hi!<br />You were right on target to call me in for my linguistic sloppiness. But since I always enjoy the competence and completeness of your posts, my error has succeeded in a small way if it has called your attention to what I think is a<br />very interesting problem.<br /><br />I recant my statement: mundus has no etymological relative that means "pit". What I was sloppily referring to was the mundus Cerealis, the fourth entry for mundus in the OLD (NB: not
definition four of mundus; for some reason, perhaps significantly, the OLD chose to list four definitions of mundus as separate entries with distinct conjectural etymologies) being "a subterranean vault, at Rome or elsewhere, supposed to communicate with the lower world". It was into this pit that the old Roman hero, so the story goes, supposedly dove into for the sake of his city. There are various citations from Festus and Varro explaining that the pit was opened 3 times a year accompanied with several restrictions on war and marriage, etc.. The adjective mundalis (opposed to mundanus) refers strictly to this pit and finds its way into the corpus inscriptionum from Capua, it cannot have been an entirely minor part of Roman religion.<br /><br />Your solution is incredibly elegant and I cannot have imagined anything more beautifully symmetrical myself. But, though I defer to your experienced judgment, I still feel a bit of uncertainty and even inconcinnity about mundus that might be useful to discuss, since it bears on translation into Latin in general.<br /><br />When we're translating into Latin, into what time period of Latin are we translating? To what extent must we imagine ourselves Romans?<br /><br />This was a central issue of Latin style in the Renaissance which Bembo and Sadoleto answered by becoming Ciceronian parrots, calling Turks Thracians and nunneries sacrarum virginum collegium. Obviously this extreme is laughable, but it must be recognized that if we take the opposite position and every natural and "semi-barbaric" incorporation into the Latin vocabulary from Augustine onwards is taken as fair game, we are not at all speaking a language recognizable as Latin. It would be like someone composing an email on this forum by mixing Chaucerian vocabulary, throwing in some Shakespeare, and spiking it with modern buzzwords.<br />The problem is that 2000 years after "classical Latin" we are mostly deaf to those sorts of distinctions. Even 400 years ago Milton could be considered writing a Latin that was at least (barely) alive to his age, even though it was subtly distinct from "classical" usage. <br /><br />All that windup for a very minor point. To me hearing the word mundus it is difficult to escape a resonance with the mundus Cerealis. The word itself sounds
a bit dank to me, even though I know it also means clean and can respond to Horace's use "munditiis". My opinion is of course worthless. Depending on what age of Latin we're using or what sort of Latinists comprise our audience, we must decide whether the word mundus has that flavor or not. While it may be the case that "classical" Romans felt the two meanings, would they have responded to it? The poets seem to use the term without sarcasm or underlying disgust so it may seem fair to say that they did not. On more reflection I entirely support your use mundus in such a way. There are words in English like "mall" which has two polar meanings, a shopping mall, and an open space, which are related but are so distinct that it is impossible to confuse the two. This is a point that requires close reading to solve and it may still be insoluble. <br /><br />On the other hand it is hard to ignore a ritual enacted three times a year, which might have been deeply ingrained into the Roman mind. Similarly, punning and pseudo-etymological wordplay is no stranger to Roman poetry (Propertius and Virgil both draw on Callimachus' Aetia) just as it is common to certain modern poets. On these grounds, that there is in the word a possible joke, I still shy away from using it in such an open position (particularly as the last in a series where it could be mistaken for a punchline); if we do not take it as an underlying wordplay there is still the slight possibility of confusing it for the adjective mundus, thus "you are clean for me" which has the added bad-luck of making the addressed into a man. <br /><br />Of course the problem entirely disappears if we imagine ourselves using a more medieval form of Latin which had no contact with the mundus Cerealis; but the more we accept the latter the more Latin becomes a sort of pidgin or a code for English in which we falsely believe that every word has a one-to-one correspondence.<br /><br />I apologize for rambling so much and I hope there was something of use in what I've said for future translations. I suppose my point is that poetry of any age invites us to look at words in close ways and, regardless of what our aim for Latin translation is, we must always strive to hear and feel what we write deeply.<br /><br />Warmly,<br />Adam<br /><br />Also I've cut out a bit from Arnold's revised Latin prose composition (1920) where he writes about different ways to translate "the world". It might be slightly useful so long as we remember that Arnold loves drawing distinctions sometimes where there aren't any:<br />
<br />Again, we might meet with the word "world" in an English sentence; but we cannot translate it into Latin till we know whether it means "the whole universe", or "this globe", or "the nations of the world", or "people generally", or "mankind", or "life on earth".<br />
<br />Nam casu factus est mundus? Was the world (sun, moon, stars, and earth) made by chance?<br />Luna circum tellurem movetur. The moon moves round the world (this planet).<br />Orbi terrarum (or omnibus gentibus) imperabant Romani. The Romans were rulers of the world.<br />Omnes (homines) insanire eum credunt. The whole world thinks him out of his mind.<br />Nemo usquam. No one in the world.<br />Multum hominibus nocuit. He did the world much harm.<br />In hac vita numquam eum sum visurus. I am never likely to see him in this world.