Commentary Cons. Phil. Book 4 Prosa 6
The relation between providence and fate. (This is the longest single prosa of the Consolatio; cf. 4P6.6.)
- section 1
cum tui muneris sit: "since it's your task," predicative genitive.
hinc: "about this, from this question posed"; refers to B.'s complaint in 4P5; hinc for de hac re is late Latin.
miraculum: "marvel"; diminutive < mirum; English sense of "miracle" is not present.
edisseras: < edissero, "explain in detail."
- section 2
quaesitu: supine, with maximam; < quaero, "inquire."
exhausti: exhausti . . . satis: cf. 4M1.15.
satis: exhausti . . . satis: cf. 4M1.15.
- section 3
una dubitatione succisa: (< succido, "cut off, mow down"): ablative absolute.
hydrae capita: The hydra was a snake which grew a new head whenever the old one was chopped off. Hercules prevailed by cauterizing the hydra's wounds with a torch (cf. uiuacissimo mentis igne below) to keep new heads from growing.
- section 4
In hac: sc. materia.
fati serie: i.e., "chain of fate."
praedestinatione: the only occurrence of this word in the Consolatio; cf. 5P2.11 for the cognate form praedestinata.
quae: i.e., all the abstractions just itemized.
quanti oneris sint: indirect question; quanti oneris is predicative genitive.
- section 5
haec: haec . . . te nosse: subject of est.
te nosse: haec . . . te nosse: subject of est.
- section 7
orsa: < ordior, "begin."
sortitur: "has as its lot," with accusative.
- section 8
modum: "limit, rule, mode of conduct."
cum uero ad ea: cum uero ad ea . . . refertur: "but when it [i.e., providence] is referred to those things . . . ," i.e., when considered in reference to them.
refertur: cum uero ad ea . . . refertur: "but when it [i.e., providence] is referred to those things . . . ," i.e., when considered in reference to them.
- section 9
Quae: i.e., fatum and prouidentia.
suis: suis . . . ordinibus: "in their orders, i.e., places in order."
ordinibus: suis . . . ordinibus: "in their orders, i.e., places in order."
- section 10
digerit: "arranges"; with in motum, "sets in motion."
distributa: modifies singula.
in: governs prospectum.
adunata: < aduno, "unite, make one"; modifies explicatio.
- section 11
fatalis: "of fate."
- section 12
faciendae rei: "of the thing to be made"; to be taken with formam.
praecipiens: "holding/taking ahead of time." Cf. 3M9.8.
mouet operis effectum: = effecit opus.
praesentarie: "in a moment."
prouidentia: ablative of instrument.
temporaliter: "in time," i.e., subject to change and movement; note that multipliciter ac temporaliter exactly answers singulariter stabiliterque in the previous clause.
- section 13
famulantibus: < famulor, "serve, attend upon," with dative; here modifies spiritibus.
exercetur: almost with an active sense, "works, acts."
anima: the "world-soul" of Neoplatonism is probably intended.
angelica: probably echoes Platonic doctrine as retailed by, e.g., Proclus (5th century) in commentary on the Republic of Plato (cf. Gruber); the same is true of daemonum.
gerenda: accusative plural neuter with quae.
- section 14
- section 15
15: B. visualizes concentric spheres rotating about the same axis (cardinem). The inmost sphere approaches the simplicitatem medietatis (i.e., the immobility of the central point) and stands in the same relation to the outer spheres as the cardo stands to the inmost.
orbium: orbium . . . uertentium: genitive depends on intimus.
uertentium: orbium . . . uertentium: genitive depends on intimus.
qui: sc. orbis.
extra locatorum: sc. orbium.
extimus: sc. orbis.
quanto: quanto . . . tanto: "so far as . . . to the same extent."
a puncti media indiuiduitate: "from the indivisibility of a mid-point"; media is a transferred epithet.
tanto: quanto . . . tanto: "so far as . . . to the same extent."
illi: illi . . . medio: "to that mid-point."
medio: illi . . . medio: "to that mid-point."
Simili ratione: up to this point (from ut orbium . . .) the sentence has been all simile; now the main clause begins.
prima mente: i.e., mente diuina, but the turn of phrase is very Platonic.
uicinius: "more nearly."
- section 16
fati: genitive with necessitatem.
- section 17
uti est: introduces four similes to describe the relation of the fati series mobilis to the prouidentiae stabilis simplicitas.
- section 18
in se: in se . . . temperat: "harmonizes to one another."
temperat: in se . . . temperat: "harmonizes to one another."
eadem: sc. series.
per similes fetuum seminumque: per similes fetuum seminumque . . . progressus: "by similar advances of offspring and seeds."
progressus: per similes fetuum seminumque . . . progressus: "by similar advances of offspring and seeds."
- section 19
Haec: sc. series.
quae: = et haec (sc. conexio).
ipsas: sc. causas.
- section 20
indeclinabilem: "constant, unvarying."
promat: < promo, "bring out, produce."
alioquin temere fluituras: "which would otherwise randomly dissipate away."
- section 21
uobis: uobis . . . minime considerare ualentibus: "to you . . . not at all able to consider."
minime considerare ualentibus: uobis . . . minime considerare ualentibus: "to you . . . not at all able to consider."
suus modus: suus looks ahead to cuncta: "their own limit arranges all things, directing [them] to the good."
- section 22
causa: "for the sake of . . ."
ne: ne . . . improbis: "not even [when done] by the wicked themselves."
improbis: ne . . . improbis: "not even [when done] by the wicked themselves."
fiat: "is done."
quoquam: "in any direction."
deflectat: here intransitive.
- section 23
tum: tum . . . tum: "now (one one occasion) . . . now (on another occasion)."
tum: tum . . . tum: "now (one one occasion) . . . now (on another occasion)."
- section 24
ea: demonstrative force emphasized: "with such integrity" (specified by result clause ut . . . sit).
degunt: "live, pass their lives."
uti existimant: "just as they judge [they are]."
- section 25
depugnant: "fight it out ."
- section 26
temperiem: "harmonious balance of the elements," term borrowed consciously from medical usage.
- section 27
miraculum: see on 4P6.1.
- section 28
dinoscit: = dignoscit, "distinguishes."
- section 30
unicuique: < unusquisque, "each and every one."
accommodat: "furnishes, supplies."
- section 31
ab sciente: i.e., deo.
- section 32
perstringam: < perstringo, "graze lightly, touch upon."
de hoc quem: de hoc quem . . . putas: "of the one you think . . ."; another human being.
seruantissimum: "most observant," < seruans (participle < seruo).
putas: de hoc quem . . . putas: "of the one you think . . ."; another human being.
omnia: object of scienti.
diuersum uidetur: impersonal; translate, "it seems otherwise."
- section 33
familiaris noster: Lucan was reputed a student of Stoicism.
Lucanus ammonuit: Bellum Ciuile 1.128; the gods side with Caesar (and give him victory) but Cato (a model of conscience and rectitude) sided with Pompey. B. misses Lucan's irony.
- section 34
citra spem: "this side of hope," i.e., falling short of what is hoped for.
- section 35
bene moratus: "well-conducted."
animi uiribus: cf. English, "strength of character."
aduersi: partitive genitive with quid.
- section 36
sapiens dispensatio: sc. dei.
laborare: "to struggle" under the burden of adversity.
- section 37
absolutus: almost the same as perfectus; cf. 3M9.9.
Hunc contingi: hunc contingi (sc. esse) . . . nefas: indirect statement with hunc contingi as subject.
nefas: hunc contingi (sc. esse) . . . nefas: indirect statement with hunc contingi as subject.
- section 38
quidam me quoque excellentior: source is unknown; perhaps a late theosophic-philosophical text from the Hermetic tradition.
*A)NDRO\J DH\ I(EROU= DE/MAJ AI)QE/REJ: *A)NDRO\J DH\ I(EROU= DE/MAJ AI)QE/REJ W)|KODO/MHSAN.: Literally: "The upper-heavens built the body of the holy man," but AI)QE/REJ are probably the divine element in man and hence emphasizes that some men, beloved of divinity, are immune to ordinary ills.
- section 40
distribuit: sc. prouidentia.
Quosdam ... remordet: the ellipsis (inserted by Weinberger) marks the lack of an ablative of instrument. The point has been controverted by those who hold that remordet ("causes to worry") can stand with only the accusative object.
<sinit> agitari: the insertion of sinit is a conjecture; others emend agitari to agitat.
confirment: "make stronger"; subject is inferred from alios.
- section 41
plus aequo: "more than is appropriate."
experimentum sui: "a trial of themselves."
- section 42
saeculi: "of [this] world."
suppliciis inexpugnabiles: "unconquerable by tortures."
inuictam: inuictam . . . uirtutem: accusative/infinitive in apposition with exemplum.
uirtutem: inuictam . . . uirtutem: accusative/infinitive in apposition with exemplum.
quae: i.e., the various fates described in 4P6.35-42.
ex eorum bono: virtually, "for their own good."
- section 43
illud: subject of ducitur; in apposition with noun clause, quod . . . proueniunt.
- section 44
eos: sc. improbos.
malo: "by their evil"; on the text, cf. Gruber.
Laeta: opposite of tristia (cf. optata in section 4P6.43).
quid: quid . . . debeant iudicare: indirect question in apposition with argumentum.
debeant iudicare: quid . . . debeant iudicare: indirect question in apposition with argumentum.
famulari: see on 4P6.13.
- section 45
illud: illud . . . dispensari: "this thing is arranged," i.e., "this arrangement is made"; accusative/infinitive.
dispensari: illud . . . dispensari: "this thing is arranged," i.e., "this arrangement is made"; accusative/infinitive.
rei familiaris: "private property, wealth."
medetur: < medeor, "treat [a disease]," with dative.
- section 46
Hic: introduces another hypothetical individual .
cuius: understand as antecedent a genitive with tristis amissio.
- section 47
cladem: "ruin, disaster."
indigne acta: "unworthily handled."
quibusdam permissum: (sc. est) there is no connective (asyndeton).
puniendi ius: "the right to punish," i.e., a civil magistracy.
causa: governs objective genitives exercitii and supplicii.
- section 48
conuenire: "to agree, come together."
- section 49
a semet: "from himself," taken closely with dissentiat.
ipsis: ipsis . . . uitiis: ablative absolute.
uitiis: ipsis . . . uitiis: ablative absolute.
faciant: faciant . . . decernent: sc. uiri.
decernent: faciant . . . decernent: sc. uiri.
- section 50
Ex quo: antecedent vague; cf. sections 47-49.
- section 51
sibi: sibi . . . uidentur: "they seem . . . to themselves."
uidentur: sibi . . . uidentur: "they seem . . . to themselves."
rediere: = redierunt.
- section 52
eis competenter utendo: "by using them [i.e., mala] suitably."
elicit: "lure out, elicit, draw out"; subject is diuina uis.
- section 53
adsignata ordinis ratione: "from its assigned place in that order."
licet: licet . . . ordinem: "although into another [order], nevertheless [into] an order."
ordinem: licet . . . ordinem: "although into another [order], nevertheless [into] an order."
temeritati: "unpredictable, random, disorderly action": dative with liceat.
- section 54
*A)RGALE/ON DE' ME TAU=TA QEO\N W(\J: *A)RGALE/ON DE' ME TAU=TA QEO\N W(\J PA/NT' A)GOREU/EIN.: Iliad 12.176: "It is burdensome for me to declaim all these things, as if I were a god," where the poet quails at describing the tumult of battle.
- section 56
Hoc tantum perspexisse: subject of sufficiat.
quod: quod . . . disponat . . . eliminet: noun clause in apposition with hoc tantum. Classical Latin would prefer accusative/infinitive.
proditor: a later Latin sense: "one who brings forth. "
idem: modifying deus; "one and the same."
disponat: quod . . . disponat . . . eliminet: noun clause in apposition with hoc tantum. Classical Latin would prefer accusative/infinitive.
in sui similitudinem: cf. 3M9.8.
eliminet: quod . . . disponat . . . eliminet: noun clause in apposition with hoc tantum. Classical Latin would prefer accusative/infinitive.
- section 57
quae: i.e., "evil things."
- section 58
carminis: carminis . . . dulcedinem: postponed at 4P6.6.
dulcedinem: carminis . . . dulcedinem: postponed at 4P6.6.
haustum: "something to drink" (with medical overtones still).