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

1. Haec vox illi communis est cum Stoico (IX. 19)
What is “illi”?

2. Tota aetas partibus constat et orbes habet circumductos maiores minoribus (XII. 6)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. Quid enim hac voce praeclarius quam illi trado ad te perferendam? (XII. 10)
I have some difficulty with "quam illi trado ad te perferendam".

4. Sic verus ille animus et in alienum non venturus arbitrium probatur (XIII. 1)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Haec vox illi communis est cum Stoico” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, Epistle  IX. Section 19) the dative singular  “illi” refers to Stilbo and depends on “communis est” for the literal translation of “Haec vox illi communis est cum Stoico” reads as follows:
”This saying (haec vox) is (est) common (communis) to him (illi, i.e. Stilbo) together with (cum) a Stoic (Stoico, ablative depending on “cum”)”.
Note that, when Seneca says that this saying is common to Stilbo and a Stoic philosopher, he refers to Stilbo’s saying “My goods are all with me” (Omnia mea mecum sunt) as such a way of thinking is just the same as the Stoics.


2. Here’s the literal translation of “Tota aetas partibus constat et orbes habet circumductos maiores minoribus” (XII.6):”The whole (tota)  time of life (aetas)is composed (constat) of parts (partibus, ablative depending on “constat”) and has (et ..habet)  larger /greater (maiores) circles (orbes) surrounded (circumductos)  by smaller (minoribus) [circles]“, just to say that our time of life consists of large circles enclosing smaller from  birth to the last day of existence (a natali ad diem extremum), i.e. childhood, manhood and old age through days, months and years.



3. In “Quid enim hac voce praeclarius quam illi trado ad te perferendam?”  (XII. 10) literally meaning :”In fact (enim) what (quid) [is] more noble (praeclarius) than  this  saying (hac voce, ablative of comparison)  that (quam, direct object depending on "trado", accusative feminine referring to the feminine noun “vox”) I commit (trado) to it (illi, i.e. to the letter that Seneca  is addressing to Lucilius), [a saying] which must be  reported (perferendam, accusative feminine of the gerundive referring to “quam”, i.e. "to this saying") to you (ad te)”, the relative clause "quam illi trado ad te perferendam", where the relative pronoun “quam” in the accusative feminine refers to  the feminine noun “vox” (saying) and depends on the verb “trado”, aims at explaining the previous phrase "Quid enim hac voce praeclarius...".

In short, Seneca says that there is nothing  more noble than the saying that he commits to his epistle which must report it to Lucilius, i.e.  " Malum est in necessitate vivere; sed in necessitate vivere necessitas nulla est” (It is bad to live under constraint; but no man is constrained to live under constraint) that you can read after “...quam illi trado ad te perferendam?”.
 

4. Here’s the literal translation of “Sic verus ille animus et in alienum non venturus arbitrium probatur” (XIII. 1): “In such a manner (sic) is proved /is tested (probatur) that (ille) spirit (animus) true  (verus) and (et)that will never come  (non venturus, future participle agreeing with “animus”) under (in + the accusative) someone else’s (alienum, adjective agreeing with “arbitrium”)  jurisdiction (arbitrium)”, i.e.: “It is only in this manner that  the true spirit can be tested,  the spirit that will never come under the jurisdiction of others” just to emphasize that our powers can never inspire in us a faith in ourselves unless we have faced   many difficulties.

Best regards,

Maria  

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