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De Senectute XIX.71

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De Senectute XIX.71

Postby swtwentyman » Mon May 04, 2015 1:52 am

I came across a sentence that baffles me:

Death in old age is to be expected:

Itaque adulescentes mihi mori sic videntur, ut cum aquae multitudine flammae vis opprimitur, senes autem sic, ut cum sua sponte, nulla adhibita vi, consumptus ignis exstinguitur.

The sense is clear enough: when a young man dies it is as if the bright flame is doused with water whereas when an old man dies it's as if the fire has just burnt itself out. My problem is with the "ut cum ... opprimitur" clause. I can't for the life of me figure out what "multitudine" is doing here or why it is in the ablative. I went so far as to check a translation and the word wasn't even included. Second, why "aquae"? It would make more sense as "flammae vis opprimitur aqua", either as an instrumental or an ablative of agent. Why the (I believe) dative?

Ed: maybe "aquae multitudine" is a genitive with an ablative of agent? That doesn't make as much sense logically but it makes more sense syntactically.
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Re: De Senectute XIX.71

Postby Qimmik » Mon May 04, 2015 2:19 am

ut cum aquae multitudine flammae vis opprimitur

"as when the force of flame [flammae uis] is suppressed by a large amount [multitudine] of water"

This should make the syntax clear. You've probably been misled somewhat by the English word "multitude," which brings to mind a large number of people.
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Re: De Senectute XIX.71

Postby swtwentyman » Mon May 04, 2015 3:54 am

Indeed I was. Thanks.
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