Latin/grammar

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

1.ut in illo ipso forensi genere dicendi contentiones aliorum sermone vinceret (133)
Could you give a literal translation?

2. cum studiose de absentibus detrahendi causa aut per ridiculum aut severe maledice contumelioseque dicitur.(134)
I don’t know what the subj. is in this cum clause. The main verb is “dicitur”.

3. Habentur autem plerumque sermones aut de domesticis negotiis … (135)
“habentur” seems to mean “consists of”. Does “habeo” have to be passive in this meaning?

4. ut ea facere videamur irati (136)
Is “irati” adv, modifying “facere”? It seems oftentimes that what the dictionary says is an adjective can actually be used as an adverb.

Thank you,
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

Here’s the literal translation for ”…ut in illo ipso forensi genere dicendi contentiones aliorum sermone vinceret …”(Cicero, De Officiis, I, 133): “…so that (ut) even  in that (in illo ipso) forensic (forensi) sort (genere) of speaking (dicendi) he surpassed (vinceret)  with [his] conversation (sermone) the oratory (contentiones) of the others (aliorum)”, i.e.”…so that  even in  forensic eloquence he  with his conversational style  defeated the elaborate orations of the other advocates“.


2. In “….quod maxime tum solet evenire, cum studiose de absentibus detrahendi causa aut per ridiculum aut severe maledice contumelioseque dicitur”(I, 134) the subject of the 'cum' clause is implied in the impersonal verb “dicitur” just meaning “one says” or “people say” in :”… what (quod) especially (maxime) uses(solet) to occur ( evenire) at that time (tum) when (cum )one deliberately (studiose) speaks (dicitur) slanderously (maledice) and insolently(contumelioseque) about the absent (de absentibus) on purpose (causa) of injuring [them] (detrahendi) or (aut) in jest (per ridiculum) or (aut) in earnest/seriously (severe)”.


3.In “ Habentur autem plerumque sermones aut de domesticis negotiis …” (I, 135) the verb “habentur”, related to the subject “sermones” (conversations),literally means “are delivered/are uttered/ are held”  so that the sentence means:” Conversations are mostly held about private affairs..”, i.e.  “The subjects of conversation are usually affairs of the home…”.


4. In “….ut ea facere videamur irati” (I, 136) “irati”( past participle of “irascor”) is used as a predicate adjective in the nominative masculine plural referring to the subject of “videamur” and then the sentence literally means:”...so that (ut) we seem (videamur) to do (facere) these things (ea, i.e. 'obiurgationes' in the previous sentence) being angry (irati ).. “, i.e.:“so that we seem to be angry in administering reproof..."


Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

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