Peter Lech at his Ad Montem Heliconium blog is kind enough to share his Latin poetry through its various revisions. A neat example is his translation into elegiacs of the old English song The Westron Wynde.
I found this picture while reading an article at the New Haven Advocate about binge drinking among US college students. I believe it’s a portion of some Latin doggerel sparked by English rugby fans: Imbibo, adepto madidus, cado super - “I drink, I get drunk, I fall over.” The problem, of course, is with adepto. We might generously claim this is an oddball future imperative, but a more sober guess is this should be adipiscor–which isn’t really great Latin itself (my vote is for fio or the more accurate fiam). At haud mihi explicare madidis!
With school starting in the fall, I thought I’d pass on a few beginner Latin tips over the coming weeks, things I’ve picked up from students over the years…
The first tip is one a student gave me some years ago: In a Latin sentence, you can be 99% sure a word ending in -at, -et, or -it is a verb, and 100% sure on a word ending in -nt. For students who naturally stat out with the “find the verb first” approach, that’s not a bad tip; since most sentences are written in the third person, you’re quite likely to “find the verb” much more quickly this way.
Of course, like all crutches it needs to be laid aside (along with the “find the verb” approach) as the student becomes more proficient. But the rubric does raise an interesting question: how many non-verbs can you name which end in -at, -et, or -it (I’ve yet to come across a non-verb ending in -nt). Think about it and click on the link below for my list; if you have any to add, that’s what comments are for…
My wife, who is a physical therapist, asked me the other night if the Romans ever complained of “chronic pain", as opposed to the dolor of wounds. I did a little checking, and thought I’d share my brief dive on the topic of chronic pain in extant Latin literature.
Another problem in a series on English to Latin translation questions. How would you translate the phrase “in spite of", as in this (translated) quote from the Diary of Anne Frank:
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
The article concludes with the familiar Cicero quote “A mind without instruction can no more bear fruit than can a field, however fertile, without cultivation.” David Meadows wonders about the source of that quote, and by luck I just included a blurb from Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations in a post I wrote on translating the English idiom “How few” which leads right into the original Latin for this quotation.
As regular readers may recall, Cicero was complaining about “how few” philosophers practice what they preach. His friend Atticus then argues that the hypocrisy of most philosophers proves how unimportant philosophy itself must be. Cicero disagrees:
Nullum vero id quidem argumentum est. Nam ut agri non omnes frugiferi sunt qui coluntur, falsumque illud Accii:
Probae etsi in segetem sunt deteriorem datae
Fruges, tamen ipsae suapte natura enitent,
Sic animi non omnes culti fructum ferunt. Atque, ut in eodem simili verser, ut ager quamvis fertilis sine cultura fructuosus esse non potest, sic sine doctrina animus; ita est utraque res sine altera debilis. (II.5.13)
(Accius was an early Latin tragic playwright whose work survives mainly in quote-fragments like this)
Laus, decus, gloriaque maxima natatori Michaeli Phelps, propter victorias singulares mirabilissimasque ad XXIX ludos Olympicos.
I don’t know anything about Peter Lech, but apparently he has the same crazy idea I have about promoting modern Latin literature. Check out his Ad Montem Heliconium blog for some wonderful modern Latin verses, song translations–sound familiar? He’s added to the “Favorite Latin Sites” list on the right.
Continuing in a series of translation challenges, how would you translate the title of this thread in a sentence like “How few sometimes may know, when thousands err!” (Paradise Lost, book VI)?
This exchange at Sandra Ramos’ excellent Scriptorium Academicum Latinum blog was quite informative and amusing. Not only did I learn the history behind a certain type of literary/grammatical insult (not to mention a dirty Latin poem which uses Greek letters to describe–ahem–female body parts), but I enjoyed reading Ms. Ramos’ impeccable and playful prose. I especially like the English/Latin pun unionem - “pearl", which sounds like the English word “onion".
Hardy the putria, taediosa verba she confesses…take a look.
For me, one of the great tortures of modern life is a long overnight plane flight. I simply cannot sleep next to a stranger in a noisy, cramped airline seat, and after you watch the one semi-decent movie out of ten on that dim, two-inch video screen, you have essentially eight hours of enforced boredom. So I’ll finish a crossword, donate far more attention to the meal than it deserves, and break out the Latin books.
The Pope’s visit to Sydney last month prompted the Australian government to pass a law permitting the arrest of anyone “annoying” papal well-wishers.
The law predictably backfired, and judging by the photo seems to have inspired a lucrative T-shirt business protesting both the visit and the (somewhat arbitrary IMO) law. The hawker in this photo wears a shirt sporting some tit-for-tat Latin: Pontifex me vexat - “The pope annoys me.” Two shots for the price of one.
There are three Latin verbs whose similar spelling hides a divergence of meaning:
figo, figere, fixi, fixus - “to fix, attach; pierce",
findo findere, fidi, fissus - “to split, divide", and
fingo, fingere, finxi, fictus - “to handle, form, fashion".
Let’s look at how just one author (Vergil) handles these in the body of a single work (the Aeneid).
I’m learning firsthand it’s tough blogging in the summer; Latin education-related news is rather thin with school out, and sitting at the computer just can’t compete with a glorious summer’s day. So to jumpstart things around here, I’ve decided to look at a few translation challenges, expressions in English that require a bit of thought when transferred to Latin.
The first phrase is in the title; how would you translate a sentence like “Monkey does the same as you"?
A short piece in the Staten Island News discusses the resurgence of Latin in NY city schools (ignore the historical innaccuracy in the first paragraph).
The Brooklyn Latin School looks like fun:
Besides the usual classroom instruction, the school employs a Latin nomenclature. The discupli (students) must address all teachers as magister or magistra. Students ask for atrium passes (hall passes) and to use the latrina (the bathroom).
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