Latin/grammar

Advertisement


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

1. Ad summam sapiens eris, si cluseris aures, quibus ceram parum est obdere: firmiore spissamento opus est quam in sociis usum Ulixem ferunt (XXXI.2)
Could you give a literal translation for the part starting with “quibus”?

2. Surdum te amantissimis tuis praesta (XXXI.2)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. in eorum numero habitus (XXXI.3)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. in totum iam per maxima acto viro turpe est etiam nunc deos fatigare (XXXI.5)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “Ad summam sapiens eris, si cluseris aures, quibus ceram parum est obdere: firmiore spissamento opus est quam in sociis usum Ulixem ferunt” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, XXXI.2) the literal translation for the part starting with “quibus” is the following:”…in which (quibus, referring to the previous plural “aures”, i.e. “ears”) to put (obdere, present infinitive used as a subject) wax (ceram)   is (est) not enough (parum, adverb): there is (est)  need (opus ) of a denser ( firmiore, comparative in the abl agreeing with “spissamento”) stopple (fissamento, ablative depending on the impersonal construction “opus est”) than (quam)  [that, i.e. “fissamento”, stopple] people say (ferunt) that  Ulysses (Ulixem, subject of the object-clause depending on “ferunt”) has used (usum[esse], past infinitive of “utor”) in/for his companions (in sociis)”,  with reference to Ulyxes and siren songs, when Ulixes closed his companions ears with wax.
In short, Lucilius will be a wise man, if he will stop up his ears by using a denser stopple than that which  is said that Ulysses used for his comrades.




2. Here’s the literal translation for “Surdum te amantissimis tuis praesta “(XXXI.2): “ Show (praesta, 2nd person singular, imperative) yourself (te, direct object, accusative) deaf (surdum, predicate adjective agreeing with the personal pronoun  “te”) to your (tuis) fondest  (amantissimis, dative plural) [friends]”, i.e. “Be deaf to those who love you most of all”(Gummere) with reference to the fact that these persons often wish us bad things, though they have  good intentions ( “bono animo mala precantur”).


3. “…nisi contemptus est labor et in eorum numero habitus quae neque bona sunt neque mala….” (XXXI.3) literally means:”… if  toil has not been despised (nisi labor contemptus est) and has been counted (et habitus [est]) in the number (numero) of those things (eorum, genitive neuter plural) which (quae, neuter plural) are (sunt) neither (neque) good (bona) nor (neque) bad (mala) …” with reference to the fact that we must desire the  only one good, i.e. trust in ourselves (sibi fidere), but we cannot reach it, unless we have learned not to bustle in vain, since instead we must work hard and struggle for virtue (xxi, 4: “..ad honesta nitentes”).


4. Here’s the literal translation for “…in totum iam per maxima acto viro turpe est etiam nunc deos fatigare” (XXXI.5):”…to still importune (etiam nunc, adverb ..… fatigare, present infinitive , subject of “turpe est”)  the gods (deos) is shameful (turpe est)  for a man (viro, dative) who has entirely travelled  (in totum, adverbial locution ……acto, dative , past participle agreeing with “viro”) through  the highest things /honours (per maxima, neuter plural  depending on “acto” from the verb “agere”) “, i.e. “it is shameless for a man who has already reached the highest honours to still importune the gods”.

Best regards,

Maria  

Latin

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

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

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.