Scaevola’s Cat Thought of the Week* (#4)


The Thought

Hanc sellam credit stulta esse suam mea serva.

Credat eas nugas, ast ea sella mea est.


The Meaning

My foolish maid believes that this chair is hers.

Let her believe this nonsense, but the chair is mine.


The Form

ˉ = Full beat
˘ = Half beat
° = Either a full or half beat may be used
ˉ ˘ ˘ = D = Dactyl (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˉ = S = Spondee (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˘ = T = Trochee (a metrical foot)
/ = Separator between metrical feet
|| = A hiatus – a pronounced pause
X = Either a dactyl or spondee may be used
Y = Either a spondee or a trochee may be used

Form = Elegiac Couplet
X / X / X / X / D / Y
X / X / ° || D / D / ˉ


The Scansion

Hānc sēl / lām crē / dīt stūl / ta-ēssĕ* sŭ / ām mĕă / sērvă.
(ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘)

Crēdăt ĕ / ās nū / gās, || āst ĕă / sēllă mĕ / a-ēst.
(ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ || ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ)

* A note on scansion: if a word ends in a vowel, am, em, or um, AND the next word begins with a vowel (or an h), then the ending vowel (or am, em, um) of the first word is dropped completely (beat value and all) and the two words are joined. This is known as elision.


The Recitation


The Vocabulary and Grammar

Hanc = hic (hic, haec, hoc), adjective, irregular (1st & 2nd declension-ish), singular, feminine, accusative, modifies sellam, meaning = this.

sellam = sella (sella -ae), noun, 1st declension, singular, feminine, accusative, meaning = chair.

credit = credo (credo, -dere, -didi, -ditum), verb, 3rd conjugation, 3rd person, singular, present, active, indicative, meaning = she (serva) believes.

stulta = stultus (stultus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, singular, feminine, nominative, modifies serva, meaning = foolish.

esse = sum (sum, esse, fui, futurum), verb, irregular, infinitive, present, active only, infinitive, meaning = to be. (This construction is called an indirect statement. In it, the infinitive acts as the verb, and the accusative acts as the subject. I.e.: she believes that the chair is… literally [note: we do the same thing in English], she believes the chair to be…)

suam = suus (suus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, singular, feminine, accusative, modifies sellam, meaning = her own. (suus [his own, her own, its own] is used when referring to the subject, eius (is, ea, id [his, hers, its]) is used when referring to someone or something other than the subject).

mea = meus (meus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, singular, feminine, nominative, modifies serva, meaning = my.

serva = serva (serva -ae), noun, 1st declension, singular, feminine, nominative, meaning = female servant.

Credat = credo (credo, -dere, -didi, -ditum), verb, 3rd conjugation, 3rd person, singular, present, active, subjunctive, meaning = she (serva) may believe (let her believe). (This form and use of the subjunctive is known as the jussive subjunctive. It carries the weight of a command.)

eas = is (is, ea, id), adjective, irregular (1st & 2nd declension-ish), plural, feminine, accusative, modifies nugas, meaning = these. (Two notes here:
1) (is, ea, is) is translated as a generic, nondemonstrative “this.” It is the closest thing that Latin has to the definite article “the.” 2) nugas, the word that eas modifies, is plural in form but singular in translation. So, in this instance, the correct translation for eas would be “this.”)

nugas = nugae (nugae -arum),  noun, 1st declension, plural, feminine, accusative, meaning = nonsense. (As noted above, nugas is plural in form but singular in translation, it only exists in plural form. English has the similarly related plural noun “fancies” for “nonsense.”)

ast = conjunction, indeclinable, meaning = but.

ea = is (is, ea, id), adjective, irregular (1st & 2nd declension-ish), singular, feminine, nominative, modifies sella, meaning = this (the). (See note 1 above on (is, ea, id) and the definite article.)

sella = sella (sella -ae), noun, 1st declension, singular, feminine, nominative, meaning = chair.

mea = meus (meus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, singular, feminine, nominative, modifies sella, meaning = mine.

est = sum (sum, esse, fui, futurum), verb, irregular, 3rd person, singular, present, active only, indicative, meaning = it (sellam) is.


*  “Week” is a used here as to specify an undefined length of time, possibly at times equal to an actual week.

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