Section 3

1. Quōdam itaque tempore, cum iam nihil praeter arma et simplicem mīlitiae vestem habēret, mediā hieme, quae solitō asperior inhorruerat, adeo ut plērōsque vīs algōris exstingueret, obvium habet in portā Ambiānēnsium cīvitātis pauperem nūdum: quī cum praetereuntēs ut suī miserērentur ōrāret omnēsque miserum praeterīrent, intellēxit vir Deō plēnus sibi illum, aliīs misericordiam nōn praestantibus, reservāri. 2. quid tamen ageret? nihil praeter chlamydem, quā indūtus erat, habēbat: iam enim reliqua in opus simile cōnsumpserat. arreptō itaque ferrō, quō accīnctus erat, mediam dīvidit partemque eius pauperī tribuit, reliquā rursus induitur. intereā dē circumstantibus rīdēre nōnnūllī, quia dēformis esse truncātus habitū viderētur: multī tamen, quibus erat mēns sānior, altius gemere, quod nihil simile fēcissent, cum utique plūs habentēs vestīre pauperem sine suī nūditāte potuissent. 3. nocte igitur īnsecūtā, cum sē sopōrī dedisset, vīdit Christum chlamydis suae, quā pauperem tēxerat, parte vestītum. intuērī dīligentissimē Dominum vestemque, quam dederat, iubētur agnoscere. mox ad angelōrum circumstantium multitūdinem audit Iēsum clārā vōce dīcentem: Martīnus adhuc catēchūmenus hāc mē veste contēxit. 4. vērē memor Dominus dictōrum suōrum, quī ante praedīxerat: quamdiu fēcistis ūnī ex minimīs istīs, mihi fēcistis, sē in paupere professus est fuisse vestītum: et ad cōnfirmandum tam bonī operis testimōnium in eōdem sē habitū, quem pauper accēperat, est dignātus ostendere. 5. quō vīsō vir beatissimus nōn in glōriam est ēlatus hūmānam, sed bonitātem Deī in suō opere cognoscēns, cum esset annōrum duodēvīgintī, ad baptismum convolāvit. nec tamen statim mīlitiae renuntiāvit, tribūnī suī precibus ēvictus, cui contubernium familiāre praestābat: etenim trānsāctō tribūnātūs suī tempore renuntiātūrum sē saeculō pollicēbātur. 6. quā Martīnus exspectātiōne suspēnsus per biennium ferē posteāquam est baptismum cōnsecūtus, sōlō licet nomine, mīlitavit.

One winter, at the gate of Amiens, Martin split his cloak to share it with a freezing beggar. That night Christ appeared to him in a dream, clothed in that cloak. Shortly thereafter, Martin was baptized, at age 18, though he continued to serve as a soldier for two more years.

solitō asperior: 'harsher than usual'. solito is abl. of comparison. (AG 406)

inhorruerat: 'raged'

plerosque: 'very many people' (> plerusque, -raque, -rumque)

obvium habet: 'he met' (the tense is 'historical present', often used by Latin writers for vivid narration).

Ambianensium civitatis: i.e. Samarobriva Ambianorum, mod. Amiens, in the north of France. Satellite image. Historical Map.

ut sui misereret: 'to pity him', a jussive noun clause. (AG 439)

praeterirent: 'were passing by' (> praetereo), impf. subj. in a circumstantial cum-clause (AG 549).

intellexit . . . sibi illum . . . reservari: 'understood that that man (the beggar) was being saved for himself (Martin).'

Deo: abl. with plenus, the regular construction with this adjective.

quid tamen ageret?: 'But what could he do?' Deliberative subjunctive in the past, expressing helplessness (Woodcock sec. 174.2b) (AG 444).

accinctus erat: 'had been girded', i.e. 'was wearing' (> accingo, -ere).

mediam dividit partem: The splitting of the cloak was Martin's most famous act, frequently depicted in art, e.g. by El Greco (1597, National Gallery, Washington, DC)

ridēre: 'laughed', historic infinitive, often used by Latin writers in vivid narrative (AG 463).

quia . . . videretur: 'because he seemed (to them)'. Subjunctive in a causal clause, where the reason cited is not the writer's own, but another's (Woodcock sec. 240) (AG 535e).

truncatus habitu: 'mutilated with respect to his clothing', i.e. because of his ripped clothing. Ablative of specification (AG 418).

gemere: 'groaned', historic infinitive.

quod . . . fecissent: for the subjunctive, see above on quia...videretur.

utique: 'doubtless, naturally'

nocte . . . insecuta: 'during the following night'(> insequor, insequi, insecutus). Ablative of time when or within which (AG 424).

chlamydis suae . . . parte: 'in the part of his own cloak'.

qua: the antecedent is parte below.

adhuc catechumenus: 'while still a catechumen'.

memor: (sc. erat) 'was mindful of'.

Dominus: = Iesus.

quamdiu . . . fecistis: 'whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me', a quotation from Matthew 25:40. quamdiu = 'whatever, that which' (late Latin).

se...ostendere: 'to show himself', 'to appear'.

est dignatus: 'he deigned, he saw fit' (> dignor, -ari).

quo viso: 'when this had been seen' (abl. absol.)

est elatus: 'was raised up' (> effero, efferre, extuli, elatum).

ad babtismum convolavit: 'had recourse to baptism', 'was baptized'.

militiae: dative with renuntiavit.

evictus: 'having been won over by' (> evinco, -ere).

cui contubernium familiare. . . praestabat: 'to whom he continued to show friendly comradeship'. The Latin might imply that they lived in the same tent (contubernium literally means the sharing of a tent, from con- + taberna), or that Martin served as an assistant to his superior officer (contubernium is sometimes used of an official's or an officer's suite of assistants and advisers, see TLL 4.792.7). Praestare ("provide") makes the latter meaning likely; but in the context it is the soldierly friendship of the two men that is emphasized.

transacto tribunatus sui tempore: 'when the time of his tribunate had been completed'.

saeculo: dative with renuntiaturum.

est . . . consecutus: 'he obtained' (> consequor).

solo licet nomine: 'albeit in name only'.

asper aspera asperum: rough, harsh

inhorrescō -ere: bristle, shiver

algor -ōris m.: cold, coldness

exstinguō -stinguere -stinxī -stinctum: put out, quench; destroy

misereor -ērī -itus sum: feel pity, have compassion, pity (+ gen.)

chlamys -idis f.: mantle, woolen cloak

accingō -cingere -cinxī -cinctum: gird on (to)

dēfōrmis -e: ill formed, misshapen; disgraceful

truncō -āre: maim, shorten, cut off

gemō gemere gemuī gemitum: groan; bemoan, lament

intueor -tuērī -tuitus sum: look closely upon; admire

contegō -tegere -tēxī -tēctum: cover over, bury

praedīcō -dīcere -dīxī -dictum: foretell; adivse, warn

dignor -ārī: deem worthy of, deign

cōnvolō -āre: come hastily together, run together

ēvincō -vincere -vīcī -victum: conquer completely, overcome

contubernium -ī n.: tent-companionship, comradeship

tribūnātus -ūs m.: office and dignity of a tribune, tribuneship

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Suggested Citation

Christopher Francese, Sulpicius Severus: Life of St. Martin. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2011. ISBN: 978-1-947822-03-0. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/sulpicius-severus/section-3