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Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

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Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby hlawson38 » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:18 pm

Context: Augustine compares two theories about the similarity of twins: first, the astrologers' doctrine that the stars make them alike, because they are born at the same time, and second, because they have the same parents, and are born from the same mother, their physical traits are similar.


In hac causa multo est acceptabilior et de proximo credibilior coniectura medicinalis, quoniam parentes ut erant corpore adfecti, dum concumberent, ita primordia conceptorum adfici potuerunt, ut consecutis ex materno corpore prioribus incrementis paris ualetudinis nascerentur;


Translation attempt:
In this controversy, the medical conjecture is more acceptable, and with regard to the earlier [de proximo] more believable, because given the physical constitution of parents when they had sex, the first beginnings of the ones conceived were the same, so that they [ the twins] would come forth from the body of the mother with the growth proceeding from from their earlier state of like physical constitutions.

I had much difficulty putting together the last clause.
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Re: Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby Nesrad » Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:43 am

Another doosy. Augustine can really be obscure.

My attempt at an excessively literal translation:

...because the beginnings of the foetuses could be influenced by how the parents were constituted in the body when they had sex, so that they would be born after having obtained prior growth of equal heath in the mother's womb.

Less than literal attempt:

...because the beginnings of the foetuses were conditioned by the physical state of their parents when they had sex, and they were born after having grown in the womb under conditions of equal health.
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Re: Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby hlawson38 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 2:33 pm

Thank you Nesrad. Let me add another question.

consecutis ex materno corpore prioribus incrementis paris ualetudinis nascerentur;


After further thought, I want to construe consecutis . . . prioribus incrementis as an ablative absolute, with consecutis as active in meaning.

So that phrase literally I'd translate as "following earlier growths". Then paris valetudinis is genitive singular, telling what kind of growth.

How do you evaluate this grammatical work?

Just for fun I googled "ut consecutis". Google turned up only this passage in Augustine.
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Re: Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby Nesrad » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:10 pm

It is indeed an abl. abs., but as to the voice, I'm not sure how you'd qualify it grammatically in this instance.
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Re: Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby hlawson38 » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:59 pm

Nesrad wrote:It is indeed an abl. abs., but as to the voice, I'm not sure how you'd qualify it grammatically in this instance.


Thank you Nesrad. I see your point on voice.
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Re: Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby RandyGibbons » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:30 pm

Just to tighten up on the context, let me quote the larger passage in its entirety:

Cicero dicit Hippocratem, nobilissimum medicum, scriptum reliquisse quosdam fratres, cum simul aegrotare coepissent et eorum morbus eodem tempore ingravesceret, eodem levaretur, geminos suspicatum; quos Posidonius Stoicus, multum astrologiae deditus, eadem constitutione astrorum natos eademque conceptos solebat asserere. Ita quod medicus pertinere credebat ad simillimam temperiem valetudinis, hoc philosophus astrologus ad vim constitutionemque siderum quae fuerat quo tempore concepti natique sunt. In hac causa multo est acceptabilior et de proximo credibilior coniectura medicinalis, quoniam parentes ut erant corpore adfecti, dum concumberent, ita primordia conceptorum adfici potuerunt ut consecutis ex materno corpore prioribus incrementis paris valetudinis nascerentur; deinde in una domo eisdem alimentis nutriti, ubi aerem et loci positionem et vim aquarum plurimum valere ad corpus vel bene vel male accipiendum medicina testatur, eisdem etiam exercitationibus adsuefacti tam similia corpora gererent ut etiam ad aegrotandum uno tempore eisdemque causis similiter moverentur.

So a little more specifically, Augustine is addressing the Hippocratic case of two boys who got sick and then recovered precisely at the same times. (The yet broader context is that astrology or fate is not the explanation of the breadth and longevity of the Roman empire; astrology doesn't even deal convincingly with the "problem of twins".)

I agree that consecutis ... prioribus incrementis is an abl. absol. phrase. consequor can be passive (sense 8 in OLD), which is how I take it here.

The medical explanation for the boys' simultaneous aegritudo is that, first, since the father and mother were in a given state of health ["given state of health" sounds neutral, but adfectus is frequently used of the condition of being sick, and that's the context here] at the moment of conception, thus the two fetuses immediately following conception (primordia conceptorum) could thus be both affected [same connotation for adfecti] such that, the earliest stages of growth having been reached in (?) the mother's body, they came into the world in an identical state of health; then, <they grew up in the same home under identical conditions ...>.

I'm hesitating a little on the prepositional phrase ex materno corpore. The phrase is wrapped by the abl. absol. and would therefore seem to modify it, but ex doesn't seem like the right preposition for what's happening in the mother's body. But ex materno corpore nascerentur makes perfect sense. Maybe it's a little of both (they were conceived by the father and the mother but nourished and delivered by the mother)?

Nesrad, I'm curious what you find "obscure" either in this passage or in A's style or logic generally. I often have to think through his train of thought to the point of getting a headache, but I don't think I think of him as "obscure".

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Re: Augustine, de civitate dei, V, ch.2

Postby Nesrad » Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:26 am

"Ex" seems to add a causal nuance, whereas "in" would express merely the location.

Augustine is sometimes obscure is a general impression.
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