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

1. Non dubitare autem se quin … (XXX.14)
Why use inf. “dubitare”?

2. Illud quidem aiebat tormentum nostra nos sentire opera (XXX. 16)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. Non habemus itaque ista ocliferia nec emptorem decipimus nihil inventurum (XXXIII. 3)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. nisi inter paria legeretur (XXXIII. 4)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.In “Non dubitare autem se quin …” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XXX.14) the present infinitive “dubitare” has been used because it is the verb of the object-clause whose subject is “se”.
Note that this object–clause depends on “Dicebat ille …”, i.e. the main clause which is at the beginning of the section 14 and governs other object- clauses such as “primum sperare se…..Nullum enim dolorem longum esse, ….se dolere non posse…..“Non dubitare autem se quin ..”.

In short, “Dicebat ille….. Non dubitare autem se quin senilis anima in primis labris esset..” literally means:
”He (“ille”, i.e. Aufidius Bassus) said (dicebat) that….he (se) did not doubt (non dubitare) whether (quin) an old man's (senilis) soul ( anima) was (esset) on his very lips (in primis labris)..”, since Aufidius Bassus wanted to point out that the death of an old man like he himself is not painful because his soul is almost disengaged  from the body.

2. Here’s the literal translation of “Illud quidem aiebat tormentum nostrā nos sentire operā…” (XXX. 16):
“[Bassus] also (quidem)  said (aiebat) that we (nos) feel (sentire) such (illud) pain (tormentum, i.e. the fear of death) through our fault (nostrā  operā, ablative of cause)..”, for we are in a state of trepidation when we believe that our end is near.

3. “Non habemus itaque ista ocliferia nec emptorem decipimus nihil inventurum cum intraverit, praeter illa, quae in fronte suspensa sunt.” (XXXIII. 3) literally means:
”Therefore (itaque) we do not have (non habemus) such things/goods (ista) which catch the eye (ocliferia, neuter plural of the adjective “ocliferius”) nor (nec) do we deceive (decipimus) the purchaser (emptorem) who  will find (inventurum, future participle usesd as a predicate participle agreeing with “emptorem)” nothing (nihil), when (cum) he will have entered (intraverit) [our shop], except (praeter) those things/goods (illa) which are displayed (suspensa sunt) in the window (in front)” , with reference to the  maxims taken from the chiefs of philosophical school and the fact that he allows the purchasers themselves to get their samples, i.e. maxims, from any philosopher they please

4. Here’s the literal translation for “ …Quocumque miseris oculum, id tibi occurret, quod eminere posset,nisi inter paria legeretur…” (XXXIII. 4):
”… wherever (quocumque) you will have directed (miseris, future perfect of "mitto") your eye (oculum), that (id) will appear (occurret) to you (tibi) which (quod, relative agreeing with “id”) can (posset) stand out (eminere) [from other things], if it were not read (nisi legeretur) among (inter) equally notable things/maxims (paria, neuter plural of the adjective “par”)”, just to point out that there is a kind of common thought within a philosophical school so that "wherever you direct your gaze, you will meet with something that might stand out from the rest, if the context in which you read it were not equally notable"(Gummere).

Hence the necessity of reading the works of philosophers as a whole, not by means of separate parts. Similarly "she is  not a beautiful woman whose ankle or arm is praised, but she whose general appearance makes you forget to admire her single attributes" (See XXXIII, 5:"Non est formosa, cuius crus laudatur aut brachium, sed illa, cuius universa facies admirationem partibus singulis abstulit").  

In short, we must not pick out anything from so great a multitude of maxims equally good because only the poor man counts his flock “(See XXXIII, 4:” Non possumus….educere aliquid ex tanta rerum aequalium multitudine.Pauperis est numerare pecus”).

Best regards,



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