Quam ob causam quis... ( Marcus Aurelius )

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Quam ob causam quis... ( Marcus Aurelius )

Post by Scarlatti » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:11 am

From Chapter 2 of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations: "Quam ob causam quis suspectam habeat omnium rerum mutationem et in partes dissolutionem?"

This is translated "Why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements (making up all living beings)?"

My tentative literal translation would be: "On account of what cause would anyone be apprehensive about the change of all things and their dissolution into their constituent parts?"

If someone wants to parse the whole sentence, I would not complain... I can't quite figure out what is going on from quam to habeat. Several points of confusion here for me.

* Why is the subjective used, habeat? I am guessing indirect question but I haven't gotten to that part of D'Ooge yet.

* Is quisquam the subject? If so, what is the object? Causam, correct?

* Are quis and quam to be read the same way as quisquam?

* What does "ob" mean here? On account of?

* Why is suspectam in the accusative? If my translation is right, which it probably isn't, shouldn't it be in the dative? "What cause would anyone have TO have apprehension..." Is this one of those instances where a gerund is transformed into a gerundive, because I am having major difficulty with that, especially trying to figure out how I am supposed to know what the gerund and its object would have been.

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Re: Quam ob causam quis... ( Marcus Aurelius )

Post by Alatius » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:35 am

"Quam ob causam" is "for what reason" (i.e. "why?"). (You might have expected "ob quam causam", but the original word order is more elegant; in fact, it is more or less a fixed phrase.)

"Quis" is short for "aliquis".

"Suspectam" is not a gerund, nor a gerundive, but a perfect participle. It agrees in gender and case with "mutationem" (and with "dissolutionem" as well).

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Re: Quam ob causam quis... ( Marcus Aurelius )

Post by Scarlatti » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:05 pm

Thanks. I have no idea why I thought suspectam was a gerundive. I know that they have an -nd in the ending, I just blanked out.

At this point I have the rudiments of grammar and am trying to cram in lots of reading, but there are so many questions that come up. Latin has so many peculiar little tricks to it. If anyone wants to sharpen their skills helping me some more, here are some puzzling things from Chapter 3 of Meditations:

"Nam si delirare coeperit, perspirari quidem et nutriri et visis impelli"

What is "visis impelli," it is translated as imagination, but I can't figure out the sense of it. Is visis ablative rather than dative? Is this then "to be drawn away from things seen," i.e. towards the unseen?

Non hoc solum reputari oportet, vitam in dies absumi minoremque ejus partem relinqui, verum etiam illud reputandum est, etiamsi quis diutius victurus sit, tamen obscurum esse,an mens ipsius pariter posthac idoneam habitura sit vim ad intelligentiam rerum ac doctrinae ejus..."

Sorry, it's a long sentence and I have to post a big chunk for context. Why does it transition suddenly to the subjunctive for the clause beginning "etiamsi quis"? Does the passive periphrastic "reputandum est" lead to a deliberative subjunctive, since it declares necessity? And why does "tamen obscurum esse" have the infinitive?

I am sure I will have a million questions like this, so if things are slow on the site feel free to explain these mysteries to me!

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Re: Quam ob causam quis... ( Marcus Aurelius )

Post by Caecilius » Sun Mar 31, 2013 1:55 am

I know this is a fairly old thread, but I noticed this wasn't responded to. Not that I'm particularly well-versed in Latin, much less with M Aurelius, though I feel like this deserves some answers.

Regarding nam si delirare ... visis impelli, I'd say that literally visis impelli could be translated as "to be driven [pres. pass. inf] by visions [n.: abl. pl. nt. of 'visus']", which would then make sense.

As to your second question, it's only a personal attempt, but it seems to me that most of it consists of indirect discourse, triggered by 'hoc' and 'illud', hence 'obscurum esse' being an infinitive. To translate it literally:
Not only should this be considered [hoc being the subject accusative of oportet], that life is being diminished each day and that a small part of one is being left behind, but even 'that' [illud] must be considered, that even if anyone [si/nisi/ne/num + quis/etc. = someone, anyone] were to be alive [note that it could be either from vinco or vivo, but the latter really just makes more sense here; see Perseus] for a longer time, it would be nonetheless unclear, whether ... etc.
As for the mood : a concessive clause introduced by etiamsi can take the indicative or subjunctive, as per normal conditional clauses (i.e. based on its factual nature), so in this case I'd say the subjunctive is there for that reason. However, the verb in that clause would have had to been subjunctive in either case, since it's a subordinate clause within an indirect statement, and all verbs in those require the subjunctive.

That seems to make sense for me, but perhaps I've missed something. In any case, if you haven't received any other sources by now, hopefully that helps to some extent.
mirantur quidem divinam speciem, sed ut simulacrum fabre politum mirantur omnes.
- Psyche et Cupido, Lucius Apuleius

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