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

1. quid illic, ubi in se volutatur et, cum sine ullo spiramento sit inclusus, in ipsos a quibus excitatus est recidit? (LVII.2)
I couldn’t figure out where Gummere’s translation “how much worse the dust is there, where …” come from?

2. sed naturalis affectio inexpugnabilis rationi.(LVII.4)
Could you give a literal translation?

3. rursus ad primum conspectum redditae lucis alacritas rediit incogitata et iniussa. Illud deinde mecum loqui coepi, … (LVII.6)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. sed beneficio subtilitatis suae per ipsa (LVII. 8)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.
Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

1.In “….quid illic, ubi in se volutatur et, cum sine ullo spiramento sit inclusus, in ipsos a quibus excitatus est recidit?” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LVII.2) Gummere’s translation “how much worse the dust is there, where …” is a mere adaptation of the Latin text to  the English language so that Seneca’s description can become more intelligible to  the reader.
Here’s in fact the literal translation for  “….quid illic, ubi in se volutatur et, cum sine ullo spiramento sit inclusus, in ipsos a quibus excitatus est recidit?:
”…what [do I say about the dust which ] (quid.Such an interrogative pronoun implies “do I say about…”) [there is ] in that place (illic, i.e.  “in crypta Neapolitana”, see LVII,1) where (ubi) it (i.e. pulvis/the dust) rolls back (volutat) upon itself (in se) and,  being shut in (cum sit inclusus, agreeing with the masculine noun “pulvis”) without (sine) any ventilation (ullo spiramento) blows back (recidit) in the same persons (in ipsos) by whom (a quibus) it (i.e. “pulvis”, dust) has been  raised (excitatus est)?”.
In short, Seneca is talking about the dust that he saw in  the Naples tunnel which furnished a shortcut to those who, like Seneca in this letter when he had to return from Baiae to Naples, did not wish to travel by the shore route along the promontory of Pausilipum, and thus are used to go through a dark cave full of dust, through which was a shorter passage to Naples.



2.“…non est hoc timor, sed naturalis affectio inexpugnabilis rationi”(LVII.4) literally means:”…this (hoc) is not fear (non est timor), but (sed) a natural /instinctive (naturalis) sentiment/feeling (adfectio) [which is] impregnable (inexpugnabilis) to reason (rationi, dative depending on “inexpugnabilis)”, just to say that reason cannot  defeat some instinctive feelings.



3.Here’s the literal translation of “Rursus ad primum conspectum redditae lucis alacritas rediit incogitata et iniussa. Illud deinde mecum loqui coepi, …” (LVII.6):” ..at the first glimpse (ad primum conspectum) of restored (redditae) daylight (lucis) an unsuspected (incogitata)  and unbidden (iniussa) alacrity/eagerness (alacritas) returned (rediit) again (rursus). Then (deinde) I began (coepi) to say (loqui) to myself (mecum)…”.


4. “…sic animus….deprehendi non potest…, sed beneficio subtilitatis suae per ipsa quibus premitur, erumpit.. …”(LVII. 8) literally means:
”… similarly (sic) the soul (animus) ….. cannot  (non potest) be arrested (deprehendi)…., but (sed), by virtue (beneficio) of its delicate substance/subtlety (subtilitatis suae), it  escapes /makes its way (erumpit)  through (per) the same things (ipsa) by which (quibus)  it is being crushed (premitur).. “, with reference to the fact  that our soul, just as fire and the air, cannot “be arrested or destroyed inside the body, but, by virtue of its delicate substance, it will rather escape through the very object by which it is being crushed”(Gummere).

Best regards,
Maria

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