In Letter XI of the apocryphal correspondence between Seneca and Saint Paul, the following passage is found

Haut itaque te indignum prima facie epistolarum nominandum censeas, ne temptare me quam laudare videaris, quippe cum scias te civem esse Romanum. Nam qui meus tuus apud te locus, qui tuus velim ut meus. Vale mi Paule carissime.

I am having difficulty identifying the syntactic structure of this sentence:

[Q]ui meus tuus apud te locus, qui tuus velim ut meus.

In particular, I do not understand why there are two correlated relative pronouns and how the syntax should be interpreted.

1 Answer 1


The passage can be tricky to disentangle because it's highly elliptical. You have a parallel structure, but in Latin, you don't always need to repeat a verb or a subject, and then you have two forms of esse which also dropped (as they are wont to do). But they can be reinserted to make the syntax clearer.

Writing out just the basics less elliptically, you should get:

[velim [ut locus [qui meus est] sit tuus]] (et) [velim [ut locus [qui tuus est] sit meus]]

I wish that the situation which is mine may be yours and I wish that the situation which is yours may be mine.

  • It makes sense. So, you assume that "velim" governs both sentences. Do you think it's a type of syntactic structure that could be suitable for classical Latin (or, given that we're talking about Seneca, for Silver Age Latin)? Or does it betray a later syntactic organization (considering the historical forgery was likely composed in the 4th century)? Feb 13 at 17:29
  • Also, where would you put that "apud te" in the first part of the sentence? With "meus" or "tuus"? Feb 13 at 17:36
  • 1
    Yes, having the verb in the second clause only is very much Classical. What is less Classical in style is the omission of any sit, at least according to Allen and Greenough. (You should be able to find better links about when to omit the verb; these are just the first I found).
    – cmw
    Feb 13 at 18:26
  • @FerdinandBardamu Oh, and to answer your second question, I think most translators keep it with tuus, "your situation with you." That would make an implied apud me in the parallel clause.
    – cmw
    Feb 14 at 12:58

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