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Livy

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Livy

Postby Einhard » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:07 pm

Salvete omnes,

I'm having some trouble with a few lines from Livy's History of Rome; if anyone could offer some suggestions I'd be grateful:

Forte quadam divinitus super ripas Tiberis effusus lenibus stagnis nec adiri usquam ad iusti cursum poterat amnis et posse quamvis languida mergi aqua infantes spem ferentibus dabat

By chance the Tiber having divinely overflown its banks into a gentle pool was not at all able to be approached to the course of its regular stream, and it offered hope that by bearing the infants, they were able to be drowned by the water however sluggish

I'm not sure how else to translate this line, but it looks horrible in English.

There's also the line that follows:

Ita velut defuncti regis imperio in proxima adluvie, ubi nunc ficus Ruminalis est (Romularem vocatam ferunt), pueros exponunt.

As if thus having been discharged from the authority of the King close to the floodwater, where now the fig-tree of Ruminalis stands (they bear fruit that was called of Romulus[?]), they exposed the boys.

Thanks in advance..
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Re: Livy

Postby thesaurus » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:44 pm

Forte quadam divinitus super ripas Tiberis effusus lenibus stagnis nec adiri usquam ad iusti cursum poterat amnis et posse quamvis languida mergi aqua infantes spem ferentibus dabat

By chance the Tiber having divinely overflown its banks into a gentle pool was not at all able to be approached to the course of its regular stream, and it offered hope that by bearing the infants, they were able to be drowned by the water however sluggish

I translate:
Sic verto:
"It happened providentially that the Tiber overflowed its banks into gentle pools and [the river] could not be approached from anywhere--one could not approach the course of the river proper--and yet, although the water was sluggish, it gave the bearers of the infants hope that they could be drowned."

"ad justi cursum poterat amnis" appears to be a parenthetical remark explaining "nec adiri usquam", which would explain why it's difficult to translate. "nec . . . et" has the sense of "not . . . and at the same time." I'm not sure "languida aqua" is ablative here; I believe it is the subject that gives them hope that the "infantes mergi posse." infantes is also a repeated object of ferentibus. The bearers dump the babies in the shallow pool because they are cut off from the main river by flooding.

Ita velut defuncti regis imperio in proxima adluvie, ubi nunc ficus Ruminalis est (Romularem vocatam ferunt), pueros exponunt.

As if thus having been discharged from the authority of the King close to the floodwater, where now the fig-tree of Ruminalis stands (they bear fruit that was called of Romulus[?]), they exposed the boys.


"Thus as if they had discharged the king's order, they exposed the boys in the nearest floodplain, where now is the fig tree of Rumina [the goddess of suckling] (they say that it is called Romulan)."

"defuncti regis imperio" is a participle phrase. "Ferunt" is a common impersonal way of saying "they say/report." You might also see "fertur" meaning "is said [to be]," with the subject being in the nominative.

Hmm, I think I've discovered that I don't like reading Livy!
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Livy

Postby Einhard » Fri Apr 02, 2010 1:35 pm

thesaurus wrote:

Hmm, I think I've discovered that I don't like reading Livy!


I think I've discovered that you're not the only one!!

I wouldn't mind except my translation was going well for the first ten or so lines until I reached the bloody Tiber!

I've translated some Pliny and Cicero, and want to move onto something new. Apart from Livy, who would you suggest? I was thinking of Ovid's Metamorphoses next, but I don't want to tackle anything too daunting just yet, and don't really know much about the Classical writers and the difficulty in translating each.
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Re: Livy

Postby Student of the 50s » Mon May 02, 2016 3:18 am

Hi,
This is my first post,so please do not delete it .I believe I have something to offer .My old Latin teacher, Jim Giles ,who by the way wrote the Latin Text book Giles and Pfitzner used in Australian Schools always taught us that Romans did not write rubbish .
Most translations of this section of Livy are exactly that ,with the exception of your erudite moderator .
Livy is not to be criticised and is not hard to understand .
One must understand that Roman writers painted a word picture using few words that requires 2 or 3 times as many in English .The big picture and the context gave Romans instant understanding where case is now ambiguous to us .
This passage is about Divine Parentage and being under divine protection .
Any reading must support this theme . The children were under protection at all times by the river being unable to be approached , the chance to deposit the children in shallow water only , and even when destitute in a lonely spot ,a friendly wolf was ready to step into the picture .
Bearing all this in mind the translation is as follows .

. Forte quadam divinitus super ripas Tiberis effusus lenibus stagnis nec adiri usquam ad iusti cursum poterat amnis et posse quamuis languida mergi aqua infantes spem ferentibus dabat.

Divinely by a certain chance the Tiber having poured forth above its banks into gentle pools ,it was not able to approach right up to the river proper ,and it was giving hope to those carrying them to be possible to place the infants in calm water as much as [however much] they wanted.

Ita velut defuncti regis imperio in proxima alluuie ubi nunc ficus Ruminalis est?Romularem vocatam ferunt?pueros exponunt. Vastae tum in his locis solitudines erant.

Thus as if having performed to the Royal Command of the King in the closest pool where is the Fig Ruminalis , they previously called it Romulus ,they put out the boys . In these places at that time vast were the solitudes .

The learned moderator was uncertain if Languida Aqua was ablative .
Yes it is , as the subject of the verb Exponunt is the word defuncti ,[ Ita velut defuncti regis imperio ] with velut having the meaning [as if].
It is nonsense to say ''It raised their hopes of drowning the boys in shallow water'' . They were not ordered to drown them anywhere ''. Mergi'' is capable of a much milder reading .

Thanking the Forum for allowing me to make a much needed contribution .

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Re: Livy

Postby Hylander » Mon May 02, 2016 2:06 pm

"By some sort of providential chance the Tiber, having overflowed its banks in gentle pools could not be approached anywhere right up to [ad] the course of the proper stream bed, yet [et] gave hope to those carrying [the infants] that the infants could be drowned in the water though it was sluggish."

ad iusti cursum . . . amnis is a little puzzling here with adiri . . . poterat. The subject must be Tiberis, so that adiri is passive, with adeo used as a transitive verb -- not impossible, since adeo can take an accusative complement.

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:755.lewisandshort

Given that adiri is passive, ad must be translated something like "right up to": "the Tiber could not be approached right up to the course of the stream bed."

Yes, they have been ordered to drown the infants, as the preceding sentence shows: pueros in profluentem aquam mitti iubet.

"Thus, as if having discharged the king's command, they expose[d] the boys in the nearby floodwater, where now the Ruminal Fig Tree is (it is said [ferunt] that it was called the "Romular" [fig tree])."

fungor take an ablative complement, which can be translated as a direct object in English.

http://perseus.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.3:523.lewisandshort

Ruminalis/Romulus is probably a folk etymology. Ruminal Fig Tree:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ficus_Ruminalis
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Re: Livy

Postby thesaurus » Mon May 02, 2016 2:53 pm

It's always funny when an old thread gets dredged up from years ago. I find myself reading my old posts and thinking that I used to be sharper than I am now (although I'm not sure I've ever been a "learned and erudite" moderator.)

Student of the 50s wrote:Romans did not write rubbish


I'll just say that our perspective is everything. When we approach all Latin texts as flawless and almost divinely inspired, we will only be able to find value in them. I guarantee that Livy thought a lot of his contemporaries were producing rubbish and vice versa.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Livy

Postby Hylander » Mon May 02, 2016 10:31 pm

What a fool I was for trying to explain this.
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Re: Livy

Postby mwh » Mon May 02, 2016 11:37 pm

Hylander, Others besides our new old member may read and benefit from your excellent elucidation. I'll just say that I don’t see anything puzzling about ad iusti cursum . . . amnis. The only awkwardness is the passive, “the river couldn’t anywhere be approached to the course of its stream proper.” That’s mainly due to having Tiberis up front as subject of the whole sentence. But you could quite well say Tiberim effusum nemo adire usquam ad iusti cursum poterat amnis. While the ad phrase is not parenthetical as the younger sharper thesaurus thought, it does give necessary clarification. If you want ad to mean “right up to” you could add usque to usquam! (But I trust you won't.) The meaning is at any rate clear: you couldn't get to the river’s regular course within its banks.

Welcome to Textkit, Student of the 50s! But what the Latin means is not determined by any advance prescriptions. Note what quamvis means, by the way.
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Re: Livy

Postby thesaurus » Tue May 03, 2016 4:35 pm

Hylander wrote:What a fool I was for trying to explain this.


I appreciate the explanation, especially since I definitely forgot all of my original reasoning.

Someone will undoubtedly google this phrase in the future and read your explanation.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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