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

1.Securi est et ex commodo migrantis minuta conquirere: (XLIX.6)
Could you give a literal translation?

2.necessitas excutit quidquid pax otiosa collegerat. (XLIX.6)
can you explain “pax otiosa”and their case?

3.si turpe est magistrum huius rei quaerere, illud desperandum est, posse nobis casu tantum bonum influere (L.5)
The part “illud …” not clear.

4. Praeter haec adhuc invenies genus aliud hominum ne ipsum quidem fastidiendum eorum (LII.4)
Does “eorum” go with “ipsum”?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.”Securi est et ex commodo migrantis minuta conquirere:…” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XLIX.6) literally means:” It is [the part] (est) of a untroubled man (securi, genitive of the adjective “securus”; possessive genitive. See AG 343 c) and travelling (et…migrantis,present participle, possessive genitive) at his ease (ex commodo) to seek for (conquirere, present infinitive used as a subject of the expression  “securi est”) less importan things (minuta, neuter plural, direct object of “conquirere”)…”, i.e. :“To seek for things  of little account is typical of a quiet man who can go wherever he likes”.



2.In “….necessitas excutit quidquid pax otiosa collegerat” (XLIX.6)  the nominative “pax otiosa” is the subject of the relative clause “quidquid …collegerat” so that the sentence literally means:”…necessity (necessitas) throws away (excutit) everything (quidquid, direct object of “excutit” as well as direct object of “collegerat”) a tranquil peace (pax otiosa, nominative) had picked up (collegerat)..” just to point out that a soldier, when danger is imminent, is forced to throw away everything he picked up in moments of peace and leisure. (See the previous phrase “cum hostis instat a tergo et movere se iussus est miles…” meaning .."when the enemy is on the back and the soldier has been ordered to move from the place..).


3.In “…..si turpe est magistrum huius rei quaerere, illud desperandum est, posse nobis casu tantum bonum influere “ (L.5) the neuter singular demonstrative pronoun  “illud …” is introducing the passive periphrastic “desperandum est” as well as the next declarative clause “posse….influere”, so that “…..si turpe est magistrum huius rei quaerere, illud desperandum est, posse nobis casu tantum bonum influere” literally means:
”…if it is shameful (si turpe est) to seek (quaerere) a teacher (magistrum) of this  thing/ art (huius rei, i.e.”bonam mentem” = a good disposition/wisdom ), it is to be despaired /we must despair  (desperandum est, passive periphrastic, impersonal construction) of this  [fact ] (illud, accusative depending on “desperandum est”. Such a demonstrative pronoun is introducing the next clause “posse…”), that  so great (tantum) a good (bonum, i.e. good disposition/ wisdom) can go (influere) into us (nobis, dative depending on “influere”) by mere chance (casu)”.
In short, Seneca says that we often feel ashamed to learn  wisdom ((erubescimus discere bonam mentem, L.5), but if it is shameful to seek  for a teacher of this wisdom, we cannot hope that so great a good can be instilled into us by mere chance.

4. In “Praeter haec adhuc invenies genus aliud hominum ne ipsum quidem fastidiendum eorum  qui….(LII.4) the genitive masculine plural “eorum” goes with “genus aliud ” which governs either the genitive plural  “hominum” or the genitive masculine plural  “eorum” which is followed by the relative pronoun “qui”.
As for "ipsum", it refers to "genus" which is also implied before "eorum".
In short, here’s the literal translation:
”Besides (praeter) these things/ categories [of men]( haec) you will find still (adhuc invenies) another (aliud ) class /kind (genus)  of men (hominum) [a class] which itself (ipsum, agreeing with “genus”) is not indeed (ne…quidem) to be despised (fastidiendum, passive periphrastic), [the class] of those (eorum) who (qui)…”, i.e. :
“Besides these categories of men (see LII.3) you will find another class of men, and a class which is not indeed to be despised, that is to say the class of those who….”, with reference to what is said in LII.3 regarding two categories of men, i.e. those who are able to  work their way to the truth without any  assistance and those who need someone else’s help.
Besides these categories of men there is  however another class of men,a class which is not indeed to be despised, that is to say the class of those who need not only a guide, but also someone who can encourage and sometimes force them.

Best regards,
Maria

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Maria

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

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

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