Problems with Gracchi

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Problems with Gracchi

Post by phil » Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:05 am

This is a story in Urbis Romae Viri Illustres, about Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. It seems that the Gracchus brothers caused problems for more than the Romans! There are two things I can't quite understand.

Occīsō Tiberiō Gracchō cum senātus cōnsulibus mandāsset, ut in eōs, quī cum Gracchō cōnsēnserant, animadverterētur, Blossius quīdam, Tiberiī amīcus, prō sē dēprecātum vēnit, hanc, ut sibi ignōscerētur, causam adferēns, quod tantī Gracchum fēcisset, ut, quidquid ille vellet, sibi faciendum putāret.

After Tiberius Graccus had died, since the senate had commanded to the consuls that those who had conspired with Graccus should be punished, a certain Blossius, a friend of Tiberius, came to plead his case, so that he would be forgiven offered the reason that because he had regarded Gracchus to be so important, that whatever he (Gracchus) wished, he (Blossius) regarded as his duty to perform.

I can't work out why animadverterētur is singular. Isn't it that all of those men were to be punished, not just Blossius? Or is this just one of those weird Latin things that just go from plural to singular randomly?

My second problem happens later, when he (Blossius) admitted to the consul that if Gracchus had commanded it, he would have torched the temple to Juppiter on the Capitol.

Nefāria est ea vōx; nūlla enim est excūsātiō peccātī, sī amīcī causā peccāveris.

It is an abominable thing to say; there is no excuse of sin, if you sinned for the sake of a friend.

My translation is rubbish, particulary 'excuse of sin'. Can anyone see where I'm going wrong? Cheers, Phil

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Re: Problems with Gracchi

Post by Craig_Thomas » Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:35 am

For your first problem:

"...that it [punishment] be inflicted against those men..."

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Re: Problems with Gracchi

Post by Screwdog » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:41 pm

Hey phil,

"Excuse of sin" is perhaps an overly literal translating of the phrase here. Prepositions can be tricky business when you're trying to render them from one language to another. Our English preposition "of" doesn't quite make sense in this context, even though peccatī is no doubt in the genitive case.

I would fall back on common sense and intuition here, and go with "excuse to sin" or "excuse for sin."

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Re: Problems with Gracchi

Post by modus.irrealis » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:13 pm

I wouldn't translate "nūlla enim est excūsātiō" with "there is" but rather as something like "for it is no excuse for sin, if you sinned for the sake of a friend."

About animadverteretur, I just understood it as an impersonal passive since the active is "animadverto in eos" -- just like how you say "mihi creditur" = "I am believed".

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