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I am reading a letter fom Cicero to his friend Atticus and can't quite pinpoint exactly how the word iucunda functions thereof:

"Nam mihi omnia, quae iūcunda ex hūmānitāte alterius et mōribus hominī accidere possunt, ex illō accidēbant." It seems like it can belong to either humanitate or omnia.

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  • Note that if it were an ablative singular, the final vowel would be long.
    – TKR
    May 7, 2022 at 16:23
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    I put in the long vowels myself, I left out iucunda since I'm unsure. I took the text from Loeb Classical Library which doesn't incorporate vowel length. May 7, 2022 at 16:28
  • Also check Shuckburgh's translation. I think he makes it clearer.
    – cmw
    May 7, 2022 at 17:00
  • @cmw I would not recommend this particular translation to clarify the OP's question since an inattentive reader could misidentify "kindly" with iucunda. This does not mean, of course, that I consider it a bad translation.
    – Mitomino
    May 7, 2022 at 18:43
  • @Mitomino Good point. It clarifies it for a careful reader, but I do suppose an inattentive one would be led astray.
    – cmw
    May 7, 2022 at 23:03

2 Answers 2

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As has already been explained, iūcunda is neuter nominative plural modifying quae, which has omnia as its antecedent. And the translation of omnia, quae iūcunda...accidere possunt into English would be 'All pleasant things that are able to happen.'

Now, you might ask yourself why iūcunda is being translated closely with the omnia in the sentence's main clause, even though it doesn't appear in that clause, instead of being translated with quae in the relative clause, where it does appear.

Gildersleeve & Lodge, Latin grammar §616.3 explains this:

Adjectives, especially superlatives, are sometimes transferred from the substantive in the principle clause and made to agree with the Relative in the Relative clause.

One of the examples that G&L provides is:

Nēminī crēdō, quī largē blandust dīves pauperī, Pl[autus], Aul[ularia], 196; I trust no rich man who is lavishly kind to a poor man.

In other words, the sentence from Plautus is equivalent to Nēminī dīvitī crēdō, quī largē blandust pauperī, but dīvitī has been moved into the relative clause and made to agree with quī. Likewise, your sentence from Cicero is equivalent to Nam mihi omnia iūcunda, quae ex hūmānitāte alterius et mōribus hominī accidere possunt, ex illō accidēbant.

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  • The same effect is possible in English: "I trust no one who, being rich, is lavishly kind to a poor man."
    – nanoman
    May 8, 2022 at 1:00
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Iucunda (plural neuter nominative) modifies the relative pronoun quae (subject of accidere possunt), whose antecedent is omnia (subject of accidebant). Here is a nice translation by Reginald Foster & Daniel McCarthy that makes it clear that iucunda ('pleasant') goes with omnia ('all things') and not with humanitate ('kindness'):

'For all the pleasant things which are able to happen to a person out of the kindness and behavior of another were happening to me from him'. (Ex. from Ossa Latinitatis Sola Ad Mentem Reginaldi Rationemque)

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