In Letter 92 of Senecas's Moral Letters:

Sed tunc quoque cum inter homines est, <non> timet ullas post mortem minas eorum quibus usque ad mortem timeri parum est.

I don't quite understand how the parum est works here. How to translate it literally. First, whether quibus is a dative or ablative. ablative as the means to incite fear or dative as in other parum est examples (see below).

Moreover, the phrase usque ad mortem timeri is also somewhat puzzling. First, usque ad is already implied in the parum est but also it looks like an AcI. (death to be feared), not sure I remember seeing this (I would rather expect ad mortis timeorem with an implicit verb, or ad mortem timendum/timendam)

Doing some corpus search a similar example from the same book is found:

Ad summam sapiens eris, si cluseris aures, quibus ceram parum est obdere

In this case I would not hesitate to read quibus as dative case for a literal: "It is not enough for the ears that vax shuts [them]."

In particular, can we use the dative instead of AcI? for example transform: Parum est latam esse sententiam nisi mandetur executioni to parum sententiae esse lata etc. ?


Probably I got usque ad wrong -its meaning is temporal as Leob translation "they were not enough to terrify the soul previous to the moment of death". Simply didn;t understand what was said. So its not AcI and timeri goes with minae and not with mors

1 Answer 1


The adverb parum with est means 'it is too little, is not enough, does not suffice'. Parum is then the subject complement (the predicate) of the relative clause introduced by the dative pronoun quibus, whose antecedent is eorum, a subjective genitive (NB: don't eliminate eorum from the title of your post. Otherwise, the antecedent would be minas, which is not the case). The passive infinitive timeri plus the temporal modifier usque ad mortem is the subject of the relative clause.

A literal translation could be: 'But nor even when it is also among the living, (the soul) fears any threats after death from those for whom it is too little to be feared until the death'.

A non-literal translation can be found in Letters On Ethics by Margaret Graver and A.A Long: 'But as long as that spirit is still among the living, does it fear any threats after death from those who were not satisfied with death threats alone?'

  • @Mitomo thanks for the alternative translation and the answer. It is helpful. I did remove the link though as I'm unsure about the link credibility.
    – d_e
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 18:33
  • @d_e Yes, please feel free to edit my answer. By the way, I think it would also be convenient to add the second author/translator: "A. A. Long". As for the link credibility, I don't have any idea. So please let me know if you think I should also eliminate the link to their book in my first comment above. Thanks!
    – Mitomino
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 18:42
  • 1
    That site provides access to a full content of a recently published work (so by default this work should not be on the public domain). They note: "This document was uploaded by our user. The uploader already confirmed that they had the permission to publish it. If you are author/publisher or own the copyright of this documents, please report to us by using this DMCA report form". ; It seems the site did not obtain direct consent from the book publisher. Anyway, I can't speak about this site specifically as I have no knowledge but I would personally try to avoid this kind of sites.
    – d_e
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 18:58
  • @d_e Ok! Link & comment eliminated! Thanks for letting me know!
    – Mitomino
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 19:03
  • 1
    @tony Please feel free to suggest your favorite translation to d_e. As for your translation above, note that the antecedent of the relative pronoun quibus is not minas but eorum (NB: unfortunately, the title of the present question does not contain eorum, which is found in the text provided above by d_e).
    – Mitomino
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 1:33

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