Seneca epistulae morales 24

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Bart
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Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by Bart » Thu Nov 22, 2018 7:43 pm

I'm enjoying myself reading Seneca, I prefer his snappy style over Cicero's periods. I have a few questions after having read letter 24.

24.3: In quamcumque partem rerum vel civilium vel externarum memoriam miseris, occurrent tibi ingenia aut profectus aut inpetus magni.
Cast your mind back to any sphere of llife, whether at home or abroad, and you will think of minds which which showed either philosophical maturity or great natural energy (translation C. Costa)

Miseris is future perfect, right? Seneca seems to use the future perfect quite a lot in cases where I would expect a normal future tense.


24.5: Seneca is writing about C. Mucius Scaevola, who famously failed to kill Rome’s enemy Porsenna and burnt his own hand as a self inflicted punishment for his failure and also to showcase the courage of the Roman soldiers. He writes:

Facere aliquid in illis castris felicius potuit, nihil fortius.
-> He could have done something more succesful in that campaign, but nothing more brave. (translation C. Costa)

Why potuit? The first part of the sentence ‘Facere aliquid in illis castris felicius potuit’ seems to be a contrary to fact statement (for he didn’t kill Porsenna) so wouldn’t you expect a pluperfect subjunctive? Or is the perfect used by attraction so to say, because the second part of the sentence is a factual statement?


24.14: Quid mihi gladios et ignes ostendis et turbam carnificum circa tefrementem ? Tolle istam pompam, sub qua lates et stultos territas! Mors es, 1quam nuper servus meus, quam ancilla contempsit. Quid tu rursus mihiflagella et eculeos magno apparatu explicas ? Quid singulis articulis singula machinamenta, quibus extorqueantur, aptata et mille alia [p. 174] instrumentaexcarnificandi particulatim hominis ?

Seneca is in great rethorical shape here. About the last bit: Quid singulis articulis singula machinamenta, quibus extorqueantur, aptata et mille alia instrumenta excarnificandi particulatim hominis.

To be sure I understand the last bit correctly a very literal translation:

Why (do you display/ explicas) the separate machines fitted (aptata) for individual joints by which they are torn out and thousand other instruments for gradually slaughtering a man?

The sentence is convoluted and disjointed and almost seems to be a rethorical expression of the horror it depicts.

24.18: Non sum tam ineptus, ut Epicuream cantilenam hoc loco persequar et dicam vanos esse inferorum metus, nec Ixionem rota volvi nec saxum umerisSisyphi trudi in adversum nec ullius viscera et renasci posse cotidie et carpi; nemo tam puer est, ut Cerberum timeat et tenebras et larvalem habitum nudis ossibus cohaerentium.

Seneca is telling Lucilius nobody believes the old stories about prolonged suffering after death anymore. I am wondering about the last sentence: nemo tam puer est, ut Cerberum timeat et tenebras et larvalem habitum nudis ossibus cohaerentium.

Especially about ‘ larvalem habitum nudis ossibus cohaerentium.’
Cohaerentium must be the present participle genitive plural, so something like: the spectral form of (things) hanging together by their naked bones, i.e. ghosts or a kind of zombies I suppose. But it seems a rather complicated way of saying so.

Thanks.

anphph
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Re: Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by anphph » Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:57 pm

Miseris is future perfect, right? Seneca seems to use the future perfect quite a lot in cases where I would expect a normal future tense.
Yes, future perfect. While it can be used in other cases, here it is caused by the articulation of tenses with the future imperfect occurrent.
Why potuit? The first part of the sentence ‘Facere aliquid in illis castris felicius potuit’ seems to be a contrary to fact statement (for he didn’t kill Porsenna) so wouldn’t you expect a pluperfect subjunctive? Or is the perfect used by attraction so to say, because the second part of the sentence is a factual statement?
Two ways of answering. Sometimes the perfect is used for impossible conditionals, but that's usually in shorter, pithy statements. "Bonum fuit" pro "Bonum fuisset!" or "Potuit hoc facere!" for "Potuisset hoc facere!" It's also possible that he's saying something far more simple: He had the chance of doing something (taking here the verb 'posse' to mean 'to have the chance' rather than 'to be able'), he just happened to not have taken it, but even if he had done it, it wouldn't have been braver than that which he actually ended up doing (case in point: we are talking about it still to this day).
But it seems a rather complicated way of saying so.
Does it?

Bart
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Re: Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by Bart » Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:36 pm

Thank you.


Future perfect: so, in Latin you say (or can say) -> When you will have done/ watched/ found X, you will find/ do/ see Y, instead of: if you do/ will do X, you will find Y.


anphph wrote:
Thu Nov 22, 2018 9:57 pm
But it seems a rather complicated way of saying so.
Does it?
Well, no, perhaps not if you do not have a word for zombie. But 'larvalis habitus nudis ossibus cohaerentium' reminds me of the kind of neologisms for i-phone and subway and so on that the Vatican sends into the world from time to time.

anphph
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Re: Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by anphph » Fri Nov 23, 2018 2:18 pm

I see it less as a neologism than as a purposely ghastly expression and even -- dare I say, or am being too squeamish? -- actually effective as such.

Interaxus
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Re: Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by Interaxus » Fri Nov 23, 2018 9:01 pm

24.3: In quamcumque partem rerum vel civilium vel externarum memoriam miseris, occurrent tibi ingenia aut profectus aut inpetus magni.
Cast your mind back to any sphere of llife, whether at home or abroad, and you will think of minds which which showed either philosophical maturity or great natural energy (translation C. Costa)
Isn't miseris perfect subjunctive? 'Should you send .../If you should send ...'.

Just a thought.

Ut valeas!

Int

Hylander
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Re: Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by Hylander » Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:49 pm

24.5 -- Potuit (perfect indicative, not pluperfect subjunctive) is frequent in contrary to fact conditions. See Allen & Greenough sec. 517c:
c. Verbs and other expressions denoting necessity, propriety, possibility, duty, when used in the apodosis of a condition contrary to fact, may be put in the Imperfect or Perfect Indicative.

Such are oportet , decet , dēbeō , possum , necesse est , opus est , and the Second Periphrastic Conjugation:—2

“nōn potuit fierī sapiēns, nisi nātus esset ” (Fin. 2.103) , he could not have become a sage, if he had not been born.
“sī prīvātus esset hōc tempore, tamen is erat dēligendus ” (Manil. 50) , if he were at this time a private citizen, yet he ought to be appointed.
“quod esse caput dēbēbat, sī probārī posset ” (Fin. 4.23) , what ought to be the main point, if it could be proved.
“sī ita putāsset, certē optābilius Milōnī fuit ” (Mil. 31) , if he had thought so, surely it would have been preferable for Milo.
[*] Note.--In Present conditions the Imperfect Subjunctive ( oportēret , possem , etc.) is the rule, the Indicative being rare; in Past conditions both the Subjunctive (usually Pluperfect) and the Indicative (usually Perfect) are common.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0001

In my experience, I would say that the perfect indicative is more common than the pluperfect subjunctive.

* * *
Isn't miseris perfect subjunctive? 'Should you send .../If you should send ...'.
Miseris is future perfect. In Latin, unlike English, the future perfect must be used in the protasis of future conditions if the protasis will occur before the apodosis. As a result, Latin uses the future perfect indicative much more often than English. The verb of apodosis is future, as here, occurrent. Here miseris has to happen before occurrent can occur.

See Allen & Greenough 516c:
c. If the conditional act is regarded as completed before that of the apodosis begins, the Future Perfect is substituted for the Future Indicative in protasis, and the Perfect Subjunctive for the Present Subjunctive:—

sīn cum potuerō nōn vēnerō, tum erit inimīcus (Att. 9.2A. 2), but if I do not come when I can, he will be unfriendly.
“sī ā corōnā relictus sim, nōn queam dīcere ” (Brut. 192) , if I should be deserted by the circle of listeners, I should not be able to speak.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0001

Interaxus
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Re: Seneca epistulae morales 24

Post by Interaxus » Sat Nov 24, 2018 12:20 am

Hylander:

Thanks for putting me wise.

Ut valeas!
Int

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