Latin/grammar

Advertisement


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

1.ut potestas maior absit, nemo non servus habet in te vitae necisque arbitrium (Book 1, IV.8)
Could you give a literal translation?

2. cum paupertate bene convenit dives est. (IV.11)
Is the antecedent of “cui” understood? But the antecedent is of a different case.

3. a qua professione dissimilitudo nos separabit (V.4)
What does “qua” mean here?

4. itaque providentia, maximum bonum condicionis humanae, in malum versa est. (V.8)
What is the literal meaning of  “in malum versa est”?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.Here’s the literal translation of “…..Ut potestas maior absit, nemo non servus habet in te vitae necisque arbitrium-” (Seneca, Book I, Epistle 4, section 8): “Even if/ In case (ut, introducing a concessive clause ) a greater (maior) power (potestas) is  not there,  every  (nemo non. Note that “non” after negatives  forms a strong affirmative) slave (servus) has (habet)  the power (arbitrium) of life (vitae) and death ( necisque) over you (in te)”, i.e.: ”In case you do not fear anyone who is more powerful than you, even a  slave can have the power  of life  and death over you”, just to point out that even a slave can kill you, not only someone who is more powerful than you.



2. In “ Cui cum paupertate bene convenit dives est” (Epistle 4, section 11) literally meaning :”He to whom (cui) it is well suited  (bene convenit) to poverty (cum paupertate) is rich (dives est)”  the antecedent of the relative pronoun in the dative case  “cui” is not understood, but it is expressed by “dives est” as in “Rich is the one who is well suited to poverty”, i.e.:” Rich is the man who is at easy with poverty”.


3. In “A qua professione dissimilitudo nos separabit” (Epistle 5, section 4) literally meaning:” From (a) wich (quā) way of life (professione) [our]  unlikeness  (dissimilitudo, subject) will separate (separabit) us (nos)”,  the relative “quā” is used as an adjective in the ablative agreeing with “professione” which refers to the antecedent accusatives (sensum communem, humanitatem et congregationem).
In short, philosophy promises common feelings of humanity, sympathy and sociability, but, if  we  are unlike other men, we cannot be able to  feel such sentiments.


4.In “… itaque providentia, maximum bonum condicionis humanae, in malum versa est” (Epistle 5, section 8) the literal meaning of  “in malum versa est”  is  “is transformed /turned (versa est, agreeing with "providentia") into  evil (in malum)” with reference to foresight (providentia) which  becomes an evil when we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts ahead, so that foresight, which is  the noblest good of the human race, turns into evil.

Best regards,
Maria

Latin

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

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

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.