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

1. Vivit is, qui multis usui est, (LX.4)
Is “multis usui” dative of possession?

2. mortem suam antecesserunt (LX.4)
“suam” is singular, but “antecesserunt” is pl..

3. quia quam diu futurum hoc sit (LXI.2)
Could you give a literal translation?

4. quidquid necesse futurum est repugnanti, id volenti necessitas non est (LXI.3)
Could you give a literal translation?

Thank you.

Dear Robert,

1.In “Vivit is, qui multis usui est, …”(Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LX.4) “multis usui” is not a dative of Possession, but a Double Dative construction, also  called the Dative of Service (AG 382).
Such a Double Dative construction with the verb  "sum" is used to show the purpose or end (1st. dative as  “usui” here) +  another dative of the person or thing affected (see “multis” here), so that “Vivit is, qui multis usui est” literally means:” He (is) lives (vivit) who (qui) is (est) of usefulness (usui, dative of purpose) to many (multis, dative of the person affected)”, i.e. “ He really lives who is very useful to many”.

2. In “…mortem suam antecesserunt …”(LX.4) the possessive adjective “suam” agreeing with “mortem”  is singular, though “antecesserunt” is plural, simply because the possessive “suus” means “belonging to himself, herself, etc.; his own, her own, etc.; his, her, its, their; one's; hers, theirs”.
Therefore the subject can be both singular and plural, but “suus” agrees only with the noun it refers to (see “mortem suam” here), but not with the subject of the sentence where it is.

In short “…mortem suam antecesserunt …” literally means:”… they anticipated (antecesserunt) their (suam) death (mortem)…” because they have died before they were dead since they were useful to nobody.

3. Here’s the literal translation for “…quia quam diu futurum hoc sit, non nimis pendeo…” (LXI.2):”…because (quia) I am not too perplexed /anxious  (non nimis pendeo) how (quam) long (diu) this (hoc, neuter agreeing with “futurum”) future (futurum, neuter noun, subject of “sit” here) can be (sit) …”.
In short,  Seneca says that he is ready to die, but he will enjoy life as long as it lasts since he is not so anxious as to know how long he will live.

4. “…. quidquid necesse futurum est repugnanti, id volenti necessitas non est …”(LXI.3) literally means:”…whatever (quidquid, nominative neuter) is about to be/ will be ("futurum est" is here the 1st periphrastic active construction agreeing with "quidquid") necessary (necesse, indeclinabile form) to the one who is rebelling (repugnanti, present participle, dative singular) is not a necessity (necessitas non est) to the one who desires (volenti, present participle, dative singular) it (id)”.
So, Seneca says that now that he is old he will try  to die well, since to die well means to die willingly. Therefore he urges Lucilius to never do anything unwillingly  because what becomes  a necessity  if somebody rebels, is not a necessity if somebody  desires it.

Best regards,


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