esse]) beneficially by nature (a natura)”.

Therefore this sentence  implies that the Peripatetics praise anger (iracundiam), though they like moderateness (mediocritatem), i.e. “that happy mean which lies between excess and defect”(mediocritatem illam… quae est inter nimium et parum).




3.In “Atque etiam in rebus prosperis et ad voluntatem nostram fluentibus …” (I, 90) “in rebus” is not understood after “et” simply because the present participle “fluentibus” is used as a predicate adjective agreed with “rebus”, so that “Atque etiam in rebus prosperis et ad voluntatem nostram fluentibus” literally means:
” And also(atque etiam) in favourable(prosperis) things/circumstances(rebus) and (et)going/ flowing (fluentibus)according to (ad) our (nostrum) wish(voluntatem)…”, i.e.:
“And also when circumstances are favourable and flow according to our wishes…”.




4.In “Panaetius quidem Africanum, auditorem et familiarem suum, solitum ait dicere..” (I,90)  “solitum” is not  an adverb, but stands for “solitum esse”, past infinitive of “soleo”, Semi-Deponent verb.

In short, here’s the construction of the sentence: “Panaetius quidem  ait Africanum, auditorem et familiarem suum, solitum esse dicere”, where “Panaetius quidem  ait” is the main clause, while “Africanum, auditorem et familiarem suum, solitum esse dicere” is  the accu.+inf. Structure, so that here’s the literal translation:
”Panaetius in fact (quidem) tells (ait)  that Africanus (Africanum), his (suum) pupil(auditorem)  and friend (familiarem), used (solitum esse) to say (dicere…”.

Best regards,

Maria

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