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Fragment of Latin from Cotton Mather

Latin after CDLXXVI

Fragment of Latin from Cotton Mather

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:15 am

I'm helping to provide English translations for Mather's Latin quotes for a modern edition of his Manducatio. Most of them are fairly easy, some are quotations from classical literature, but this one is a problem:

If I constantly affirm this, that all the Commentators in the world are poor things to interpret the Bible in comparison of an illiterate Christian thus coming with a sanctified soul to make his practical commentary; I could quote a very great person, who will not leave me alone, but will affirm, Commentarius sine hoc Adminiculo (pio Sacrorum Motuum scrutinio) Conscriptus, est Vere Commentarius, et Nomine, et Omine talis, id est, Commentis cerebri refertus. Among all the hermeneutic instruments for the opening of the Scriptures, we may say of this: There is none like it.


The quote to me appears to be saying something contrary to the context, that a commentary "without this aid, the pious scrutiny of divine motives" is "filled with comments of understanding." What am I missing here? Cerebrum, according to L&S, can also be used in the sense of "the brain" and "anger, choler," so is something like the latter intended here?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Fragment of Latin from Cotton Mather

Postby anphph » Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:25 am

Commentum does not mean commentarius, but he's punning on the resemblance.

Commentis cerebri

Fabrications of the brain.

From comminiscor (contrive, feign):

P. a.: commentus, a, um, in pass. signif., devised, invented, feigned, contrived, fictitious: dat gemitus fictos commentaque funera narrat, Ov. M. 6, 565: sacra, id. ib. 3, 558; 4, 37; id. A. A. 1, 319: crimen, Liv. 26, 27, 8: fraus, Paul. Sent. 5, 4, 8.—Hence,

Subst.: commentum, i, n

(Class.) An invention, fabrication, fiction, falsehood: ipsis commentum placet, Ter. And. 1, 3, 20: opinionum commenta delet dies, Cic. N. D. 2, 2, 5 (cf. just before: opiniones fictas atque vanas): non sine aliquo commento miraculi, Liv. 1, 19, 5: mixta rumorum, Ov. M. 12, 54: animi, id. ib. 13, 38.—
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Re: Fragment of Latin from Cotton Mather

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Sat Mar 10, 2018 2:30 am

Excellent, you found what I was missing. Gratias tibi!
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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