Dark Matter is Original Sin

By callofcthulhu, in 'English to Latin Translation', Mar 3, 2019.

  1. callofcthulhu New Member


    Not sure if this rightly belongs in English > Latin, but I have attempted to transcribe a poem I have written into Latin.

    Though my 3 years of AP Latin are over 10 years behind me, my hope is that by hopefully excusing some of the oddities as "poetic language" I will have constructed something that at least an amateur Latin enthusiast could not easily roast to shreds.

    The poem:

    Expulsi ex Eden
    A Cherubin
    Et Gladio Igne,

    Gratia scientiae
    Patimus, non
    Ignorantia solatur.

    Ad astra oculis
    Numeramus stellas.

    Ratione obscurata,
    Vertit ad verum--

    Lamiae, Sophiae,
    aut dedecoris

    Infinitum metiri
    Absolutum, primum, atrum.

    I'm hoping this says something along the lines of:

    "(we were) Banished from Eden by Cherubs and a Flaming Sword, we suffer for the sake of knowledge. Ignorance does not console. With eyes following the heavens, we number the stars. With the calculation being confounded, (ambiguous he/she/it) turns mystery into fact--(whether it be) Lamia's, Sophia's, God's, or guilt's--a Name to measure the infinite, absolute, original, (and) Dark."

    I've omitted a "nobis" from the first line (should be paired with "expulsi") under the assumption that it's sufficiently implied from the nom/masc/pl participle form and the main verb being 1st/pl - not sure if that's actually acceptable.

    I believe "Gladio Igne" would more accurately be translated as "Fire Sword," but Gladio Flammeo sounds too hokey to me.

    My biggest fudge is trying to stretch "nomen" to be the subject of "vertit," the idea being the reader is not any more sure who is accountable for the transition of mystery to fact than the speaker is, and whatever name you call it by will ultimately be insufficient anyway--does that make sense, or is poetic license overstepping its boundaries in trying to cover up bad grammar?

    Thanks for any and all feedback.
    Last edited by callofcthulhu, Mar 3, 2019
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Gladio igne is wrong. You can't combine two nouns like that in Latin. The modifying noun would have to be in the genitive. Gladio ignis ("a sword of fire", which is the same as "a fire sword") would be grammatically OK, but I think not as good as gladio flammeo. I'm not sure what you dislike about flammeo, but igneo could be an alternative.
    Nobis would be the wrong case. If you were to include a pronoun, it would be the nominative nos, but it's fine to omit it.
    Patior is a deponent verb, that is a verb that has passive forms with active meaning. So, patimus is grammatically incorrect and should be patimur.

    It's more common for the genitive to come before gratia rather than after it.
    That's a bit weird. Astra oculis secuti, without ad, would make more sense, as "having followed the stars with our eyes".

    "With eyes following the heavens", however, would be more like oculis caelum/caelos* sequentibus.

    *Caelos is more literal, being in the plural, but the singular caelum is more usual.
    In would be better than ad.
    I think it would be clearer as sive Lamiae sive Sophiae sive Dei sive...

    "Guilt's" might be better translated as conscientiae if you mean the feeling of guilt, or culpae if you mean the actual fact of having committed a fault.
    You can't really use an infinitive like that in Latin. You need something like nomen quod infinitum metiatur.
    It's honestly a bit far-fetched. Without your explanations, I would have had no idea what nomen was doing there, what function is was supposed to have.

    You mistakenly posted your thread in "Latin to English" instead of "English to Latin". I'll move it to the correct section.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Mar 30, 2019
    Godmy likes this.
  3. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    I would say exactly the same thing to a beginner and I certainly don't want to argue about it (nor the OP should be interested too much in what I'm saying) - this purely an academic exercise, while I prefer that the nominal syntagma is structured properly, just as you propose. But, at least hypothetically (=I'm not going to provide any example), there should be a way how this can be interpreted syntactically correctly (gladiō igne) and still have the desired semantic meaning (although I suppose the OP, being an anglophone, probably just wrongly translated the English attribute noun as in "fire sword").

    So, we could say that the verb has bonds with both nouns separately and syntactically they create both separate syntagmata (noun phrases), but, with a certain license, are meant to work together by the author on the semantic layer. As in: "expulsi gladiō, expulsī igne" = banished by the sword, banished by the fire <= while the intelligent and erudite reader will understand that what the "poet" really wants to say is that the sword was fiery, that there weren't two separate entities (fire and sword) but rather one with two facets. That is, that the overall semantics will overrule the superficial syntax (and from linguistics we know that at the end, even the syntax is wrong [although not quite in my scenario], it won't matter if semantically the meaning gets across, semantics is always the king, even with bad morphology and bad syntax).

    (Some form of apposition also came to my mind: "by the sword being the fire" or vice versa... but it's not necessary for this hypothesis to work.)

    Now, when I read it, it sticked out and I knew it would be probably the first thing you would correct (and the OP probably really didn't know what he was doing when he made that mistake), but to my brain, it can be interpreted correctly while not breaking the syntax, at least ;)

    But, yeah, ultimately I don't think it's advisable to choose that path. Just as I said, an academic exercise ;)
    Last edited by Godmy, Mar 31, 2019
  4. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena

    I have not encountered a lot of two-word asyndeta in Latin in my own experience. The only one I know is patres conscripti, but that's also more or less a fixed term. I might have come across similar things in Latin poetry, but I couldn't really pinpoint to an example immediately... so it seems quite rare, and if you find an example like that, the explanation/interpretation will probably go beyond the poet's disinterest in sticking to normal Latin.

    I also find it hard to think of it as an apposition with a verb like expellere ... at least I cannot seem to remember examples of that.
    Last edited by Bitmap, Mar 31, 2019
    Godmy likes this.
  5. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    I always thought the participle/adjective conscripti was agreeing "normally" with patres rather than that the whole phrase was like patres [et] conscripti. What makes you think it's the latter?
  6. Godmy A Monkey

    • Civis Illustris
    Sure, my analysis didn't really depend on actual phrases I encountered in Latin (I wrote a disclaimer it was my hypothesis not backed by examples) - thanks for the word btw. asyndeton <- that's the term I missed. I was simply going over what if and hows...

    Nor would I expect you to find any. I was working with an apposition as a universal concept, not constrained by the actual usage, collocations, phrases and idioms - and I'm not surprised by you telling me this.

    As I said, it was rather an academic/linguistic exercise I wrote, because when I read the translation, I thought "ok, this is wrong ... but with a certain license could be understood correctly with the formal grammar rules still working" - and I thought: "well, why the hell would I keep the thoughts to myself" ;)

    I would write this comment independent on the source language used (Latin), as long as it would have a similar inflection/morphology as Latin has - again, not backed up by examples, but simply about how the syntax & semantics can sometimes work.

    Now, using the better terms you supplied me with, I would have said something of this sort:

    "It cannot work unless it's an asyndeton or an atypical apposition - where neither I can back up by examples of sufficient usage."

    satisfied? :D
    Last edited by Godmy, Mar 31, 2019
  7. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena

    I think the Roman senate consisted of Patricians of the old aristocracy (= patres) and the Plebeians who later gained the right to join it it (= conscripti).

    I often see the phrase patres conscripti translated with conscripti being an adjective that agrees with patres, but you often also seem to find the argument for an asyndeton, at least in German literature. I myself am not a great expert on that whole thing ... that's just the way I learnt it and I took the word of my university teachers for it :)

    The English wikipedia article on the Roman senate seems to allude to the same thing:

  8. AoM nulli numeri

    • Civis Illustris
    Yeah, from L&S:

    So the frequently occurring title of senators: Patres Conscripti (prop. Patres, conscripti, i. e. Patres et conscripti), chosen, elect, assembled fathers (lit. fathers and elect):
  9. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Isn't conscripti simply an adjective here?
  10. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena

    I understand what you mean.

    I was going to write more on this, but I'm a bit tired, actually ... and, adding to it, you also seem to understand what I was trying to say; so in my great mercy I've just decided to spare you another 3 pages of my thoughts :p
    Godmy likes this.
  11. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
  12. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Also, from Livy:
    Deinde quo plus virium in senatu frequentia etiam ordinis faceret, caedibus regis deminutum patrum numerum primoribus equestris gradus lectis ad trecentorum summam explevit, traditumque inde fertur ut in senatum vocarentur qui patres quique conscripti essent
    But I think I read that this may be a false explanation on L.'s part and it's not actually an asyndeton
    Bitmap likes this.
  13. Dantius Homo Sapiens

    • Civis Illustris
    in orbe lacteo
    Which must be the source for the Wikipedia quote.
  14. callofcthulhu New Member

    Hey Pacifica! Thanks so much for your analysis!

    A couple follow ups - the main one being that the poem will be sung to an already written melody, so trying to square that circle accounts for several of the perhaps less orthodox word selections, e.g. there's just no elegant way to sing "flammeo" IMO.
    This was an (admittedly ham-fisted) attempt at allusion to Virgil (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_astra_(phrase)) .

    In English you can just as easily say "we follow the stars with our eyes" as "we follow after the stars with our eyes" with both being understood to have the same meaning, one just sounding "more flowery" than the other. Is there any precedent for that kind of construct in Latin?

    FWIW the original English phrase was "with eyes cast toward heaven, we number the stars" the intent being to juxtapose the poetic against the practical (and the impossible against the possible). I've attempted to preserve this dichotomy in translation through the word choices of "astrum" v "stella")
    Are you referring to the word choice of aut v sive or calling out that the repetition is necessary (or both)? There's just no way that I can repeat a conjunction after every word and still have room to make the substantive words fit in the melody (not to mention how obnoxious it may be to listen to). Is there any rule about when it's ok to omit them?
    Which one could most accurately be used to convey good ol' fashioned Catholic Guilt?
    Hmm well that was kind of supposed to be the idea (that it was enigmatic) - what if we changed metiatur to meti and said nomen was vocative? (Mind=blown???)

    And thanks to the rest of you for the spirited discussion about my silly attempt at trying to noun an adjective (or adjective a noun?) in the first stanza. I can't claim to have been attempting the rhetorical feat that Godmy graciously offered, I was actually thinking more in a Dungeons and Dragons sense that this was a named sword, i.e. a sword named The Fire Sword, so both parts of the name would have the same form. Gladio Ignis would certainly be the more literal translation, and I guess could still be safely interpreted as proper name?
    Last edited by callofcthulhu, Apr 19, 2019
  15. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris

    Would it be possible for us to know the melody so we can make suggestions without stabbing in the dark?

Share This Page


Our Latin forum is a community for discussion of all topics relating to Latin language, ancient and medieval world.

Latin Boards on this Forum:

English to Latin, Latin to English translation, general Latin language, Latin grammar, Latine loquere, ancient and medieval world links.