I believe in my own self... Credo in ??? ego

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Post by Ulpianus » Wed Mar 10, 2004 8:30 pm

Today my first friend told me that he still believes that "Credo in meum ego" is correct, because the "ego" in this sentence doesn't only refer to my thinking, living consciousness, but the "one and only ego", as Alfred Adler redefined the Freudian term (in short: there is no ego, id and superego, there's just "the" ego, and this means sole responsibility), and perhaps it's not erroneous to assume that this expression is in neuter form.
As others have pointed out, this just doesn't work in Latin. What would one think if someone said, in English "I believe in my"? That's what credo in meum ego "means". Psychology may have trained us to accept "the ego" as a noun, but in Latin it cannot be ... It is a first person nominative pronoun. I guess if you want to use the tag, you can. But it strikes me as a kind of private code: a Latinist won't understand it without an explanation that "ego" is being treated as a highly irregular neuter substantive; and a psychologist won't understand it unless told that "meum" is a possessive pronoun.

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Post by petroff38 » Wed Mar 10, 2004 9:15 pm

Dear klewlis and Ulpianus,

I do not want to annoy anyone, but I'm curious, so I hope you'll forgive me if I act as a complete fool, but I feel I must inquire: if there would be a non-latin god, whose name would be Ego (what a coincidence! :wink:), then how should the believer of this particular god state the subject of his belief in Latin? Of course, he would have to explain to everyone that "this Ego" is not "that ego", but what else could he do?

My current question (and I hope that I can resist the temptation to ask my silly questions without ending :wink:) is that if I capitalize the "Ego", would it be any help? Would it suggest in any way that "this ego" isn't a pronoun but a substantive noun?

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Post by Ulpianus » Wed Mar 10, 2004 9:38 pm

Well, let's see how to deal with this god when he latinizes himself. First you have to decide what your hypothetical god's name is in the accusative or the ablative (see the above discussion). Let's assume you will stick with the accusative. If your god was neuter, then I guess its name wouldn't change. But gods aren't usually neuter (are they ever? anyone?) So let's say he's masculine (forgive me if I'm wrong).

A masculine noun whose nominative was "ego" would probably stem in n (as leo, leonis), so I think we'll decline your god Ego, Egonis, with the accusative "Egonem"

So you end up with "Credo in Egonem meum", or something like that.

Capital letters don't help you in classical Latin, because the distinction between capitals and lower case didn't develop until around 1000 AD.

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Post by benissimus » Thu Mar 11, 2004 5:05 am

It isn't unheard of to have other parts of speech used as nouns, but you have to be very careful when doing so, and I wouldn't risk it in my own prose until I have some more experience. I remember seeing in Horace hoc cras, "this tomorrow", where the adverb cras is used as a neuter noun.

And Episcopus, I do not use those types of quotes to be ostentatious. I use them for the reasons Klewlis stated, but moreso because those are examples listed in the dictionary or grammar I was referring to.
Last edited by benissimus on Sat Mar 13, 2004 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae

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Post by xyz » Sat Mar 13, 2004 11:23 am

benissimus wrote:According the Lewis & Short, the in + acc. construction is poetic only in the sense of entrusting something to someone. Not at all what is meant when one says "I trust in one god."

The only other scenario is in Ecclesiastical Latin, where in + acc. can mean "trust/believe in", as:
hoc est ergo credere in Deum, Aug.
"Therefore this is believing in God".

I am new here.But find your discussions both very interesting and
insightful. Some have referred to the question of the Latin sentences in the Creed (the Apostles' Creed), and hinted the particular usage of "credo" in the medieval ecclesiastical Latin. Theologians have longed argued about the difference or similarity between uses of credo in the first three articles and in the fourth of the Apostles' Creed. In more generally accepted English versions of the AC, where the phrase "believe in" is used in both places, we cannot tell much difference between them:

1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

But according to some German traditions of translation, to believe in God
one has to say "an Gott glauben", and they won't lightly say "an die Kirche
glauben". For further information, please look up the discussion entitled
"An Gott Glauben, an die Kirche nicht" at
Even for the Roman Catholic Church, the Latin wording of the AC also requires careful reinterpretation, and in this case the preposition "in" before the object is rather stressed upon.(Cf. for instance, the official statement at
http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism ... 3a9_lt.htm)

Perhaps one may draw the conclusion: the difference there is rather theologically than linguistically oriented.

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