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Postby tomtrinity7 » Sat Feb 14, 2004 7:43 pm

"Dum quietum silentium contineret omnia, et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet, omnipotens sermo tuus Domine a regalibus sedibus."
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Postby Ulpianus » Sat Feb 14, 2004 9:36 pm

Something along these lines:

When peaceful silence encloses everything, and night is at the half-way point of the journey along its course, then, Lord, your discourse from the royal dwelling-places is all-powerful.

There is no express verb in the main sentence. One can understand esse as I have (therefore treating omnipotens as predicative), or one could possibly understand some implied verb of motion, in which case omnipotens could be attributive: "your all-powerful talk [comes] from the royal homes". The former is more inherently gramatically probable, I think, but the reading seems difficult to me. Context might help: what is this from? What is being discussed? It has a theological air.

How you want to translated sedes is a matter of taste and context: it means literally "seat" and by extension things such as a residence (a "country seat") or capital (the "seat of government") or just "key place" (a "seat of learning").

Others may well have better ideas.
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:29 pm

I'm a little unsure about the imperfect subjunctive dependent on 'dum' in those two clauses. I learned that 'dum' needs an indicative verb when meaning 'while' (as a temporal conjunction) and that if it had a subjunctive verb it normally meant 'provided that'. This would change the sense of the sentence a bit.
Am I right or wrong?
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 18, 2004 8:09 pm

No ... and yes.

What you say is absolutely correct of the most classical of classical Latin, and if you were translating English to Latin you should certainly use the present indicative with dum meaning while.

But in later Latin dum meaning while becomes assimilated to temporal cum, and is commonly used to mean when or while, and so used with an imperfect subjunctive. Vide Woodcock (§ 221, n.ii):

Dum in this sense means practically the same as cum with the imperfect subjunctive in narrative. ... In colloquial Latin, in poetry, and in prose from Livy on, the construction of the two is apt to be confused, and dum is found in the imperfect subjunctive in contexts where there is no idea of "proviso" or "intention" to account for it.


Why choose that meaning here? Because I can't make sense of dum here as meaning "provided that". Maybe in context I could. But the sense of the sentence seems to be "when", and I think it should be so translated. It's not just that translating dum as "provided that" would change the meaning: it would change the meaning to something very odd indeed! (And the sense seems to have a Christian overtone, which would point towards later usage too.)
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Postby Episcopus » Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:21 pm

I agree with the translation, nice; but I should like to add that Latin is often annoying like this. Words with many meanings and ravaging exceptions: when you firstly know something to be right there's always some exception along the line. And who can teach you to possibly compose latin idioms "et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet" etc.
They say Latin is a dead language. Yes that may be true in the main sense (it is not actually spoken as a first language by anyone) but the idioms and variations and various peculiarites and expressions bring some text to life. Yet it annoys me greatly.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Feb 19, 2004 3:29 am

Another meaning of dum with a subjunctive is "until" as in the early lines of the Aenead Multa quoque et bello passus dum conderet urbem... "having suffered many things and even war up until he founded the city"

I am not sure if it is intended to mean "Until the peaceful silence enclosed everything...", as Ulpianus's translation has a prudent but slightly contradictory meaning.
Last edited by benissimus on Thu Feb 19, 2004 7:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby sesquipedalianus » Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:25 am

Gratias tibi, Ulpianus! That's clarified it nicely!
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