#23 of 38 Latin Stories

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#23 of 38 Latin Stories

Post by spqr » Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:10 pm

Ubi cupit eos metu aut miseriacordia moveri, metu aut misericordia oppressi terrentur aut flent

teacher's guide translation: When he wishes them to be moved by fear or pity, they are terrified, overcome by fear, or they weep, overcome by pity. I had an awful time with the second clause(after the comma). I wnet back and re-read Wheelock's chapter on participles and I feel I understand the concepts but this sentence really stumped me. I understand the translation but I don't get how to get there. Am I missing some grammar fundamental or is it Ciceros writing style. He has what I would call "economy of words" but I think that was typical of many Romans at that time. Any pointers on how I can break this type sentence down for proper translation? I have had translation problems before but that was always due to misreading an inflected ending of one sort or another.

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Re: #23 of 38 Latin Stories

Post by Ulpianus » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:59 pm

I'm not sure I would have ended up with that translation!

With a difficult passage, I start by being absurdly literalistic:

"metu aut misericordia oppressi terrentur aut flent"

"by fear or by pity overcome they are terrified or they weep"

I know people say start with the verb, but I don't think that's what I actually do. I generally, like a nervous climber, start with wherever I think I can get what seems a firm foothold (in this case "metu", "terrentur" and "flent"). Given metu, it's clear misericordia is ablative, which then simply leaves us oppressi, which then falls into place.

The "official" translation you have given has then done some reorganization, since a literal translation is stilted. But exactly what reorganization is more a matter of taste. Left to myself, I think, I'd translate "When he wants them to be moved by fear or pity, they are terrified or they weep, overcome by fear or pity." But so long as you have understood, that's what matters.

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