I've had this problem before....on this forum!....I've got a sort of dyslexia or something about it. I think it's because timeo, timere means to fear and to be afraid...transitive? / intransitive?
Does seem odd that timeo can simultaneously mean I am afraid and I am feared.
Not at all. Lewis and Short defines timeo
as meaning, "to fear, be afraid ... to dread". In the sentence you gave, Cur praedones a nautis timentur?timeo
is presented in the 3rd pers. pl. present passive
indicative, which means that its meaning has become passive, i.e. instead of "to fear", it would indicate "to be feared". The phrase a nautis
denotes the new doer of the action (so to speak); in other words, the sailors are the ones doing the fearing.
In other words, it's not that timeo
has two meanings: it's simply that the sentence uses the verb in the passive form rather than the active. Remember that all verbs in Latin can also be conjugated according to voice (i.e. active or passive), besides the usual tenses, moods, etc.