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

1. Nam quod in conspectu dulcissimum est, id amici manus epistulae impressa praestat, agnoscere. (XL. 1)
The use of the inf. “agnoscere” is not clear.

2. Adice nunc quod quae veritati operam dat oratio incomposita esse debet et simplex (XL. 4)
Some difficulty with “quod” and “quae”.

3. haec popularis nihil habet veri (XL. 4)
Is “veri” gen. or dat.?

4. tractandam se non praebet, aufertur (XL. 4)
Is “tractandam” the object of “praebet” and “aufertur”? Is “haec popularis” in the beginning of the sentence the subj. of these two verbs?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Nam quod in conspectu dulcissimum est, id amici manus epistulae impressa praestat, agnoscere” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XL.1) the present infinitive “agnoscere” is used like an  apparent Subject (see AG 453-454) in the sense of “that is to say”, so that “Nam quod in conspectu dulcissimum est, id amici manus epistulae impressa praestat, agnoscere” literally means:”In fact (nam), what (quod) is sweetest (dolcissimum est) in the presence [of a friend], i.e. to  recognize [him], this [emotion] (id, direct object,accusative depending on "praestat") the impressed (impressa, past participle agreeing with the feminine noun “manus”) hand (manus, subject of the verb "praestat") of a friend (amici) upon [his] letter (epistulae, dative depending on “impressa”) gives (praestat) [us]”.

In short, Seneca says that the sweetest emotion that we experience when we are in the presence of a friend, i.e. the fact that we recognize him, is given to us by the impress of his  hand upon the letter that he sent us.


2. In “Adice nunc quod quae veritati operam dat oratio incomposita esse debet et simplex” (XL. 4) “quod”, meaning “the fact that”, is a conjunction depending on the imperative “Adice”(from “adicio”) in order to introduce a Substantive Clause (see AG 572), while the nominative feminine “quae” is the relative pronoun which refers to “oratio” and introduces the relative clause “veritati operam dat”.

So, “Adice nunc quod quae veritati operam dat oratio incomposita esse debet et simplex” literally means:” Add (adice) now (nunc) the fact that (quod) a speech (oratio) which (quae) attends/gives force  (operam dat) to the truth (veritati) must (debet) be (esse) unadorned (incomposita) and plain (simplex)” just to say that eloquence which serves the truth must be unadorned and plain.



3. In “…haec popularis nihil habet veri..” (XL. 4) the word “veri” is a genitive, of course. Note that "veri" could not be a dative as the dative of the 2nd declension of the adjective “verus” would be “vero”.
So, the genitive masculine singular “veri” depending on the pronoun “nihil” is a partitive genitive (AG 346) and then “haec popularis nihil habet veri” literally means:”this (haec, nominative feminine singular related to the previous “oratio”)  popular (popularis) [speech/style, i.e. "oratio"] has (habet) nothing (nihil) true (veri, partitive genitive in Latin)” just to point out that a speech which is addressed to the people  has nothing to do with the truth as it only wants to excite  the crowd.


4.In “….tractandam se non praebet, aufertur” (XL. 4) the gerundive feminine accusative singular “tractandam”, which refers to the previous “oratio”,  is the object of “praebet”, while “haec popularis ” in the beginning of the sentence is the subj. of “praebet” as well as of “aufertur”.
In short, “tractandam se non praebet, aufertur” literally means:”[the speech which is addressed to the crowd] does not offer (non praebet) itself (se) to be managed (tractandam), [but indeed ] snatches itself away (aufertur) [from discussion]”, just to emphasize that the only aim of a speech addressed to the crowd is to impress people, not to reason and discuss with them.
Note that the gerundive is often used as an adjective of necessity, duty, etc. (See AG 158.d).

Best regards,

Maria

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