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

1. placebit aliquod pretium contra amicitiam, si ullum in illa placet praeter ipsam.(IX. 9)
I have some difficulty in arriving at Gummers’s translation of the si-clause.

2. Hoc, mi Lucili, plerique perperam interpretantur (IX. 13)
What is the subj. of “interpretantur”, which is pl.? Does the dat. “plerique” serve as agent, meaning “[translated] by most people”? If so, “it is translated by him” should be “Hoc ei interpretatur”. Is it correct?

3. ipsam hostis sui victoriam vicit (IX. 19)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. hoc ipsum, nihil bonum putare quod eripi possit (IX. 19)
Not that clear about the grammar before the quod-clause. Why infinitive”putare”?

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.“Placebit aliquod pretium contra amicitiam, si ullum in illa placet praeter ipsam”(Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, Epistle IX. Section 9) literally means:”Some reward (aliquod pretium) in exchange of (contra, preposition which takes the accusative “amicitiam”) friendship (amicitiam) will be appreciated/will be welcome (placebit), if (si) anything (ullum, nominative neuter) is appreciated/ is welcome  (placet) in that (in illā)[friendship] [amicitiā]  in addition to (praeter, preposition with the accusative “ipsam”) [friendship,”amicitiam”] itself (ipsam, agreeing with the implied “amicitiam”)”, i.e.:
”Some reward will be appreciated in exchange of friendship, if any reward  is welcome  in a friendship in addition to friendship itself".
Hence Gummers’s translation “A man will be attracted by some reward offered in exchange for his friendship, if he be attracted by aught in friendship other than friendship itself”.

2.In “Hoc, mi Lucili, plerique perperam interpretantur” (IX. 13)the subj. of  “interpretantur” is “plerique” (nominative masculine plural) meaning “most people”, so that the Latin sentence literally means:” Most people (plerique), my dear Lucilius (mi Lucili, vocative),  incorrectly (perperam) interpret (interpretantur)  this  (hoc, direct object, neuter accusative) [phrase, with reference to the previous “Se contentus est sapiens” meaning “The wise man is pleased with himself”]“, i.e.”Most people, my dear Lucilius, incorrectly  understand such a phrase”.

3. “Ipsam hostis sui victoriam vicit “(IX. 19) literally means:”He (i.e. Stilbo) overcame (vicit)victory (victoriam) itself (ipsam) of his (sui, possessive adjective agreeing with “hostis”) enemy (hostis, genitive)”, just to emphasize that Stilbo, though his country was captured, said that he had lost anything as he had all his goods with him, i.e. spiritual goods such as justice, virtue,wisdom, prudence, and then he spoiled Demetrius victory itself  and  forced his enemy to wonder whether he himself had conquered after all.

4.In  “…hoc ipsum, nihil bonum putare quod eripi possit” (IX. 19) literally meaning:”…this thing itself (hoc ipsum, neuter ), [that is to say] to consider (putare, infinitive used as a subject with reference to “Omnia mea mecum sunt” meaning “My goods are  all with me”) as  good (bonum, predicate adjective referring to "nihil") nothing (nihil) which (quod) might (possit) be taken (eripi)“,i.e.:”.... [with me there is also] just this thing,[that is to say] to consider as a  good nothing which might be taken from me”, since Seneca wants to point out that all goods were with Stilbo, that is to say justice, virtue, wisdom, prudence and also the certainty that  nothing that might be taken from him is a good.
As you can see, the infinitive “putare” (neuter singular. Hence “hoc ipsum”)  is used as the subject of the implied “est” related to “Omnia mea mecum sunt” in the sense that together with all goods which are with Stilbo there is also the thought that what might be taken from him is not a true good.

Best regards,



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