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Sapientia est pulchrum.

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Sapientia est pulchrum.

Postby lbkoppel » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:25 pm

I am a beginner, studying from Learn to Read Latin by Keller and Russell. The Workbook, in Chapter III, Drill 24-28, Sentence 9, asks for a translation of Sapientia est pulchrum. There are no macrons. At first glance, this seemed trivially easy. But, I can't seem to conjure up a translation with agreement between sapientia and pulchrum. Would appreciate any help.
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Re: Sapientia est pulchrum.

Postby mariek » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:38 pm

lbkoppel wrote:I am a beginner, studying from Learn to Read Latin by Keller and Russell. The Workbook, in Chapter III, Drill 24-28, Sentence 9, asks for a translation of Sapientia est pulchrum. There are no macrons. At first glance, this seemed trivially easy. But, I can't seem to conjure up a translation with agreement between sapientia and pulchrum. Would appreciate any help.



I'm a beginner too, so I don't know the answer. But I see "sapientia" as feminine and "pulchrum" as neuter. :?:
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Re: Sapientia est pulchrum.

Postby mariek » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:39 pm


BTW, welcome to Textkit!!! :D
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Postby mariek » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:40 pm


Also moving this message thread to the Latin forum where it fits better...
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Postby Ulpianus » Mon Mar 08, 2004 4:51 pm

You are right that pulchrum cannot be made to "agree" with "sapientia".

I can only think that it is because pulchrum is functioning as a noun ("beauty" 2nd dec. n, here nominative) not as an adjective ("beautiful"). One is not saying "wisdom is beautiful" (in which case one would have to make the adjective agree with its noun) but "wisdom is beauty", with each substantive in its "natural" case. When pulcher is used as a noun it is normally a second declension neuter.
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Postby Episcopus » Mon Mar 08, 2004 5:14 pm

I'll counter that his sapientia has surpassed you all (praestitit vobis) since he was evidently opting to convey the meaning "wisdom is a beautiful thing", the neuter "pulchrum" used as a neuter substantive implying as we know a thing in a simple sense. Had he used "pulchra" it might have been more than plausible to suggest that a "res" were understood, rendering once again "wisdom is a fine thing". Ah Latin...

Anyhow, welcome! However use D'Ooge's "Latin For Beginners" from textkit you fool! It is not wise to use any other book. Ask mariek.
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Postby Ulpianus » Mon Mar 08, 2004 6:14 pm

Episcopus wrote:I'll counter that his sapientia has surpassed you all (praestitit vobis) since he was evidently opting to convey the meaning "wisdom is a beautiful thing", the neuter "pulchrum" used as a neuter substantive implying as we know a thing in a simple sense. Had he used "pulchra" it might have been more than plausible to suggest that a "res" were understood, rendering once again "wisdom is a fine thing". Ah Latin...


I don't think this is evident at all. We agree on what is happening here (i.e., pulchrum is a neuter substantive). The question is: how should that be translated.

Turning an adjective into a substantive does not necessarily imply some imaginary "thing" with its quality. It implies a substantive form of the adjective. Sometimes that will require or invite the addition of "thing" in translation, but not always. We need only produce the substantive form of "beautiful", i.e. "beauty" (which as it happens is a meaning found in literature, as a large dictionary shows).

"Wisdom is a beautiful thing" would be so close to "Wisdom is beautiful" that it would hardly explain the use of a substantive rather than an adjective. Though it is a possible translation, I think it would be a mistranslation.

(If the author intended "res" this would certainly not be left to be understood merely from a feminine adjective. For who ever would guess it was needed. Nothing would tell you not to translate "sapientia est pulchra" as "wisdom is beautiful"; to take it otherwise would be perverse. If res were intended it would be expressed.)
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Postby Skylax » Mon Mar 08, 2004 8:42 pm

Ulpianus wrote:I don't think this is evident at all. We agree on what is happening here (i.e., pulchrum is a neuter substantive). The question is: how should that be translated.


This time, o Ulpiane, pace tua liceat dixisse, Episcopus is completely right. It is a well known phaenomenon that exists also in Greek. Triste lupus stabulis, "a wulf is a harmful thing to stables". "Beauty" is rather PULCHRITUDO, pulchritudinis, an abstract substantive.

Notwithstanding, VALE.[/i]
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Postby Ulpianus » Mon Mar 08, 2004 9:14 pm

Skylax wrote:
Ulpianus wrote:I don't think this is evident at all. We agree on what is happening here (i.e., pulchrum is a neuter substantive). The question is: how should that be translated.


This time, o Ulpiane, pace tua liceat dixisse, Episcopus is completely right. It is a well known phaenomenon that exists also in Greek. Triste lupus stabulis, "a wulf is a harmful thing to stables". "Beauty" is rather PULCHRITUDO, pulchritudinis, an abstract substantive.

Notwithstanding, VALE.[/i]


Well, I will retire to sulk in my tent, though I'm still not happy with the translation (though I accept it's possible; and -- curses -- probably right given its context). I have only Lewis and Short for company in thinking pulchrum can mean "beauty". Citing Horace. Not bad company for me in my tent, completely wrong as we may be.

(Incidentally, I am reminded of a nice little story about a young keen scholar talking to a distinguished papyrologist:

Young Keen Scholar: Can X mean Y?

Long Pause

Old Stager: If you find it in that sense, yes. )
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Postby benissimus » Tue Mar 09, 2004 3:31 am

This reminds me of that not at all misogynist quote of Vergil where I first encountered this neuter phenomenon... femina semper mutabile et varium
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby Skylax » Wed Mar 10, 2004 2:51 pm

Ulpianus wrote:
Well, I will retire to sulk in my tent, ...


Please, come back ! I was surely confused by the French language. In French we say "le beau" (= "what is beautiful", i.e. beauty inasmuch it is found in real objects), which could translate PULCHRUM - I think in German it would be "das Schöne" - and "la beauté" (= the characteristic that leads to define an object as "beautiful", German "die Schönheit"). Maybe it is "beauty" in both cases in English ?

And, please, if he is willing, bring Horace back to us too.
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Mar 10, 2004 3:12 pm

Don't worry! I wasn't really serious. Horace positively refuses to come out, though. He is much more sensitive than I am.
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Postby Episcopus » Wed Mar 10, 2004 4:45 pm

French at the start is easy but then as advanced language structures and idioms are learned it becomes strange. More so because of french people speaking so quickly.

The fair thing about a forum is that one's opinion may be considered solely for its substance whether one be a worthless kid or not.
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