Latin/grammar

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

1. Haec ita intellegi, possumus existimare ex eo decoro … (97)
Could you give a literal translation? I am not clear about the grammar of “Haec ita intellegi”.

2. natis sepulchro ipse est parens, (97)
I don’t understand the case of “natis”.

3. sed poetae quid quemque deceat, ex persona iudicabunt (97)
Why accu. “quemque”?

4. nobis autem personam imposuit ipsa natura magna cum excellentia praestantiaque animantium reliquarum. (97)
It seems we are comparing our “excellentia praestantiaque” with “all the other living creatures”. But why the gen case of “animantium reliquarum”.

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.“Haec ita intellegi  possumus existimare ex eo decoro quod poetae sequuntur”  (Cicero, De Officiis, I, 97) literally means:”From (ex) that (eo) decorum/propriety (decoro) which (quod) poets (poetae) follow (sequuntur) we may (possumus) infer (existimare) that these things (haec) are so perceived (ita intellegi)”, i.e.:
“That this is the common idea of propriety we may infer from that decorum which poets follow”.

Note that “Haec ita intellegi” is an object-clause, i.e. an Infinitive with Subject Accusative, depending on “existimare” which is a verb of thinking/perceiving.


2.In “natis sepulchro ipse est parens”  (I, 97) the case of “natis” is the dative  plural of the masculine noun NATUS (2nd declension) meaning “son” in the singular and  “children”, “offspring” in the plural.

Note that “natis sepulchro …. est” is a Double Dative construction (see AG 382) where “natis” is the  Dative of the person affected,  while “sepulchro” is the Dative of the Purpose.

In short, “natis sepulchro ipse est parens”  literally means:”The father (parens) is (est) himself (ipse) for a tomb (sepulchre) to children (natis)”, i.e.: “The father’s body is itself  his children's tomb“ with reference to the myth of Atreus and Thyestes.



3.In …”sed poetae, quid quemque deceat, ex persona iudicabunt…” (I, 97) the accusative  “quemque” depends on “the impersonal verb “deceat”, present subjunctive of “decet” (= “befits”,  “is fitting/suitable”) which takes the accusative(See AG 388 c ).

Therefore “ sed poetae, quid quemque deceat, ex persona iudicabunt..” literally means:”but (sed) the  poets (poetae) will judge (iudicabunt) from (ex) the character(persona) what (quid) befits  (deceat) everybody (quemque)”.



4.In  “nobis autem personam imposuit ipsa natura magna cum excellentia praestantiaque animantium reliquarum” (I, 97)the genitive  case  “animantium reliquarum” depends on the noun “praestantia” (pre-eminence, superiority, excellence) which takes the genitive, so that “animantium reliquarum” means :“over other living creatures”.

In short,“nobis autem personam imposuit ipsa natura magna cum excellentia praestantiaque animantium reliquarum” literally means:
”nature (natura)  herself (ipsa) assigned (imposuit) to us ( nobis) a character (personam) with (cum) a great (magna) excellence (excellentia, abl. of manner) and pre-eminence (praestantia, abl of manner) over other (reliquarum) living creatures (animantium)”, i.e.:
”nature herself  assigned  to us  a character blessed with  a great  excellence  and superiority over other living  creatures”.


Best regards,

Maria

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