4.1 “Dē Beroeā Edessam pergentibus, vīcīna est pūblicō itinerī sōlitūdō, per quam Saracēnī, incertīs semper sēdibus, hūc atque illūc vagantur. Quae suspīciō frequentiam in illīs locīs viātōrum congregat, ut imminēns perīculum auxiliō mūtuō dēclīnētur. Erant in comitātū meō virī, fēminae, senēs, iuvenēs, parvulī, numerō circiter septuāgintā. 4.2 Et ecce: subitō equōrum camēlōrumque sessōrēs Ismāēlītae irruērunt, crīnītīs vittātīsque capitibus ac sēminūdō corpore, pallia et lātās galliculās trahentēs. Pendēbant ex umerō pharetrae; et, laxōs arcūs vibrantēs, hastīlia longa portābant; nōn enim ad pugnandum, sed ad praedandum vēnerant. 4.3 Rapimur, dissipāmur, in dīversa distrahimur. Ego interim, longō postlīminiō hērēditārius possessor, et sērō meī cōnsiliī paenitēns, cum alterā mulierculā in ūnīus erī servitūtem sortītus veniō. Dūcimur, immō portāmur sublīmēs in camēlīs; et per vastam erēmum, semper ruīnam timentēs, haerēmus potius quam sedēmus. Cibus sēmicrūdae carnēs; et lac camēlōrum pōtus erat.

    While traveling with a group of around seventy people for greater security, we were captured by Arab nomad slave traders. Rather than returning home to come into my inheritance as intended, I was enslaved with a woman I did not know and carried by camel over a vast wilderness.

    Dē Beroeā: CL would be ex Beroeā or ab Beroeā. CL uses a preposition with the name of a town “where both a start and an end point of a journey are given” (Gray).

    Edessam: Edessa (modern Şanliurfa in Turkey, also known as Urfa) is about 200 miles NE of Beroea (modern Aleppo).

    pergentibus: “for those who travel”; a substantivized participle, masc. pl. nom.; dative of reference, here used of the person “from whose point of view an opinion is stated or a situation or a direction is defined” (AG 378); also called “dative of the person judging.”

    sōlitūdō: sōlitūdō -inis f.,  “wilderness”; “deserts” in ancient texts are usually wildernesses rather than the completely arid places we call deserts.

    Saracēnī: Saracēnī -ōrum m. pl., “Saracens”; strictly speaking a people of the Arabian peninsula, but here a generic word for Arab nomads.

    incertīs semper sēdibus: ablative absolute.

    Quae suspīciō frequentiam in illīs locīs viātōrum congregat = quōrum suspīciō congregat frequentiam viātōrum in illīs locīs. < congregō (1), “to bring together”; < frequentia -ae f., “multitude.”

    ut ... dēclīnētur < dēclīnō (1), “to avoid” (OLD 5c); pres. subj. in a purpose clause.

    in comitātū meō < comitātus -ūs m., “group, party.”


    sessōrēs < sessor -ōris m., “rider.”

    Ismāēlītae < Ismāēlītēs -ae m. “descendent of Ishmael,” i.e. an Arab; here probably “Bedouin.”

    crīnītīs vittātīs capitibus ac sēminūdō corpore < crīnītus -a -um, “long-haired”; < vittātus -a -um ,“headband-wearing”; ablatives of description (AG 415).

    pallia et lātās galliculās trahentēs: pallia trahentēs means “dragging their cloaks” on the ground, i.e. “with long flowing robes” (see Varro, Menippean Satires fragment 128, speaking of Greek philosophers). lātās galliculās seems to refer to the Bedouins’ boots  < gallicula -ae f., “Gallic shoe, boot” (LL), but the text is uncertain.

    laxōs arcūs: their bows were unstrung, because (as we will learn) they were prepared for kidnapping and enslaving, rather than combat.

    ad pugnandum ... ad praedandum < praedor (1), “to take as plunder”; gerunds expressing purpose (AG 506)


    Rapimur, dissipāmur, in dīversa distrahimur: a tricolon crescendo, with homoeoteleuton, forcefully expressing the drama of the situation.

    longō postlīminiō hērēditārius possessor: “(intending to be) a landholder by right of inheritance after a long time away.” < postlīminium -(i)ī n., “the right of recovery”; originally the right of someone returning from beyond the border (līmes) to repossess property, but here simply a reference to the fact that Malchus had been away for a long time (TLL postliminium II.B); probably ablative of specification (respect), which can include expressions indicating that in accordance with which a thing is done, AG 418.a.

    possessor: possessor -ōris m.,“a person taking occupancy” (of a property, OLD 1.c).

    sērō: “late, too late” (adv.)

    cum alterā mulierculā: “with a second person, a woman” (Gray).

    in ūnīus erī servitūtem sortītus veniō = veniō sortītus in servitūdinem ūnīus erī. < erus (herus) -ī m., “master”; < sortior sortīrī sortītus sum, “to assign by lot.”

    haerēmus potius quam sedēmus: sc. in camēlīs.

    pōtus: pōtus -ī m., “drink.”

    core vocabulary

    Beroea -ae f.: Beroea (modern Aleppo)

    Edessa -ae f.: Edessa, a city in Macedonia; a city of Mesopotamia (modern Şaniurfa, Turkey)

    sōlitūdō -inis f.: solitude, loneliness; desert, waste land

    Saracēnī -ōrum m.: Saracens; a people of Arabia; a generic word for Arab nomads

    incertus -a -um: unsure, uncertain, unreliable

    vagor -ārī or vagō vagāre vagāvī: to wander

    suspīciō suspiciōnis f.: suspicion; mistrust

    frequentia frequentiae f.: crowd, throng

    viātor -ōris m.: traveler, wayfarer

    congregō congregāre congregāvī congregātus: to assemble, collect

    immineō imminēre: to threaten, be a threat (to); overhang, be imminent (+ dat.)

    mūtuus -a -um: interchangeable, reciprocal; on both sides; per mutua, mutually, to each other (> muto)

    dēclīnō dēclīnāre dēclīnāvī dēclīnātus: to turn down or away; of the eyes, to close in sleep; (intrans.) turn aside (to), be inclined (towards)

    comitātus -ūs m.: an accompanying or following; a suite, train, retinue (> comitor)

    iuvenis iuvenis m.: youth; young man

    parvulus -a -um: very little; small, little (> parvus)

    circiter: nearly, not far from, almost, approximately, around, about

    septuāgintā; septuāgēsimus -a -um: 70; 70th

    camēlus -ī m./f.: a camel

    sessor -ōris m.: one who sits, rider

    Ismāēlītēs -ae m. : descendent of Ishmael; an Arab; a Bedouin

    inruō -ere -ruī: to rush in, break in; rush on; rush

    crīnītus -a -um: long-haired (> crinis)

    vittātus -a -um: bound up by a fillet

    sēminūdus -a -um: half-naked; nearly defenseless, without arms

    pallium palli(ī) n.: cover, coverlet; Greek cloak

    "gallicula -ae f. : Gallic shoe, boot"

    pendeō pendēre pependī: to hang, hang down

    umerus umerī m.: shoulder

    pharetra -ae f.: quiver

    laxus -a -um: wide, loose, spacious

    arcus arcūs m.: bow, arch

    vibrō vibrāre vibrāvī vibrātus: to set in tremulous motion, move to and fro, brandish, shake, agitate

    hastīle -is n.: the shaft of a spear; a spear, lance, javelin; a spear-like sapling or branch; a shoot (> hasta)

    praedor -ārī praedātus sum: to plunder; to go hunting for food

    dissipō -āre: to spread abroad, scatter, disperse

    distrahō -ere -trahere -traxī -tractum: to pull apart, tear to pieces

    postlīminium -ī n.: resumption of civil rights on return from exile; leading back again; reprisal

    hērēditārius -a -um : of an inheritance, inherited, hereditary

    possessor -ōris m.: a possessor, owner

    sērō: late, at a late hour, tardily; of a late period

    paenitet paenitēre paenituit: to make sorry, cause to repent

    muliercula -ae f.: a (small or weak) woman

    erus -ī m.: an owner, householder, master, lord

    servitūs servitūtis f.: slavery

    sortior -ītus sum: to cast lots; obtain, get, take by lot; share; distribute; assign, allot, appoint; select, choose (> sors)

    immō: no indeed (contradiction); on the contrary, more correctly; indeed, nay more

    sublīmis sublīme: elevated, lofty, heroic, noble; (of breathing) shallow, panting; with head held high

    camēlus -ī m./f.: a camel

    vāstus -a -um: empty, devastated

    erēmus -ī m. or f.: desert, waste land (late Latin)

    ruīna ruīnae f.: fall; catastrophe; collapse (of a building), destruction

    haereō haerēre haesī haesus: to stick to, hang on to

    potius: rather, more

    sēmicrūdus -a -um: half raw, partially cooked

    carō carnis f.: meat, flesh

    lac lactis n.: milk; juice

    pōtus pōtūs m.: a drinking, a drink

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