translation problem

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shaunthesheep
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translation problem

Post by shaunthesheep » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:32 am

''ecce mihi lacerae dictant scribenda Camenae
et ueris elegi fletibus ora rigant.''
(Consolidation of philosophy Book I Song I ,Boethius)

My own literary translation is "look, the torn Camenae conduct which to be written for me and the elegies lead the mouthes with truly tears."

Am I doing it right?

The English translation by H.R. JAMES:
Lo, the Muses, grief-dishevelled,
Guide my pen and voice my woe;

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: translation problem

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Tue Dec 03, 2019 1:14 pm

Well, the problem is that your translation, if we are not looking at the Latin with it, is incomprehensible. Even a literal translation has to make sense or it can't be right.

mihi a dative of agent with scribenda, or an indirect object with dictant.

dictant and rigant are jussive subjunctives (if you look up rigō, you'll only find a first conjugation form in the OLD and L&S with a meaning of "make wet," but Boethius is using as though it's a simplex form from something like derigo, i.e. rego).

veris, an adjective modifying fletibus, not an adverb.

So...

Behold, let the injured Muses dictate what is to be written by me (or "dictate to me what is to be written"), and elegies guide my mouth with true weeping."
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Hylander
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Re: translation problem

Post by Hylander » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:12 pm

I don't think these are subjunctives. Both dicto and rigo are first-conjugation verbs. Rigo means "lead" or "conduct" in the sense of drawing water into an irrigation ditch (see Lewis & Short). and here the verb is extended to mean "lead" or "draw". The verbs are indicative, consistent with ecce: "behold, the Muses. mutilated in grief, are dictating to me what is to be written, and direct my mouth/voice with true weepings/laments of elegy."

I take elegi as genitive singular dependent on fletibus, and the subject of rigant as Camenae.

The Camenae are the Roman equivalent of the Muses. They are lacerae because they've torn or mutilated their faces in grief, a common funerary practice in antiquity and probably still today in some parts of the world.

mwh
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Re: translation problem

Post by mwh » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:51 pm

Even if you don’t know your conjugations, ecce is not likely to introduce subjunctives! And it should be no less obvious that Camenae is the subject of both verbs. Gee!
rigant I take to be multivalent (but nothing to do with rego!); I think the sense of “wet” is primary.

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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: translation problem

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:56 pm

Ah, forgot that dicto was also first conjugation, and good point about ecce. Should have read farther on with rigo! Good corrections, mea maxima culpa et vobis gratias.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Hylander
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Re: translation problem

Post by Hylander » Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:52 pm

Shaun, you got the grammar and syntax more or less right (your one error -- taking elegi as the subject of rigant was the result of the ambiguity in the case and number of elegi -- genitive singular, not nominative plural), but you couldn't make adequate sense of the couplet because you haven't had enough experience with the figurative language and sentence structure (hyperbaton, particularly) of Latin poetry.

Latin poetry requires specialized reading skills, which are built up over time. You should keep trying to read Latin poetry -- eventually it will fall into place. Use commentaries and even translations to help guide you if need be in the process of developing your skills.

And always remember that you need to make sense of what you're reading. If it doesn't make coherent sense to you, keep trying.

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