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

1. si per dies noctesque par et aequalis animi tenor erecti et placentis sibi est, (LIX. 14)
Could you give a literal translation?

2. Quia non est alieni muneris (LIX. 18)
Why gen. “muneris”?

3. eo quidem inimiciora quo cessere felicius (LX.1)
What is “cessere”?

4. quantulum est enim quod naturae datur! (LX.3)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.“….si per dies noctesque par et aequalis animi tenor erecti et placentis sibi est,…” (Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LIX. 14) literally means:”…if (si) day and night (per dies noctesque, accusative of time) the tenor/mood/character (tenor, subject of the sentence) of [your] upright (erecti, genitive agreeing with “animi”) and pleased (et placentis, present participle used as an adjective in the genitive agreeing with “animi”) with itself (sibi, dative depending on "placentis") mind/soul (animi, genitive) is (est) equal (par, 1st adjective of the hendiadys) and unvarying (et aequalis, 2nd adjective of the hendiadys “par et aequalis”, as you can read below)…”, just to say that, if day and night the absolutely unvarying state of Lucilius soul continues to be upright and content with itself, it means that he (Lucilius) has reached the greatest good that mortals can have.
Note that  “par et aequalis” meaning "equal and unvarying” is a hendiadys, i.e. the expression of a single idea  by two words connected with ‘and’, when one could be used to modify the other, so that “par et aequalis” meaning "equal  and unvarying” can become  “absolutely/ totally unvarying”.

2. In “Quia non est alieni muneris…”  (LIX. 18) the  genitive  “muneris” is a Possessive Genitive depending on “est”(see AG 343 b) so that the sentence literally means:
”Because (quia) [the joy, see the previous “gaudium” ] is not (non est) of another (alieni) power (muneris)…”, i.e.:“Because the joy is not someone else’s gift …” in the sense that  the joy which comes to the gods, and to those who imitate the gods, does not cease because  it is not someone else’s  gift nor it is subject to another's judgement, so that what Fortune has not given, she cannot take away. (See the previous passage: "..illud gaudium, quod deos deorumque aemulos sequitur, non interrumpitur, non desinit... Quia non est alieni muneris, ne arbitrii quidem alieni est. Quod non dedit fortuna, non eripit").

3. In “…eo quidem inimiciora quo cessere felicius …”(LX.1) the word “cessēre” stands for “cessērunt” which is the 3rd person plural, perfect indicative  active of the verb “cedo”.

In short, “…eo quidem inimiciora quo cessere felicius” related to the previous “vota nostrorum” (the wishes of our loved ones/of our  family) literally means:
”..[the wishes of our family are]the more (eo quidem) hostile/harmful ( inimiciora, neuter plural comparative  agreeing with the implied “vota” meaning "wishes"), the more happily (quo..felicius, comparative of the adverb “feliciter”) they happened (cessēre/ cessērunt)“: hence Gummere’s translation:” And they are all the more hostile in proportion as they are more completely fulfilled“ just to emphasize that often the wishes of our loved ones are the more harmful, the more completely they are fulfilled.

Note that the correlatives  "eo...quo + a comparative" indicate a measure or degree(the more..the more..)where both "eo" and "quo" are in the ablative.

4. “Quantulum est enim quod naturae datur!” (LX.3) literally means:”How small (quantulum, adjective agreeing with the neuter relative pronoun “quod”) is (est) what (quod, subject of the sentence) is given (datur) to nature (naturae, dative)!” just to point out that it takes little to satisfy nature so that it is not the natural hunger of our bellies that costs us dear, but our ambition (See the next passage in LX.3:"Non fames nobis ventris nostri magno constat, sed ambitio").

Best regards,


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