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'nec ipse praesens.....'

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'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby pmda » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:55 pm

I'm revising vocabulary in previous chapters of LLPSI by Orberg. In Cap XXXI the first paragraph contains this - which I now recall I have never really understood. Julius is pointing out that no one has written to him about what's going on in Rome since he was last there. He says:

Octo dies iam sunt cum Romae non fui, nec quisquam interim mihi literas inde misit.

It's already eight days during which I have not been in Rome and noone has, in the meantime, written to me from there.

All well and good..then he says...

Quam ob rem nec ipse praesens nec absens per litteras quidquam cognovi de eo quod nuper Romae factum est.

I have no clue what 'nec ipse praesens....' means. I've always thought the sentence meant something like:

Because of this neither here nor away (?) have I learnt by any letter of what has recently occurred in Rome.

I'm pretty confused by 'nec ipse praesens.....' I don't know who ipse is referring to. Is he referring to himself or is he admonishing his guests for not writing to him..?
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby MiguelM » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:01 pm

Does it make more sense if you break the sentence in this manner?

Quam ob rem, nec ipse praesens, nec absens per litteras, quidquam cognovi de eo quod nuper Romae factum est.

He is laying out two ways in which he could have received news from Rome: α) He could have simply been there and seen for himself (ipse præsens); you were right in suspecting that the 'ipse' refers to himself; or β) He could have stayed home (absens, meaning 'away, absent', obviously from Rome), and could have received said news from some letters (per litteras) that his friends might have sent him.

Makes sense?
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby pmda » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:17 pm

Thanks for your answer. I still don't get it.

Why 'nec...nec'? I mean he seems to be saying literally this...

Because of this, neither by being there myself, nor by being away by a letter have I learnt anything of what happened recently in Rome....

which doesn't seem logical. What are 'nec....nec' doing in this sentence? I mean he didn't learn anything when he was there? Why not?
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby MiguelM » Fri Dec 27, 2013 10:59 pm

He didn't learn anything by being there because he wasn't there.
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby A.A.I » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:48 am

It's above my low level but my idiomatic version, based on what you guys are saying, goes something like this:

I haven't learned of anything that's been going on in Rome because I haven't been there and haven't had any letters (at all / from Rome / or possible letters from Rome but without any news from Rome - you'd need to ask if you require further information :)).
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby pmda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:04 am

OK. Thanks. So let me translate it as literally as I can.

Quam ob rem
For which reason

nec ipse praesens
not myself [having been] there

nec absens
nor, absent, [note the commas]

per litteras quidquam cognovi
have I learnt anything by letter

de eo quod nuper Romae factum est.
of what has recently taken place in Rome


Or more idiomatically

For which reason, not having been there myself and nor, having been absent, have I learnt anything by letter of what has recently taken place in Rome. [again note the commas]
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby pmda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:07 am

A.A.I. Thanks. I think you've got the gist of it allright. I'm afraid I get pretty dyslexic about some Latin constructions..
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby pmda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:35 pm

Mind you there is still something unsatisfying about the construction of this sentence. Is it punctuation or lack thereof? I'm not really sure what the subject and object are.

Quam ob rem nec ipse praesens nec absens per litteras quidquam cognovi de eo quod nuper Romae factum est.

Because of this, not myself there, nor absent......would punctuation help?

For example when I read 'nec absens per litteras'... is he saying 'nor absent by letters'

What if I punctuate this sentence as follows:

Quam ob rem, nec ipse praesens nec absens, per litteras quidquam cognovi de eo quod nuper Romae factum est.

For which reason, not myself being there nor, being absent, by letters have I learned anything that has recently happened in Rome.

The trouble with my idiomatic translation: For which reason, not myself being there nor, being absent, by letters have I learned anything that has recently happened in Rome ' is that it's not really grammatical. Does 'nec' refer to his not being there or does it refer to his not receiving any knowledge....?

So 'by letters' only applies to 'absens' and not to 'praesens'... Is it just me or is this a very strange construction?
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby Qimmik » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:10 pm

Turn the word order around in English and treat nec ipse praesens and nec absens per litteras as parallel.:

For that reason, I haven't learned anything about what has happened recently in Rome, either by being there myself, or by correspondence while I've been away.

Punctuate:

Quam ob rem, nec ipse praesens, nec absens per litteras, quidquam cognovi de eo quod nuper Romae factum est.
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Re: 'nec ipse praesens.....'

Postby pmda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:39 pm

Quimmik, thanks...it makes much more sense now.
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