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Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

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Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:47 am

Salvete,

I am wondering about the following passage in Livy 1.4:

Livy wrote:ita geniti itaque educati, cum primum adolevit aetas, nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes, venando peragrare saltus. hinc robore corporibus animisque sumpto iam non feras tantum subsistere, sed in latrones praeda onustos impetus facere, pastoribusque rapta dividere, et cum his crescente in dies grege iuvenum seria ac iocos celebrare.

A literal translation (from Project Gutenberg) I use to check my understanding goes like this:

The children thus born and thus brought up, when arrived at the years of manhood, did not loiter away their time in tending the folds or following the flocks, but roamed and hunted in the forests. Having by this exercise improved their strength and courage, they not only encountered wild beasts, but even attacked robbers laden with plunder, and afterwards divided the spoil among the shepherds. And in company with these, the number of their young associates daily increasing, they carried on their business and their sports.

I am wondering...

  • why "geniti itaque educati" instead of "genitos itaque educatos"? Isn't all of this indirect speech?
  • why translate "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes" as "did not loiter away their time in tending the folds or following the flocks". I would have expected this to mean that they were not inactive either in the stable work nor when tending the flocks.
One other thing: Livy 1.2 has "ad florentes opes Etruscorum Mezentiumque, regem eorum, confugiunt, qui Caere, opulento tum oppido, imperitans..." I do not understand the ablative "Caere". "Imperitans" should require a dative, shouldn't it? At least that is what the OLD says. But the dative would be "Caeriti" or "Caereti". What am I missing?

Valete,

Carolus Raeticus
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Aetos » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:23 am

I don't believe it's indirect discourse. Livy employs what is known as the "historical infinitive", which is defined as follows:
"the present infinitive used with a subject nominative as a finite verb in place of a past indicative."
Hence the use of the nominative case.
nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes, venando peragrare saltus

The key here is the concessive clause that follows: "venando peragrare saltus", which stands in contrast to the preceding clause, so roughly translated it would mean "rather than lingering in the stables or with the flocks, they roamed the forests to hunt (lit. in hunting, for hunting)".

I do not understand the ablative "Caere". "Imperitans" should require a dative, shouldn't it? At least that is what the OLD says. But the dative would be "Caeriti" or "Caereti". What am I missing?


Looking in the L&S, it shows Caere as an "indecl" noun. I thinks this means "undeclinable", i.e., it does not have all its forms. If I read it correctly, Caere has only the genitive and the ablative forms, aside from the "nominative". There is no dative, so one uses the indeclinable form, the same way one uses indeclinable numbers (quattuor,quinque,etc.) in Latin. I believe this happens frequently with non-Roman place names.

P.S. Michael (MWH), Randy, Barry, Nesrad or Hylander can probably give you better and more detailed explanations, but I wanted to give it a shot, not only to help you but to test my own understanding as well.
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:47 am

Carolus Raeticus wrote:Salvete,

I am wondering about the following passage in Livy 1.4:

Livy wrote:ita geniti itaque educati, cum primum adolevit aetas, nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes, venando peragrare saltus. hinc robore corporibus animisque sumpto iam non feras tantum subsistere, sed in latrones praeda onustos impetus facere, pastoribusque rapta dividere, et cum his crescente in dies grege iuvenum seria ac iocos celebrare.

A literal translation (from Project Gutenberg) I use to check my understanding goes like this:

The children thus born and thus brought up, when arrived at the years of manhood, did not loiter away their time in tending the folds or following the flocks, but roamed and hunted in the forests.

I am wondering...


  • why translate "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes" as "did not loiter away their time in tending the folds or following the flocks". I would have expected this to mean that they were not inactive either in the stable work nor when tending the flocks.



Aetos I believe is right about the historical infinitive and Caere. I also found the translation's rendering of nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes a bit jarring, reading it as you did, that they were "lazy neither in stables nor in regard to flocks." I think the translator is struggling in how to relate this to venando peragrare saltus, and resolves it by seeing segnes meaning something like "wasting time," but that strikes me as forced and not really attested as a meaning elsewhere. I think LIvy is simply saying (not that he says it simply) that while they spent time hunting, they didn't neglect their farming chores. Another translation:

As soon as the boys, thus born and thus brought up, grew to be young men they did not neglect their pastoral duties but their special delight was roaming through the woods on hunting expeditions.


Livy. (1912). History of Rome. (C. Roberts, Ed.). Medford, MA: E. P. Dutton and Co.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Aetos » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:30 pm

Thanks, Barry.
Looking at all the available meanings for signis, the one that seemed to provide the best contrast with venando was "lingering", but just having looked at Perseus, I see that only Spillan sees it that way, which is they would rather hunt than tend sheep. Foster and Roberts see it as quite the opposite, i.e. they are not neglecting their other duties while going off to hunt.
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:26 pm

Aetos wrote:Thanks, Barry.
Looking at all the available meanings for signis, the one that seemed to provide the best contrast with venando was "lingering", but just having looked at Perseus, I see that only Spillan sees it that way, which is they would rather hunt than tend sheep. Foster and Roberts see it as quite the opposite, i.e. they are not neglecting their other duties while going off to hunt.


I think to make that work you have to take the negatives with the adjective, but I see it as more natural to take them with the prepositional phrases. And there are lot better ways to say "not lingering" than to use some variant of "non segnis."
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Aetos » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:54 pm

You know, I just realized I wrote "signis" when I meant to write "segnis". D'oh! See, I can misspell not only in Greek, but in Latin as well! Seriously though, it seems like the translation hinges on how one interprets segnis.
nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes
neither in the stables nor with the flocks lazy? lingering? inactive? sluggish? tardy?
If one chooses "inactive", then for him Livy is painting a picture of the responsible character of the future founders of Rome. On the other hand, if one chooses "lingering", then he sees Livy as describing their development as warriors, as the next few lines seem to expand upon.
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:50 pm

Thanks a lot, Aetos and Barry!

The historical infinitive definitely did not occur to me (I'll read up on it). And I am rather surprised that translators do not agree how to interpret this passage. As for Caere, strangely enough the OLD does not mark it as having only a few cases, while a school dictionary of mine and Cassell's do so.

Valete,

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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Hylander » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:52 am

I don't think Caesar uses historical infinitives very much if at all, but Livy uses them a lot (Sallust and Tacitus, too), so if you're reading Livy, you need to be alert to this construction.

nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes -- this can only mean that they were no slouches in tending the animals, but their primary focus was on hunting. Animal husbandry isn't an occupation for the lazy. Livy is emphasizing their rude and hardy upbringing as shepherds, and at the same time telling us that they were hard workers. "did not loiter away their time in tending the folds or following the flocks" is silly.
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Re: Livy 1.4: "nec in stabulis nec ad pecora segnes"

Postby Dantius » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:29 pm

For Caere imperitabat, Caere could potentially be a locative (/abl. of place where): "was ruling at Caere". (cf. the examples under "Absol." in L+S, especially qua tempestate Carthaginienses pleraque Africa imperitabant)
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