Latin Reading Club (2) - Cicero, Pro Archia 15-16

Cato

Consularis
In 62 BCE, Cicero's former teacher Archias was accused of being an illegal alien living in Rome, a prelude to deportation. Cicero defended Archias on the facts, but went further by defending his character as a teacher of literature:

Atque idem hoc contendo, cum ad naturam eximam et illustrem accesserit ratio quaedam conformatioque doctrinae, tum illud nescioquid praeclarum ac singulare solere exsistere. Ex hoc esse hunc numero quem patres nostri viderunt, divinum hominem Africanum, ex hoc Gaium Laelium, Lucium Furium, moderatissimos homines et continentissimos, ex hoc fortissimum virum et illis temporibus doctissimum, Marcum Catonem illum senem. Qui profecto si nihil ad percipiendam colendamque virtutem litteris adiuvarentur, numquam se ad earum studium contulissent.

Quodsi non hic tantus fructus ostenderetur, et si ex his studiis delectatio sola peteretur, tamen (ut opinor) hanc animi adversionem humanissimam ac liberalissimam iudicaretis. Nam ceterae neque temporum sunt neque aetatum omnium neque locorum: Haec studia adulescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solacium praeent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinanturm, rusticantur.

Perseus text (start at 5th sentence in)

English translation (start at 3rd sentence)

Vocab/Grammar

idem hoc - "exactly this"
contendo, -ere - One would expect an accusative with infinitive to follow this verb; keep that in mind when translating the subsequent cum...tum clause.
eximius, -a, -um - "distinguished"
ratio...conformatioque - Technically plural, but it's the subject of the singular verb accesserit.
doctrina, -ae "education" in general; not "doctrine"
illud nescioquid - "something or other"

adversio, -onis - "interest" (lit. "a turning toward")
alo, -ere - "to nourish"
oblecto, -are - "to charm"
res secundae - "prosperity"; this is a quaint idiom.
perfugium, -i - "refuge"
foris (adv.) - "outdoors"

Questions

Why does Cicero use the word nescioquid in the first paragraph? What effect is he after?

Feel free to comment on the Roman names and order Cicero uses. Why is Cato saved for last, and what is the effect of illum?

Why does Cicero use the subjunctive forms adjuvarentur and contulissent? Can that analysis be extended into ostenderetur and peteretur in the next paragraph? What is the overall effect of this?

What are the implied items in Cicero's word ceterae?

How do you understand the use of the genitive in temporum...aetatum...locorum? Why do you think omnium is placed where it is?

Feel free to comment on the effects of the consecutive short phrases closing the final paragraph; is Cicero "piling on"?

Cicero is the gold standard of Latin grammar and syntax. Any curious grammatical points should be well-understood, so comments on the meaning of his Latin are of course welcome

Habete ludum!
 

Cato

Consularis
Two quick points:

* I misspelled praebent in the final sentence.

* The history and politics surrounding this case are interesting and worth discussion, but I wouldn't want that discussion to crowd out the Latin here. At least initially, I'm suggesting we stick to the text. stick to the text.
 

Donaldus

New Member
Sorry chjones, I did read the text and I enjoyed it, I just don't have a good enough grasp of the Latin in this case to address any of the issues you raise.

I also like the idea of the reading club: I like the way that as it goes on it has the potential to build itself into a structured, self-contained, and reusable learning resource; and I like the way that if I'm going take advantage of your generosity with your knowledge, it's with a text of your choosing, and with some effort required of me to work through the text before asking questions.

I can recommend trying out the passage and last week's one even to those who don't think their Latin is up to it... it's a short passage with the translation and notes to fall back on, and it's surprising and satisfying to put in an hour or two of study and suddenly find that the writer makes sense, and not just in some classics crossword puzzle way, but using the same criterion of making sense as you'd apply to a modern writer.
 

Iynx

Consularis
What are the implied items in Cicero's word ceterae?

How do you understand the use of the genitive in temporum...aetatum...locorum? Why do you think omnium is placed where it is?


Hmmm. Well, I thought that the ceterae referred to studiae-- other studies.

And I read the omnium as connected not with the aetatum only, but with the temporum and the locorum as well. Less rhetorically one might have said: Nam ceterae neque temporum omnium sunt neque aetatum omnium neque locorum omnium("For other studies are not appropriate to all times, nor to all times of life, nor to all places"). Omitting the implied omnium's qualifies (I think) as ellipsis, and more specifically as syncope. We might imitate the effect in English by saying: "For other studies are not appropriate to all times, nor times of life, nor places". In English we must, I think, append the "all" to the first term. Apparently this is not so in Latin? Or am I completely off the track?

Incidentally, this is not the first time I have encountered the term "bump" in the context of discourse on a computer forum. But I have no idea what it means; can you enlighten me?
 

Cato

Consularis
Iynx dixit:
Hmmm. Well, I thought that the ceterae referred to studiae-- other studies.
Absolutely; nothing particularly difficult about this one, just interesting how Latin can use a word like this so far away from an antecedent.

And I read the omnium as connected not with the aetatum only, but with the temporum and the locorum as well...In English we must, I think, append the "all" to the first term. Apparently this is not so in Latin? Or am I completely off the track?
You're right on track; I'd take omnium to go with each term. Unlike English, Latin has the power to delay the omnium, and I think Cicero is after a particular cadence here. With omnium where it is, the three terms between the neque's are all of similar length (there is a natural break at the end of locorum, which would allow Cicero to extend it's sound with a pregnant pause). It is a small thing, but it is Cicero's ability to marshall all these small things in service of his oratory that made him such an effective and memorable speaker.

Incidentally, this is not the first time I have encountered the term "bump" in the context of discourse on a computer forum. But I have no idea what it means; can you enlighten me?
When posting a new thread to a computer forum where you get no answer right away, your thread is in danger of getting lost under all the new threads/posts in the meanwhile. You then "bump" your thread to the top of the list by appending a reply yourself. Since you usually have nothing to add (or are too sheepish to egg on replies), you sometimes just write "bump" in the post.
 

Iynx

Consularis
I have labored my way, again, not only through your extract, but through the whole of the Pro Archia. I understand, of course, that this guy is widely held to be one of the great orators, and one of the great prose stylists, of all time. And even I am not incognizant of his virtues. But this speech in particular reminds me of all that I don't like about Cicero.

To begin with, he is so damned conceited, so self-important.

Secondly, although he does make here an effective (and brief) case in defense of his client, he spends a great deal more breath extoling virtues-- his own, those of his client, and those of the literary life. All of this (as he himself proudly acknowledges) is of course entirely immaterial and irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Finally, he revels in literary style and in rhetoric for their own sake. My own taste (or perhaps my own poor abilities) incline me much more to the simple, the straightforward, and the less self-conscious. My ideal Latin stylist would be not Cicero, but Jerome, and if that makes me a peasant, so be it. Perhaps we will see some Jerome in these readings before long?

I think this is a very useful exercise, chjones. I hope it continues. Thank you for leading it.
 

Cato

Consularis
Iynx, I can wholly appreciate your opinion of Cicero; I may like him better than you, but his orations are not among my favorite Latin reading. You're right, he is rather vain (his letters--which I appreciate a little more than his planned speeches--make that abundantly clear), but his Latin is impeccable and really shows the heights the language can reach.

One point I'd like to clear up: I sincerely hope no one here thinks they have to like Cicero or any author because of his reputation. There are several highly-regarded classical authors I simply do not care for (Juvenal and Seneca spring to mind). I may appreciate their abilities, but they simply are not my cup of tea. The exercise here is to see how Latin was used across the centuries, and hopefully find an interesting bit of Latin to carry with you.

Regarding Jerome, this is a good suggestion; would you care to walk us thru a favorite passage? Currently I'm alternating prose and poetry selections; perhaps a selection from Jerome for next Friday 8/11?
 
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