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De Ethiopo

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De Ethiopo

Postby TonyLoco23 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 3:48 pm

I am having trouble understanding what this story from the Gesta Romanorum is about:

De Ethiopo

Legitur vitas patrum, quod quidam egressus viderit Ethiopem in silva ligna succidentem: alligata levare temptavit, quae dum videret gravia, dissolvit et magis apposuit. Tunc erant magis onerosa: ad huc plus addidit et fecit ea tam ponderosa, quod nullo modo levare poterat, et sic cum onere cecidit. Ille ulterius progressus vidit, quod quidam in quoddam vas aquam de fonte fundebat, quae infusa subtus effluebat, et tamen infundere non desistebat. Ulterius progreditur, et ecce duo viri portae civitatis appropinquabant, qui lignum transversum anteferebant, et neuter alteri volens cedere, ambo foras remanebant.

http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/readers/gr/gr14.html

I have tried to translate it, but my translation does not make much sense:

Of the Ethiopian

It can be read in the "Lives of the Fathers", that a certain traveler (egressus?) had seen an Ethiopian trapped under a log of wood in a forest: he tempted him to relieve him from his bind, that he saw to be so heavy, that it would be better to place it beside (apposuit?) than to lift it (dissolvit?). Though it was such a great burden that he ended up also falling under it and it was so heavy that in no way could he lift it, and with the great weight he fell. He saw another advancing, that poured a vase of water from a fountain which flowed beneath them, and nevertheless the flowing did not stop. Another advancing, and here two men approaching the port of the city, that carried with them a log of wood together (transversum?), and since neither wanted to concede the way, both remained in the forest (foras?).


What the hell??
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Re: De Ethiopo

Postby lauragibbs » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:44 pm

You went astray with succidentem right at the very beginning and it looks like you have forced your translation to go along with that first misstep. Instead of a translation, I've broken the story up and kind of commented on it. I hope that will help!

quidam egressus
==> egressus: he had gone out (gone on a journey; from egredior) - this guy is a traveler and he is going to see three different scenes while on his journey

viderit Ethiopem in silva ligna succidentem:
==> the man is cutting down wood in the forest - he is not under the wood; instead, he is in the forest, chopping wood - putting him under the wood is what led you astray in the rest of your translation of this scene

alligata levare temptavit,
==> the Ethiopian tried to pick up the wood he had chopped and bound

quae dum videret gravia, dissolvit et magis apposuit.
==> but he saw it was heavy and could not lift it so he unbound the bundle - but instead of lightening his burden, he added more wood!

Tunc erant magis onerosa: ad huc plus addidit et fecit ea tam ponderosa, quod nullo modo levare poterat,
==> that just made it even more heavy; because he added more wood to the bundle it was totally impossible to lift

et sic cum onere cecidit.
==> he fell down under the weight of the now very big bundle!

Ille ulterius progressus vidit, quod
==> that's the end of that story - now we go on to another one; the traveling man is going to see something else

quidam in quoddam vas aquam de fonte fundebat,
==> the next guy he sees is pouring water into a container

quae infusa subtus effluebat, et tamen infundere non desistebat.
==> the thing is overflowing, but he keeps on pouring

Ulterius progreditur,
==> the traveler goes on and now he sees a third scene

et ecce duo viri portae civitatis appropinquabant,
==> this time he sees two guys and they want to enter the city's gate

qui lignum transversum anteferebant, et neuter alteri volens cedere, ambo foras remanebant.
==> but they can't get in (foras is an adverb meaning "outside" or "out of doors") because they are carrying a log and neither one will allow the other to enter first

They are three examples of foolishness, that's all! The man needs to lighten his load but he keeps making it heavier; the second man doesn't realize that once a pot is full you cannot fill it any fuller; the third scene shows that you have to be willing to compromise to get the job done.

:-)

Laura
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Re: De Ethiopo

Postby lauragibbs » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:52 pm

P.S. The version in Oesterley features an angel who explains what it all means! You might enjoy this version better (the third part is definitely much better in this version):

Legitur in vitis patrum, quod angelus ostendit cuidam sancto tres homines triplici fatuitate laborantes.
Primus homo fasciculum de lignis faciebat, et cum non posset portare prae nimia gravedine, adhuc plura ligna adiungbat.
Secundus aquam de puteo profundo cum multo labore hauriebat cum vase cribrato et foraminibus pleno et tamen non cessabat implere.
Tertius trabem in curru gerebat, volensque domum intrare, ianua tam arcta et parva erat, quod intrare non potuit, et tamen non cessabat equum verberare et pungere, quousque in foveam profundam simul ceciderunt.
Tunc ait angelus: Quid tibi videtur de istis tribus hominibus?
At ille: Tres stulti sunt.
Cui angelus:
Primum, quem vidisti, per illum intelligas homines qui peccata perpetrant et de die in diem credunt secum portare usque ad finem, et cotidie addunt plura et plura, intantum quod portare omnino non possunt, quousque mors subito veniat et animam ad poenam auferat et in profundum lacum infernalem demergat.
Per secundum, quem vidisti, aquam de puteo profundo in vanum haurientem, intellige illos, qui opera meritoria perpetrant et tamen locum meritorium in eis non occupant, quia plenti sunt foraminibus i.e. peccatis et quicquid boni operantur, per peccatum totum destuitur.
Per tertium, qui trabem portavit, designantur mundi potentes, qui credunt per ostium regni caelorum intrare cum superbia vitae et mundi pompa; tamen impediuntur, intantum quod ad infernum cadunt.

Apologies for any typos; here is where I transcribed the story, Cap. 165:
http://books.google.com/books?id=UcMUAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA548
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Re: De Ethiopo

Postby TonyLoco23 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:15 pm

Damn your good! Thanks for that.

Where I really went wrong is assuming that I knew what 'temptare' meant without looking it up. I just assumed it meant to "tempt" someone, i.e. to appeal to someone. And alligata, participle of alligare "to bind", made me think that he was appealing to the traveler to release him from being bound, but bound by what?

It was this that made me go back to the previous sentence and assume that "succidentem" must mean "fall (under)" as listed as one of the other definitions on Whitakers Words.

So all this came about by not looking up 'temptare' and assuming I knew what it meant. Another false friend!

The moral of the story is, if a word is new to you, always look it up, even if you think you can work out what it means from context/similarity with an english word.
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Re: De Ethiopo

Postby lauragibbs » Tue Dec 07, 2010 6:35 pm

You are so right about looking things up even when you think you know what they mean. Exactly because the vocabulary of Latin is pretty small, especially compared to English, there are a lot of Latin words that have a wider range of meaning than you might suspect. Temptare is a great example, since we have both "tempt" and "temptation" in English, but also "attempt" - and here it is the "attempt" meaning that is what you want. So whenever the translation is fighting you back, definitely start looking up words, even the most familiar ones, in the dictionary. Do you use the Glossa online version of Lewis & Short's dictionary? It is really excellent I think!
http://athirdway.com/glossa/
I like the way it starts trying to guess what word you are looking up as you type. It's not a morphological analyzer like Whitaker, but that feature allows you to tentatively type in a word even if you are not 100% sure about the dictionary form.
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Re: De Ethiopo

Postby dlb » Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:20 am

lauragibbs wrote:Do you use the Glossa online version of Lewis & Short's dictionary? It is really excellent I think!
http://athirdway.com/glossa/


I went to Glossa and entered, "temptare", & the word was not found :?:
Am I missing something?
Deus me ducet, non ratio.
Observito Quam Educatio Melius Est.
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Re: De Ethiopo

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:45 am

It's one of those (many) Latin words with variable spellings; Lewis & Short prefer the spelling tento, although they list tempto in the entry also (sometimes they do a separate entry for variable spelling, and sometimes not, alas!):

http://athirdway.com/glossa/?s=tento

tento or tempto, āvi, ātum, 1 (
I. part. gen. plur. tentantum, Verg. G. 2, 247), v. freq. a. [tendo], to handle, touch, feel a thing (class.; cf.: tango, tracto).
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