Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Latin after CDLXXVI
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Wilbur
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Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Wilbur »

I’ve started on this text because I have a special interest in astronomy, and I chose to start in res media where he observes Jupiter and its moons (page 17 in the source I have). I’ve gone through 30 lines so far. Here are several difficulties I’ve come across, for which I would appreciate any help.

1) He writes: Superest ut, quod maximum in praesenti negotio existimandum videtur, … I cannot determine if exitimandum is a gerund or gerundive; if a gerundive, does it go with maximum? I translate this clause as “…, because it appears the greatest value in the present matter, ...”

2) After another long clause, there is …, occasionem reperiendi, atque observandi, ... Again, I am uncertain whether these are gerunds or gerundives. Both are genitive, while the noun is accusative. I’m leaning to the gerund: “the occasions of discovering and observing” or “of discovering and observing occasions.”

3) He writes …, astronomos omnes convocantes, ut ad illorum periodos inquirendas, atq; I find that the definition of periodus is “a complete sentence; period.” So, I am not sure what to make of the second clause. Also, the lone atq all by itself.

4) Then he writes that on the 7th of January 1610, hora sequentis noctis prima, when I could see the heavenly bodies through the telescope, … I translate the clause I left in Latin as “the first hour of the following night.” I wonder whether I’ve got it right, because logically it doesn’t make sense. Why would he say “the night following Jan 7”? Why not “the night of Jan 8”? I’m missing something.

5) He tells of his excellent telescope and then adds in parentheses quod antea ob alterius Organi debilitatem minime contigerat. I think he’s trying to say “which had attained the least weaknesses compared to another Organi” but how is antea ob alterius translated? The problem for me is that ob takes the accusative. (The immediate antecedent of quod is instrumentum.)

I would appreciate any insight that would help me. Thanks in advance.
Also, should these posts stay in the Medieval forum or moved to Learning Latin? I expect I’ll have more questions as I move through this.
Wilbur

Shenoute
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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Shenoute »

Hi Wilbur,

My thoughts on the extracts you posted, I hope it helps instead of muddying the waters!

1) Quod here is not "because" but the relative pronoun. It is the subject of videtur. Very crudely: "It remains for me to disclose and publish [this and that], which (quod) appears (videtur) having-to-be-reckoned (existimandum) very-important (maximum)".

2) “the occasions of discovering and observing” seems to be the correct interpretation. Occasio is accusative because, like planetas, loca and observationes it is the object of aperiamus et promulgemus: "It remains for me to disclose and publish four planets, the occasion of their discovery, etc."

3) Periodus is a "circuit", hence its specialized use to describe a complete sentence: "..., summoning all astronomers, so that they devote themselves to examining their [i.e., the planets'] circuits...".
Atq; is an abbreviation for atque.

4) Not sure about that. Maybe it's a way to make it very clear that he is speaking of the night that followed the sunset of the 7th, instead of the night that preceded the sunrise of the 7th.

5) Here also quod is the relative pronoun: "...and since I had prepared myself a rather excellent instrument, I perceived three small stars standing close to it [i.e., Jupiter], something-which (quod) had-not-happened (minime contigerat) previously (antea) because of the weakness (ob debilitatem) of-the/an/my-other-instrument (alterius organi).

The complete text for easy reference (taken from The Latin Libray):
De Luna, de inerrantibus Stellis ac de Galaxia, quê hactenus observata sunt, breviter enarravimus. Superest ut, quod maximum in prêsenti negotio existimandum videtur, quatuor PLANETAS a primo mundi exordio ad nostra usque tempora nunquam conspectos, occasionem reperiendi atque observandi, necnon ipsorum loca, atque per duos proxime menses observationes circa eorundem lationes ac mutationes habitas, aperiamus ac promulgemus; Astronomos omnes convocantes, ut ad illorum periodos inquirendas atque definiendas se conferant, quod nobis in hanc usque diem, ob temporis angustiam, assequi minime licuit. Illos tamen iterum monitos facimus, ne ad talem inspectionem incassum accedant, Perspicillo exactissimo opus esse, et quale in principio sermonis huius descripsimus.

Die itaque septima Ianuarii, instantis anni millesimi sexcentesimi decimi, hora sequentis noctis prima, cum cêlestia sidera per Perspicillum spectarem, Iuppiter sese obviam fecit; cumque admodum excellens mihi parassem instrumentum (quod antea ob alterius organi debilitatem minime contigerat), tres illi adstare Stellulas, exiguas quidem, veruntamen clarissimas, cognovi;

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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Hylander »

Complementing Shenoute's analysis:

1 and 2. existimandum is a gerundive; reperiendi and observandi are gerunds.

I think "periods" is the right technical term. "Orbits" might be anachronistc.

I think sequentis noctisis the "ensuing night," i.e., the night after sunset of Jan. 7, 1610.

I couldn't resist trying to translate this.

We've briefly laid out what so far has been observed with regard to the moon, the fixed stars and the Milky Way. It remains for us to publicly reveal [aperiamus et promulgemus] -- which it seems ought to be considered the greatest thing in the present business -- four PLANETS never before seen from the beginning of the world to our times, the circumstances in which we found and observed them, as well as their positions, and the observations made for nearly two months regarding their motions and changes; we call on all astronomers to direct themselves to studying and determining their periods, which to this day we've been able to pursue very little for want of time. But we warn astronomers again, lest they attempt such an observational program [inspectionem] to no avail, that a very precise telescope is necessary, one such as we've described at the beginning of this discussion.

And so, on January 7 of this year, 1610, at the first hour of the ensuing night, as I was gazing at the celestial stars through the telescope, Jupiter came into view, and when I had adjusted my instrument to a very high level of precision [taking admodum excellens as predicative], I saw (and this was something that had never happened before due to the weakness of the other instrument) that adjacent to Jupiter were three little stars -- tiny, to be sure, but nevertheless very bright,.
Last edited by Hylander on Wed Jun 08, 2022 1:35 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Shenoute
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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Shenoute »

Thanks, Hylander.
Rereading my post, I see now that, for some reason, I erred in attributing the quod antea... clause to cognovi rather than parassem.

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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by jeidsath »

The term period in astronomy is the thing about the orbit that you can actually measure directly: the amount of time it takes for a body to return to its initial location. Hence "period of time" nowadays. I'd be interested in knowing who first used the term to apply to pendulums. Possibly Galileo himself?
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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Hylander »

I erred in attributing the quod antea... clause to cognovi rather than parassem.
It was the placement of the comma after the parenthesis that led me to tie the quod antea clause to parassem, but I actually thought it might go better with cognovi. Just now, I took a look at a facsimile available on line, and, sure enough, the comma should be placed after instrumentum! So you were right.

I went back and fixed my translation effort. I tried to translate the parenthetical in a way that reflected Galileo's dramatic build-up to the climax of the sentence. But what works in Latin doesn't work as well in English.

See p. 22 of the on-line document; p. 17 of the book itself.

https://digital.libraries.ou.edu/histsci/books/1466.pdf

Galileo's Latin is quite clear and elegant.
Bill Walderman

Wilbur
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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Wilbur »

Thanks to all for your comments. They are very helpful.

I am particularly embarrassed by missing the obvious connection between periodus with an astronomical period. I am so focused on the Latin words that I often forget to step back and look at the context.

I am working with a facsimile edition which I had printed into a booklet (complete with the fancy original cover page) by the Harvard Book Store. It is easy to read, even with the "u" for "v," the elongated "s," etc. I don't know the technical name for the script. It is all part of the fun. (It has the referenced comma in the correct place, after instrumentum.)

And Hylander, thanks for the translation. I am passing over it for now as I want to try and get as much as I can into English without reading a translation. But it will be very useful as a comparison and check against what I end up with. And I don't mean to discourage your translations and help. The text IS irresistible, which is why I chose this. I was also glad to hear that his Latin is clear and elegant. That means difficulties I encounter are mine, not his!
Galileo's dramatic build-up to the climax of the sentence
This is the sort of thing that makes this project fun.

Thanks again and stay tuned as I continue to move through the text as my time permits.

Wilbur

Shenoute
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Re: Galileo’s Siderius Nuntius

Post by Shenoute »

Thanks, jeidsath and Hylander, for your comments.

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