Latin/grammar

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

1. aut si qui fuerunt Stoici paene cynici (128)
What does this sentence mean?

2. liberis dare operam (128)
Why dat. “liberis”? Is this some kind of idiom?

3. pluraque in eam sententiam ab eisdem contra verecundiam disputantur (128)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. Adhibenda praeterea munditia est non odiosa neque exquisita nimis, tantum quae fugiat agrestem et inhumanam neglegentiam (130)
Is “quae” the subj.in the “quae”-clause and “quae” refers to “munditia”? Also, I guess “odiosa” and “exquisite” modify “munditia”.

Thank you,
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.“….aut si qui fuerunt Stoici paene cynici (Cicero, De Officiis, I, 128) literally  means:
”or (aut) if (si) some (qui, i.e. “aliqui” which  when preceded by “si” can drop “ali”) Stoics (Stoici) were (fuerunt) almost (paene)  cynics (cynici)…”.
Such a phrase is preceded by “Nec ... audiendi sunt Cynici, …” literally meaning:” Nor (nec) ... the Cynics (Cynici) must be listened (audiendi sunt),or some Stoics, if they were almost Cynics…”.

In short, Cicero says that we must give no heed to the Cynics, or to some Stoics in case  they are  similar to the Cynic philosophers.


2. In “…. liberis dare operam…” (I, 128) the dat. “liberis” depends on “dare operam” meaning ”to beget”  so that “…. liberis dare operam…” literally  means “…to give (dare) care (operam) to children(liberis,dative of the plural noun  “liberi.liberorum”= children)”, i.e. “to give birth to children”.

Note that, generally speaking “dare operam” means “to give attention to”, but with the dative “liberis” means “to give birth to children”.


3.Here’s the literal translation of “… pluraque in eam sententiam ab eisdem contra verecundiam disputantur ..”(I, 128):
” and (-que) many things/arguments (plura) are being discussing /giving (disputantur) by the same [philosophers] (ab eisdem) on/ respecting/ in favour of that opinion  (in eam sententiam) against (contra)  decency (verecundiam)…”.

In short,  Cicero says that  we must pay no attention to the Cynics  or to some Stoics,  who censure us because we think that  the mere mention of some actions that are not immoral, such as  to beget children , is shameful, while  we call by their real names other things that are immoral, such as robbery, fraud, and adultery, so that we think that  to beget children is morally right, but  to speak of it is indecent. And those philosophers add many arguments in favour of that opinion and against the concept of decency.


4.In “Adhibenda praeterea munditia est non odiosa neque exquisita nimis, tantum quae fugiat agrestem et inhumanam neglegentiam” (I, 130)  “quae” is  just the subject in the “quae”-clause and  refers to “munditia”. Moreover the adjectives  “odiosa” and “exquisita” modify “munditia”.

So, “Adhibenda praeterea munditia est non odiosa neque exquisita nimis, tantum quae fugiat agrestem et inhumanam neglegentiam” literally means:
”Moreover (praeterea) a non (non) unpleasant(non odiosa) nor too (nimis) affected (exquisita) neatness (munditia) must be used (adhibenda…est), only  just  (tantum quae) to avoid (fugiat, subjunctive depending on “tantum quae”) a rude (agrestem)  and savage (inhumanam) slovenliness (neglegentiam)”.

Note that “tantum quae” related to “munditia” is a construction that introduces a kind of clause of result.


Best,

Maria

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Maria

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