Question about Livy...

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cdm2003
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Question about Livy...

Post by cdm2003 » Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:15 pm

Salvete!

I am reading a composition book and one of the exercises asks to read a paragraph of Livy and then answer questions about it. It seems straight-forward enough, though I don't really understand the constructions used in a particular sentence. I've been going over this sentence for about a month and finally looked up a translation. I have no idea how the translation comes from the original sentence so I thought I would post here and see if anyone could help explain how.

Original sentence from Livy, III, 26: Operae pretium est audire qui omnia prae divitiis humana spernunt neque honori magno locum neque virtuti putant esse, nisi ubi effuse affluant opes.

The best I could do on my own was to translate "operae pretium est audire qui" as "It is worthwhile to hear how." Next, in "omnia prae divitiis humana spernunt neque honori magno locum neque virtuti putant esse" I see "all men spurn for the sake of riches" and "neither for great honor" and "nor esteem virtue." I have no idea what to make of the use of "locum" and "esse," and I think this is what's keeping me of seeing the meaning of the sentence.

I have a copy of a B&N translation that goes as follows: "What followed merits the attention of those who despise all human qualities in comparison with riches, and think there is no room for great honours or for worth but amidst a profusion of wealth." This sentence leaves me very confused as I can't see where the translator pulled "What followed," nor can I see why "neither...nor" is absent from the translation, though I suspect that "neque...locum...neque" is translated as "no room for...or...". Further, "merits the attention of those" confuses me, as I assume this is what the translator has done with "operae pretium est audire qui," but I don't see "qui" as being anything but the subject of the paragraph or the adverb translating to "how."

I apologize if this is a silly post...after all...this is from the very first chapter of the Minkova readings in Latin prose. I had the same amount of trouble with the very first sentence but after the requisite month of stewing over it, it became clear. I'm not asking for a translation...just any comments as to how the Livy got to the English in the cheap B&N paperback.

Many thanks,
Chris

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Post by Iulianus » Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:59 pm

Salve Chris,

Though I am still learning myself, I hope I can help you out with a couple of pointers.
The best I could do on my own was to translate "operae pretium est audire qui" as "It is worthwhile to hear how."
qui can't function (as far as I know) as a conjunction - I think quomodo is the word you're thinking of - so therefore qui here must be nominative, right - an thus subject - ? With that in mind, the following probably makes a lot more sense. Remember though, qui here can't be an interrogative - if that was the case, it would've been spernant (indirect question) instead of spernunt .
Next, in "omnia prae divitiis humana spernunt neque honori magno locum neque virtuti putant esse" I see "all men spurn for the sake of riches"
humana here is an adjective, which belongs to a noun in the neuter plural (either that, or feminine singular, but there is no such noun in this sentence). Now that you've figured out what the subject is in this sentence, it should be a bit easier to figure out what the object of spernunt is.
I have no idea what to make of the use of "locum" and "esse," and I think this is what's keeping me of seeing the meaning of the sentence.
locum is what case? And esse just happens to be an infinitive... Now, since there is no clear object to putant, maybe this construction can serve as its object.

Hope this helps you out. If you need anymore help - don't hesitate to ask.

Iulianus

P.S. To the other board members, who are much better acquainted with Latin, please feel free to remark any mistakes or shortcomings I may have made. Thanks!

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Post by bellum paxque » Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:52 pm

Operae pretium est audire qui omnia prae divitiis humana spernunt neque honori magno locum neque virtuti putant esse, nisi ubi effuse affluant opes.

A tough opening to the sentence. Here are a few more tips.
This sentence leaves me very confused as I can't see where the translator pulled "What followed"...
"What followed," it seems, is implied in audire; i.e., to listen to (what followed).
Further, "merits the attention of those" confuses me, as I assume this is what the translator has done with "operae pretium est audire qui," but I don't see "qui" as being anything but the subject of the paragraph or the adverb translating to "how."
First, operae pretium esse is an idiom meaning "it's worth the trouble," as you seem to know. Second, supply eos before audire, the antecedent of qui. Namely, operae pretium est eos audire, qui... = "It's worthwhile that they listen [to what's coming] who..." It's pretty common in Livy, as elsewhere, to have a relative pronoun meaning something like "those who," "one who," etc. Here it's just a bit harder to guess the case of the implied antecedent.

My translation, by the way, is a bit awkward , put literally like that. Hence the verbal gymnastics of the translator. ("Merits the attention" seems really pretentious to me, by the way.)

-David

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Post by Interaxus » Sun Apr 23, 2006 7:57 pm

Hi,
Operae pretium est audire qui omnia prae divitiis humana spernunt neque honori magno locum neque virtuti putant esse, nisi ubi effuse affluant opes.
I found a slightly better translation on the Web (by Roberts):

It is worth while for those who despise all human interests in comparison with riches, and think that there is no scope for high honours or for virtue except where lavish wealth abounds to listen to this story.

This seems to be Livy's prefatory remark to his tale of Cincinnatus, a super-modest old guy snatched out of rural retirement by a panicky Senate to play Dictator for a spell and defeat the enemy threatening Rome. Having done which, he immediately resigned (unlike some modern Italians). A bit of context always helps ...

Int

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Post by cdm2003 » Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:02 pm

Gratias vobis!

I think I'm understanding this a little better:

It is worthwhile for those [implied as the subject to audire] who spurn [qui...spernunt] all human qualities [omnia humana] for the sake of riches (reckoning neither towards [my verbal gymnastics..;) locum putant + dat.] great honor nor virtue unless they can enjoy an effusion of wealth) to hear what happened [audire...esse].

This seems a tough sentence to put into English, at least to me, simply because the meat of Livy's sentence is focused within a relative clause as opposed to being delivered in the main. I think that's why I found it tough... it certainly is not your average English construction.

Anyway, many thanks for so much help. I should have asked sooner. :)

Chris

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Post by Ulpianus » Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:17 am

It's not so odd, though it needs quite free translation if it is not to be stilted. Try using "anyone who ...":

"Anyone who disdains human interests other than wealth, and reckons that high honour and nobility are found only where lavish wealth abounds, really ought to listen."

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Post by cdm2003 » Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:55 pm

Okay...I see...affluant is the predicate of opes: where [ubi] wealth [opes] lavishly [effuse] abounds [affluant].

Thank you!

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Post by cdm2003 » Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:50 pm

Okay...I've backed up a sentence in the same text (Livy III, 26) and have come across what seems to me an awkward phrase:
...Nautium consulem arcessunt. In quo cum parum praesidii videretur dictatoremque dici placeret qui rem perculsam restitueret, L. Quinctius Cincinnatus consensu omnium dicitur.
I understand (I think) most of the sentence except for in quo cum parum praesidii videretur. I see videretur as being "it should seem" but the same translations of the text I had been looking at before state that the construction translates as "but deeming him unequal to their defence" or "but as he did nothing equal to the emergency." Unfortunately, I don't see where either translator finds "unequal" or "nothing equal" as "parum praesidii videretur" just looks like "it should seem (that he) was equal to (their) defence."

Could someone point out where the negation is coming from? Am I not understanding a colloqialism?

Many thanks,
Chris

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Post by Ulpianus » Thu Apr 27, 2006 9:11 pm

I would take "cum parvum praesidii videretur" as follows: "when (cum) he seemed (videretur) insufficient (parvum) with respect to a defence (praesidii)". No need for a negative: "parvus" = "small/insignificant/weak" (i.e. in context no adequate defence).

How are you taking "in quo"?

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Post by cdm2003 » Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:15 pm

Of course now it looks easier. :) I think I got tunnel-visioned thinking of parum as the accusative of par instead of as the indeclinable adjective or as parvum.

I was thinking that in quo belonged to a construction with praesidii as partitive genitive, i.e., "in relation to that need [in quo] of their defence [praesidii]." Now, with what you said, it looks as if "in quo cum parum praesidii videretur" can translate to "when he seemed insufficient in relation to their defence." Perhaps more freely: "Since Nautius seemed inadequate for their defence..."

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Post by bellum paxque » Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:52 pm

Looks like you've got it solved.

Is parum related to parvum? It would seem so...

And yes, I've always thought it's darn confusing that the word for "too little" is so similar to the word for "equal, like."

-David

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Post by cdm2003 » Fri Apr 28, 2006 10:05 pm

Thanks David...much appreciated. :)

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