Latin/grammar

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

1. quem fortuna, cum quod habuit telum nocentissimum vi maxima intorsit, pungit, non vulnerat, et hoc raro (XLV.9)
Could you give a literal translation?

2. quae incussa tectis sine ullo habitatoris incommodo crepitate (XLV.9)
Is “incussa tectis” abl. abs? What is the obj. of “crepitate”?

3. ut ostendas omnibus magno temporis impendio quaeri supervacua (XLV. 12)
Grammar not clear

4. nisi quod miserior est qui hoc voluptatis causa docet quam qui necessitatis discit (XLVII.6)
What is “quod” in this sentence?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.“…..quem fortuna, cum quod habuit telum nocentissimum vi maxima intorsit, pungit, non vulnerat, et hoc raro” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XLV.9) literally means: “…[the one] whom (quem) fortune (fortuna) grazes (pungit) not wounds( non vulnerat) , and this (et hoc) rarely (raro, adverb), when (cum)  she (i.e. “fortuna” ) has hurled (  intorsit) [at him] with the greatest (maxima)  might (vi) the most harmful (nocentissimum) dart (telum) that (quod, neuter agreeing with “telum”) she had (habuit) “.

In short, Seneca says that the happy man is not the one whom the multitude deems happy, he who owns houses and wealth, but he whose possessions are all in his soul......., the one whom fortune when she hurls at him with all her might the deadliest dart that she has, may graze, though rarely, but never wound.



2. In “….quae incussa tectis sine ullo habitatoris incommodo crepitat…”  (XLV.9) “incussa tectis” cannot be an abl. abs. because “incussa (past participle of “incutio”, nominative feminine singular referring to “grandinis” which is the genitive of  the feminine noun “grando”) is just a nominative case, while “tectis” is a dative plural depending on the past participle “incussa”.
As for “crepitat” (not “crepitate”), it is the 3rd person singular, present indicative of the verb “crepito”.

So, “Nam cetera eius tela, quibus genus humanum debellatur, grandinis more dissultant, quae incussa tectis sine ullo habitatoris incommodo crepitat ac solvitur” literally means:
”For (nam) her (eius, related to “fortuna”) other darts (cetera tela)  with which (quibus)  the mankind (genus humanum)  is vanquished (debellatur), rebound (dissultant) according to the manner (more, ablative of “mos”) of the hail (grandinis) which (quae) having been hurled (incussa, nominative feminine agreeing with “quae” which refers to “grandinis”, genitive of the feminine noun “grando”) at the roofs (tectis) rattles (crepitat)  without (sine) any (ullo) harm (incommodo) of the dweller (habitatoris, genitive singular) and melts away (ac solvitur)”.

Seneca says that fortune’s  other darts , with which she vanquishes mankind, rebound just like  hail which rattles on the roof with no harm to the dwellers, and then melts away, since
the man he is talking about  takes nature for his teacher, conforming to her laws, so that no violence can deprive him of his possessions because they all are in his soul.



3. “…ut ostendas omnibus magno temporis impendio quaeri supervacua…..?” (XLV. 12) is a final clause depending on the previous  question clause “Non …curam transferes…..” so that the sentence literally means:” Shall you not  transfer (non…transferes, future of “transfero”) [your] effort (curam) to show (ut ostendas) to all men (omnibus) that superfluous things (supervacua) are searched (quaeri, present infinitive, passive form of “quaero”) with a great (magno) waste (impendio) of time (temporis)…” just to point out that men often waste life on searching what is superfluous instead of what is really important.



4. In “….nisi quod miserior est qui hoc voluptatis causa docet quam qui necessitatis discit” (XLVII.6)  “quod” goes  with “nisi” as  the conjunction “nisi quod” literally  means “except that which”/” save only that” and then the sentence”…nisi quod miserior est qui hoc voluptatis causa docet quam qui necessitatis discit” literally means:
”…save only that (nisi quod) the one who (qui) teaches (docet) this (hoc, i.e. [“ut altilia decenter secet” meaning “ to cut poultry or expensive birds correctly”) for pleasure's sake (voluptatis causā)  is more unhappy (miserior…est)  than (quam) the one who (qui) learns  (discit) [it] for necessity's sake (necessitatis [causā])”.

In short, Seneca says that is unhappy (infelix) the one who(qui) lives(vivit)  only for the purpose (huic uni rei) of cutting/carving (ut ..secet)  poultry or expensive birds (altilia, neuter plural) correctly(decenter), unless (nisi quod) it is more unhappy he who teaches this art  for pleasure's sake than he who learns it for necessity's sake .

Best regards,

Maria

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Maria

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