16th-century Latin questions

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cramberepetita
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16th-century Latin questions

Post by cramberepetita » Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:11 pm

Hello Textkitters, I regret not having spent much time here in the last couple of months, I've been very busy and will be for another couple of weeks. Still, here I come crawling back hoping that one of you can help me out with a couple of Latin lines I'm having trouble with.
I'm reading (and trying to translate) a passage from one Pontus Heuterus (Pontus de Huyter, Res Austriacae 12.8.), 16th-century theologian and historian, about the explosion of the Zandpoort (city gate and gun powder depot, struck by lightning) in the Flemish city of Mechelen in 1546. I wasn't sure if it was better to dedicate a single thread to each issue or keep them all together, I'm going to go with the second option if that's all right.

(1) The scattered stones of the exploding tower destroyed some 200 houses in the vicinity…
…ac totidem in amplissimo Suburbio aedes, quarum latices vivique lapides non minus detrimenti, quam turris, intulere.
My translation: “…and as many houses in the wide suburb, the [latices] and rough stones of which caused no less harm than the tower (itself).”

I'm baffled by the word latices, which obviously can't mean 'waters'/'juices'/'fluids' here. It can't be a typo, because the word returns in the next sentence:
Vitreae fere omnes Mechliniae fenestrae lapidum, tegularum, laticumque volatu, atque immenso disrumpentis turris fragore sunt confractae.
“Nearly all glass windows in Mechelen were broken by the flight of stones, roof-tiles and [latices], and by the immense crash of the exploding tower.”

What could these latices be? I checked Du Cange and Niemeyer, but to no avail. The best I can come up with (actually someone on Facebook suggested it to me) is that it's some kind of mix-up for lateres, 'bricks', which I have hesitantly accepted for now, for lack of anything better. I can't find any evidence anywhere that this word was ever used in that meaning, though. Maybe someone here does, or has another suggestion?
(Also, if anyone has a better suggestion for "vivus"...)

(2) Congerrones aliquot potatum ad tabernam cerevisiariam ierant, temporisque terendi symbolique conficiendi causa chartis lusoriis certabant.
My translation: "A bunch of mates who had gone down to the ale house for some beers were playing at cards to kill time and to.... ??"
I have a suspicion that it means something like "pay the tab", but I'm not at all sure. Any ideas? Perhaps, since they "certabant", the idea is that he who loses at cards has to pick up the bill for everyone's beers?

(3) Up to a mile and a half outside the city mangled corpses had been found scattered in various places, some hanging gruesomely from the trees;
ut concubinae Praetoris ab AA, quae flavescenti capillitio ex arboris ramo nuda dependens, aperto ventre, intestina in terram defluentia omnibus cum horrore ostentabat.
My translation: "For instance there was the corpse of the concubine of the praetor ..??.., who hung naked from a tree branch by her blonde hair, her belly open, showing her intestines dangling to the ground, to the horror of all onlookers."
I haven't got the faintest clue what "ab AA" might mean.

Any help at all on any or all of these three points would sure be appreciated!
By the way, if someone feels like checking out the text I'm using, it can be found here.

Shenoute
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by Shenoute » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:33 pm

- latices, a misread on the printer's side for larices? larix is a precise type of wood but maybe it used here to mean all kinds of 'pieces or wood from the buildings' (beams, etc.)?

- symbolus/symbolum, for symbola whose meaning would fit the context quite well, not that I understand clearly what symbolam conficiere means exactly. Play cards for money and have the winner pay the bill with the money he took from his fellow players, or let the looser pay for everything, or...?

- ab AA, maybe the family name 'van der Aa'?

cramberepetita
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by cramberepetita » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:14 am

Thanks for the suggestions!
Shenoute wrote:- latices, a misread on the printer's side for larices? larix is a precise type of wood but maybe it used here to mean all kinds of 'pieces or wood from the buildings' (beams, etc.)?
Nice find, but I have to say I find it rather unlikely, given the relative rarity of the word larix and the absence of any indication that this exact word was ever used in such a general sense. Most of the text is very straightforward in both syntax and lexicon, so the use of this obscure word would be surprising.
Shenoute wrote:- symbolus/symbolum, for symbola whose meaning would fit the context quite well, not that I understand clearly what symbolam conficiere means exactly. Play cards for money and have the winner pay the bill with the money he took from his fellow players, or let the looser pay for everything, or...?
Yes, I'm thinking along those lines too. A safe translation might then be 'settle the bill'. It would be nice to find a parallel passage to confirm this hunch, but none seems to be forthcoming.
Shenoute wrote:- ab AA, maybe the family name 'van der Aa'?
I actually considered this (but found it unlikely), but I think in the meantime I have cleared this one up! It seems to have been used as an abbreviation of Archidux Austriae, and given the content of the book, I am now convinced that this is the explanation!

Thanks for thinking along!

cramberepetita
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by cramberepetita » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:17 am

I wonder if praetor at this point meant something like 'police chief'?

Shenoute
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by Shenoute » Tue May 02, 2017 9:14 am

You're welcome :)

To expand a bit on the reading larices, I only did a rapid search but it seems that the larix was known to the Ancients for its resistance to fire and worms, making it the ideal wood for constructions, cf. see Vitruvius and here (with a typo t/r in the name Vitruvio :)). From there, a shift to larices as 'construction wood' seems less akward. But, yes, only an hypothesis.

And to continue playing the devil's advocate, for more examples of ab AA as a possible family name, see this work.

Victor
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by Victor » Tue May 02, 2017 4:40 pm

Shenoute wrote:- latices, a misread on the printer's side for larices? larix is a precise type of wood but maybe it used here to mean all kinds of 'pieces or wood from the buildings' (beams, etc.)?
Given that the text I've seen (https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/ ... edir_esc=y) prints latices twice in close succession I'd say it's unlikely it's a misprint for larices. Perhaps cramberepetita is looking at a different text, where there is only one instance of latices.

Is it possible latices means laths or lattice work, which would have made up a substantial part of many medieval buildings?

Shenoute
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by Shenoute » Wed May 03, 2017 7:17 am

Well, I would argue that the same mistake happening twice is more likely if the two occurences are in close succession than hundreds of pages apart. The person preparing the text for printing, working maybe with a manuscript, has trouble reading a word, settles down for latices and when encountering the same hard-to-decipher word a few lines further it remembers the first occurrence and settles for the same 'solution'.

But anyway, the extract is identical in the 1598 and 1643 editions of the work but it seems to have been corrected when this chapter was taken over and reprinted in miscellanea. Latices and laticum were changed to lateres and laterum (see here and there).

Victor
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by Victor » Wed May 03, 2017 11:24 am

That's a good answer, shenoute, and the links seem to pretty well clear the matter up. Let's hope, though, the initial error was entirely on the printer's part and the author genuinely did know his lateres and lapides from his latices.

cramberepetita
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Re: 16th-century Latin questions

Post by cramberepetita » Sat May 06, 2017 4:45 pm

Thanks a lot, shenoute, now you have me doubting my solution to my third question again! :)
I'm going to stick to my 'Archidux Austriae' explanation for now though. The AA is printed in full caps in both editions I checked - but on the other hand, it does say "AA" and not "A.A." - so I'm not sure. Would abbreviations in those days have points between the letters or not?
Thank you very much for the link to the 'editio correctior', which corroborates my suspicion that we should read lateres instead of latices! This is exactly the proof I needed, so while we don't yet know where the confusion arose (perhaps a general confusion in the language of those days, after all?), it's enough to lay my doubts re: question n° 1 to rest!

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