Consider this sentence from Seneca's De Brevitate Vitae: "inde Aristotelis cum rerum natura exigentis minime conveniens sapienti viro lis". The sentence introduces a quotation attributed to Aristotle, but that's not pertinent to my question. I think: exigentis depends on Aristotelis (both genitive); the sense of exigere here is to deliberate or consider; and "cum rerum natura" says something about what Aristotle was considering, but I can't make sense of "cum." Translating it temporally would fit the context, but I though cum can be temporal only as part of a clause with a finite verb -- can "cum" be temporal with a participle like exigentis? Translating cum prepositionally "with the nature of things" sounds awkward in English; we would say "about" or "concerning," I suppose. But maybe this is a situation in which the meaning of the Latin preposition when used with exigere just does not align exactly with its usual English equivalent. We might say: "I was struggling with that concept" and maybe the sense of cum is similar here. Any help greatly appreciated.

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    See L & S exigo II B 7: "To treat, consult, deliberate respecting something, = considerare, deliberare (class. but not in Cic.)" -- examples include cum eo, cum aliqo, secum -- would that make sense? (I suppose yes, if Socrates was in an argument with the nature of things.) Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 20:01
  • Thanks so much for the response; that's further than I got; but I think Kingshorsey has hit the nail on the head.
    – Augustinus
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


Oxford Latin Dictionary, exigo, 10, e:

(intr., w. cum) to expostulate (with a person)

I suspect that may not have been helpful, so let's consult Merriam-Webster on "expostulate":

to reason earnestly with a person for purposes of dissuasion or remonstrance

This usage seems related to exigere as discussing with someone, but it has acquired a more negative connotation, including disapproval and/or reproach.

Seneca's criticism of Aristotle is that he was complaining about how the world works (rerum natura), something a good Stoic philosopher would never do.

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    Thanks so much for this response. It solves the grammatical mystery, and you've helped me appreciate a nuance of Seneca's philosophical position that had escaped me. My first time posting a question -- the bar has been set high!
    – Augustinus
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 22:15

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