In one of his letters to Varro, Cicero says:

“Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil.”

I’ve found this translated as:

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” (wikiquote)

My understanding is that “in” can be translated as one of several prepositions (in, at, into, etc.); however, here it’s being translated as a conjunction. Is this correct? And are there any other examples of this?

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1 Answer 1


The passage comes from Cic. Fam. 9.4, namely from a letter to Varro.

Apparently others have translated as you would expect:

If you have a garden in your library, everything will be complete (Shuckburgh, 1908)

Of course, having a garden in a library sounds weird, right? Shuckburgh himself adds his view on this on a footnote:

Probably means (though it is a strange way of expressing it) a garden to sit and converse in, like philosophers in the Academy: the library being like Cicero's Tusculan gymnasium, round a court containing shrubs, etc. There is a similar reference to Cicero's villa at Cumae, Vol. i., p.253 (Q. Fr. 2.8).

Perhaps translating it as and tries to circumvent this weirdness by freely offering something that just sounds less strange.

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    Shakleton Bailey's translation in the Loeb edition agrees: "If you have a kitchen garden in your library we shall lack for nothing."
    – brianpck
    Commented Nov 17, 2023 at 20:08

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