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Noli servum praesentem laudare

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Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby pmda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:18 pm

Here's something else in this chapter that eludes me.

Julius is complaining that Medus the Greek slave has stolen some of his money and is explaining that he will no longer trust any Greek slaves (Medus is Greek).

Cornelius asks Julius how much Medus has stolen:

Cornelius: "Quantum pecuniae abstulit?" Iulius: "Centum circiter sestertios. Atque ego illi servo praeter ceteros fidebam! Posthac servo Graeco nulli confidam, neque enim fide mea digni sunt: infidi et nequam sunt omnes! In familia mea unum solum servum fidum esse credo."

OK...so far so good. He ends with In my family I believe that there is only one trustworthy slave.

Then his wife Aemilia intervenes:

Hic Aemilia maritum interpellat et "St, Iuli!" inquit, 'Noli servum praesentem laudare!"

I don't wish the slave [who is present] to be praised. mmmmm..OK?
She's referring to Davus who is standing in the room. Then we have:

Iulius Davum conspiciens "Sed is servus adest" inquit, "Nolo eum laudare praesentem.

Huh? Iulius seeing Davus: 'But the servant is here' he says, 'I do not wish to praise the [one] present.

And then he continues to condemn Medus....

Medus vero plane infidissimus omnium est....

What is going on when he says 'Sed is servus adest'? That reads like a non sequitur following his wife's comment and then his next sentence 'Nolo eum laudare praesentem' reads like a non sequitur to that!
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby Godmy » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:27 pm

My interpretation always was that Iulius simply wanted to save his face as a master, having done a mistake of praising the slave who was present and giving him openly his 'betrayed' confidence:

He started to praise Davus, forgetting his presence. Aemilia told him that Davus is there to hear it, Iulius was taken aback and to save his face of the dominus/the master he simply said "But I didn't want to praise this slave anyway!" (But "THIS" slave is here...) But it is obvious to the reader (and to Aemilia) that there wasn't any other slave Iulius could praise. It was simply an attempt not to spoil the slave by giving him in public such confidence he had had for Medus. He already had been disappointed once.

That is at least what I would do, if I were Iulius.
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby pmda » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:42 pm

It seems to be the only logical explanation. But it seems a little nuanced for the usual narrative content of the stories. One's immediate feeling is that one has got the Latin wrong.
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby Godmy » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:46 pm

Yes, I agree that the interpretation might be seen as nuanced... but maybe Oerberg didn't think of it so when he was writing it. And I can't see how I could 'emend' the Latin so the interpretation is more straightforward.

But I really see no problem here: you say you will never trust some kind of slave again. Then you get all moved and express openly your last bits of trust you have to another slave... but immediately you see you have done a mistake, so you try to save your "authority" as of master.

You will see if there is somebody else on this forum with some better explanation, but for me this works (both Latin (syntax / morphology) and the sense). And yes, it is nuanced :)
Last edited by Godmy on Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby Godmy » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:49 pm

Remember, PMDA, that Iulius says in the same chapter that he never praises the slaves (or something of that kind, if I remember correctly)... that slaves always prefer rather "dominus iustus" etc. It's just part of his personal integrity not to show such an affection.
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby mwh » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:57 pm

pmda wrote:Hic Aemilia maritum interpellat et "St, Iuli!" inquit, 'Noli servum praesentem laudare!"

I don't wish the slave [who is present] to be praised. mmmmm..OK?


Rather "Don't praise a slave in his presence."

That draws Julius' attention to the fact that the slave in question is in the room, and he continues what he was saying accordingly.
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby Qimmik » Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:37 pm

You might compare this with the nec ipse praesens thread. Somewhat similar use of praesens/absens, calling for an English translation by a circumstantial phrase other than a relative clause.
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Re: Noli servum praesentem laudare

Postby mwh » Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:09 am

I should have said explicitly: noli is imperative (not nolo indicative), laudare is active ("to praise," not "to be praised," which I'm guessing you haven't yet learnt how to say), lit. "Be unwilling to praise," which is Latin's way of saying "Don't".

Julius' nolo etc. signals that he concurs. (Noli "Don't." Nolo "I won't.")
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