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On page 234 line 44-45 of lingua latina per se illustrata pars 1 the following text appears: "Quid iuvat deōs precāri ut rēs āmissae tibi reddantur?".

I am trying to comprehend this, but I no have clear idea what is supposed to be the subject, given the use of Quid instead of Quis expecting something of the lines of Who asks the gods....

Secondarily, the accusative with infinitive deós precárí is understood by me as askings to the gods but it's not clear what it is supposed to mean when interacting with the verb iuvat. After the ut I think I have the meaning as things that you lose return to you.

2 Answers 2

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Quid iuvat? is a bit of a set phrase meaning 'what's the point?', 'what good does it do?' or, more literally, 'what does it help?'. The matter in question being deos precari 'to pray to the gods' (note the infinitive). So piecing it together: what good does it do to pray to the gods?

You have the latter part right, but perhaps more exactly 'that things that you have lost return (are given back) to you'.

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I agree with consistebat's answer. Since I see that you are also interested in the syntax (cf. "I don't have a clear idea about what is supposed to be the subject"), here are some comments on the syntactic analysis, which, hopefully, can help you understand the precise meaning of the example:

The subject of iuvat is the infinitival clause (deōs precāri ut rēs āmissae tibi reddantur). In your example quid can be analyzed as having a sort of an adverbial function (cf. the accusative of relation or limitation). Literally: 'in what does it help to pray...'.

Precāri is a deponent verb that can be found with two internal arguments: the personal accusative (deos) and the ut-clause (ut rēs āmissae tibi reddantur). The predicative frame is precāri aliquem aliquid, the neuter thing argument being replaced by the ut-clause [NB: this is not the only possible predicative frame of this verb. See this link for a list of them].

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