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narravi quod eram (L.A. 9)

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narravi quod eram (L.A. 9)

Postby furrykef » Fri May 20, 2011 5:18 am

Wheelock, adapted from Horace wrote:Nūlla fors mihi tē, Maecēnās, obtulit: optimus Vergilius et post hunc Varius dīxērunt quid essem. Ut ad tē vēnī, singultim pauca locūtus (nam pudor prohibēbat plūra profārī), ego nōn dīxī mē clārō patre nātum esse sed narrāvī quod eram.


I'm kind of lost at "narrāvī quod eram". Here's what I've got so far:

"No accident offered you to me, Maecenas: the very great Virgil, and after him Varius, told you what I am. As I came to you, I said few things (for modesty kept me from saying more), I did not say I was born to a famous father but I spoke because I was(?)."

This just doesn't quite make sense to me. I don't think it could be "I said what I was", which I think would be "quid essem" (as in the first sentence of the passage). So it doesn't seem that "quod" is "what" here. But "because I was" doesn't make sense to me either. Because he was what? Because he was there? And what exactly did he say?
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Re: narravi quod eram (L.A. 9)

Postby lauragibbs » Fri May 20, 2011 5:30 am

How about this:
narravi (hoc) quod eram...

It reminds me of this proverb:
Dei gratia sumus quod sumus.
By the grace of God we are what we are.

The English is confusing because we use "what" for various purposes - quid essem would be an interrogative pronoun in Latin (English: "what I was"), quod eram would be a relative pronoun in Latin (English: "what I was"), but English cannot make that distinction as the Latin can. The words quod and quid are related in Latin, but they are nevertheless different words. English doesn't have such a wide range of pronouns to draw on. I guess you could say, "(that) which" instead of "what" to convey the relative pronoun in English, but it doesn't sound very idiomatic that way. :-)
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Re: narravi quod eram (L.A. 9)

Postby furrykef » Fri May 20, 2011 6:22 am

I'm aware of the quid/[id] quod distinction... Spanish has the same thing ("qué" vs. "lo que"). Where I'm getting tripped up is I don't see how the sense here is different between the two sentences.
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Re: narravi quod eram (L.A. 9)

Postby lauragibbs » Fri May 20, 2011 3:06 pm

I'm not quite sure what you mean - although it's not idiomatic in English (and it's perfectly idiomatic in Latin), the difference is between these statements in English:
I explained what I am (answering a question: what am I? I am blah blah blah)
I explained that which I am (stating a fact: the thing is that I'm blah blah blah)

If you look at that quod you can see how it evolved into the use of quod as a subordinating conjunction in Latin very much like the English conjunction "that" - the hoc is implied and the quod all by itself does the work of introducing the next clause so that eventually it came to mean "that" just like the English subordinating conjunction "that" which we use for indirect discourse. The use of "quod" as a subordinating conjunction in Latin is increasingly common in later Latin. Maybe they picked this passage in Wheelock just to get you used to that idea, although who knows. I will confess to not being the biggest fan of Wheelock on the planet. :-)
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