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Defending the weak strengthens the soul

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Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby jamesbath » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:07 pm

How would you Latin Masters translate the following? "Defending the weak strengthens the soul."

I came up with: Defendens infirmis corroborit animam.

But my mind is mush now, drowning in datives, accusatives, plurals and genders. I am confused.

Postulo auxilium.
I need help.
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby timeodanaos » Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:10 pm

How about defendendo infirmos animus valescit?
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby jamesbath » Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:46 am

timeodanaos wrote:How about defendendo infirmos animus valescit?


I assume defendendo used here in your suggestion is a gerundive in the ablative case. Should I not use the ablative infirmis to agree with that? And should not animus be in the accusative or dative case animum or animo, as the object of valescit?

I even wonder if I should not use the infinitive defendere as subject in this sentence?

Perhaps: Defendere infirmos animum valescit.

But now my brain is turned into mush again.

Gratias sententia te.
Thanks for your thoughts.
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby timeodanaos » Sat Dec 03, 2011 8:35 am

Defendendo is ablative of the gerundium and thus takes the normal direct object in accusative: "by defending the weak". In my suggestion it is an adverbial phrase.

Valesco is not a transitive verb. The definition in the dictionary is something like "grow stronger", and thus, animus is the subject of the sentence. By the way, I think I would prefer animus over anima; now I don't know if the feminine noun has a special christian meaning of "soul" (which is a concept I won't go into), but in classical Latin, the masculine noun has more of the abstract nuances; actually, it only has abstract meanings, whereas anima is (like the Greek pneuma?) in general a gust of air.

You might, want to consult some dictionaries to find the precise meaning: infirmus e.g. is actually used mostly of physically weak/diseased people, and I suspect that's not the exact semantic connotations you're after. But from this point I could never help, I'm not a native speaker of English, or for that matter Latin :D

"By defending the weak (here esp. the sick), the mind/soul grows stronger."
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby adrianus » Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:49 pm

You could also say this, I think:
Et hoc, imaginor:

Impotentes tegere est animam alere.


Aliter sentio. Anima ut principium vitae femininum, non animus ut principium mentis masculinum, et classicé.

I disagree. Even classically, it's anima for feminine life principles and animus for masculine rational principles.
I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby jamesbath » Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:18 am

timeodanaos wrote:Defendendo is ablative of the gerundium and thus takes the normal direct object in accusative: "by defending the weak". In my suggestion it is an adverbial phrase.

Valesco is not a transitive verb. The definition in the dictionary is something like "grow stronger", and thus, animus is the subject of the sentence. By the way, I think I would prefer animus over anima; now I don't know if the feminine noun has a special christian meaning of "soul" (which is a concept I won't go into), but in classical Latin, the masculine noun has more of the abstract nuances; actually, it only has abstract meanings, whereas anima is (like the Greek pneuma?) in general a gust of air.

You might, want to consult some dictionaries to find the precise meaning: infirmus e.g. is actually used mostly of physically weak/diseased people, and I suspect that's not the exact semantic connotations you're after. But from this point I could never help, I'm not a native speaker of English, or for that matter Latin :D

"By defending the weak (here esp. the sick), the mind/soul grows stronger."


I think my intentions are to make Defending the weak the subject of the sentence and strengthens the soul an unintentional (but welcome) effect of the action alluded to in the subject. To belabor the point: the motivating factor and total focus of the defender is protecting the weak; the soul (or character) really has nothing to do with it other than that it receives an unsought after and unexpected boost of integrity and stamina.

I think infirmus will do because I am speaking of people who are disabled by strokes, old age, diseases, and crippling accidents. These people often cannot even whisper an effective protest against an injustice or, worse, an unintentional mistake in their treatment. They are expendable in the minds of many overworked employees of health and service institutions funded to serve them. I speak from personal experience about this. I have to protect my old, crippled wife against many harmful procedures accepted as normal and benign in university hospital settings and similar organizations.

The strengthening of the soul or character comes from the protector necessarily increasing his or her powers of observation, patience, eloquence, concentration, and willingness to shake and rattle the entire tree to get the nuts at the top to pay attention to the mistakes at the bottom. You meet a lot of resistance when you demand to be heard.

So back to the translation of my simple sentence into Latin. I understand that gerunds have no nominative case and yet I want the subject to be Defending the weak and the rest of it to be just a mere side effect of that.

Do you still stand by your suggestion or do you think I should use the infinitive Defendere? Or something else?

Gratias vobis ago!
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby timeodanaos » Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:03 pm

I stand by my own suggestion. It's an aesthetic preference: infinitives with objects as subject isn't my cup of tea, and I would say the sense of the original English sentence is conveyed; there can be no doubt that the act of defending is what triggers the strengthening of the soul even though it is not syntactically subject. By making it an instrumental, we also avoid the weirdness of an action (that it, something that is very abstract from a physical point of view) being the semantic agent: it is only a facilitating concomitant quality. As you yourself write, it is a strengthening that takes place inside of you (the soul grows stronger) as a necessary evolution due to the circumstances, not the actual action that moves inward; it swings both ways, but the quality of protecting stems from the very soul that strengthens.
This is a babble. My English is not at a level where I can thoroughly explain my complex feelings about syntax and souls :)

Let this be the bottom line: it's basically a matter of taste; as I have stated in another thread, translation is the act of transferring a set of semes (basic units of meaning) from one tongue to another, and the way in which Adrianus translates your sentence is every bit as sound as my suggestion. His impotentes might even be a better word, although it may convey a connotation of someone who is unable to control his or her passions, but then again, almost any word will have a negative definition next to the morally sound one.


I'm sorry to hear about your and your wife's struggle. There is nothing to be done from the other side of the globe to ease your situation, but I can wish you everything propitious and the reassurance that your family is now a global concern :)


EDIT: I choose the masculine animus, Adrianus, mostly because it seems to be the preferred one in L&S at first glance, and then of course because of one of my usual vague feelings that it is right. I will not defend my choice of gender, since both can be used, even interchangeably.
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby jamesbath » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:18 am

adrianus wrote: Impotentes tegere est animam alere.


If you mean To defend the powerless is to nourish the soul, then I like it very much. It puts both sides of the equation on equal terms; both protector and protected are equal in worth (in my experience so few people realize this).

I also prefer your use of the feminine form of animus here. It is very elegant. But I like timeodanaos's use of the masculine in context with my original thought; a context in which I was, perhaps, consoling myself a bit selfishly or psyching myself up for battles to come, or both.

Gratias tibi ago.
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Re: Defending the weak strengthens the soul

Postby jamesbath » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:09 pm

timeodanaos wrote: I'm sorry to hear about your and your wife's struggle. There is nothing to be done from the other side of the globe to ease your situation, but I can wish you everything propitious and the reassurance that your family is now a global concern :)


Gratias pro sensitivas cogitationes. Etiam bona doctrina in Latina.
Thanks for your sensitive thoughts. And the good instruction in Latin.

Iacobus Balneum
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