Latin/grammar

Advertisement


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

1. quae enim querela est, quod incommodum, si quidquid debebat desinere defecit? (XXVI. 3)
Does “quod” here mean “because” or “id, quod (relative pron.)”?

2. Vergilius noster vatis inducit iam concitatae et instigatae multumque habentis se spiritus non suiXXVIII. 3)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. Magis quis veneris quam quo interest (XXVIII.4)
I cannot get the Gummere’s translatioin for the word “veneris”.

4. Spargenda manus est: non potest fieri ut non aliquando succedat multa temptanti.(XXIX. 2)
Is “manus” abl.? Not clear about the grammar of “multa temptanti”.

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Quae enim querela est, quod incommodum, si quidquid debebat desinere, defecit?” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XXVI.3) the word “quod”  does not mean “because” nor “id, quod (relative pron.)”, but “which” as a neuter interrogative adjective agreeing with “incommodum”, so that the sentence literally means:
”Which (quae, interrogative adjective agreeing with the feminine “querela”) complain (querela) there is (est), which (quod, interrogative adjective agreeing with the neuter “incommodum”) disadvantage (incommodum) [there is], if (si)whatever (quidquid) ought (debebat) to come to an end (desinere), has failed (defecit)?“, with reference to those  energies  that are failing because of old age as they must inevitably come to an end.   



2. "Talem nunc esse habitum tuum cogita, qualem Vergilius noster vatis inducit iam concitatae et instigatae multumque habentis in se spiritus non sui..." (XXVIII. 3)literally means:
"Think (cogita, present imperative) that your behaviour (habitum tuum)is (esse) now (nunc) just like that (qualem)our Vergilius (Vergilius noster) represents /describes (inducit) of the prophetess (vatis, genitive singular of "vates" which can be either masculine or feminine noun)who is  excited (iam concitatae, past participle agreeing with the feminine noun "vatis" in the genitive) and goaded into fury (et instigatae,past participle agreeing with the feminine noun "vatis in the genitive), and contains (et...habentis, present participle agreeing with the feminine noun "vatis in the genitive) within herself (in se)  much inspiration (multumque...spiritus, where "multum" is followed by the partitive genitive "spiritus".See AG 346)that is not her own (non sui, possessive adjective agreeing with the  partitive genitive "spiritus")...".



3. "Magis quis veneris quam quo interest (XXVIII.4)literally means:"It matters /it is important (interest) who/ what sort of a person / in what mood(quis) you came(veneris, pluperfect subjunctive, 2nd person singular) more (magis)than (quam) where/the place to which (quo,adverb of place to which ) you came(veneris, as this verb refers  to "quis" as well as to "quo")", i.e.: " The person you are matters more than the place where you came": hence the Gummere’s translation "The person you are matters more than the place to which you go" where the pluperfect subjunctive "veneris" has been translated "you go" instead of "you came".  

In short, Seneca points out that long travel and many changes of scene cannot remove  our gloom, since we must change our mind, not the place where we live, so that it is important our mood, not the place where we came and thus we must not render our mind a servant to a place.




4. In "Spargenda manus est: non potest fieri ut non aliquando succedat multa temptanti"(XXIX. 2)the word "manus" is a nominative singular, while "temptanti" is a present participle in the dative case depending on "succedat" and governing the neuter accusative plural "multa".

So, the sentence literally means:"A [helping]hand (manus)is to be lent/given (spargenda est, passive periphrastic): it cannot (non potest) happen (fieri)that it is not sometimes successful(ut non aliquando succedat) to the one who tries (temptanti, dative depending on "succedat") many things/attempts (multa, direct object)", i.e. "We must help people:it is impossible that one who tries often does not sometimes succeed."

Best regards,
Maria  

Latin

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

I am an expert in Latin Language and Literature and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning this matter.

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

Education/Credentials
I received my Ph.D. in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.