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

1. Si vero exiguum erit et angustum, quo possit vita produci, id boni consulet nec ultra necessaria sollicitus aut anxius ventri et scapulis suum reddet (XVII.9)
Could you give a literal translation?

2. et occupationes divitum … (XVII.9)
Is adj.  “divitum” used here as a gen. pl. noun?

3. nisi forte his maxime diebus animo imperandum est, ut tunc voluptatibus solus abstineat (XVIII.3)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. ...visurus an aliquid deesset ex plena et consummata voluptate, vel quantum deesset, et an dignum quod quis magno labore pensaret. (XVIII.9)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.   1.“Si vero exiguum erit et angustum, quo possit vita produci, id boni consulet nec ultra necessaria sollicitus aut anxius ventri et scapulis suum reddet …”(XVII.9) literally means:” If however (if vero) [what, implied subject] by which (quo, abl of instrument) life (vita, subject) can (possit) be lived (produci, present infinitive passive) will be (erit) scanty (exiguum) and meagre (angustum) , he (i.e. “sapiens”, wise man) will consider that kind (id, used as a substantive wich is followed by a genitive as an idiomatic expressions such as “id aetatis”, “id temporis” =  that age/ that time) of good (boni, genitive depending on “id”) [and without being ] worried (nec sollicitus) or anxious (anxius) beyond (ultra, preposition which takes the accusative “necessaria”) the necessaries of life (necessaria, accusative neuter plural), he (i.e. “sapiens”) will grant (reddet) their own (suum)  to [his] belly (ventri, dative singular of “venter”) and [his] shoulders (scapulis, dative plural)…”, i.e. “:” If however  wise man’s means of existence are meagre and scanty, he will be satisfied with them, and without being anxious or worried beyond the bare necessities, he will grant food to his belly and clothing to his shoulders…”.

2. In “…et occupationes divitum …” (XVII.9) the adjective  “divitum” in the genitive plural is used here  to mean “of the rich” / of rich men” just to say that the wise man will laugh at the useless bustling of rich men.


3. “…nisi forte his maxime diebus animo imperandum est, ut tunc voluptatibus solus abstineat…” (XVIII.3) literally means:”…unless perhaps (nisi forte) especially (maxime) in these days (his…diebus) it must be commanded /we must command (imperandum est, second periphrastic, impersonal construction) [to] the soul (animo, dative depending on “imperandum”) to (ut, introducing a final clause) abstain alone (solus) on that occasion (tunc)  from pleasures (voluptatibus)…”, i.e.:”…unless perhaps especially in these days [of  the Saturnalia, i.e. a general festival in honour of Saturn, beginning on the 17th of December and lasting several days until 23]we must command our soul to just then abstain alone from pleasures…” with reference to the Saturnalia when the whole mob abandoned itself to pleasures, while the wise man is alone in refraining from pleasures.


4. “ ...visurus an aliquid deesset ex plena et consummata voluptate, vel quantum deesset, et an dignum quod quis magno labore pensaret..” (XVIII.9) literally means:” …in order to see (visurus, future participle used here as a final clause) whether (an) something (aliquid) was away (deesset) from (ex) full (plena) and complete (et consummate) pleasure (voluptate),or (vel) how much (quantum) it was away (deesset), and whether (an) [this  was ] worth (dignum, referring to “aliquid”) that (quod) somebody(quis, instead of “aliquis”) compensated it (pensaret) with a great labor (magno labore)..”.
In short, Seneca says that Epicurus, the teacher of pleasure, had stated some days when he scarcely satisfied his hunger just to see whether this way  full and complete pleasure was lacking anything or how much pleasure was lacking something, and finally whether this lack had to be paid at the price of great effort.

Best wishes,

Maria

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Maria

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