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

1.non satis nosti vim verae amicitiae. (Book I, Epistle III. 2)
A bit confused about the voice (passive) of “nosti” and the case (accu.) of “vim”.

2. Isti vero praepostero officia permiscent (III. 2)
Is “vero praepostero” the abl. of “verum praeposterum”, serving as abl. of means “with inverted truth”?

3. sed quia interveniunt quaedam, quae consuetudo fecit arcana, … (III. 3)
Could you give a literal translation?.

4. Fidelem si putaveris, facies (III. 3)
Could you give a literal translation? Don’t know how to arrive at Gummere’s translation.

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.In “….non satis nosti vim verae amicitiae” (Seneca, Book I, Epistle III. Section 2) the word “nosti” (literally, “you knew”)  is not a passive voice, but the 2nd person singular of  the perfect indicative active of the verb “nosco” whose perfect is “novi” in the 1st person singular, while “novisti” is the 2nd person singular,
So, “nosti” is exactly the contracted form of  “novisti”  where the syllable “-vi-“ is dropped.

In short, the sentence literally means:” you did not sufficiently know (non satis nosti) the essence/power (vim, direct object, accusative of “vis” depending on “nosti”) of a true friendship (verae amicitiae)”, i.e.: “you do not sufficiently know the essence of a true friendship”.

Please note that the perfect  “novi”  belongs to the defective verbs such as “coepi”, “memini” and  “odi” which  have lost the Present System, and use only tenses of the Perfect, so that  “novi” is often used as preteritive verb in the sense of “I know” (as “I have learned” and then “I know”). [see AG 205. Note 2].

2. In “Isti vero praepostero officia permiscent qui..…” (III. 2) the word  “ praepostero” (usually, “praepostere”) is an adverb meaning “in a reversed order”.
As for  “vero”, it  is an adverb too which is used here  as a strongly corroborative adversative particle meaning “indeed”/ “truly”,  so that “Isti vero praepostero officia permiscent qui contra praecepta Theophrasti, cum amaverunt, iudicant, et non amant, cum iudicaverunt” literally means:
”But indeed (vero) those persons (isti) who (qui) , against (contra) the rules/precepts( praecepta) of Theophrastus (Theophrasti), judge (iudicant) when (cum) they already  had a deep affection for  [ someone] (amaverunt),  and do not have affection (et non amant), when (cum) they  have judged ( iudicaverunt) [him], [those persons] confound (permiscent) duties/ functions (officia) in a reversed order (praepostero)”, just to point out that the persons who judge someone after they became attached to him instead of getting attached to him after they have made him their friend, are certainly on the wrong path and do not follow Theophrastus rules, since we should consider a man as a friend only after we have judged him, instead of regarding him as a friend before we have put him to a test.

3. Here’s the literal translation of “…sed quia interveniunt quaedam, quae consuetudo fecit arcana, … “(III. 3): “…but (sed) because (quia) certains things (quaedam, nominative neuter plural) occur (interveniunt) which (quae , direct object, accusative neuter plural referring to “quaedam”)  custom/convention(consuetudo, nominative, subject of the relative clause)
has made (fecit) secret (arcana, predicate accusative neuter plural referring to “quaedam” and “quae”) …”, i.e.: “ but since there are certain matters that custom keeps secret…”

4. Here’s the literal translation of “Fidelem si putaveris, facies” (III. 3): ”If you will have considered (si putaveris, 2nd sing. person,  future perfect indicative active of “puto”) [him, i.e. the friend who is mentioned in the previous sentence “cum amico omnes curas, omnes cogitationes tuas misce” meaning “share  (misce, 2nd person singular, imperative) with the friend (cum amico) all (omnes) worries (curas), all your (omnes…tuas)  thoughts”] as loyal (fidelem, predicate accusative referring to “amicus”, friend), you will make (facies, future, 2nd person singular) [him loyal]”, i.e. "If you will regard him as loyal, you will make him loyal".
Hence Gummere’s free translation “Regard him as loyal, and you will make him loyal”.

Note that in “si putaveris, facies” Latin uses Future Perfect Indicative in the protasis (si putaveris) and  Future Indicative in the apodosis (facies).
[See Conditional Sentences at AG 514, B, b ].

Best regards,



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