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Q concerning 6th ed. Chap 23 practice #9

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Q concerning 6th ed. Chap 23 practice #9

Postby autophile » Sun May 04, 2008 10:53 pm

Salvete!

I'm going through Wheelock's as a self-learning program. I'm pretty happy that I've made it thus far without a great deal of difficulty, but this one translation exercise really exemplifies some of the problems I'm having:

9. At vita illius modi aequi aliquid iucundi atque felicis continet.

I typically break down the sentence into probable phrases:

A. At
B. vita illius modi aequi
C. aliquid iucindi atque felicis
D. continet.

We have phrase B which could be nom. or abl. and phrase C which could be nom. or acc. I think usually the nominative phrase comes first (except in poetry, where anything goes, apparently). So we have:

A. But, mind you,
B. nom. the life of that (level; calm; just; favorable) (measure, bound; manner, way)
C. acc. someone pleasant and also happy
D. 3rd person sing. (keeps, encloses, restrains, contains)

Looking at all the possible meanings, there are several which make sense, some of which are:

I. But, mind you, the life of that just way keeps someone pleasant and also happy.
II. But, mind you, the life of that just way restrains someone pleasant and also happy.
III. But, mind you, the life of that calm manner contains someone pleasant and also happy.
IV. But, mind you, the life of that favorable way restrains someone pleasant and also happy.

The Key written by our host Belissimus suggests III as the translation. My main issues with this are:

(a) although (keeps, encloses, restrains, contains) all carry the same sense of limiting something, "contains" carries other senses, for example including something, as in "life contains ups and downs", and "keeps" also carries other senses, for example maintaining something, as in "life keeps death away".

(b) why would we choose "calm" over "just" or "favorable"? These seem to have very different senses.

So the basic problem I'm having is not necessarily grammatical, but semantic. How do I choose among several seemingly equally likely candidates?

Thanks!

--Rob
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Postby benissimus » Sun May 04, 2008 11:54 pm

Welcome, Rob. nota bene: aliquid is neuter and cannot refer to a person, so it cannot mean "someone." I found this previous discussion which might be helpful to you, and I'll do my best to answer the new questions you raise.

I typically break down the sentence into probable phrases:

A. At
B. vita illius modi aequi
C. aliquid iucindi atque felicis
D. continet.

This is an accurate breakdown.

(a) although (keeps, encloses, restrains, contains) all carry the same sense of limiting something, "contains" carries other senses, for example including something, as in "life contains ups and downs", and "keeps" also carries other senses, for example maintaining something, as in "life keeps death away".

The basic meaning of teneo is "to physically hold." In a figurative sense it can mean "to possess" or "to hold within oneself, contain"- the former meaning is where the words for "to have" come from in modern Romance languages. The word can also mean "to hold in place," but it doesn't often mean "to hold back, restrain," that sense being more common in compounds such as retineo or detineo. I think reinterpreting aliquid as a thing and not a person will make it clear that "restrains something" doesn't sound quite right and that the verb is likely to have another sense here.

(b) why would we choose "calm" over "just" or "favorable"? These seem to have very different senses.

The basic meaning of aequus is "level" or "even." I feel it's unclear from the context whether it should be translated as "just" or "calm" here. Besides that, the construction "illius modi aequi" is really clumsy, and I don't think a Roman ever would have said it, so please don't stress over that portion of the sentence.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby autophile » Mon May 05, 2008 1:30 am

Thank you for your reply! With aliquid being neuter (stupid, stupid me!) the sentence works better with the sense of the verb being to contain.

I suppose, given that sense, it could make sense for the phrase to be "a life of level manner", meaning living live on an even keel. Maybe.

Would the first entry in the dictionary always be the basic meaning, and if the sentence doesn't make sense with that first meaning, try the next ones? It seems to me that translating the larger texts is easier, because at least there is more context to narrow down the choice of meaning....

Thanks,

--Rob
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Re: Q concerning 6th ed. Chap 23 practice #9

Postby thesaurus » Mon May 05, 2008 1:59 pm

autophile wrote:Salvete!

9. At vita illius modi aequi aliquid iucundi atque felicis continet.

I typically break down the sentence into probable phrases:

A. At
B. vita illius modi aequi
C. aliquid iucindi atque felicis
D. continet.


On my first reading I interpreted the sentence as "But a life of that mode contains something of equal pleasure and happiness." I.e, I read "aequi" as a modifier of "iucundi." In a larger context this could be a comparative statement refering to a temperate versus hedonistic lifestyle, etc., possibly considering "hic" versus "ille" modus. This would obviously require taking the adjectives out of order, but it would avoid a stacked list of modifiers to "vita," which my completely unsystematic reading informs me is not a tendency in Latin. Rather, someone like Cicero seems to enjoy splitting up his adjectives "aequi aliquid modi."

I don't think there is any real reason to prefer my reading to yours, but there are my two cents. In my experience, learning to naturally form semantic 'groups' as you read Latin is a big hurdle at the beginner level, and, like most syntax issues, it's one of those things you mostly learn through experience. And as benissimus says, the phrase seems like fairly awkward Latin, so who knows what Wheelock had in mind...
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Postby autophile » Mon May 05, 2008 2:36 pm

Hi thesaurus,

I've found, in my extremely limited experience, that if I see first a nominative N and then a genitive G, that sometimes translating it into English "G N" works, and sometimes "N of G" works better. I think that's probably why I translated "vita illius..." as "that life..." rather than "a life of that...", which makes the stacked genitives much more likely :)

But if you say that the classical authors typically split their genitive phrases... OMG, I will have such problems :( It's why I'm very afraid of Martial, even though I love his sense of humor.

--Rob
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