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Exclamations in Latin

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Exclamations in Latin

Postby philplus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:09 am

One of my friends are translating some children's books from English into Chinese and asked me once why in the storybooks people often say "Great Neptune's beard!" "Great Jupiter's eyebrows!" "Great Neptune's Jupiter" "Great Juno's peacock!" as exclamations, and if these phrases are copied from ancient Romans. As I am still struggling with basic Latin, I never read such things in original Latin texts and neither can I, though consulting the grammars at my hands, find any answer to his question. I would really appreciate if you can give me some help.
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Re: Exclamations in Latin

Postby adrianus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:31 pm

Figmenta sunt, ut opinor, ut sensus aevi classici vel veteri communicetur.
I think they're inventions to convey a sense of a classical or bygone age.
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: Exclamations in Latin

Postby philplus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:30 pm

Thank you adrianus. I know in medieval ages people swear or curse by (the Christian) God's body parts or attributes, and Shakespeare use that too, but I do not know if it's a remaining from Roman period.
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Re: Exclamations in Latin

Postby ivanus » Thu Nov 22, 2012 10:44 pm

I've seen a couple of similar usages in Plautus' Aulularia:

di magni! (great gods)
hercle (by Hercules!)

This form of interjection might be more common in plays, which reproduce conversational speech than in more formal writing.
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Re: Exclamations in Latin

Postby bedwere » Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:24 am

From A grammar of the Latin language By Karl Gottlob Zumpt p. 279

Among the invocations of the gods, the following are particularly frequent: mehercule, mehercle, hercule, hercle, or mehercules, hercules, medius fidius, mecastor, ecastor, pol, edepol, per deum, per deum immortalem, per deos, per Jovem, pro (or proh) Juppiter, pro sancte (supreme) Juppiter, pro dii immortales, pro deum fidem, pro deum atque hominum fidem, pro deum or pro
deum immortalium (scil. fidem), and several others of this kind.
Note. Me before the names of gods must be explained by an ellipsis: the complete expression was : ita me (e. g. Hercules) juvet; or with the vocative: ita me Hercule juves. The interjection medius fidius arose, in all probability, from me dius (Διός) Julius, which is archaic for JUius, and is thus equivalent to mehercules, for Hercules is the son of that god. Mehercule is the form which Cicero (Oral. 47.) approves, and which, along with hercule, occurs most frequently in his writings. See my note on in Verr. iii. 62. The oath by Pollux (pol) is a very light one, and hence it is given especially to women in the comic writers. In edepol and edecastor the e is either the same as me, or it is a mere sound of interjection; de is deus.
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Re: Exclamations in Latin

Postby anantah » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:39 am

I wonder if it's only an invention of the author following the medieval "God's beard" swearing. The genitive structure is different from Latin exclamations like Hercule or per deos. I'm not sure but I never met them in my readings of Latin texts.
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