Seneca, Ep. 84 - "cui se fortuna summisit"

DucuntFata

New Member
From his letters:

Quaecumque videntur eminere in rebus humanis, quamvis pusilla sint et comparatione humillimorum exstent, per difficiles tamen et arduos tramites adeuntur. Confragosa in fastigium dignitatis via est; at si conscendere hunc verticem libet, cui se fortuna summisit, omnia quidem sub te quae pro excelsissimis habentur aspicies, sed tamen venies ad summa per planum. Vale.

What can "cui se fortuna summisit" mean? And more specifically, how do you decide on what is meant here by "summittere"?
 
sub- often means something the opposite of 'under', rather 'up (from underneath)'. Given that we're talking about the heights (fastigium, vertex, summa), I'm willing to take it quite literally, although the common English 'submit, yield' I think would work also.

"But if you wish to climb to the top of this peak, (up from) underneath which fortune has reared itself, certainly all..."

The physical idea is that fate has crept into the land and 'sent itself up' in the form of a great, steep hill... or something.
 

DucuntFata

New Member
Interesting take on it. I like it. I see that "which lies far above the range of Fortune" is Gummere's interpretation (Loeb).
 

syntaxianus

Civis Illustris
Doesn't "cui se fortuna summisit" rather mean

to which Fortune has given way / made allowance / "submitted itself" ?

That is, there is no bad luck stopping you from proceeding. You are out of the reach of Fortuna because it has yielded this to you humbled itself before [this greatness].

If this interpretation is correct, the Loeb translation is understandable not really that close. [Corrections to post added 7/23/2021.]
 
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Ah, okay, I see. So the 'peak' is like the farthest boundary of fortune.
 

DucuntFata

New Member
Or maybe: You are not just given this greatness (nor denied it), but (this fortune) depends on your laborious ascent to the top. (+ the modification of "ascent" - "per planum")
 

DucuntFata

New Member
All right. That looks like a solid interpretation. I am not really in a place to argue about the content of the concepts. Graver-Long:

What seems most eminent in human affairs, even though in reality it is puny and stands out only by comparison with what is the lowest, is reached nonetheless by steep and difficult paths. It is a rugged road that leads to the summit of prestige. But if you choose to scale this mountain, the one that rises above the things of fortune, you will letter see spread out beneath you everything that most people regard as heights. Yet the path to this summit lies on level ground.
 

DucuntFata

New Member
Another one, letter 44:

Iterum tu mihi te pusillum facis et dicis malignius tecum egisse naturam prius, deinde fortunam, cum possis eximere te vulgo et ad felicitatem hominum maximam emergere.

What is one to make of this present subjunctive? First of all it is present because of "dicis", right, but is it still – in sense – past tense because of "egisse"? I couldn't figure this out this morning.

By the way, how is that rule: when in indirect discourse the subjunctive in a subordinate clause depends upon a perfect infinitive with "historical" (and not present) meaning, the sequence (of tense) also depends on it and not the verb controlling the indirect discourse (as is usually the case)? Was browsing around the online Allen and Greenough, but I didn't find it.

And secondly: I take it as concessive, but in what sense? "Even though he has been able to take himself out of the common crowd and bring himself up to the height of human felicity" – or that he could have, but hasn't? Edit: Yes yes, you.

It seems a little excessive, maybe, to say that he has attained the peak of prosperity – but not regarding context and interpretation, what does the latin say?

Thank you for your helpfulness.
 
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DucuntFata

New Member
Morning came and passed, and I didn't get any wiser, so it was wrong of me to blame Her.

Anyways, I think I'll go for "although you can ..."
 
I meant to post this yesterday, but while I was writing it my internet went kaput. Luckily, ol' Googlor saved 'er:

By the way, how is that rule: when in indirect discourse the subjunctive in a subordinate clause depends upon a perfect infinitive with "historical" (and not present) meaning,
This is the crux of it. The cum clause operates independently of the indirect statement; it could just as well come first in the sentence, and so it doesn't follow a special sequencing rule. Let's just put it first (and I'll supply underlying sentiment in brackets):
'Even though [I've been giving you all my wisdom and so by now] you have the power to...'
 
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The sort of thing you're describing would have been applicable if the sentence had read more like:

You say that, even though you've done great deeds, people still treat you badly...'
 
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