Cicero Pro Caelio section 29 - a better translation?

Phoebus Apollo

Civis Illustris
vestrae sapientiae, iudices, est non abduci ab reo nec, quos aculeos habeat severitas gravitasque vestra, cum eos accusator erexerit in rem, in vitia, in mores, in tempora, emittere in hominem et in reum, cum is non suo crimine sed multorum vitio sit in quoddam odium iniustum vocatus.

I'm struggling to translate this rather convoluted sentence. So far I've got:
But it is consistent with your wisdom, members of the jury, not to be sidetracked from the defendant, nor to hurl against an individual defendant the stings/barbs, which your strictness and stern responsibility has, when (since?) he has been called into (maybe ‘subjected’/’made to face’) unjust prejudice not through his own fault but through the failings of many others, when/since/after (not sure which?) the prosecutor has aimed them against an abstraction/subject, against vices, against morals, against the age in which we live/the times.

I'm mainly struggling with how to translate both of the 'cum's and also I'm not entirely sure about the quos - is aculeos its antecedent, even though it comes after it?

 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
It's very difficult to translate. The problem is that the Latin word order is kind of difficult to preserve in a literal translation. Yes, aculeos is the antecedent (postcedent?) of quos.

I was trying to come up with a literal translation but it was really getting confusing. I think the sense, following the Latin word order of Cicero's thought, is:
1. He mentions the barbs that your strictness and stern responsibility has, setting up that this is going to be an important thought in the sentence
2. He says that since the prosecuter aimed them into an abstraction, against vices, etc., the judges should not hurl them at a person and a defendant. The sense here of cum seems to be causal, as it explains why the judges should not be hurling them at people.
3. He explains in more detail why this human is not a fair target for the barbs.

Your translation kind of loses the particular order of thoughts that Cicero uses, but I couldn't find a good way to preserve it. Maybe a better translator than I am could think of something.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I think it's important to preserve the order of ideas, and that this can only be done in English with some rephrasing.

Perhaps something along these lines:

vestrae sapientiae, iudices, est non abduci ab reo nec, quos aculeos habeat severitas gravitasque vestra, cum eos accusator erexerit in rem, in vitia, in mores, in tempora, emittere in hominem et in reum, cum is non suo crimine sed multorum vitio sit in quoddam odium iniustum vocatus.

"It would be consistent with your wisdom, gentlemen, that you should not be sidetracked from the defendant. The prosecutor has aimed the darts of your strictness and seriousness at a fact, at vices, at manners, at circumstances: you should not throw those darts at a person, the defendant, when it is not for any crime of his own, but for the fault of many, that he has been made to face some sort of unfair hatred."

Not saying this translation is optimal in every respect (I made it relatively quickly), but the order of ideas at least seems reasonably preserved.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
To follow even more closely the order outlined by Dantius, I guess you could even split it further, like:

""It would be consistent with your wisdom, gentlemen, that you should not be sidetracked from the defendant. Your strictness and seriousness has darts. The prosecutor has aimed those at a fact, at vices, at manners, at circumstances: you should not throw them at a person..."

Not sure it's necessary or even so much better, though. It can be discussed.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
The second translation feels somewhat choppy with the sentence "your strictness and seriousness has darts". I prefer your first translation.
 

Phoebus Apollo

Civis Illustris
It's very difficult to translate. The problem is that the Latin word order is kind of difficult to preserve in a literal translation. Yes, aculeos is the antecedent (postcedent?) of quos.

I was trying to come up with a literal translation but it was really getting confusing. I think the sense, following the Latin word order of Cicero's thought, is:
1. He mentions the barbs that your strictness and stern responsibility has, setting up that this is going to be an important thought in the sentence
2. He says that since the prosecuter aimed them into an abstraction, against vices, etc., the judges should not hurl them at a person and a defendant. The sense here of cum seems to be causal, as it explains why the judges should not be hurling them at people.
3. He explains in more detail why this human is not a fair target for the barbs.

Your translation kind of loses the particular order of thoughts that Cicero uses, but I couldn't find a good way to preserve it. Maybe a better translator than I am could think of something.
I think it's important to preserve the order of ideas, and that this can only be done in English with some rephrasing.

Perhaps something along these lines:

vestrae sapientiae, iudices, est non abduci ab reo nec, quos aculeos habeat severitas gravitasque vestra, cum eos accusator erexerit in rem, in vitia, in mores, in tempora, emittere in hominem et in reum, cum is non suo crimine sed multorum vitio sit in quoddam odium iniustum vocatus.

"It would be consistent with your wisdom, gentlemen, that you should not be sidetracked from the defendant. The prosecutor has aimed the darts of your strictness and seriousness at a fact, at vices, at manners, at circumstances: you should not throw those darts at a person, the defendant, when it is not for any crime of his own, but for the fault of many, that he has been made to face some sort of unfair hatred."

Not saying this translation is optimal in every respect (I made it relatively quickly), but the order of ideas at least seems reasonably preserved.
Thank you both!
 
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