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Question
Dear Maria,
Can you help me with the following? They are all from Seneca’s Epistles.

1. quod apud luxuriosum sed diligentem evenit, ratio mihi constat impensae. (Epistle I. 4)
Could you give a literal translation?

2. causas paupertatis meae reddam, sed evenit mihi, quod plerisque non suo vitio ad inopiam redactis (I. 4)
I have some difficulty with the part before “quod”. Is the quod-clause an abl. abs.?

3. si quando ad alios deverti libuerit, … (II. 4)
What is “deverti”?

4. quomodo obvios, si nomen non succurrit, 'dominos' salutamus, hac abierit. (III. 1)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1. “…quod apud luxuriosum sed diligentem evenit, ratio mihi constat impensae” (Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius, Book I, Epistle I, 4) literally means:
”… the account (ratio) agrees (constat) for me (mihi,Dative of Advantage) with expense (impensae, dative depending on “constat”), [which is] what (quod, relative pronoun) happens (evenit) to (apud) [the one who is ] fond of  luxury ( luxuriosum, accusative depending on "apud") but (sed)  [is ] careful (diligentem, depending on “apud”)“, i.e. :“…I am able to balance my account and  my expenses,  as you would expect from one who loves luxury,  but however  is scrupulous and tidy”.


2. In “….causas paupertatis meae reddam, sed evenit mihi, quod plerisque non suo vitio ad inopiam redactis… “(Book I,  Epistle I. 4) literally meaning:
”….I will give (reddam) the reasons (causas) of my poverty (paupertatis meae), but it happens (evenit) to me (mihi) what (quod, relative pronoun) [happens]  [evenit] to the most part of those (plerisque, dative of the indefinite pronoun “plerique”) who have been reduced (redactis, predicate past participle of “redigo”, dative agreeing with “plerisque” which depends on “evenit”) to (ad) indigence (inopiam) not (non) because of their own  fault (suo vitio, ablative of cause)“.

As you can see, the quod-clause is not an abl. abs., but simply a relative clause which works as a subject of “evenit mihi” (it happens to me).


3. In “…si quando ad alios deverti libuerit, …” (Book I, Epistle II. 4) “deverti” is the present infinitive passive of the verb “deverto”(3rd conjugation) so that the sentence literally means:
”…if  sometimes (si quando) it will be agreable  (libuerit,  fut.perf. ind act of “libet”) [to you] to turn yourself (deverti, Passive  as a  middle voice verb  where the subject of the verb is seen as acting upon itself or for its own benefit) towards (ad) other  (alios)…” [authors] ..” just to point out that Lucilius should always read  excellent authors, but, if sometimes he turns himself to other authors, he must turn back to those whom he has read before.


4. Here’s the literal translation of “…quomodo obvios, si nomen non succurrit, 'dominos' salutamus, hac abierit…” (Book I, Epistle III. 1):
”…as (quomodo) we greet (salutamus) those whom we meet casually (obvios, from the adjective “obvius”) as “sir” (dominos, predicate object), if [their] name (nomen) does not come [into our mind]  (non succurrit), at this point/time (hāc, adverb) so be  it  (abierit, hortatory subjunctive of “abeo”)…”,  just to say that we must use the terms in their strict sense so that we must call “friend” only the one who is really a friend of ours, not in the same way in which we speak of all candidates for election as "honourable gentlemen," and as we greet all men whom we meet casually as “sir”, if their name does not come into our mind.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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

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