Latin/grammar

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

1. Quid est quare ego ulla verba coram amico meo retraham? quid est quare me coram illo non putem solum? (III. 3)
Maybe my understanding is incorrect. But it seems to me that the first sentence implies that “I should talk freely with my friends.” And the second sentence implies “I should regard myself as alone in my friends’ company” The two sentences seem to contradict each other.  

2. ne sibi quidem credituri interius premunt omne secretum (III.4)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. Nulli potest secura vita contingere qui de producenda nimis cogitate (IV.4)
Is “vita”, serving as the obj. of “producenda”, understood?

4. Plerique inter mortis metum et vitae tormenta miseri fluctuantur (IV.5)
What is “miseri”?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.The passage “Quid est quare ego ulla verba coram amico meo retraham? quid est quare me coram illo non putem solum? “(Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, Epistle III. Section 3)   literally meaning:” What is the reason (quid est ) why (quare) should I keep back (retraham) any words (ulla verba) in the presence of (coram which takes the abl.) my friend (amico meo)? What is the reason (quid est ) why (quare) should I not regard (non putem) myself  (me) as alone (solum, predicate accusative referring to the direct object “me”) in his presence (coram illo)?” wants to point out that one should talk freely with his friends and  should regard himself as alone when in their company , just to emphasize that he feels himself becoming one with his friend, so that he can talk freely with a friend as well as with himself when he is alone.
Therefore the two sentences “I should talk freely with my friends” and “I should regard myself as alone in my friends’ company” do not contradict each other, but point out that there is a true empathy between two friends.


2. “….ne sibi quidem credituri interius premunt omne secretum…” (III.4) literally means:”…they hide (premunt) ) all secret (omne secretum)  in  their more inner part (interius, adverb in the comparative) [being] about to trust (credituri, First periphrastic conjugation, Future Participle in the nominative masculine plural referring to the subject of “premunt”)  not even (ne…quidem) themselves (sibi, dative depending on “credituri”)..”, just to say that some people would like to hide their secrets deep in their hearts as they do not trust even themselves.


3. “ Nulli potest secura vita contingere qui de producenda nimis cogitat…” (IV.4) literally means:” A peaceful  (secura) life (vita, subject) can (potest) happen (contingere) to nobody (nulli, dative singular of “nemo” ) who (qui) thinks (cogitate)  too much (nimis) about (de, introducing the ablative of Relation) [life ] which must be lengthened  (de producendā [vitā], gerundive ablative)…”, i.e.: ” No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it..”.

Note that the nominative “vită” serves as the subject of “potest”, while the implied  ablative “vitā” is used as an ablative of Relation with the gerundive implying obligation in “de producendā [vitā]”, (literally, "about the life which must be lengthened".See AG 503)




4. In “ Plerique inter mortis metum et vitae tormenta miseri fluctuantur…” (IV.5) literally meaning:” Most (plerique) waver (fluctuantur) sad (miseri, nominative masculine plural of the adjective "miser" agreeing with the subject “plerique”. It is a predicate nominative) between (inter)  the fear (metum) of death (mortis) and the hardships (tormenta) of life (vitae)..”, i.e.: “Most men waver sadly between the fear of death and the hardships of life...”, the adjective  “miseri” in the nominative masculine plural is used as a predicate referring to the subject  “plerique”.
Such an adjective can also be translated as an adverb.

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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