In his account of Œdipus, Hyginus writes:

[Œdipus] fortissimus præter ceteros erat eique per invidiam æquales objiciebant eum subditum esse Polybo, eo quod Polybus tam clemens esset et ille impudens.

My attempt at a literal translation would read something like

[Œdipus] was far stronger than the others, and out of envy his rivals would mock him, [saying] that he had been falsely substituted as Polybus' [son], since Polybus was so mild and he [so] shameless.

Mary Grant's translation in The Fables of Hyginus reads:

[Œdipus] was courageous beyond the rest, and through envy his companions taunted him with not being Polybus’ son, since Polybus was so mild, and he so assertive.

So I see that my translation is more or less correct. But what I don't understand is how eo is working in eo quod Polybus tam clemens esset it ille impudens. Both my translation and Grant's seem to ignore it.

Can anybody enlighten me?

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    Hmm... I wonder if eo is doing anything. Wouldn't the passage make perfect sense without it? One could see it as a causal ablative, so that eo quod would mean for the reason that. It feels redundant with quod. – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 18 '16 at 21:54
  • Yes, I think causal ablative must be right. "For that (reason), (namely) because..." – TKR Mar 18 '16 at 23:41
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    I'd buy that. Interestingly, however, I find that a poster at fisheaters.com/forums/index.php?topic=1591642.0 offers this advice (about a different passage): "'Eo quod' is a rather rare construction. It is a causal clause that is usually employed with the subjunctive to introduce a hypothetical reason." However, I have no idea who s/he is or whether this is right! – Joel Derfner Mar 18 '16 at 23:45

Let me expand my comment into an answer.

The most natural interpretation that occurs to me is that eo is the ablative of id. This ablative is causal, meaning "for that reason". I believe you could substitute ea causa if you wanted.

I would translate the passage as "…mocked him for the reason that Polybus…". Here "for the reason" is eo and "that" is quod, roughly. If there was no eo, I would translate it as "…mocked him since Polybus…". Here quod means "since".

I find eo quod a somewhat unnatural construction. One could argue that it is just Hyginus' (bad) style and ignore eo altogether, but I would not omit eo.

The word eo is not necessary but it does have a function: it practically adds emphasis to quod. The best translation is a matter of taste, but I think a bit of added emphasis preserves the spirit. I am not a native speaker of English, so I will leave it for others to judge which English expression best captures the idea.

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  • Thanks. So your thought is that eo quod is working sort of like e.g. propterea quod. I'll buy that, though I too find it an odd construction. – Joel Derfner Mar 19 '16 at 0:38
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    Pseudo-Hyginus! – C. M. Weimer Mar 19 '16 at 0:47
  • @JoelDerfner, yes, eo seems to do the same as propterea here. I can't tell if there is something else behind it since it feels weird, but I don't know how else to make sense of it. – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 19 '16 at 0:47
  • +1 for Pseudo-Hyginus. I've got dissertation material right here! I also find the phrase in a set of responses at divinumofficium.com/cgi-bin/horas/… : "Angelus Domini vocavit Abraham, dicens: * Ne extendas manum tuam super puerum, eo quod timeas Dominum." – Joel Derfner Mar 19 '16 at 0:57

The meaning is: "[it is] because of this that ...". An earlier contributor was right to say that eo ("because of this", and yes it is an ablative) adds emphasis. The Latin is poorer without it.

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