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A brief sentence from Trithemius, translation help?

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A brief sentence from Trithemius, translation help?

Postby autophile » Sat Aug 02, 2008 2:23 am

Hi all,

I'm a very new Latin hobbyist, studying from Wheelock and Moreland & Fleischer. I've been puzzling out this sentence found in Trithemius's Steganographia:

Quippe qui & multa, quae prius nesciveram, per continuum legendi studium didici.

I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out where legendi and studium fit in. My best effort is:

Of course, such a thing (such things) -- and many things which I had not previously known -- I did learn through the repeated ??? ???.

My problem is that legendi is a future passive participle in either GEN sing. M/N, or NOM pl. M. So what is to be read? Some thing GEN M/N or some things NOM M. The only referent that could possibly match this word is qui (as NOM pl. M).

I don't understand the word order at all, in that case.

Halp! :)


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Postby Alatius » Sat Aug 02, 2008 9:33 am

(Grr. I had just written a message when my browser crached on me. Here goes again...)

The form legendi is not a future passive participle (also known as gerundive), but instead a gerund. It looks exactly like a gerundive, except that it only has the forms -ndi, -ndo, -ndum, -ndo. It acts like a noun, rather than as an adjective. And it need not have an object; in fact, it usually doesn't. One common example is "ars scribendi": "the art of writing". I would translate "per continuum legendi studium" as "through continuous reading study".

There are some other issues with your translation, that, I guess, mostly stem from the somewhat irregular interpunctation (compared to modern standards). I analyse the phrase, together with the surrounding phrases, in this manner:

Code: Select all
Nec me penitus
   ut reor
fefellit opinio
   quippe qui
      et multa
         quae prius nesciveram
         per continuum legendi studium
         cogitationibus meis
            ad investigandum secretiora et prorsus arcana
      ceteris aditum reseravi.

That is to say, "quippe qui" points back to "me", and the "et" before "multa" is coupled with the "et" before "cogitationibus" ("et ... et" = "both ... and").
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Postby autophile » Sat Aug 02, 2008 1:40 pm


Thank you so much for your analysis! I suppose that's what I get for relying on a program (Latin Words) to provide the breakdowns of words. There it is, in black and white in F&M unit sixteen -- the gerund looks exactly like the neuter singular of the future passive participle.

The funny thing is, as I was reading the passage in Latin, my mind kept wanting to read the phrase as "through repeated reading...", which would be correct. But no, the program knew better than I. :)

I had translated the earlier sentence as "Nor did the idea, (as) I suppose, thoroughly disappoint me". I had also erred in thinking qui referred to the idea, but now I see that the genders don't match, and the only nominative that qui could possibly refer to is I.

I think I'll have to study. In fact, repeatedly do some reading study. :D

Thanks again,

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