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A genitive and a relative pronoun

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A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby phil » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:51 am

There are a couple of things in the story about the life of Caius Marius that are causing me grief:

Ibi cum in locis solitariis sederet, venit ad eum lictor Sextili praetoris, qui tum Africam obtinebat. Ab hoc, quem numquam laesisset, Marius humanitatis tamen aliquod officium expectabat;...

There, while he was encamped in a remote spot, the Lictor of the governor Sextilius, who at that time ruled Africa, came to him. From him, whom he didn't think he'd ever offended*, Marius still expected some sense of duty. But what is humanitatis doing there? Is it some sense of duty of humanity? Doesn't make sense to me.

*informal indirect discourse!

Then, later, Marius goes troppo and sacks Rome:

Cum enim Marius occisorum domos multitudini diripiendas obiecisset, inveriri potuit nemo qui civili luctu praedam peteret; quae quidem tam misericors continentia plebis tacita quaedam crudelium victorum vituperatio fuit.

Even though Marius had even laid open the houses of the people he'd killed for the multitude to ransack, no-one was able to be found who would seek booty in such a time of civil mourning; which (quae is a relative pronoun, referring to what? the booty is the only fem. sing. or neut. pl. I can see) indeed such merciful self control of the mob (tacita quaedam a certain unspoken thing?) the blame was of the cruel victors.

As you can see, it all turns to custard at the end there. If someone can give me a pointer as to where I'm going wrong I'd be grateful. I'm not really looking for a translation, just hints to help me work it out, if you know what I mean.

Cheers, Phil.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby modus.irrealis » Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:43 am

For your second question, I would take "quae" as modifying "continentia", so "quae tam misericors continentia plebis" is a single phrase. I think this is a good example where it's easier to understand "quae" as meaning "et ea." With "tacita quaedam" I would view these as each being adjectives modifying "vituperatio", so "tacita quaedam crudelium victorum vituperatio" would be a single phrase as well.

About your first question, I don't know about "humanitatis" -- I would take it as another way of saying "humanum" -- "officium" can also mean "a favour". But about "quem", I think this is an example where it's equivalent to "cum eum", where you then get the subjunctive, so I'm not sure if there's an overtone of "whom he didn't think he had offended" as opposed to just "whom he hadn't offended."

Edit: Actually, I'm really not sure about the first thing, since I can't see how the "tamen" fits in.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby adrianus » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:50 am

"tamen aliquod" = "at least some"
"officium humanitatis" = "obligation of kindness/courtesy"
modus.irrealis wrote:But about "quem", I think this is an example where it's equivalent to "cum eum", where you then get the subjunctive
It is surely, as you say (A&G §535e) = "since". // Ut dicis. = "since" anglicé.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby ptolemyauletes » Wed Nov 04, 2009 6:45 pm

Yes, modus.irrealis has got it.
Relative pronouns are often used where English would use a simple pronoun. This is an example of a relative pronoun being used where its antecedent (continentia) is within the main clause, but it refers to the previous clause as well, the restraint being in not seizing booty.
This merciful act of self restraint shown by the people was a kind of silent indictment on the cruel victors.
The tam does not really need to be translated into the English, or it could be translated as very or exceedingly or something like that.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby adrianus » Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:24 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote:The tam does not really need to be translated into the English, or it could be translated as very or exceedingly or something like that.

Surely it does need to be included, and "quidem",—unless paraphrasing.
Id certè in sermones anglicas vertendum est, non minùs et "quidem",—nisi sensum invertere velis.

quidem = at the same time/indeed
tam misericors = so merciful/compassionate

quae [x] + indicative, A&G §534 = relative clause of characteristic [as a fact] // clausula relativa quae adjunctum exprimit et factum introducit.
"quidem tam misericors", A&G §282b, = adjective in apposition here, I reckon // appositivum adjectivum in hôc loco, puto.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby ptolemyauletes » Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:25 am

Adrianus,
I don't agree that such words necessarily have to be translated. I believe the English can be rendered as effectively without any idea of the qualifying tam.
On the other hand, one could translate it as 'such' and come up with something nice. Why didn't I think of this last night? Half asleep, I guess.
'Such a merciful act of self restraint as this shown by the people was a kind of silent indictment on the cruel victors. '

As for the quidem.... I forgot it. Oops. Just stick a truly, or certainly or indeed anywhere that seems fitting. :)

Again, I am not one who advocates that every single word need be brought into the English. Sometimes the Latin just does not fit into English neatly.
To quote Horace: nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus interpres.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby adrianus » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:58 am

ptolemyauletes wrote:I don't agree that such words necessarily have to be translated. I believe the English can be rendered as effectively without any idea of the qualifying tam.

Well, we are discussing not every case but this one case. And if a word such as "tam" doesn't alter the sense of what's written, I wonder why the author used it? Of course, precisely because it does, in the search for meaning and nuance I must ask myself the same question but more genuinely!

Age, non de omnibus sed de hôc uno exemplo disputamus. Et si verbum "tam" sensum eius quod scribitur non immutat, me rogo cur auctor id adhibuerit. Certè, quià accuratè id sensum benè immutat, me significationem subtilitatemque quaerentem oportet eandem quaestionem honestiore modo proponere.

ptolemyauletes wrote:Again, I am not one who advocates that every single word need be brought into the English. Sometimes the Latin just does not fit into English neatly.

For my part, I think good writers don't squander words. And some translations are better than others.
Ego equidem bonum scriptorem verba non impestivè profundere credo. Quaedam traductiones demagìs aliis meliores.

ptolemyauletes wrote:To quote Horace: nec verbum verbo curabis reddere fidus interpres.

Haec Ciceronis verba cito:
Cicero, De optimo genere oratorum, 5.14-15 wrote:In quibus non verbum pro verbo necesse habui reddere, sed genus omne verborum vimque servavi.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby ptolemyauletes » Fri Nov 06, 2009 3:20 pm

Adrianus,
Again, perhaps my own choice of words has failed me. When I used the word 'translate' I suppose what I meant was a literal emplacement of the word tam somewhere in the sentence as being unnecessary. tam as in 'so merciful' or some such thing. A Latin writer naturally has a different way of writing and will write and stress things that an English person will not. Real translation, of course, means carrying across the meaning. One can do this easily, or not so easily, without using a specific word to take the place of tam. I still maintain that a translation leaving a literal emplacement of tam out of the equation can be totally effective in conveying the meaning into English.This, I believe, is what Cicero means in the quotation you have referred to.

The author used the word tam because he is a Roman, and this is an appropriate place to use this word, a word which is common in Latin in instances where an English writer, trying to convey the same idea, would often, or usually, do it in a different way. Does tam really alter the meaning so much? If left out, would we be unable to appreciate that this was an unusually merciful act, that Marius and company were probably shamed by the restraint shown by their fellow citizens? Latin writing of this style is highly rhetorical, designed to impress one's peers, and is a highly rigid, static, artificial construction. Cicero's own published speeches reflect highly polished work that took weeks or even months of refinement to perfect. Even a word like quidem is not needed in a perfectly practical English translation. Such words were highly formalised and carried little real meaning that couldn't be easily conveyed without them. Every language has its own unique vocabulary that cannot be rendered into another language, or at least should not slavishly be. 'Well' at the start of an English explanation is a good example.

However, it is splitting hairs, and tam can easily be included if one wishes.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby adrianus » Fri Nov 06, 2009 7:47 pm

ptolemyauletes wrote:The author used the word tam because he is a Roman
Abba Lhomond, Charles François, 1727-1794, est auctor qui verba aliorum paraphrasi illustrat. // ...paraphrasing others' writings.

ptolemyauletes wrote:If left out, would we be unable to appreciate that this was an unusually merciful act
We don't need to infer it; the writer says it. // Conjectemus non necesse est; palàm scribitur.

"quae misericors continentia plebis" = "and that merciful restraint by the people was..."

"quae quidem tam misericors continentia plebis" = "and indeed so merciful this restraint of the people, it was.."

"tam", "quidem", "well'—they all add to the meaning. It isn't splitting hairs to say that, without them, speech is balder.
Omnia talium verborum sensum ampliant. Non cavillor cum dico sine eis minùs laetam sermonem esse.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby ptolemyauletes » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:24 pm

Again I would respond in much the same way, Adrianus.
Regardless of who the author is here, he is clearly writing in a style imitative of Classical Latin as were pretty much most Romans from about 100 AD onwards.
A student who has immersed himself in English for long enough can pick up enough English to add 'well' at the beginning of a sentence or (if a Canadian, like me) say 'eh' at the end of one. Likewise a student of Latin can do the same with appropriate words. Yet every language has words that, yes while they do add colour to that particular language, are very difficult or even impossible to translate into another language without coming across as stilted or artificial. Or they simply don't need to be translated. My argument continues to be that an English speaker might well translate this passage without insisting that every single word be accounted for with a corresponding English word. The meaning can still come across. I still argue that finding a particular English word for tam is unnecessary: its meaning can be conveyed well enough in English without slavishly saying 'so' or 'such'...
quidem I find overly rhetorical to say the least. Its equivalents in English are only used in very formal prose, and in Latin it seems to have become simply a little salt thrown on at the end. I generalise, of course, yet in this passage I still argue that quidem adds little, though I would in fact add an indeed or some such thing myself. Remember, I did simply forget it originally.

Back to tam, I am not arguing whether we need to infer it or not, I am simply saying that a perfectly adequate and practical English translation can get across the author's meaning without finding some specific word (such or so) to insert for tam, as we check off the Latin words from our checklist.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby adrianus » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:18 am

Sent the same post twice accidentally.
Bis eandem epistulam perperàm misi.
Last edited by adrianus on Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A genitive and a relative pronoun

Postby adrianus » Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:18 am

Well, you say the writer's style is "highly rhetorical, designed to impress one's peers, and is a highly rigid, static, artificial construction." I have no idea why you say that. It seems very nice, very sensitive, very expressive to me, —in its choice of words, in its choice of word order.
You say leaving out the word "tam" can be "totally effective" or convey "well enough" the meaning, and putting in a reference to it in English is slavish. I say leaving it out in English isn't "totally effective" here, and putting it in results in a more faithful and lovelier translation.
It is a matter of taste, I suppose. There’s no arguing over tastes and colors.

Age verò, tu hoc scribendi genus et declamatorissimum et ad descendendum in parium animum fictum et nimis rigido, immutabili, artificioso modo formatum esse dicis. Cur sic rearis equidem ignoro. In quibus ad verborum arbitrium ordinemque pertinet, bellissimum, elegantissimum, significantissimum id mihi videtur.
Dicis vel adusquè vel satìs sensum "tam" verbi anglicè conferri etiamsi omissum esset tale verbum quod "such" vel "as"; quod si includantur, id signum modo servili vertendi sit. Id hîc omittere, dico, minùs adusquè sensum communicat; id magìs includere fideliorem delicatioremque traductionem facit.
Id quod praefertur omnis arbitrio subjectum est, ut opinor. De gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum.


ptolemyauletes wrote:quidem...Its equivalents in English are only used in very formal prose
Indeed it isn't. In everyday speech and elsewhere it occurs emphatically. // Non quidem. Et in sermone quotidiano et alibi dicitur emphaticé.
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