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

1. hoc enim ipsum philosophiae servire libertas est (VIII. 7)
Which word goes with “hoc ipsum”?

2. ut statim tibi solvam quod debeo et quantum ad hanc epistulam paria faciamus (IX. 6)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. quem ipse circumventum hostili custodia liberet (IX. 8)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. paravit amicum adversum vincla laturum opem (IX. 8)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.In “Hoc enim ipsum philosophiae servire libertas est” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, Epistle VIII, section 7) the neuter “hoc ipsum” goes with the present infinitive “servire” so that the sentence literally means:”this (hoc)very same(ipsum, in the neuter singular as well as “hoc” because they both refer to “servire”) to serve /to be enslaved (servire, used as a subject in the neuter gender) to philosophy (philosophiae (dat. of the person /thing to whom service is rendered) is (est) in fact (enim)  freedom (libertas, predicate noun)”, i.e.:”Serving philosophy is just freedom”.
In short, Seneca says that if we would enjoy real freedom, we must serve philosophy for the very service of philosophy is freedom.

2. Here’s the literal translation of “….ut statim tibi solvam quod debeo et, quantum ad hanc epistulam, paria faciamus “(IX. 6): “… so that (ut) I pay (solvam) immediately (statim)to you (tibi) what (quod) I owe (debeo) and, so far as concerns (quantum, adverb) this letter (ad hanc epistulam), let us render (faciamus, hortatory subjunctive) the things as equal (paria, neuter plural of the adjective “par”), i.e. "let us square the account". (Note that “paria facere” means exactly “to square the account”, i.e. ”to make certain that you have paid and received all the money that you owed or that others owed you”)”.

So,Seneca says :“If you ask how one can make oneself a friend quickly, I will tell you, provided we are agreed that I may pay my debt at once and square the account, so far as this letter is concerned” (Richard M. Gummere).

3. “ Sapiens ……habere amicum vult... … ut habeat aliquem……,quem ipse circumventum hostili custodia liberet” (IX. 8) literally means:”The wise man (sapiens)...wants (vult) to have (habere) a friend (amicum)... so that (ut) he may have (habeat) someone (aliquem).... whom (quem) surrounded(predicate participle agreeing with the accusative masculine “quem”)by/in a hostile (hostili) prison (custodia), he himself (ipse)  may set free (liberet)..”, i.e. :
“The wise man… wants to have a friend… to have someone….  whom he himself may set free when he is  prisoner in hostile hands”.

4. Here’s the literal translation of “….paravit amicum adversum vincla laturum opem……” (IX. 8): “…he has got (paravit) a friend (amicum) who will give (laturum, predicate  participle in the future of "fero", agreeing with “amicum”) help (opem) against (adversum, preposition which takes the accusative) the prison (vincla, aka vincula, neuter plural as this noun is used especially in the plural)”, i.e:" ...he has got  a friend  who will help him in case he is prisoner", but at the first rattle of the chain such a friend will desert him.

So, Seneca says that  he who regards himself only, and wants to have a friend  for this reason only, is wrong, because he who has got a friend only to have someone who can help him will soon realize that such an opportunistic  friend will desert him at the earliest opportunity.

To sum up, a true friendship does not  use a situation to get power or an advantage

Best regards,


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