Latin/grammar

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

1. non magis in ipsa quicquam esse molestiae quam post ipsam (XXX. 5)
Does “ipsa” go with another word in this sentence or just by itself? The translation is “at the actual moment” but I don’t see where the “moment” comes from.

2. Haec ego scio et saepe dicta et saepe dicenda, sed neque cum legerem aeque mihi profuerunt neque cum audirem iis dicentibus qui negabant timenda a quorum metu aberrant (XXX. 7)
Is “haec” the subject of “profuerunt”? Can you give a literal translation for the part starting with “sed neque cum …” ?

3. Mors enim admota etiam imperitis animum dedit non vitandi inevitabilia (XXX. 8)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. errantem gladium sibi attemperat. (XXX. 8)
Does “sibi” refer to the defeated gladiator?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.First of all  “Bassus noster…de morte multa loquitur et agit sedulo, ut nobis persuadeat……non magis in ipsa quicquam esse molestiae quam post ipsam” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XXX. 5) literally means:
”Our friend Bassus (Bassus noster)…..talks (loquitur)a lot/ many things (multa, accusative neuter plural) about death (de morte) and tries (et agit) assiduously (sedulo) to persuade (ut persuadeat) us (nobis, dative depending on  “persuadeat”)..……that  there is (esse) nothing (non…quicquam =not... anything) of trouble (molestiae, genitive depending on the neuter pronoun “quicquam”) in [death] itself (in ipsā [morte]) rather than (magis ….quam) after [death] itself.”, i.e.: ”Our friend Bassus…. talks  a lot about death and tries hard to persuade us…. that there is nothing painful in death itself just like  there is  nothing painful after  death itself” with reference to the fact that if there is any element of fear in death, it is the fault of the dying person, and not of death itself.

As you can see, the ablative feminine singular  “ipsā” goes  just with the implied ablative “morte”, while  “the actual moment”  in Gummere’s translation   is used instead of "death" as a free adaptation of the Latin text.



2. In “Haec ego scio et saepe dicta et saepe dicenda, sed neque cum legerem aeque mihi profuerunt neque cum audirem iis dicentibus qui negabant timenda a quorum metu aberant” (XXX. 7), the nominative neuter plural “haec” (these  things/words/precepts) is either the subject of the object-clause "Haec...et saepe dicta (esse) et saepe dicenda (esse)" depending on the first main clause "ego scio.." (I know that) or the subject of the verb "profuerunt"in the  coordinate clause, so that  “Haec ego scio et saepe dicta et saepe dicenda, sed neque...profuerunt... “ literally means: “I know (ego scio) that these things (haec) have  often been said ( saepe dicta [esse]) and  must be often said (et saepe dicenda[esse], but (sed).... they were not helpful to me...”.

As for  the literal translation of “ Haec ego scio et saepe dicta et saepe dicenda, sed neque cum legerem aeque mihi profuerunt neque cum audirem iis dicentibus qui negabant timenda a quorum metu aberant”, here it is:
“I know (ego scio) that these things (haec/words/precepts) have  often been said ( saepe dicta [esse]) and  must be often said/repeated (et saepe dicenda[esse]), but (sed) they were not useful [to me ](profuerunt) in an equal degree (aeque) neither ( neque) when I was reading  (cum legerem) them (i.e. haec =these things/words/precepts that are either the subject of the object-clause depending on “scio” or the subject of the verb “profuerunt”) nor (neque) when I heard (cum audirem) [them ( haec=these things/ words/precepts) ], while were talking  those (iis dicentibus, ablative absolute) who (qui)  denied (negabant) that were to be feared (timenda [esse])  those things /words/precepts (haec, implied as a subject of the second periphrastic in the infinitive clause) from the fear (a metu) of which (quorum, genitive plural referring to the neuter plural“haec”) they were away (aberant, from “absum”)..”, i.e.:
“I know that all this has often been said and should be often repeated; but neither when I read them were such precepts so effective with me, nor when I heard them from the lips of those who were at a safe distance from the fear of the things which they declared were not to be feared” (Gummere).
In short, Seneca says that Aufidius Bassus words about death had  the greatest weight with him because, when  Bassus talked about death,  his death was just near, so that such precepts did not come from a man who was away from death and then was not trustworthy, but came from a man whose death was just imminent.



3. “ Mors enim admota etiam imperitis animum dedit non vitandi inevitabilia” (XXX. 8) literally means:”Imminent (admota,past participle, nominative feminine singular) death (mors), in fact, (nam) gave (dedit) even (etiam) to inexperienced / unskilled men (imperitis, dative plural of the adjective(substantive "imperitus") the courage (animum) not to avoid (vitandi, gerund genitive=of not avoiding) the inevitable things (inevitabilia)” with reference to the fact that imminent death often gives even to inexperienced men the courage not to avoid what is really inevitable, i.e. death.


4. In “… errantem gladium sibi attemperat” (XXX. 8) the dative “sibi” refers exactly  to the defeated gladiator who was not brave throughout the fight, but facing death becomes fearless so that he directs (attemperat)  the  irresolute (errantem)sword (gladium)[of his opponent] to himself (sibi)”


Best regards,
Maria

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Maria

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