Selection 8 (6.8.1-6.10.2)

[6.8.1] Nōn quidem exīstimō diū tē haesitātūrum an crēdās esse subterrāneōs amnēs et mare absconditum. unde enim ista prōrēpunt, unde ad nōs veniunt, nisi quod orīgō ūmōris inclūsa est? [6.8.2] age, cum vidēs interruptum Tigrim in mediō itinere siccārī et nōn ūniversum āvertī, sed paulātim nōn appārentibus damnīs minuī prīmum, deinde cōnsūmī, quō illum putās abīre nisi in obscūra terrārum, utique cum videās ēmergere iterum nōn minōrem eō quī prius flūxerat? quid cum vidēs Alphēōn, celebrātum poētīs, in Achāiā mergī et in Siciliā rūrsus trāiectō marī effundere amoenissimum fontem Arethūsam? [6.8.3] nescīs autem inter opiniōnēs quibus ēnārrātur Nīlī aestīva inundātiō et hanc esse, ē terrā illum ērumpere et augērī nōn supernīs aquīs sed ex intimō redditīs? ego quidem centuriōnēs duōs, quōs Nerō Caesar, ut aliārum virtūtum ita vēritātis in prīmīs amantissimus, ad investīgandum Nīlī caput mīserat, audīvī nārrantēs longum ipsōs iter perēgisse, cum ā rēge Aethiopiae īnstrūctī auxiliō commendātīque proximīs rēgibus ad ulteriōra penetrāssent. [6.8.4] quī ‘inde’ aiēbant ‘pervēnimus ad inmēnsās palūdēs, quārum exitum nec incolae nōverant nec spērāre quisquam potest: ita implicātae aquīs herbae sunt et <herbīs> aquae, nec peditī ēluctābilēs nec nāvigiō, quod nisi parvum et ūnīus capāx līmōsa et obsita palus nōn fert. ibi’ inquit ‘vīdimus duās petrās, ex quibus ingēns vīs flūminis excidēbat.’ [6.8.5] sed sīve caput illa sīve accessiō est Nīlī, sīve tunc nāscitur sīve in terrās ex priōre recepta cursū redit, nōnne tū crēdis illam, quidquid est, ex magnō terrārum lacū ascendere? Habeant enim oportet <et> plūribus locīs sparsum ūmōrem, et in ūnō coāctum, ut ēructāre tantō impetū possint.

[6.9.1] Ignem causam mōtūs quīdam †et quīdam nōn† iūdicant, in prīmīs Anaxagorās, quī exīstimat similī paene ex causā et āëra concutī et terram: cum <in> īnferiore parte spīritus crassum āëra et in nūbēs coāctum eādem vī, quā apud nōs quoque nūbila frangī solent, rumpit, et ignis ex hōc conlīsū nūbium cursūque ēlīsī āëris ēmicuit. hic ipse in obvia incurrit exitum quaerēns ac dīvellit repugnantia, dōnec per angustum aut nactus est viam exeundī ad caelum aut vī et iniūriā fēcit. [6.9.2] aliī in igne quidem causam esse, sed nōn ob hoc iūdicant, sed quia plūribus obrutus locīs ārdeat et proxima quaeque cōnsūmat: quae sī quandō exēsa cecidērunt, tunc sequī mōtum eārum partium quae subiectīs adminiculīs dēstitūtae labant dōnec corruērunt, nūllō occurrente quod onus exciperet (tunc chasmata, tunc hiātūs vastī aperiuntur); aut, cum diū dubitāvērunt, super ea sē, quae supersunt stantque, compōnunt. [6.9.3] hoc apud nōs quoque vidēmus accidere quotiēns incendiō labōrat pars cīvitātis. cum exustae trabēs sunt aut corrupta quae superiōribus firmāmentum dabant, tunc diū agitāta fastīgia concidunt, et tam diū dēferuntur atque incerta sunt dōnec in solidō resēdērunt.

[6.10.1] Anaximenēs ait terram ipsam sibi causam esse mōtūs, nec extrīnsecus incurrere quod illam impellat, sed intrā ipsam et ex ipsā; quāsdam enim partēs eius decidere sī aut umor resolverit aut ignis exēderit aut spīritus violentiā excusserit. Sed hīs quoque cessantibus nōn dēesse propter quod aliquid abscēdat aut revellātur; nam prīmum omnia vetustāte lābuntur, nec quicquam tūtum ā senectūte est; haec solida quoque et magnī rōboris carpit. [6.10.2] itaque quemadmodum in aedificiīs veteribus quaedam nōn percussa tamen dēcidunt, cum plūs ponderis habuēre quam vīrium, ita in hōc ūniversō terrae corpore ēvenit ut partēs eius vetustāte solvantur, solūtae cadant, et tremōrem superiōribus adferant; prīmum, dum abscēdunt (nihil enim utique magnum sine mōtū eius cui haesit abscīditur); deinde, cum dēcidērunt, solidō exceptae resilient pilae mōre, quae cum cecidit, exultat ac saepius pellitur, totiēns ā solō in novum impetum missa. sī vērō in stāgnantibus aquīs dēlātae sunt, hīc ipse cāsus vīcīna concutit flūctū, quem subitum vastumque inlīsum ex altō pondus ēiēcit.

Selection 8 (6.8.1–6.10.2): Theories about the causes of earthquakes

This passage is typical of the doxographical method found throughout the NQ, as Seneca surveys of the views of earlier writers.

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Often the theories of others are given without a sense of Seneca’s approval or disapproval—although certain theories are immediately dismissed (woe to Thales’ idea that the earth floats on water like a ship at sea!, 6.8.2). Seneca displays his knowledge of various philosophical traditions and ties their findings into the four elements, which structure his discussion throughout this book. In this selection, he concludes his thoughts on whether water could cause earthquakes by reiterating that there are underground bodies of water, although he does not think that earthquakes are caused by water. Later in Book 6 he concludes that air causes earthquakes. This section also includes information about a recent expedition of the Nile that Nero initiated, a topic which looks back to discussions of the Nile in Book 4a. In addition, the passage calls attention to analogies of the earth as a home that can be destroyed by natural forces—as the damage in Pompeii after the earthquake would make all too clear.

Further Reading: Williams 2012: 232–41 offers a perceptive analysis of this section.

[6.8.1] The existence of terrestrial rivers can only be explained by underground sources of water.

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Seneca has been detailing the ideas and world view that would underlie the belief that earthquakes are caused by water. The presence of the underground rivers and lakes would be familiar from Book 3 (see, especially Selection 2), and explains the source of rivers.

quidem: “assuredly,” “by all means,” emphasizing the whole sentence.

diu te haesiturum: supply esse with te as subject accusative of indirect statement; take the adverb with haesiturum and not existimo.

an credas esse: “as to whether you believe that there are,” indirect question (AG 574) introducing indirect speech (esse). Seneca lightly flatters the addressee, who surely knows that such underground waters exist.

ista: “those familiar (waters).” iste = “that which you have heard of or know to be such,” “the well-known” (OLD 3).

prorepunt: the rivers and springs emerge from the ground like a snake after winter hibernation; the verbal root rep- (“to crawl”) gives English the word “reptile.”

ad nos: indicates the surface of the earth as much as “to us.”

quod: “because”

[6.8.2] This is proven by the behavior of the river Tigris and the spring Arethusa.  

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Seneca mentions famous rivers and springs that have an underground channel. Lucilius, the addressee of this work, was stationed in Sicily and would have had first-hand knowledge of the Arethusa spring. The story of the nymph Arethusa is told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (5.572–641); Seneca calls  it, “most celebrated in song” (celebratissimum carminibus) in his Consolatio ad Marcian (Cons. Marc. 17.3); Arethusa was featured in later sculpture and painting as well.

age: “come now.” This imperative is often used to call for attention during transitions (LS ago II.D.12.b).

cum vides: the 2nd person singular form speaks to the reader and helps to bring “you” to these various locales; this cum-clause is purely temporal with its use of the indicative (AG 544).

interruptum Tigrim: the Tigris has a karstic stream course that may feature sinkholes and moments in which its strength is sapped by underground run-off.

siccari: the present passive infinitive in indirect speech introduced by the present tense of vides gives the sense that the river is drying up as one looks at it.

non universum: the river is not dramatically swallowed up as a whole. The Danube sinkhole is similar in nature.

non apparentibus damnis: ablative of means (AG 408) with the passive infinitive, minui.

quo: “where?” or “whither?”

obscura: “hidden places,” substantive use of the adjective (AG 288).

utique: “certainly,” “necessarily,” indicating that the following clause must remove any doubt.

cum videas: this cum-clause is causal (AG 549).

non minorem eo qui prius: eo is ablative of comparison (AG 406) and represents the river Tigris; it is also the antecedent of qui.

quid cum: “What about when….” A rhetorical question meant to convince with another example, rather than to spur an answer.

celebratum poetis: the Alpheus river is the longest river in the Peloponnesus and it is said to run under the Mediterranean Sea and resurface as the fountain of Arethusa. It features in Greek mythology as one of the rivers that Heracles diverted to clean the Augean Stables. Vergil writes about it at Aeneid 3.694–96, and it was featured in Book 3 of the NQ (3.26.5).

traiecto mari: ablative absolute (AG 419).

[6.8.3] The Nile may be another example.

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Seneca reinforces his argument about the existence of underground waters by positing them as a possible reason for the Nile’s summer flooding. He had mentioned this idea, but dismissed it, in Book 4a, citing the theories of Oenopides of Chius and Diogenes of Apollonia (4a.2.26–30). He begins to tell the tale of an expedition sent by Nero to explore the river and its source. Pliny the Elder mentions the same mission but suggests it had a military purpose (N.H. 6.181, 184–86). Seneca says he heard the story of the Nile’s source first-hand, which is meant to reinforce its value as evidence.

nescis: “are you unaware?” Another rhetorical question, expecting the answer “no.”

inter opiniones: Seneca gave a number of these theories in Book 4a; this sort of intratextual reminder would “test” the reader or encourage a rereading of Book 4a.

enarratur: “is explained”

Nili aestiva inundatio: the annual summer flooding of the Nile was the sort of mysterious marvel that philosophers often tried to explain. In Book 4a Seneca cites a number of thinkers including Thales, Aeschylus, Ovid, and Anaxagoras. It is in fact the result of the yearly monsoon rains falling on the Ethiopian highlands.

hanc esse: hanc refers to the following opinio about the Nile’s flooding. This is indirect statement predicated on nescis above.

e terrā: these words are emphasized by being placed first in the clause.

illum erumpere: illum refers to the Nile; erumpere is one of Seneca’s favorite verbs to describe waters bursting forth from the ground (cf. 3.7.3, 6.6.4).

non supernis aquis sed … redditis: supply aquis with redditis; these are ablatives of means (AG 408).

ex intimo redditis: “produced from the depths,” a substantive use of the adjective intimus, “inmost” (LS intimus II.B; AG 288). This phrase also appeared at 3.11.4 to describe the power of rivers in general: “but the force of rivers flows from the innermost region” (fluminum vero vis ex intimo manat), cf. 3.26.6 and 3.26.8 for additional appearances. Seneca likes to compare and contrast high and low in different ways in this work (e.g. 6.12.3, 2.58.2) and previous had stressed rivers drawing upon such waters ex intimo (3.11.4).  He seems to be giving intratextual hints that he covered a lot of this in Books 3 and 4a and is building on that info.

quidem: “and what is more,” adding reinforcement to the argument.

centuriones duos: direct object of audivi below.

Nero Caesar: Caesar functions as a cognomen for emperors after Augustus. Here it is virtually equivalent to “emperor.” Nero is mentioned four times in the NQ and usually with a positive connotation, as here. As an advisor to Nero, Seneca would have been privy to such reports.

ut … amantissimus: ut,  “as,” is correlative with ita, “so” (AG 323): ut (est) amantissimus aliarum virtutum, ita (est) in primis (amantissimus) veritatis. As a virtue, veritas is “truthfulness” or “honesty,” but Seneca conflates this sense with another, “reality,” or “(scientific) truth.”

in primis: “especially,” “chiefly”

ad investigandum Nili caput: ad + gerundive to indicate purpose, “in order to… ” (AG 506). caput = “source”

narrantes … peregisse: narrantes agrees with the centuriones duos (and ipsos which stresses their own eye-witness account) and introduces indirect speech with the perfect active infinitive peregisse.

longum: emphasized by being separated from its noun, iter.

a rege Aethiopiae instructi auxilio: ablative of personal agent (AG 405). This would seem to indicate that there were some formal connections between the Roman Empire and Ethiopia.

proximis regibus: the tribes surrounding Ethiopia were the Nubaei, Megabari, and Blemnyes.

ad ulteriora penetrassent: the verb is subjunctive in a temporal cum-clause (AG 544); ulteriora is a substantive use of the comparative adjective and would evoke being close to the edge of the world (there was not much known of Africa beyond Ethiopia at this time). Seneca uses it in a similar way when he writes about exploration by sea, [Deus] Dedit ventos ad ulteriora noscenda, 5.18.14. See Jackson 2002 for details about the Egyptian frontier.

[6.8.4] Centurions exploring the Nile’s source saw water gushing from the earth.

The story of the centurions is lively and adds variatio to Seneca’s doxography.

aiebant: the direct speech here lends veracity to the story.

ad inmensas paludes: In mentioning these swamps, Seneca recalls earlier moments of his NQ. For instance, at 3.8.1 he mentioned the belief in vast swampland at the edge of the world, in his book about the Nile, he wrote of swamps upstream from Philae (4a.2.3), and immediately preceding this section, he wrote of such impassable swamps elsewhere in the world as evidence for the large amount of water on earth (6.7.2).

incolae: more details, including interviews with the locals, help make this more credible.

nec sperare quisquam potest: sperare is complementary infinitive with potest (AG 456), and one should supply a novisse to complete the thought. This makes it seem like a natural end to their hunt for the source.

aquis herbae… <herbis> aquae: the conjecture not only helps the sense, but also creates a nice chiastic word picture that emphasizes how this vegetation halts progress. While such swampy vegetation is common at various points in the Nile’s course, this may denote the vast marsh called the Sudd in South Sudan.

nec pediti eluctabiles nec navigio: the adjective eluctabiles (“penetrable”) takes the dative case (AG 383).

quod ... non fert: "which it does not permit" (LS fero II.B.10) The antecedent is navigio, “vessel.”

nisi parvum et unius capax: "except a small [boat] capable of carrying one man.” The adjective capax takes the genitive, as normal (AG 349). 

inquit: Seneca focuses in on the words of one of the centurions for the final sentence of the story. Most manuscripts have inquit here even though previously the centurions’ tale was introduced by a 3rd person plural, aiebant.

duas petras: this may refer to a waterfall with the two cliffs on either side of the water outflow. This has led some to believe the soldiers may have made their way to Murchison Falls. If so, this would be one of the furthest southern points reached in Africa by a Roman expedition. These two rocks could also indicate the “veins of the Nile,” which Seneca wrote of earlier at 4a.2.7.

vis: “amount”

[6.8.5] So much water must have issued at least partly from underground reservoirs.

caput illa: supply vis erat.

accessio: “(only) an addition,” not the source

in terras … redit: like the Tigris or Alpheus as described in 6.8.2.

recepta: “recovered,” pf. participle > recipio, feminine because the subject is still vis from the previous sentence.

nonne tu: expects an affirmative answer (AG 332.b). The use of the pronoun makes this a strong address to the reader.

terrarum: i.e. “underground”

ascendere: the accusative subject is illam in indirect statement after credis.

habeant … oportet: “it is appropriate that they should have.” oportet can take the subjunctive without ut (AG 565). The subject of habeant is terrae.

pluribus locis sparsum: pluribus locis is an ablative of source; note how participles denoting birth or origin often take an ablative of source without a preposition (AG 403.2.a).

ut eructare … possint: purpose clause (AG 530). There is more play with the earth/body analogy here as the earth belches/vomits forth (eructare) the water (cf. Thy. 911, Ep. 95.25). Readers attuned to Lucretian echoes would remember his use of eructare to describe the waters of Tartarus: Tartarus horriferos eructans faucibus aestus, 3.1012.

[6.9.1] The early philosopher Anaxagoras believed underground lightning to be the cause of earthquakes.

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Seneca now moves on to fire as a possible cause of earthquakes. He often draws upon previous Greek thinkers in his doxographical sections and here we see the way he engages with Anaxagoras’ ideas. Anaxagoras was a Presocratic philosopher (born c. 490 BCE) who endorsed the mixture of elements in his cosmological thought and wrote about meteorological topics and geology as well. This opening theory likewise relies on some of the ideas of elemental change found earlier in Seneca’s own work (see NQ 3.10.1–3.10.5) and looks forward to some of the thoughts about lightning in Book 2. While Aristotle mentions Anaxagoras’ ideas about earthquakes, he does not include the idea that fire is at the root of the tremors (Mete. 365a.19–23).

Ignem causam motūs: supply esse in indirect statement after iudicant and take causam motus as the predicate; motūs is genitive singular.

quidam: “certain thinkers”

†et quidam non†: these words should either be removed (in one important group of manuscripts they do not appear) or edited to read et quidem non ignobiles. In that case the meaning would be, “and indeed not insignificant ones.”

Anaxagoras: this fifth century BCE philosopher is mentioned five times in NQ in sections treating hail, lightning, and a possible cause of the flooding of the Nile. He is not mentioned in any other of Seneca’s works. For further Roman reception of his ideas, see Lucretius 1.830–44, 875–79, 897–900. Graham 2013 highlights Anaxagoras’ revolutionary ideas about astronomy.

simili paene ex causa: ablative of cause (AG 404); the adverb paene modifies the adjective simili.

et aëra concuti et terram: et … et = “both… and… ”; concuti is a present passive infinitive in an indirect statement; aëra is a Greek accusative (AG 82).

<in>  inferiore parte: i.e., underground

spiritus: “wind,” subject of rumpit below. The Latin can be re-ordered: cum in inferiore parte (terrae) spiritus rumpit aera crassum et in nubes coactum, eadem vi (rumpit) qua apud nos quoque nubila frangi solent. In the Stoic view, spiritus, in the sense of “the vital principle animating the world as a whole,” infuses everything (Smith 2014: 347–49).

eadem vi: ablative of means (AG 409). When clouds break, they create fire (usually in the form of lightning). Seneca gives a number of different views for this and the accompanying thunder at NQ 2.12.1–2.26.9.

apud nos: i.e. in the upper world. Seneca is taking what he knows from his own meteorological observations and applying it to spaces underground.

ex hoc conlisu nubium: Seneca will write about how friction between clouds or air masses can cause fire elsewhere (NQ 2.12.5, 2.32.2, 7.6.2, 7.20.1); nubium is genitive plural of the i-stem (AG 72).

hic ipse: the fire.

in obvia incurrit: “runs into things in its path,” “encounters obstacles.” incurro often takes in + accusative, meaning “to strike against” or “to attack”; obvia is substantive. The fire’s fight against the surrounding earth features battle terminology and imagery.

donec … aut nactus est … aut fecit: donec + indicative indicates an actual fact in past time (AG 554).

per angustum: Seneca later writes about the various narrow channels for air to move from below ground to the upper world (6.13.1–5).

exeundi: genitive of the gerund > exeo.

vi et iniuria fecit: supply viam exeundi ad caelum; vi and iniuria are ablatives of means (AG 409) and should be taken as a hendiadys (“violent injury”). This then would be the cause of the earthquake.

[6.9.2] Other thinkers believe underground fires cause sections of the earth to collapse.

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Others believe fire is the cause, but not in the same way as Anaxagoras. Seneca will add a subsequent section about other thinkers at 6.11 and note also 6.20.7, where he gives Epicurus’ opinion that spiritus is kindled into flame.

ob hoc: “for the reason just mentioned,” i.e., the underground lightning of Anaxagoras.

obrutus: “buried (fire),” subject of ardeat.

pluribus ... locis: ablative of place where. In Italy, the volcanic activity of the Phlegrean Fields and the Bay of Naples would indicate the presence of buried fire and a trip to Sicily with Mt. Aetna would cinch the idea that there are underground fires (Kroonenberg 2013 details how this area was perceived by previous thinkers).

quaeque: “each and every thing,” acc. neut. pl. substantive > quisque

si quando: the si makes quando indefinite, “if ever, whenever” (AG 542).

exesa: “(having been) consumed,” pf. ptc. > exedo

sequi: dependent on iudicant in indirect statement.

motum: “an earthquake,” subject of sequi.

subiectis adminiculis destitutae: subiectis adminiculis is an ablative of separation (AG 401).

nullo occurrente: ablative absolute (AG 419), explaining why the earth collapses in this area.

quod… exciperet: relative clause of characteristic (AG 535).

tunc ... tunc: “sometimes ... at other times”

chasmata: “fissures in the earth.” Seneca transliterates the Greek word (χάσμα) to recall its use to describe the abysses caused by earthquakes in Aristotle (de mundo 396a4) and Posidonius (frag. 231).

hiatus vasti: “vast gulfs,” evidently much larger that chasmata.

diu dubitaverunt: the subject is still the “parts of the earth.” diu reflects the point of view of the person who is suffering from earthquakes and aftershocks.

se … componunt: “settle” without creating a visible fissure.

quae supersunt stantque: “which remain and stand,” i.e., “which are still standing under them.” These are the underground structures and foundation for the parts of the earth to come to rest upon. Seneca’s interlocking word-order and repetition of sounds and words (super) are meant to lend strength to this picture and show active “composition” happening.

[6.9.3] This is similar to how buildings collapse in an urban fire.

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This argument shows the same upper/lower analogy that operates for much of the treatise (cf. 3.16.4: “believe whatever you see above exists below”) and hits upon microcosm and macrocosm—as in Rome, so in the rest of the world. Williams 2012 stresses how such analogies from everyday life operate as a unifying mechanism in Book 6: “promoting similarity and continuity between separate orders” (239). Fires were common in Roman cities (see mentions of fire at 1.15.5 and 3.30.6), and there is no reason to think that this alludes to the Great Fire of 64 CE.

apud nos: “right in front of us,” i.e., not underground.

civitatis: “city” (= urbis), a meaning of the word that did not become common until late antiquity. pars civitatis echoes the previous partium [terrarum] in 6.9.2.

laborat: “suffers”

cum ... dabant: cum trabes, quae firmamentum superioribus dabant, exustae sunt aut corrupta (sunt). Seneca’s word order emphasizes exustae, which is the key point of comparison.

tunc: after the foundations and supports have been damaged, the upper levels come crashing down.

fastigia: “house roofs” (= tecta), a Vergilian usage (Aeneid 1.438 , 8.491, 9.568)

diu … diu: recalling diu dubitaverunt in the previous section.

donec: answering the tam diu; for donec + perfect indicative (AG 554).

deferuntur: “sink,” “fall,” a middle use of passive voice (OLD defero 3.b)

[6.10.1] Anaximenes believed that earthquakes ccould be caused simply by the natural decay and slippage of parts of the earth.

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Seneca continues the doxography and now writes about earth itself as the cause of earthquakes. This follows his general framework in this book of discussing each element as the cause of earthquakes and continues to draw upon some of the larger conceptions of world that have been established.

Anaximenes: a Greek philosopher of the sixth century BCE from Miletus. His works do not survive, but based on quotations in later writers, it seems he posited that the fundamental substance of the universe was aer ("air," which also included water vapor). Aristotle reports his view of earthquakes as follows, “Anaximenes says when the earth gets wet and dries out, it cracks, and when the broken crags fall down it is shaken by them. That is why earthquakes happen during droughts and again during times of heavy rain. For in times of drought, as has been said, it cracks as it dries out, and being soaked by the waters [in times of heavy rain] it crumbles” (Mete. 365b6–12, trans. Graham 2010).

nec extrinsecus incurrere: “that it does not encounter from outside,” indirect statement following ait.

quod illam impellat: “something that shakes it,” relative clause of purpose (AG 531.2), with the indefinite antecedent omitted as usual.

quasdam … decidere: indirect statement continues.

his … cessantibus: ablative absolute

nec deesse propter quod: “there is no lack (of things) because of which,” i.e., “there are other reasons why.” quod is followed by subjunctive verbs because it introduces a dependent clause in indirect discourse (AG 580).

aliquid: nominative, referring to some part of the earth.

vetustate: ablative of means. The earth is a living being in Stoic thought and it too grows old.

haec: old age

magni roboris: “(things) of great strength,” genitive of quality (AG 345).

carpit: “destroys” (LS carpo II.B.1.b.β)

[6.10.2] The collapse of decayed parts of the earth in subterranean caverns produces tremors above.

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The earth itself suffers from old age and when subterranean parts crumble and fall apart, an earthquake can occur. This exploits the personification of the earth as a living being, who is now getting on in years. While the grammar in this section is straightforward, the ideas are dependent on the view of the earth as hollow with great caverns and subterranean lakes.

quemadmodum … ita: “just as… so… ”

non percussa: “though not struck,” concessive participle

plus ponderis … quam virium: “more weight than strength.” ponderis and virium are partitive genitives (AG 346.3).

cum ... habuere: “whenever they have.” habuere is a syncopated perfect 3rd plural. For cum + pf. indic. = “whenever,” see AG 548.

evenit ut: “it happens that,” followed by subjunctive in a result clause (AG 568).

primum ... deinde: understand tremorem superioribus ferunt from the previous clause with these two scenarios.

sine motu eius cui haesit: haesit (> haereo) takes the dative (cui) and the antecedent of cui is eius. Whatever is attached to the earth as it is torn apart will necessarily be jarred.

solido exceptae resiliunt pilae more: more + genitive, “in the manner of… .” If the earth has vast caverns, when parts of the earth fall, they have room to strike solid rock and rebound repeatedly. Earlier in NQ, Seneca compared the earth’s spherical shape to that of a ball (4b.11.3). Roman ball games included versions of soccer, and harpastum. There is a fine relief in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens of a youth practicing with a ball.

si ... delatae sunt: “if they fall,” the middle-passive use of defero; perfect indicative in the protasis of a general condition, with present indicative (concutit) in the apodosis, as normal (AG 514.D).

in stagnantibus aquis: the subterranean lakes and pools that Seneca has written about in selections 2 and 6.

quem: its antecedent is fluctu.

vicinia: “the vicinity,” neut. pl. acc.

quem subitum vastumque inlisum ex alto pondus eiecit: “which a sudden and vast weight smashing down from on high ejects.”

haesitō haesitāre haesitāvī haesitātus: to hesitate

subterrāneus –a –um : underground, subterranean

abscondō abscondere abscondī / abscondidī absconditus / absconsus: to hide, conceal, bury, engulf

prōrēpō prōrēpere prōrēpsī prōrēptum: crawl forth, come forth

orīgō –inis f.: origin, source, birth

ūmor –oris m.: moisture, liquid

inclūdō inclūdere inclūsī inclūsus: shut in, confine, include

interrumpō –ere –rūpī –ruptus: interrupt, break off 6.8.2

Tigris –is (–idis) m. or f.: Tigris, a river in Mesopotamia

siccō siccāre siccāvī siccātus: to dry, to dry up

ūniversus –a –um: all together, whole, entire

āvertō avertere avertī aversus: turn away, divert

paulātim: little by little, gradually

minuō minuere minuī minūtus: to diminish, lessen, reduce

obscūrus –a –um: dark, secret, obscure

utīque: certainly, by all means, at any rate

ēmergō –gere –sī –sum: to rise, emerge

Alphēus –ī m.: Alpheus River

Achaia (Achāïa) –ae f.: Achaia, Roman province taking up the north part of Peloponnesus

mergō –ere mersī mersus: sink, bury, overwhelm

Sicilia –ae f.: Sicily

trāiciō –icere –iēcī –iectum: pass through, bring across, cross

amoenus –a –um: charming

Arethūsa –ae f.: Arethusa, a famous spring in Syracuse

opīniō opīniōnis f.: opinion, conjecture, hypothesis 6.8.3

ēnarrō ēnarrāre ēnarrāvī ēnarrātum: describe, explain in detail

Nīlus –ī m.: Nile River

aestīvus –a –um: summer

inundātiō –ōnis f.: flood

ērumpō ērumpere ērūpī ēruptus: burst forth, break out

supernus –a –um: that is above, celestial, supernal

intimus –a –um: innermost, deepest

centuriō centuriōnis m.: a centurion (commander of infantry)

Nerō –ōnis m.: the emperor Nero

Caesar Caesaris m.: Caesar (name)

vēritās vēritātis f.: truth

in prīmīs: especially

investīgō –vestīgāre: investigate, explore

Nīlus –ī m.: Nile River

peragō peragere perēgī perāctum: to carry through, complete, accomplish

Aethiopia –ae f.: Ethiopia

īnstruō īnstruere īnstrūxī īnstrūctus: to build upon; furnish; arrange

commendō commendāre commendāvī commendātus: to entrust, recommend, approve

proximus –a –um: neighboring, nearby

penetrō penetrāre penetrāvī penetrātus: to go as far as, to reach (+ad + acc.)

immēnsus –a –um: immeasurable, boundless, endless, vast 6.8.4

palūs –ūdis f.: swamp, marsh, bog

exitus exitūs m.: exit, way out; death

incola incolae m. or f.: inhabitant

implicō implicāre implicāvī (implicuī) implicitus: to fold in; involve

herba herbae f.: plant, grass

pedes peditis m.: pedestrian, foot soldier

ēluctābilis –e: from which one may extricate oneself, passable

nāvigium –iī n.: ship, boat

capāx –ācis: big enough for, spacious

līmōsus –a –um: muddy

obserō –ere –sēvī –situs: to plant upon or over

palūs –ūdis f.: swamp, marsh, bog

petra –ae f.: rock, stone

excidō excidere excidī: fall out, escape

accessiō –ōnis f.: addition, appendage 6.8.5

Nīlus –ī m.: Nile River

nōnne: introduces a direct question expecting the answer "yes"

lacus lacūs m.: lake, pond, reservoir

ūmor –oris m.: moisture, liquid

ēructō ēructāre ēructāvī ēructātus: to belch, vomit forth

mōtus mōtūs m.: movement, motion; earthquake (i.e. motus terrae) 6.9.1

in prīmīs: especially

Anaxagorās –ae f.: Anaxagoras

concutiō –cutere –cussī –cussus: convulse, shake, shatter

crassus –a –um: thick, dense

nūbēs nūbis f.: cloud, mist

collīsus (conl-) –ūs m.: striking/dashing together, collision

nūbēs nūbis f.: cloud, mist

ēlīdō –ere –līsī –līsus: strike/knock out, send forth, expel

ēmicō ēmicāre ēmicuī ēmicātus: flash out, dart out, shoot out

obvius obvia obvium: in the way, so as to meet

incurrō –ere –currī (–cucurrī) –cursus: attack, run into

exitus exitūs m.: exit, way out;  death

dīvellō –ere –vellī –vulsus: to pluck apart, tear asunder, destroy

repūgnō repūgnāre repūgnāvī repūgnātus: fight back, oppose, resist

angustus –a –um: narrow, close, constrained

nancīscor nancīscī nanctus (nactus) sum: to get, arrive at, find

obruō obruere obruī obrutum: hide, bury, cover up 6.9.2

proximus –a –um: neighboring, nearby

exedō –ere –ēdī –ēsus: eat, corrode, wear away

mōtus mōtūs m.: movement, motion; earthquake (i.e. motus terrae)

subiciō subicere subiēcī subiectus: to throw under, put up for auction

adminiculum –ī n.: prop, support

dēstituō dēstituere dēstituī dēstitūtum : set down, rob of, leave destitute of (+ abl.)

labō labāre labāvī labātus: totter, waver

corruō –ere –uī: shatter, fall down, tumble

chasma –tis n.: a chasm, fissure in earth; a celestial phenomenon that resembles this

hiātus –ūs m.: mouth, gape, open jaws

vāstus –a –um: empty; vast

accidō accidere accidī: to happen 6.9.3

incendium incendi(ī) n.: conflagration, fire

exūrō –ere –ussī –ūstus: burn up, consume, destroy

trabs trabis f.: beam, plank

firmāmentum –ī n.: prop, support

fastīgium fastīgi(ī) n.: roof, ceiling, height

concaedēs –is f.: an abattis, barricade of felled trees

incertus –a –um: uncertain

solidus –a –um: dense, firm, solid

resideō residēre resēdī ressus: sink down, settle, subside

Anaximenēs –is m.: Anaximenes (name) 6.10.1

mōtus mōtūs m.: movement, motion; earthquake (i.e. motus terrae)

extrīnsecus: from the outside, outside

incurrō –ere –currī (–cucurrī) –cursus: attack, run into

impellō impellere impulī impulsum: strike, force, compel

dēcidō –ere –cidī: fall down, drop, sink.

tumor –ōris m.: swelling; of the mind

resolvō –ere –solvī –solūtus: dissolve, unravel, untie

exedō –ere –ēdī –ēsus: eat, corrode, wear away

violentia –ae f.: violence

excutiō excutere excussī excussum: to shake out, to examine, to investigate

cessō cessāre cessāvī cessātus: cease, stop, be at rest

abscēdō –cēdere –cessī –cessum: to depart, go away, disappear, desist

revellō –ere –vellī –vulsus: tear away, remove, pull away

vetustus –a –um: old

lābor labī lapsus sum: to slip, pass, flow, sink, fall

senectūs senectūtis f.: old age

solidus –a –um: dense, firm, solid

rōbur rōboris n.: power, strength, toughness

carpō carpere carpsī carptum: seize, take, tear at

aedificium –ī n.: building, edifice 6.10.2

percutiō percutere percussī percussum: to pierce, lance; strike, beat

dēcidō –ere –cidī: fall down, drop, sink.

ūniversus –a –um: all together, whole, entire

ēveniō ēvenīre ēvēnī ēventus: happen, turn out

vetustus –a –um: old

tremor –ōris m.: trembling, shivering, shaking

abscēdō –cēdere –cessī –cessum: to depart, go away, disappear, desist

utīque: certainly, by all means, at any rate

mōtus mōtūs m.: movement, motion; earthquake (i.e. motus terrae)

haereō haerēre haesī haesus: cling, be attached to (+dat.); be in doubt; linger, stay

abscīdō –ere –cīdī –cīsus: to cut off

dēcidō –ere –cidī: fall down, drop, sink.

solidus –a –um: dense, firm, solid

resiliō silīre siluī —: jump back, recoil

pīla –ae f.: a ball, playing-ball

exsultō (exultō) –are –āvī –ātus: to leap, jump up

totiēns: so often

solum –ī n.: ground, floor

stāgnō –āre –āvī –ātus: to become a pool, stagnate, cover

concutiō –cutere –cussī –cussus: convulse, shake, shatter

subitus –a –um: sudden, rash, unexpected. 

vāstus –a –um: empty; vast

illīsus –ūs m.: a striking or dashing against

altum altī n.: deep sea; height

ēiciō ēicere ēiēcī ēiectus: eject, expel, shoot forth

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