Commentary on Seneca Epistle LXXIX

This commentary is complete only through section 10 of this letter. Vocabulary is complete for the entire letter.

Commentary through section 10 by Stephanie Spaulding, revised by J. Bailly: Sections 11-18 by J. Bailly

Introduction

Seneca begins by inquiring about the sights Lucilius observed on his journey around Sicily, including Scylla, Charybdis, and Mount Aetna. He goes on to suggest that Lucilius treat Aetna in a poetic work, as other poets (including Ovid and Vergil) had done. In the remaining part, Seneca discusses the natures of success and fame as they relate to literary renown. He then continues with thoughts on the pursuit of the ideal of virtue and truth, concluding with a pithy saying, as he frequently does in these letters: veritas in omnem partem sui eadem est. quae decipiunt, nihil habent solidi. tenue est mendacium; perlucent, si diligenter inspexeris.

Text:
This text is slightly different from the one which the commentary is based on: consult the OCT for places where the commentary has a different text.

LXXIX. SENECA LVCILIO SVO SALVTEM

[1] Expecto epistulas tuas quibus mihi indices circuitus Siciliae totius quid tibi novi ostenderit, et omnia de ipsa Charybdi certiora. Nam Scyllam saxum esse et quidem non terribile navigantibus optime scio: Charybdis an respondeat fabulis perscribi mihi desidero et, si forte observaveris (dignum est autem quod observes), fac nos certiores utrum uno tantum vento agatur in vertices an omnis tempestas aeque mare illud contorqueat, et an verum sit quidquid illo freti turbine abreptum est per multa milia trahi conditum et circa Tauromenitanum litus emergere. [2] Si haec mihi perscripseris, tunc tibi audebo mandare ut in honorem meum Aetnam quoque ascendas, quam consumi et sensim subsidere ex hoc colligunt quidam, quod aliquanto longius navigantibus solebat ostendi. Potest hoc accidere non quia montis altitudo descendit, sed quia ignis evanuit et minus vehemens ac largus effertur, ob eandem causam fumo quoque per diem segniore. Neutrum autem incredibile est, nec montem qui devoretur cotidie minui, nec manere eundem, quia non ipsum <ignis> exest sed in aliqua inferna valle conceptus exaestuat et aliis pascitur, in ipso monte non alimentum habet sed viam. [3] In Lycia regio notissima est (Hephaestion incolae vocant), foratum pluribus locis solum, quod sine ullo nascentium damno ignis innoxius circumit. Laeta itaque regio est et herbida, nihil flammis adurentibus sed tantum vi remissa ac languida refulgentibus.

[4] Sed reservemus ista, tunc quaesituri cum tu mihi scripseris quantum ab ipso ore montis nives absint, quas ne aestas quidem solvit; adeo tutae sunt ab igne vicino. Non est autem quod istam curam inputes mihi; morbo enim tuo daturus eras, etiam si nemo mandaret. [5] Quid tibi do ne Aetnam describas in tuo carmine, ne hunc sollemnem omnibus poetis locum adtingas? Quem quominus Ovidius tractaret, nihil obstitit quod iam Vergilius impleverat; ne Severum quidem Cornelium uterque deterruit. Omnibus praeterea feliciter hic locus se dedit, et qui praecesserant non praeripuisse mihi videntur quae dici poterant, sed aperuisse. [6] [Sed] Multum interest utrum ad consumptam materiam an ad subactam accedas: crescit in dies, et inventuris inventa non obstant. Praeterea condicio optima est ultimi: parata verba invenit, quae aliter instructa novam faciem habent. Nec illis manus inicit tamquam alienis; sunt enim publica. [Iurisconsulti negant quicquam publicum usu capi.] [7] Aut ego te non novi aut Aetna tibi salivam movet; iam cupis grande aliquid et par prioribus scribere. Plus enim sperare modestia tibi tua non permittit, quae tanta in te est ut videaris mihi retracturus ingenii tui vires, si vincendi periculum sit: tanta tibi priorum reverentia est.

[8] Inter cetera hoc habet boni sapientia: nemo ab altero potest vinci nisi dum ascenditur. Cum ad summum perveneris, paria sunt; non est incremento locus, statur. Numquid sol magnitudini suae adicit? numquid ultra quam solet luna procedit? Maria non crescunt; mundus eundem habitum ac modum servat. [9] Extollere se quae iustam magnitudinem implevere non possunt: quicumque fuerint sapientes, pares erunt et aequales. Habebit unusquisque ex iis proprias dotes: alius erit affabilior, alius expeditior, alius promptior in eloquendo, alius facundior: illud de quo agitur, quod beatum facit, aequalest in omnibus. [10] An Aetna tua possit sublabi et in se ruere, an hoc excelsum cacumen et conspicuum per vasti maris spatia detrahat adsidua vis ignium, nescio: virtutem non flamma, non ruina inferius adducet; haec una maiestas deprimi nescit. Nec proferri ultra nec referri potest; sic huius, ut caelestium, stata magnitudo est. Ad hanc nos conemur educere. [11] Iam multum operis effecti est; immo, si verum fateri volo, non multum. Nec enim bonitas est pessimis esse meliorem: quis oculis glorietur qui suspicetur diem? Cui sol per caliginem splendet, licet contentus interim sit effugisse tenebras, adhuc non fruitur bono lucis. [12] Tunc animus noster habebit quod gratuletur sibi cum emissus his tenebris in quibus volutatur non tenui visu clara prospexerit, sed totum diem admiserit et redditus caelo suo fuerit, cum receperit locum quem occupavit sorte nascendi. Sursum illum vocant initia sua; erit autem illic etiam antequam hac custodia exsolvatur, cum vitia disiecerit purusque ac levis in cogitationes divinas emicuerit.

[13] Hoc nos agere, Lucili carissime, in hoc ire impetu toto, licet pauci sciant, licet nemo, iuvat. Gloria umbra virtutis est: etiam invitam comitabitur. Sed quemadmodum aliquando umbra antecedit, aliquando sequitur vel a tergo est, ita gloria aliquando ante nos est visendamque se praebet, aliquando in averso est maiorque quo serior, ubi invidia secessit. [14] Quamdiu videbatur furere Democritus! Vix recepit Socraten fama. Quamdiu Catonem civitas ignoravit! respuit nec intellexit nisi cum perdidit. Rutili innocentia ac virtus lateret, nisi accepisset iniuriam: dum violatur, effulsit. Numquid non sorti suae gratias egit et exilium suum complexus est? De his loquor quos inlustravit fortuna dum vexat: quam multorum profectus in notitiam evasere post ipsos! quam multos fama non excepit sed eruit! [15] Vides Epicurum quantopere non tantum eruditiores sed haec quoque inperitorum turba miretur: hic ignotus ipsis Athenis fuit, circa quas delituerat. Multis itaque iam annis Metrodoro suo superstes in quadam epistula, cum amicitiam suam et Metrodori grata commemoratione cecinisset, hoc novissime adiecit, nihil sibi et Metrodoro inter bona tanta nocuisse quod ipsos illa nobilis Graecia non ignotos solum habuisset sed paene inauditos. [16] Numquid ergo non postea quam esse desierat inventus est? numquid non opinio eius enituit? Hoc Metrodorus quoque in quadam epistula confitetur, se et Epicurum non satis enotuisse; sed post se et Epicurum magnum paratumque nomen habituros qui voluissent per eadem ire vestigia. [17] Nulla virtus latet, et latuisse non ipsius est damnum: veniet qui conditam et saeculi sui malignitate conpressam dies publicet. Paucis natus est qui populum aetatis suae cogitat. Multa annorum milia, multa populorum supervenient: ad illa respice. Etiam si omnibus tecum viventibus silentium livor indixerit, venient qui sine offensa, sine gratia iudicent. Si quod est pretium virtutis ex fama, nec hoc interit. Ad nos quidem nihil pertinebit posterorum sermo; tamen etiam non sentientes colet ac frequentabit. [18] Nulli non virtus et vivo et mortuo rettulit gratiam, si modo illam bona secutus est fide, si se non exornavit et pinxit, sed idem fuit sive ex denuntiato videbatur sive inparatus ac subito. Nihil simulatio proficit; paucis inponit leviter extrinsecus inducta facies: veritas in omnem partem sui eadem est. Quae decipiunt nihil habent solidi. Tenue est mendacium: perlucet si diligenter inspexeris. Vale.

Text from www.thelatinlibrary.com, as submitted there by Hansulrich Guhl (Frauenfeld, Switzerland) from an unidentified edition and (the later books) by Sally Winchester from the Reynolds edition.


Commentary



1 Seneca awaits letters from Lucilius about Lucilius' travels around Sicily.

indices: future indicative from indico, -ere.
circuitus ostenderit: this whole clause is an indirect question that functions as the first object of indices. The subject, cicuitus, is proleptically put before the interrogative quid.
totius: fem. gen. sing. of totus,-a,-um agreeing with Siciliae(f.). Masculine, feminine, and neuter genitives of totus are all in ­-ius (adjectives of this pattern are unus, nullus, ullus, solus, nullus, alter, uter, totus, and alius. Taking the first letter of each spells out UNUS NAUTA, a handy mnemonic.)
novi: gen. sing. as partitive with quid: literally "what of news," but it means "what new (thing)."
et omnia certiora : is an accusative direct object of indices. Thus, here indices is taking two different constructions, indirect question and direct object.
Charybdi: ablative modified by ipsa.
nam Scyllam optime scio: scio with acc. and infin. in indirect speech.
Scyllam: this is a far cry from the fearsome creature first found in the Odyssey who terrorized seafarers.
terribile: neuter acc. adj. modifying saxum; terribilis takes the dative of person or thing frightened.
navigantibus: "the ones sailing" i.e. "sailors" or perhaps tourists who go for a boat ride.
optime: modifies scio.
desidero: takes an indirect statement. In this case, the entire indirect question (Charybdis an respondeat fabulis) takes the place of an accusative and is the subject of the infinitive (perscribi).
forte: abl. with si, "if by chance." observaveris is future perfect in a future more vivid condition.
observes: subjunctive in a relative clause of characteristic.
fac: fac certiorem + acc. pers. means "to make someone certain" or "to inform someone." Here facere is imperative: certiores is acc. plural agreeing with nos (the "modest" plural: also known more playfully as the "'we' of kings and Cicero").
utrum ... an ... et an ... : alternative indirect questions.
uno vento: i.e. a wind from only one direction. tantum is adverbial.
agatur: subj. in indirect question.
aeque: adverb from the adj. aequus, -a, -um "equally."
contorqueat: subj. in indirect question.
verum sit: the third indirect question, which itself has an indirect statement dependent upon it (trahi and emergere and their subject).
quicquid illo freti turbine abreptum est: this whole clause is the acc. subj. of the infinitives (trahi and emergere). Abreptum est indicative although the subjunctive might be expected in indirect speech after verum sit. When indicative occurs in subordinate clauses in indirect speech, the clause with the indicative is not really part of the indirect speech: it is presented as an actual fact, not a reported fact, by the writer.
quicquid: an alternative form of quidquid.
conditum: a predicate term modifying quicquid.
Tauromenitanum litus: Tauromenium is a town on the east coast of Sicily.

2 Reports about Mount Aetna say it is being reduced, but it is not, because it is fed from beneath.

si ... tunc ... : future more vivid condition.
haec: n. pl. acc., referring to the indirect questions of the previous section.
mandare: mandare is transitive: its direct object is the indirect command ut clause.
ascendas: subj. in indirect command.
hoc: hoc (and illud) can mean "the following," as it does here, referring to the quod clause that follows.
colligunt: with acc. + infinitives (quam consumi et subsidere) in indirect statement.
quidam: refers to those who hold a rival theory.
quod:  "the fact that."
aliquanto: ablative of degree of difference with comparative (longius) "from a little bit further away."
solebat: with the infin. (ostendi). The imperfect "it kept being (shown)" works well with aliquanto longius. "Used to be shown" would work well too, but would make less sense given the earlier sensim subsidere, which apparently indicates a gradual process over time.
hoc: refers to the fact just reported in support of the theory that the mountain is decreasing.
minus: adverb with both vehemens and largus, which are nominative predicate modifiers of ignis.
ob eandem causam fumo quoque per diem segniore: ablative absolute phrase.
per diem: "day by day."
Neutrum incredibile est: neutrum refers to the acc. and infin. phrases following (montem minui and ignem manere).
devoretur: subjunctive is the norm for verbs in subordinate clauses in indirect speech.
quia non ... sed ... : quia introduces the explanatory clauses that follow explain why neutrum incredibile est. In the first clause, non ... exest, Seneca rejects the claim that the fire eats up the mountain. The clauses after sed give Seneca's preferred reasoning.
ipsum: antecedent is mons.
ignis: the texts of the Manuscripts did not make sense, so Buechler and Reynolds suggested adding ignis. The < > indicates it is an editorial addition (with no manuscript support) which the editors consider necessary for the passage to make sense.
aliis: "other" fires or materials.
habet: the subject of habet is ignis.

3 A remarkable region of Lycia.

Lycia: a country in Asia Minor.
solum: solum, -i, n., "ground."
pluribus locis: abl. of place where.
quod: object of circumit. It refers back to solum.
nascentium: growing things (i.e. plant life).
nihil flammis adurentibus ... refulgentibus: ablatives absolute. nihil is the object of adurentibus.

4 But more on such matters later, for Lucilius will want to write poetry about them.

reservemus: jussive subjunctive.
ista: refers to what Seneca has just been writing to Lucilius about.
quaesituri: nominative plural agrees with subject of reservemus.
cum rescripseris: temporal cum takes indicative when referring to present or future, as here.
quantum absint: indirect question.
quas: refers to nives.
ne ... quidem: "not even."
est quod: used idiomatically, est quod means 'there is a reason why ' and takes an indirect question.
daturus eras: future can be expressed by the simple future or by esse + a future participle. Here, the form of esse is imperfect, which allows Latin to express the thought 'you were going to indulge.'
morbo: in Silver Latin, this word can mean 'weakness,' as in 'I have a weakness for chocolate.' The verb dare can be loosely translated as "give in to (your weakness)."Seneca is lightly teasing Lucilius when he says that there is no reason why Lucilius should take Seneca's current words as an indication of any interest in the matter (which the next couple clauses let us know is Lucilius' poetry), especially since Lucilius would probably do what Seneca is suggesting (write a poem on Aetna) even without Seneca's encouragement.
mandaret: imperfect subjunctive in present contrary-to-fact protasis.

5 Why should I try to dissuade you from writing about Aetna when it has offered such fruitful subject matter to other poets?

quid tibi do ne: to express this thought, English might say something like 'what reason am I giving you not to ,' but Latin evidently needs no word for 'reason' to express the thought.
ne ..., ne ...: two negative purpose clauses in asyndeton.
omnibus poetis: goes with sollemnem.
quem: a 'linking relative' serving to link the sentence with something preceding (the most recent masculine singular noun), just as 'this,' 'that,' or 'which' can do in English. 'Linking relatives' do not introduce subordinate relative clauses. In English, such words are often ambiguous because it is not clear to what they are referring, but given that they have gender and number in Latin, it is usually quite clear.
quem quominus ... impleverat: a typical example of a verb of preventing, which takes quominus + subjunctive. The subject of obstitit is quod iam Vergilius impleverat, in which quod means 'the fact that.' Quod: takes the indicative when it means 'the fact that' or 'as to the fact that." Such clauses are substantive clauses because they act like nouns (see A&G 572).
Severus Cornelius: a poet who flourished ca. 38 BCE.
omnibus: Cicero means that Aetna gives herself to anyone who wants her as the subject of poetry.
et qui ... aperuisse: although it might be argued that once Vergil has covered a topic, there is no reason to return to it (Who can hope to better Vergil? or Ovid?), it can also be claimed, as here, that predecessors open up the subject for further poetic expression. The development of poetry seems to show that the latter argument is true of subject matters, but not always of genres: usually, once Ovid plays with a genre, it is hard for subsequent authors to simply go back to the genre, because he has stretched the genre's limits so much that it seems like 'old hat' to return to it. Poets feel pressure to innovate in terms of genre, but not so much in terms of subject matter.
quae dici poterant: n. pl. nom. quae has no expressed antecedent. If the antecedent were expressed, it would be the direct object of praeripuisse.

6 The poet who covers material other poets have already covered has advantages over predecessors.

sed multum ... accedas: the main clause is multum interest, which is followed by two alternative indirect questions.
inventuris inventa: Seneca enjoys the cleverness of alliterative polyptoton, which give his pithy sayings more zing. Alliteration is the use of words that begin with the same sound. Polyptoton is a figure of speech in which the same word is used more than once in different cases.
ultimi: predicate genitive. Substantival use of adjective.
aliter instructa: a circumstantial participial phrase. Such phrases can be the equivalent of causal, temporal, concessive, or conditional clauses. For example, ego amatus a te hoc feci could mean "Although I was loved by you, I did this," "Because (since) I was loved by you, I did this," "When (once, after) I had been loved by you, I did this," or "If I was loved by you, I did this." The reader must decide what force the participial phrase has in such cases.
illis: dat. referring back to verba.

7 You want to handle Aetna in poetry, but your modesty holds you back.
There is a poem entitled Aetna whose author is unknown. This letter provides evidence for the debate about its authorship. Summers points out that Virgil and Ovid treated Mt. Aetna in episodes of their poety, and thinks it likely that Cornelius Severus did as well. He suggests that it is a mere possibility that Lucilius could be the author of the anonymous Aetna, and is sceptical of all efforts to determine Aetna's authorship.

salivam movet: a colorful way to describe Lucilius' desires.
sperare: complementary infinitive dependent on permittit.
tanta ut videaris: the result clause is prepared for by tanta.
retracturus: with videaris, you expect an infinitive: supply an esse to form a future periphrastic infinitive. "Periphrastic" is a term used to describe any verbal phrase that takes more than one word to express. For example, in English, all futures are periphrastic, because they have "will" or "shall" plus a participle.
vincendi: gerunds occur in every case but the nominative and vocative. English gerunds have ­-ing. For example, in the phrase "fear of flying," flying is a gerund. Notice that gerunds are different from gerundives: gerunds are active and are nouns, but gerundives are adjectives and passive.
priorum: an objective genitive. Objective genitives are dependent on nouns that describe some action, in this case revering. If you transform the noun into its corresponding verb (to revere), then the genitive would be that verb's object (to revere predecessors). Hence 'object'-ive genitive.

8 Wisdom cannot be surpassed, because, so says Seneca, it does not admit of degrees. The idea is that it is impossible to say of two wise people that one is wiser. It would be like saying that water in one glass is wetter than that in another.

boni: partitive gen. with hoc. English might say that wisdom has 'this degree' or 'this amount' of goodness.
ascenditur: impersonal passives like this one occur frequently in Latin where English might use 'one' in a phrase like "while one is on the rise."
perveneris: generic "you" rather  than specific to Lucilius.
incremento: this ablative of quality modifies locus. A place 'with growth' is a position that is amenable to or admits of higher and lower degrees. Seneca is saying that wisdom is like pregnancy: there is no such thing as "a little bit pregnant" or "more pregnant." One either is or is not wise. Those who are not may or may not be progressing towards wisdom, but even those progressing towards it cannot be called wiser than others, for they are not yet wise.
statur: impersonal passive "one remains stable" or "there is a standing still."

9 Whoever is wise is equally wise, just as whoever is content/happy is equally so. Their differences lie in things that are indeed desirable. But those things are not essential for wisdom or happiness.

extollere possunt: the unexpressed antecedent of relative pronoun quae is the subject of possunt.
implevere: alternate form of impleverunt.
quicumque ... aequales: notice that the verbs are the same as those of a future-more-vivid condition, and that relacing quicumque with si would leave the thought largely intact. Relative clauses can take the place of conditional protases.
eloquendo: both active and a noun, is this a gerund or a gerundive?
agitur: the verb ago is a generic verb that can have all sorts of meanings, just as 'turn' or 'run' can in English (check out how many definitions each has in a good dictionary!). Here, ago is impersonal. A translation like "(that about which) we are discussing," or "we are puzzling" gets the thought. It is important to wrap one's mind around the fact that an impersonal passive in Latin can have a subject 'we' or 'one' in English, and that a verb like ago can have any number of correct English translations.
quod beatum facit: understand "one" or "a person" as the object of facit and beatum as agreeing with "one" or "a person." Quod, referring back to illud, is the subject of facit.

10 The earth may have high mountains, and they may fall down, but excellence is the only pinnacle which will never be lowered.

an ... an ... : beginning with an leads us to expect that this is an indirect question: nescio at the end will confirm that.
per vasti maris spatia: it is good Latin style to surround one phrase or word (vasti maris) with another one which that phrase or word depends on (per spatia). The two together form a larger phrase.
vis: fem. sg. nom.
nescit: Seneca personifies maiestas.
ut caelestium: treat this as a parenthesis. Not every ut introduces a clause. Sometimes it just means "as."
nos conemur educere: nos could be nominative or accusative, but the infinitive educere is transitive, which means that it needs an object. That should tell you whether nos is nominative or accusative.

11 Virtue is not a relative thing consisting of being better than others. It is being excellent absolutely: no virtuous person is "better" than another. (Compare Socrates' argument in Republic 1 against Thrasymachus: Socrates claims that virtue is a matter of achieving an optimum, whereas Thrasymachus claims that it is a matter of achieving a maximum that exceeds others).

multum operis effecti est: est means "exists."
non multum: supply the verb from the preceding sentence.
pessimis esse meliorem: a nominative infinitive phrase. The whole phrase is the subject of est. Meliorem is predicate accusative agreeing with the (unexpressed) subject of esse. Pessimis is abl. of comparison.
licet: impersonal licet "it is granted" (can be translated "although") takes a semi-independent subjunctive.
contentus: takes complementary infinitive. Modifies the unexpressed antecedent of cui.
fruitur: the subject is the unexpressed antecedent of cui.

12 There is something to really brag about once our soul has been purified of faults and has returned to the pure state from whence it came.

The structure of the first sentence is:
tunc . . . cum: the tunc prepares for the temporal cum clauses.
quod gratuletur sibi: a relative clause of characteristic.
emissus his tenebris: just as e/ex takes the ablative, when it is prefixed to a verb, that verb sometimes takes the ablative. The same thing occurs below with exsolvatur.
prospexerit . . . admiserit . . . fuerit . . . receperit . . .: the Latin future perfect is much more frequent than the English future perfect.
nascendi: gerund.
illum: refers to the subject of the previous sentence.
illic: illic = locus quem occupavit sorte nascendi.
hac custodia: refers to the figurative shackles of earthly existence.

13 Even if no one knows about our virtue, it sheds glory on us, and we will be known for it eventually.

hoc: both instances refer to the general course of action Seneca is recommending.
agere . . . ire . . .: infinitive subjects of iuvat (iuvat is singular, and so another iuvat should probably be understood with agere).
licet: when it means "although," licet takes the subjunctive.
nemo: understand sciat.
visendam: a gerundive modifying se.
maiorque quo serior: quo is an ablative of degree of difference with the comparative serior. Both maior and serior modify an understood gloria.

14 Many now famous people were far from famed in their lifetime.

Democritus: a philosopher who believed in atoms.
recepit: "welcomed."
Socraten: accusative of Socrates. Greek nouns sometimes are declined with Greek instead of Latin endings.
Catonem: the stoic champion of the Republic who committed suicide at Utica rather than live under Caesar.
respuit nec intellexit: the object of these transitive verbs must be understood from what precedes.
Rutili: cf. Ep. XXIV.4: Damnationem suam Rutilius sic tulit tamquam nihil illi molestum aliud esset quam quod male iudicaretur. Exilium Metellus fortiter tulit, Rutilius etiam libenter; alter ut rediret rei publicae praestitit, alter reditum suum Sullae negavit, cui nihil tunc negabatur.
lateret . . . accepisset . . . : mixed contrary to fact conditional.
dum violatur AND dum vexat: dum takes the historic present, which should be translated as if imperfect.
quam multorum: quam is adverbial modifying multorum, "how."
profectus: 4th declension.
ipsos: intensive pronoun with multorum as antecedent.

15 Epicurus and his friend Metrodorus were practically ignored by Athens when they lived there, and Epicurus later wrote that it had not harmed them a bit.

Epicurum: this accusative is placed proleptically here to highlight that Epicurus is a great example. The most famous example of such a proleptic construction is: "consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." In normal unassuming prose, it would be "consider how the lilies of the field grow."
Epicurus, of course, was the founder of the Epicurean school of philosophy.
quantopere ... miretur: indirect question.
haec: modifies what fem. sg. nom. noun?
hic ignotus ipsis Athenis fuit: ignotus is in "predicate" position. Namely, it should not be translated "this unknown man ..." but rather "he was unknown ...." Ipsis Athenis is ablative of place where.
circa quas: quas refers back to Athens, which is fem. pl.
multis annis superstes: multis annis is ablative of degree of difference with superstes, which has a sort of comparative notion in it: consider English, "he survived her by a decade."
cum . . . cecinisset: when a temporal cum clause refers to the past, its verb is usually subjunctive.
hoc novissime adiecit: the words of Epicurus reported here are Fragment 188 in Usener's collection of Epicurus' fragments.
hoc . . . adiecit . . . nihil . . . nocuisse . . . quod . . . : the quod clause as a whole is the subject of nocuisse. Nihil is adverbial and modifies nocuisse. Nocuisse is infinitive in indirect statement dependent on adiecit: remember that noceo takes dative of the person harmed. Hoc is in apposition to the entirety of the indirect statement. For the whole construction, consider the parallel English construction, "Consider this, that the fact that he is Caesar is not at all  important."

16 Later, Epicurus achieved lasting fame. His friend Metrodorus claimed that after he and Epicurus were gone those who followed would win glory.

postea quam: postea is a comparative concept, and so Latin uses quam with it.
opinio eius: eius is not a possessive genitive, but rather an objective genitive.
quadam epistula: the words reported here are fragment 43 of Körte's collection of fragments.
post se et Epicurum: the preposition post governs two objects.
magnum paratumque nomen habituros: this is indirect speech. There is an understood esse that makes habituros an infinitive.

17 Virtue does not go to waste, even if it lies long hidden. It will come to light and later generations will revisit the virtuous figures of the past even after those figures are dead.

ipsius damnum: another objective genitive.
veniet qui ...: English prose word order might be: dies veniet qui publicet [virtutem, quamquam] conditam et compressam malignitate sui saeculi. Quamquam is added because it makes explicit the concessive force of the participles conditam et compressam, both of which modify an understood virtutem.
paucis: dative of advantage. What does it mean to be "born for few"?
cogitat: "think about, be concerned about." As frequently happens, the Latin transitive verb with its accusative object can be translated by a verb plus prepositional phrase in English.
milia: in the singular, mille is an indeclinable adjective, but in the plural, it takes the genitive (which is the same as English: 'a thousand women,' but 'thousands of women').
indixerit: indico + acc. X + dat. Y = "impose X on Y."
venient qui: qui has no explicit antecedent: supply illi or the like.
si quod est pretium virtutis ex fama: the source of the pretium of virtue is fama, which is a convoluted way of saying that virtue will eventually be rewarded and accorded its true value by the reputation it enjoys among later more impartial generations.
nec hoc interit: the antecedent of hoc must be pretium, which should be translated as "value."
sermo: nom.
non sentientes: modifies an understood nos.

18 Virtue rewards both the quick and the dead and is always the best policy. One should act the same whether one is likely to be discovered or not, and one should not deceive or have pretense. Both will eventually be discovered.

Nulli ... et vivo et mortuo: et vivo et mortuo modifies nulli, but in predicate position. English prose word order might be: Nulli virtus non rettulit gratiam et vivo et mortuo.
secutus est . . . exornavit et pinxit . . . fuit . . . videbatur . . .: the subject of all these verbs is generic "one" and refers back to the same person as nulli (no one).
bona . . . fide: bona modifies fide.
ex denuntiato: idiomatic for "with fair warning."
videbatur: passive, not deponent meaning.
nihil: adverbial, "not at all," "not a bit."
imponit: impono + dat. = "trick, deceive."
leviter extrinsecus: both modify inducta.
sui: genitive of the third person personal pronoun, not a form of suus, -a, -um. This genitive is never used for possessive genitive, but it is used for partitive genitive (as here).
nihil . . . solidi: nihil is the object of habent and goes with the neuter genitive solidi. If nihil boni means "nothing good," what does nihil solidi mean?

Vocabulary

abripio, -ripere, -ripui, -reptum, to lay hold of, to snatch
accedo, accedere, accessi, accessum, approach
accipio, accipere, accepi, acceptum, accept, receive
accido, -cidere,-cidi, to happen
adduco, adducere, adduxi, adductus, bring
adeo, adv, to the extent that
adhuc, still
adicio, adicere, adieci, adiectum, add
admitto, admittere, admisi, admissus, admit to the senses or mind, perceive
aduro, -urere, -ussi, -ustum, to set fire to, to singe
aequalis, -e, equal
aestas, aestatis, f., summer; summer heat
aetas, -atis, f., age, generation
affabilis, -e, courteous, kind
alienus, -a, -um, another's, belonging to another, borrowed
alimentum, -i, n., food
aliquando, sometimes, at some time
aliquanto, somewhat, a little, rather
aliter, otherwise
altitudo, -inis, f., height
amicitia, -ae, f., friendship
an, whether; or whether
antecedo, antecedere, antecessi, antecessum, precede
antequam, conj., before
aperio, aperire, aperui, apertum, open, uncover
ascendo,-scendere,-scendi,-scensum, to mount, to go up, climb
Athenae, -arum, f. pl., Athens
attingo, attingere, attigi, attactum, mention, touch upon lightly
audeo, audere, ausus sum, to venture, to dare
autem, however, but, or, and
aversus, -a, -um, back, rear, remote
beatus, -a, -um, happy, content, fulfilled
bonitas, -atis, f., goodness
cacumen, cacuminis, n., peak, height, summit
caelestia, caelestium, n. pl., heavenly bodies
caelestis, -e, heavenly
caelum, -i, n., heaven, sky
caligo, caliginis, f., darkness
cano, canere, cecini, cantum, sing; celebrate, tell of
carmen, carminis, n., poem, song
circa, + acc., in the neighborhoud of, near
circuitus, -us, (circu(m)itus) m., a circuit or going around, a trip (from circumeo)
circumeo, -ire, circumii, circuitum, to circle around
civitas, -atis, f., state
clarus, -a, -um, lucid, clear
cogito (1), think about, pay attention to
cogitatio, -onis, f., thought
colo, colere, colui, cultus, pay attention to, foster
colligo,-ligere,-legi,-lectum, to conclude
comito (1), accompany
commemoratio, -onis, f., memory, recalling
complector, complecti, complexus, embrace
comprimo, comprimere, compressi, compressum, subdue, hold down, repress
concipio, concipere, concepi, conceptus, catch (fire)
condicio, condicionis, f., state; rank, place
conditus, -a, -um, hidden
condo, -ere, -didi, -ditum, to pull away (safely)
confiteor, confiteri, confessus, profess, admit
conor (1), try
conp-, see comp-
conspicuus, -a, -um, visible, in sight; remarkable, distinguished
consumo, -ere, -sumpsi, -sumptum, use up; waste away
contentus, -a, -um, happy, content
contorqueo, -torquere, -torsi, -tortum, to whirl or turn violently, contort
cotidie, adv., daily, day by day
cresco, crescere, crevi, cretum, grow
custodia, -ae, f., imprisonment, restraint
damnum, -i, n., loss, damage
decipio, decipere, decepi, deceptum, deceive
delitesco, delitescere, delitui, go into seclusion, withdraw
denuntio (1), announce, give notice of; ex denuntiato, with fair warning
deprimo, deprimere, depressi, depressus, press down, crush
desidero (1), to want or wish
desino, desinere, desi(v)i, desitum, cease
deterreo, deterrere, deterrui, deterritus, frighten, scare, put off, deter
detraho, detrahere, detraxi, detractus, reduce, take away from
devoro (1), to consume
dignus, -a, -um, worthy
diligenter, carefully, diligently
disicio, disicere, disieci, disiectum, scatter, disperse, dispel
divinus, -a, -um, godly, divine
dos, dotis, f., dowry, gifts
educo, educere, eduxi, eductus, educate, train, raise
effero, efferre,extuli, elatum, to raise up
efficio, efficere, effeci, effectum, do, complete, accomplish
effugio, effugere, effugi, flee, escape
effulgeo, effulgere, effulsi, shine forth, flash, gleam
eloquor, eloqui, elocutus sum, give a speech
emergo, -mergere, -mersi, -mersum, to rise up
emico, -are, -ui, -atum, dart forth, dash out; flash forth
Emitto, emittere, emisi, emissus, send out of, release
enitesco, enitescere, enitui, become evident; start to shine forth
enotesco, enotescere, enotui, become well known
epistula, -ae, f., letter
ergo, thus, therefore
eruditus, -a, -um, learned
eruo, eruere, erui, erutum, destroy, root out
evanesco, evanescere, evanui, to vanish, disappear
evado, evadere, evasi, evasum, pass, flow away
exaestuo (1), to boil up
excelsus, -a, -um, high lofty
excipio, excipere, excepi, exceptum, take up
exilium, -i, n., exile
exorno (1), deck out, decorate, enhance
expeditus, -a, -um, unencumbered, unhampered; prompt, ready at hand
exsolvo, exsolvere, exsolvi, exsolutum, set free, release
exspecto (1), to look out for, to await
extollo, extollere, lift up, raise, exalt
extrinsecus, externally
fabula, -ae , f., tale, story, fable
facies, faciei, f., appearance
facundus, -a, -um, eloquent, fluent
fama, -ae, f., reputation (good or bad), public opinion
fateor, fateri, fassus, declare, profess
feliciter, with good results, fruitfully, auspiciously
fides, fidei, f., loyalty, faith
flamma, -ae, f., flames
foro (1), to bore, to pierce
fors, fortis, f., chance, luck
frequento (1), visit frequently
fretum, -i, n., strait, channel
fruor, frui, fructus, enjoy (+abl.)
fumus, -I, m., steam, smoke
furo, furere, rage, behave wildly, be insane
gloria, -ae, f., praise, honor, distinction
glorior (1), take pride in, boast of (+abl. or acc.)
gratus, -a, -um, grateful
gratia: idiom gratias agere = give thanks, thank, express thanks
gratulor (1), congratulate (+dat.), give thanks to (+dat.)
habitus, -us, m., character, quality, disposition
herbidus, -a, -um, grassy
honos, honoris, m., esteem, glory
iam, at the time, at this time, already, now
idem, eadem, idem, same
ignoro (1), fail to recognize, be unaware of
ignotus, -a, -um, unknown, not famous
illic, there, in that place
illustro (1), shine upon, give glory to
immo, no, on the contrary, rather
imparatus, -a, -um, unprepared
imperitus, -a, -um, uneducated; unskilled
impetus, -us, m., thrust, impulse, urge, attack, effort
impleo, implere, implevi, impletum, cover with writing, fill up (a book)
impono, imponere, imposui, impositum, deceive, trick (+dat)
imputo (1), charge to someone's account; expect someone to be grateful (for)
inauditus, -a, -um, unheard of
incola, -ae, c., inhabitant
incrementum, -I, growth, increase, addition
indico, -ere, -dixi, -dictum, to make known, to announce; impose (+ acc.) on (+dat.)
induco, inducere, induxi, inductum, put on, apply, bring to bear
infernus,-a, -um, below, lower
inferus, -a, -um, low
ingenium, -I, n., genius, character
inicio, inicere, inieci, iniectus, impose, apply
initium, -i, n., beginning
iniuria, -ae, f., harm
inl-, see ill-
innocentia, -ae, f., blamelessness
innoxius, -a, -um, harmless, safe
inp-, see imp-
inspicio, inspicere, inspexi, inspectum, look at , examine
instruo, instruere, instruxi, instructus, provide, prepare, build
intellego, intellegere, intellexi, intellectum, understand
interim, sometimes; meanwhile
intereo, interire, interii, interitum, perish, die
invenio, invenire, inveni, inventum, find, discover, invent
invidia, -ae, f., envy, hate
invitus, -a, -um, unwilling, involuntary
itaque, so
iudico (1), judge
iustus, -a, -um, proper, just, right
iuvo (1), please
laetus,-a, -um, rich, fertile
languidus, -a, -um, weak, faint, sluggish, listless
largus, -a, -um, abundant, numerous
lateo, latere, latui, be in hiding
levis, levis, leve, light, fleet, nimble
leviter, gently, slightly, mildly
licet, although
litus, -oris, n., shore
livor, -oris, m., envy, ill will, malice
loquor, loqui, locutus, speak
lux, lucis, f., light
maiestas, -atis, f., dignity, grandeur
malignitas, -atis, f., ill will, maliciousness
mando (1), to commit, to entrust
maneo, manere, mansi, mansum, to stay
mare, maris, n., sea
materia, -ae, f., subject matter
melior, melius, better
mendacium, -i, n., lie, falsity
mille (pl. milia), thousand
minuo, minuere, minui, minutum, to make smaller, to diminish
miror (1), admire
modestia, -ae, f., moderation, temperance
modus, -a, -um, measure
morbus, -I, m., sickness; fault, weakness
mortuus, -a, -um, dead, in death
moveo, movere, movi, motus, provoke, instigate, move (to)
multus, -a, -um, much; many
mundus, -I, world, universe, heavens; earth
nascor, nasci, natus sum, be born, rise up
navigo (1), sail
nescio, nescire, nescivi, nescitus, not know (how to [+ inf.]), be ignorant (of)
neuter, neutra, neutrum, neither
nihil, adv., not at all
nix, nivis, f. (often in plural), snow
nobilis, -e, exalted, noble
noceo, nocere, nocui, harm (+dat.)
nomen, nominis, n., name
notitia, -ae, f., fame, celebrity; notoriety
novus, -a, -um, new; recent
novus, -a, -um, novel, strange, new
numquid (an interrogative particle that expects or assumes a negative answer)
observo (1), to watch, to observe, to attend to
obsto, obstare, obsteti,prevent (+ ne, quominus); get in the way of, obstruct (+ dat.)
occupo (1), hold, inhabit
oculus, -i, m., eye
offensa, -ae, f., harm, detriment
opus, operis, n., work, task
opinio, -onis, f., reputation
os, oris, n., mouth
ostendo, -tendere, -tendi, -tentum, to expose to view, to display, to show
paene, almost
par, paris, (+ dat.), equal, on a par, a match for
paratus, -a, -um, ready
paro (1), prepare, make ready
pascor, pasci, pastum, to feed on (+ abl.)
pauci, -ae, -a, few
perdo, perdere, perdidi, perditus, cause ruin; kill; spoil; lose
periculum, -i, danger, risk
perluceo, perlucere, transmit light
permitto, permittere, permisi, permissum, allow
perscribo, perscribere, perscripsi, perscriptum, write out in full
pertineo, pertinere, pertinui, be a concern, be relevant
pervenio, pervenire, perveni, perventus, reach (+ ad + acc.)
pessimus, -a, -um, worst
pingo, pingere, pinxi, pictum, color, paint
plus, pluris, more
populus, -i, m., people
post, after
postea, after
posterus-, -a, -um, later, future
praebeo, praebere, praebui, praebitum, show oneself as, present oneself as, prove to be (reflexive)
praecedo, praecedere, praecessi, praecessum, go before, precede
praeripio, praeripere, praeripui, praereptum, snatch before, anticipate, take
praeterea, moreover
pretium, -e, n., prize; value; price, cost
prior, prioris, earlier, predecessor (as noun)
procedo, procedere, processi, processum, go
profectus, -us, m., headway, advancement
profero, proferre, protuli, prolatus, bring forward, advance
proficio, proficere, profeci, profectum, achieve, be advantageous, advance
promptus, -a, -um, prompt, ready; bold, enterprising
proprius, propria, proprium, proper to one- or it-self
prospicio, prospicere, prospexi, prospectus, look forward, see before one
publico (1), make publicly known
purus, -a, -um, clean, blameless, pure
quamdiu, how long (interrogative, relative, or exclamatory)
quantopere, how greatly
quemadmodum, how, in the way in which
quia, because
quicumque, quaecumque, quodcumque, whoever, whatever
quidem, indeed
quominus, that not
quoque, adv., also
recipio, recipere, recepi, receptum, take back, receive; accept, admit, welcome
reddo, reddere, reddidi, redditum, give back, restore
refero, referre, rettuli, relatus, bring back, bring down; gratiam refero, express thanks
refulgeo, -fulgere, -fulsi , to gleam, to shine brightly
regio, -onis, f., region
remissus -a, -um, ppp. from remitto, mild, gentle
reservo (1), to save, to lay up
respicio, respicere, respexi, respectum, look, pay attention
respondeo, -ere, -spondi, sponsum, to correspond to, to agree (+dat.)
respuo, respuere, respui, reject, disdain
retraho, retrahere, retraxi, retractum, draw back ,withdraw
reverentia, -ae, f., awe, respect
ruina, -ae, f., tumbling down; disaster; defeat
saeculum, -i, age, era, generation
saliva, -ae, f., drool, saliva
sapientia, -ae, f., wisdom
satis, enough, sufficient(ly)
saxum, -i, n., rock
scio, scire, scivi, scitum, know
secedo, secedere, secessi, secessum, withdraw
segnis, -e, sluggish, slow
sensim, adv., gradually, slowly
sentio, sentire, sensi, sensum, feel, perceive
sequor, sequi, secutus, follow
serus, -a, -um, late
sermo, -onis, m., talk, gossip
silentium, -i, n., silence
simulatio, -onis, f., pretense, pretending
sine, + abl., without
sive, or if, whether, or
Socrates, Socratis, m., Socrates
sol, solis, m., sun
soleo, solere, solui, solitus, (+ inf.),be wont, usually be, be accustomed
solidus, -a, -um, integral, shole, solid, sound
sollemnis, sollemne, annual, periodic; usual; festival
solum, -i, n. , the ground
sors, sortis, f., lot, chance
spatium, -i, n., space, expanse
splendeo, splendere, shine, be bright
sto, stare, steti, status, stand, fix, make stable, establish
subigo, subigere, subegi, subactus, subdue, conquer; discipline, tame
subito, suddenly
sublabor, sublabi, sublapsus sum, collapse; glide imperceptibly; fall back
subsido, -ere, -sedi, -sessum, to settle down
superstes, superstitis, adj., remaining alive after, surviving (+dat. pers.)
supervenio, supervenire, superveni, come in addition, supervene
sursum, upwards
suspicor (1), guess at, suspect, have an inkling, infer
tamen, nonetheless, however
tamquam, as, as if, just as
tantum, adv,only
tantus, -a, -um, so great
tempestas, -atis, f., storm
tenebrae, -arum, f. pl., darkness
tenuis, -is, -e, poor, weak; thin
tergum, -i, n., back
terribilis, -e, adj., terrible, frightful, dreadful
tracto (1), handle, write about
tunc, then, at that time
turba, -ae, f., crowd, mob
turbo, -inis, m., an eddy, storm
ubi, where, when
ultimus, -a, -um, last
ultra, beyond, farther
umbra, -ae, f., shadow
unusquisque, each and every one
valeo, valere, valui, be well; vale, valete, farewell, good-bye
vallis, vallis, f., valley
vastus, -I, -um, vast, wide
vel, or
ventus, -I, m., wind
veritas, -atis, f., truth
vertex, -ices, m., whirl pool
verus, -a, -um, true
vestigium, -i, n., footstep, trace
vexo (1), harry, treat harshly
vicinus, -a, -um, neighboring
vinco, vincere, vinci, victus, conquer, overcome; surpass
violo (1), treat violently
vires, virium, f. pl., strength
virtus, -utis, f., excellence
vis, (no gen.), f., power; violence; assault
visendus, -a, -um, worth going to see
viso, visere, visi,  go and look at, view
vitium, -i, n., fault, vice
vivo, vivere, vixi, victum, live
vivus, -a, -um, live, while living
vix, hardly
voco (1), call, summon
voluto (1), roll, cause to roll