Latin/grammar

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

1. Non nego indulgendum illi, serviendum nego (XIV. 1)
Is “illi” or “nos” understood in the second nego-clause? In the second periphrastic conjugation sometimes we use dative and sometimes we use nominative for the subj. Could you explain a little? For example, consider the following two sentences: “This city must be defended by him” and “He must defend this city”. What case should be used for “him” in the first sentence and “he” in the second sentence? Another example of the use of dative is “Potest aliquis disputare an illo tempore capessenda fuerit sapienti res publica. (XIV. 13)” In the English translation “the wise man” is subject and in the nominative case.

2. si ea civitatis disciplina est …, gratiosi in eo viri (XIV. 7)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. Multis timendi attulit causas timeri posse (XIV. 10)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. hae litterae, non dico apud bonos sed apud mediocriter malos, infularum loco sunt. (XIV. 11)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Non nego indulgendum illi, serviendum nego”(Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XIV. 1) literally meaning “ I don't deny  (non nego) that [it is ] to be indulgent/it must be indulgent (indulgendum [esse])  to it (illi, i.e. the body. The dative “illi” depends on “indulgere” which takes such a case), I deny (nego) that it is to be slave/it must be slave (serviendum [esse]) [to it, i.e. the body]”, i.e. :“I don't deny   that we must be indulgent to our body, I deny however that we must be slaves to it”, the dative  “illi”  depending on  the verb “servire” is just understood in the second nego-clause, since it already appears in the first nego-clause, i.e. in the second or passive periphrastic impersonal construction “indulgendum illi” where the infinitive “esse” is understood.

As  for what you say about the use of  the dative and the nominative in the second periphrastic conjugation where sometimes we use dative and sometimes we use nominative for the subject, please note that both the sentences that you mention “This city must be defended by him” and “He must defend this city” correspond to Latin phrase  “Haec  ei  urbs  est defendenda” or  “Haec  illi urbs   est defendenda ” with the dative of the agent  “illi” (from “ille”)  instead of the dative “ei” (from “is”) .
In fact, in  the Second Periphrastic Conjugation, which  combines the Gerundive with the forms of “sum” , and denotes obligation/necessity, the person on whom the necessity rests must be in the Dative of the Agent (See AG 374) : hence “illi” or “ei” in the above mentioned phrase.

But, English translates “Haec  ei  urbs  est defendenda” and  “Haec  illi urbs   est defendenda “ as “This city must be defended by him”  (where “by him” is the literal translation of the dative of the Agent  “illi”/”ei” in the passive phrase ) as well as  “He must defend this city” (where the person on whom the necessity rests becomes the subject of the active sentence).

In short,in  the Second (passive)  Periphrastic Conjugation Latin always uses the dative of the Agent to denote the person who must do something,  whereas English can render active the passive phrase so that the person who must do something becomes the subject.

Another example of the use of the dative of the agent  is “Potest aliquis disputare an illo tempore capessenda fuerit sapienti res publica” (XIV. 13)” literally meaning:” Somebody (aliquis) may (potest) question (disputare) whether (an) in that time (illo tempore) public  affairs (res publica) had to be  managed (capessenda fuerit,second periphrastic with the gerundive  agreeing with “res publica”) by a wise man (sapienti, dative of the Agent, as it denotes the person on whom the necessity rests)”, i.e. in Gummere’s translation: “one may well question whether, in those days, a wise man ought to have taken any part in public affairs” where  the dative  of the agent “sapienti” has become the subject and the sentence has become in the active form.

Lastly, I have to tell you that in Latin we can imply the person on whom the necessity rests and say for example “Pugnandum est” (literally, “It has to be fought”) or  “Id faciendum est” (literally, “This must be done” ) instead of e.g. "Nobis pugnandum est"(literally,"It has to be fought by us",i.e. in the active voice "We must fight"), or “Mihi id faciendum est” (literally, “This must be done by me”, i.e. in the active voice “I must do this”) with the dative of the agent "nobis" and “mihi”.

To conclude, it's important to remember that the Latin construction of the second periphrastic is always passive, implying a sense of obligation or necessity.

So, because the Latin construction is always passive and the English is not, often the best translation of a Latin passive periphrastic entails changing the voice of the verb from passive to active in English (and making other necessary alterations in the sentence).

It's also important to remember that in Latin passive periphrastic can have a subject which in English becomes a direct object as in "Mihi id faciendum est” (literally, “This (id, subject) must be done (faciendum est) by me (mihi, dative of the agent)” which becomes in English “I must do this” where the dative of the agent "mihi" becomes the subject "I" and the Latin subject "id" becomes the direct object "this".

Latin passive periphrastic however can  also be impersonal, i.e. without a  subject as in e.g. “Pugnandum est” where there is no subject nor dative of the agent.

Hope this is clear enough.


2. “…Interdum populus est, quem timere debeamus; interdum si ea civitatis disciplina est ut plurima per senatum transigantur,gratiosi in eo viri …..”(XIV. 7) literally means:” …It is (est) sometimes (interdum) the people (populus) that (quem, direct object of “timere”) we should (debeamus) fear (timere); sometimes (interdum) if (si) the political system  (disciplina) of a city (civitatis) is (est) such (ea, adjective agreeing with “disciplina”) that (ut, introducing a result clause) most things (plurima, nominative neuter plural) are  accomplished ( transigantur) through/thanks  to the senate (per senatum), [it is ] the influential (gratiosi, nominative masculine plural agreeing with “viri”) men (viri, subject)  [who are ] in it ( in eo, i.e. in the senate) [ that we should fear, quos timere debeamus]…..”.

As you can see, there are some words that are understood in this passage, simply because the words such as “gratiosi in eo viri” (= the influential men in the senate) follow the first sentence “Interdum populus est, quem timere debeamus” from which we can understand that like it is sometimes the people that we must fear it is the influential men in the senate that we must fear.


3. Here’s the literal translation of “Multis timendi attulit causas timeri posse “ (XIV. 10):” To be possible/to be able (posse, present infinitive used as a subject) to be feared (timeri, present infinitive, passive voice) has caused (attulit) many persons (multis, dative depending on “attulit” from “affero”) the reasons (causas) of fearing (timendi, gerund genitive)”, i.e. “The fact that someone is able to inspire fear has caused /led many men to be in fear”.


4. Here’s the literal translation of “hae litterae, non dico apud bonos sed apud mediocriter malos, infularum loco sunt” (XIV. 11):” These [philosophical] studies (hae litterae, with reference to the previous phrase “Ad philosophiam ergo confugiendum est”) are (sunt) in the place (loco, ablative used adverbially) of badges of honor (infularum, from “infula”, a  sacred woollen band, white and red, worn upon the forehead by priests, victims, and suppliants, as a badge of consecration) I do not say (non dico) in the view of (apud) good men (bonos), but also (sed) in the view of (apud) those who are even moderately bad (mediocriter malos)”, i.e. :“These philosophical studies are a kind of badge of honor not only in the eyes of good men, but also in the eyes of those who are even moderately bad”.

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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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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