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Translation

Postby Einhard » Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:59 pm

Salvete!

Just checking to see whether an alternative translation is plausible. Can the following,

"...incipe, parve puer, scire matrem, et erit satis spiritus mihi tua dicere facta"

be translated as,

"...begin, small boy, to be born, and the spirit shall be sufficent (there shall be sufficent spirit) for me to proclaim your deeds"?

Thanks,
Einhard.
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Re: Translation

Postby Einhard » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:04 pm

And while I'm here, might as well clarify something else.

Wheelock claims that there are three ways of expressing purpose- the purpose clause, gerund, and supine. I presume though though that the infinitive can also be used. Is this correct?

Thanks again,

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Re: Translation

Postby modus.irrealis » Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:31 pm

Einhard wrote:And while I'm here, might as well clarify something else.

Wheelock claims that there are three ways of expressing purpose- the purpose clause, gerund, and supine. I presume though though that the infinitive can also be used. Is this correct?

Yes and no. A&G grammar says:

The Purpose of an action is expressed in Latin in various ways; but never (except in idiomatic expressions and rarely in poetry) by the simple Infinitive as in English
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Re: Translation

Postby Iulia » Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:30 pm

May I ask what were your thoughts in translating "scire matrem" as "to be born"?

I ask because the child is addressed as "parve puer" leading me to suspect that a translation conveying the idea of growing up rather than of being born might work a bit better here. That might fit the overall sense of the poem better also -- grow up quickly so that all these other great things will come about quickly and I will still have breath enough to celebrate your deeds in poetry and song.
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Re: Translation

Postby Einhard » Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:48 pm

Iulia wrote:May I ask what were your thoughts in translating "scire matrem" as "to be born"?



Well, after hours of great contemplation and diligent research, and having trawled through all the ethno-linguistic resources available to me...ok, maybe not, it actually says "to be born" in the explanatory key at the bottom of the passage in Wheelock!

Although, after about 2 minutes of perhaps not so diligent research and contemplation, and no browsing of the ethno-linguistic resources (consisting of my Collins Gem dictionary!), it does seem to make some sense because the passage in question deals with a prophetic vision and a child yet to be born.

I was wondering about the last part in particular though. Is "and the spirit shall be sufficent (there shall be sufficent spirit) for me to proclaim your deeds" ok?

Thanks,

Einhard.
Last edited by Einhard on Fri Jul 24, 2009 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Translation

Postby Iulia » Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:25 pm

Salve Einhard!

I was wondering about the last part in particular though. Is "and the spirit shall be sufficent (there shall be sufficent spirit) for me to proclaim your deeds" ok?


Your translation seems just fine to me. I would add only that "spiritus" in Latin often has a connotation of actual breath. I'd suggest that the idea here is that Virgil is praying that he will actually live long enough [have enough breath/life] to be the one to proclaim Augustus's mighty deeds.

In ceteras res,

it says "to be born" in the explanatory key at the bottom of the passage in Wheelock!


I would still caution you against translating "incipe scire matrem" as "begin to be born" rather than "begin to know your mother/grow up" (N.B. that Wheelock has an "i.e." in his footnote, perhaps meaning he did not intend a translation?)

To this end and pace Wheelock, I would point to three parts of the adapted text as telling us that the child has been born already -- 1) the present tense of "iam venit;" 2) the present tense of "de caelo puer mittitur," and 3) the present tense of "incipe" coupled with the direct address "parve puer." In all three cases, the unborn-child theory would seem to call for some kind of subjunctive of wishing/hoping (e.g., "Veniat mox magna aetas nova" -- "MAY a great new age come soon") or some kind of future construction (e.g., "de caelo puer mittetur" -- "from the heavens a boy WILL be sent").

But you are right that this is not the implication of Wheelock's footnote ...

Vale, /Iulia
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Re: Translation

Postby Einhard » Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:23 pm

Salve Iulia,

I've just gone over that passage and my translation in light of your comments, and I'm pretty certain that the tone is prophetic. For example, I have "Venit iam magna aetas nova" as "A great new age is soon coming". Obviously that's present tense but it seems to me to indicate a future event; it acts as a kind of prophetic voice if you will. Similarly, "de caelo puer mittitur". Again it's present of course, but in the context of the piece, I think one can translate it as indicating futurity. Your suggestion regarding the subjunctive makes sense if one looks at the passage as predictive rather than prophetic. I don't think the author is writing about something that may or may not happen, but that is absolutely sure to happen. Wouldn't that diminish the need for the subjunctive?

I think that there's probably room for both views, and some leeway to go beyond a strictly literal translation.

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