Do not do good lest you get evil in return.

Alexey

New Member
Dear forum members. I need your advice on translating the Russian proverb about ingratitude "Не делай добра - не получишь зла" (literally "Don't do good [and] you won't get evil [in return]).

"Non bene facias ne tibi male faciant" ?

By the way, what is the best way to translate this phrase into English?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
"Non bene facias ne tibi male faciant" ?
That isn't quite correct.

Unfortunately, I don't know Russian, so I can't say what's the best way to translate the original Russian phrase into English, but I can provide Latin translations based on your English translations, hopefully to be verified later by someone who knows Russian.

Noli bene facere, ne tibi malum reddatur = "Do not do good, lest you be repaid with evil."

Noli bene facere; malum tibi non reddetur = "Do not do good (and) you will not be repaid with evil."
 

Alexey

New Member
Thank you very much for your answer. So you think that imperativus praesentis in the first part of the sentence is preferable to coniunctivus imperativus. I used praesens coniunctivi because in the comprehensive grammar by Sobolevski there was a statement that it should be used if the instruction is addressed not to a particular person but to people in general or an unstated person ("rules of life" as he calls it).
 
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syntaxianus

Civis Illustris
I am thinking along the lines of

ne bene facias ne mala accipias.

I suppose one could interject vicissim for "in turn."

ne bene facias ne vicissim mala accipias.

= Don't do good so you don't get bad (things) in turn.

Late Latin could say:

ne benefacias ne malefias.

= Don't do good so you don't suffer injury.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I don't like the repetition of ne in two different senses.

Malefieri doesn't mean "to suffer an injury"; it means for an injury to be done. The person suffering the injury is in the dative.
 

syntaxianus

Civis Illustris
I don't like the repetition of ne in two different senses.

Malefieri doesn't mean "to suffer an injury"; it means for an injury to be done. The person suffering the injury is in the dative.
Malefio is defined by L&S as "to be injured (late Lat.), Cael. Aur. Signif. Diaet. Pass. 89." Not far from there to "to suffer an injury."
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
OK, that's a late and rare usage I wasn't aware of.
 

Cinefactus

Censor
Staff member
I really wanted to prove that ne + pres subj was in regular usage, but after a very long search, I could only find examples in Early Latin and the Vulgate.
 

syntaxianus

Civis Illustris
I really wanted to prove that ne + pres subj was in regular usage, but after a very long search, I could only find examples in Early Latin and the Vulgate.
Well it is a subject for research, and perhaps some personal preference. Cicero quotes "actum ne agas" in a letter to Atticus but, granted, that might be proverbial. You may have seen this article, which, again, deals with speech not properly classical, but which may point to something in the living instincts of the Latin language as popularly spoken, as against "Madvig's dictatorship."
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Cicero quotes "actum ne agas" in a letter to Atticus
It's not a direct prohibition; it depends on malim: https://latin.packhum.org/search?q=actum+ne+agas

There's no doubt that ne + present subjunctive direct prohibitions became extremely common in late Latin, and at least occasionally occurred before that, though the perfect subjunctive is much more common during the classical period.

I'm not really bothered by your use of the present subjunctive, but by the double ne, as I said, which does feel rather awkward.
 
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