Divine Comedy: I am the way into the city of woe &c

By Bailey777, in 'English to Latin Translation', Jul 11, 2007.

  1. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    Anyone able to translate Ill be your friend for life.

    "I am the way into the city of woe,
    I am the way to a forsaken people,
    I am the way into eternal sorrow.

    Sacred justice moved my architect.
    I was raised here by divine omnipotence,
    primordial love and ultimate intellect.

    Only those elements time cannot wear
    were made before me, and beyond time I stand.
    Abandon hope all ye who enter here. "
  2. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    After a little research, I found that this is from the Divine Comedy (the last line kinda gave it away, and I just verified that it wasn't just plagiarized.) With that in mind I found the original Italian:
    1 Per me si va ne la città dolente,
    2 per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
    3 per me si va tra la perduta gente.

    4 Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
    5 fecemi la divina podestate,
    6 la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.

    7 Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
    8 se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
    9 Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate

    I don't think any of us know Italian, but it may help some. I think I'll leave my contribution at this for now, as I'm a little unsure of how to work with this at the moment.
    Oh, and before we try and do this: are you sure you don't just want the original Italian? It'll sound a lot better that way, and you still get the whole less-than-common foreign language mystique out of it. What is this for, by the way?
  3. Andy Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Urbs Panamae
    Hmm, interesting, since easily one could use the closest sounding Latin word to translate. But, alas, two translations arise, one of the Italian and one of the English. Let's see...

    English to Latin
    Note: Ultima may be used as greatest and I prefer aevus over tempus as it hints 'passage of time'.

    Via in urbem miseriae sum
    Via ad gentes relictas sum
    Via in aeternam maestitiam sum

    Sacra Iustitia Aedificem meum movit
    Hic statuta sum divina omnipotentia
    item amore pristino menteque ultima

    Elementi illi solum quem aevus non consumat
    facti sunt ante me et extra aevum sto
    Proicite spes omnes qui hic introeunt


    Italian to Latin
    Per me ingrediamini in urbem dolentem
    Per me ingrediamini in aeternum dolorem
    Per me ingrediamini post gentes perditas

    Iustitia movit meum altum factorem
    Me fecerunt potestas divina
    summa sapientia et primus amor

    Ante me nullae res factae sunt
    si non factae sunt aeternas, et ego in aeternum permaneo
    linquite omnes spes vos qui intrant


    Any foibles, errors, please report ASAS (as soon as noticed). :)
  4. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    A few things in no particular order:
    1. Purely out of curiosity, do you know Italian, Andy?
    2. Sort of going with question 1, can you explain why ingrediamini is subjunctive based in the Italian? If not, can you just explain your reasoning there?
    3. There should technically be an "et" after potestas divina; I'm not sure if you can go without it or not.
    4. 8th line: "si non factae sunt aeternas." Would that be "si non factae sunt aeternae"? It seems like you don't need to be quite that long, though I'm not sure how to make it shorter without making it too short. :wondering:
    5. (Thanks for teaching me this Cato!) There is a distinction between si non and nisi (both take subjunctive I believe, by the way.) It's easiest to explain with a simplified example:
    Si non cenem, irer.
    If I do not eat dinner, I may grow angry.
    Vs.:
    Nisi cenem, irer.
    Unless I eat dinner, I will* grow angry.
    However, "Si non cenem, moriar" is really almost like "Si non cenem, moriar, sed etsi cenem, fortasse irer." In other words, nisi is a concrete "If I don't...then..." whereas si non is more like "If I don't...then...but even if I do, it might happen anyway."
    *In English this would normally be future, but the Latin is subjunctive because of the conditional.

    I think in this case we would want nisi, so the full line would be:
    nisi factae sint aeternae et ego in aeternum permaneo

    Hopefully someone will find this thread and correct any mistakes I made here, as I'm sure I made at least one.
    6. Elementum is neuter and you're using a plural, so elementa illa...quae...facta
    7. Possibly an "a" before divina omnipotentia; without macrons it's a little odd, and it's possible to interpret the line as "Here, I, divine omnipotence, was raised."
    8. Continuing on 7, I think it would be statutus, since the speaker is Dante himself as far as I know; simply doing this might make the "a" unecessary.
  5. Andy Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Urbs Panamae
    Thanks for all the corrections, QMF! :D

    To answer some of your queries:

    1. Very little Italian, but the similarities with Spanish are plentiful. Sine me te monstrare in Lingua Hispana (versio mea):

    Por mi se va a la Ciudad Doliente
    Por mi se va al Eterno Dolor
    Por mi se va tras la perdida gente

    and so on.

    2. I used ingrediamini based on the "si va" construction (Spanish: "se va") which is literally: Through me it is gone to the Grieving City (fig. Through me one goes to the Grieving City)

    I thought the subjunctive best expressed this: Through me you may go to the Grieving City. Is this usage incorrect?

    Also, the Door here is speaking to whomever may read it, so I thought a second person plural would suffice.

    3. Indeed, it does appear to be necessary.

    4 & 5. You are correct. The line should read in complete: Ante me nullae res factae sunt si non factae sunt aeternae esse (Before me, no things were made if they were not made to be eternal). Though I very much prefer your own: nisi factae sint aeternae et ego in aeternum permaneo (Unless they may have been made eternal and I...)

    A shorter variation might be:

    Ante me nullae res factae sunt
    si non fuerunt aeternae, et ego aeterne permaneo
    linquite omnes spes vos qui intrant


    6 & 7. Again, you are correct.

    8. I used statuta, since it is a Ianua or Porta that has the wording inscribed on it.

    Here is the final with the corrections:

    Per me ingrediamini in urbem dolente
    Per me ingrediamini in aeternum dolorem
    Per me ingrediamini post gentes perditas

    Iustitia movit meum altum factorem
    Me fecerunt a potestas divina
    summa sapientia et primus amor

    Ante me nullae res factae sunt
    nisi factae sint aeternae et ego aeterne permaneo
    linquite omnes spes vos qui intrant


    Thanks! :)
  6. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    California
    I would suggest trying to keep the rhyme scheme, and even some semblance of meter if possible. Poetry is challenging. The rhyme is:

    A
    B
    A

    B
    C
    B

    C
    D
    C

    This has a name, but I forget what it is; it's a common Italian rhyme scheme, especially from Dante's period. Notice that in the Italian some of the words are rearranged in order to maintain the rhyme; i.e., perduta gente rather than gente perduta.

    However, case endings do make rhyming more difficult.
  7. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    Oh...now I see what you mean with the subjunctive. (I didn't pick up the connection between si va->se va, which I am familiar with from the tiny amount of Spanish I've studied.) Yes, that works. And the feminine of statuta makes sense as well, with that clarification. As for everything else, you're welcome. I rather like this thread. I do still wonder what this is for though.

    As for the rhyme, Marius...that's rather hard to do in Latin. If someone knows of a three-line Latin metrical scheme we could try that, just to try to retain some poetic sense. If not we could try hexameters or something. If we knew what sort of meter Dante wrote in we could try to work with that.

    I want to call that rhyme scheme Petrarchan but I think that's wrong...
  8. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    Wow.
    Thank you guys for your help. =]

    And I wasnt plagerizing it I just forgot to mention it was from The Inferno.

    And also to note all of you guys are extremely smart, much smarter than I am. I've always wanted to learn latin, just never had the chance.

    Thanks again.
  9. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    Oh and to Quemquem me Facis, this is also for a futer tattoo I intend to invest in. I'm sorry I was in a hurry when I posted it.
  10. Andy Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Urbs Panamae
    A tattoo?! Where?
  11. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    Well it all depends on weather or not I use an image similar to this quote or not. If I do use an image it will be upon my back. If I use only the translations (which you guys really did do a good job on) then it will go on my left forearm.
  12. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    ...Ow. Seriously.

    Andy: One little mistake in your final compiled Italian translation: The "a" that I was talking about was in reference to the English translation before "divina omnipotentia." In the Italian translation it should've been the "et" I mentioned. To avoid confusing our friend here, that stanza, in its current form, goes:
    Iustitia movit meum altum factorem
    Me fecerunt potestas divina et
    Summa sapientia et primus amor

    And Bailey: I imagine you probably don't see a big difference in the quality of the writing between the English and the Italian translations, but at least in my opinion, the Italian one is much, much better. Not because of Andy's translation skills but rather simply because the English one is a translation of a translation. Now if only we could find a shorter way to echo "si va" than "ingrediamini" we'd be in great shape here...
  13. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    You are right QMF, I have no clue about the differences that were given. But im always up for suggestions if it means getting something right. =]
  14. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    California
    QMF:

    I looked up some info about the poem; the rhyme scheme is called terza rima, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. The meter is obscured sometimes, however, by the fact that Italian (like Spanish and French) heavily liaisons adjacent vowels, and sometimes even elides consonants in the various "small words" that appear between content words. So, while the first line follows the meter almost perfectly (underscores indicate liaisons or elisions):

    Per me si va ne_la città dolente

    A few other lines require quite a stretch of syllable compression to fit the meter:

    Giustizia mosse_il mio alto fattore

    (joos-TEE-tsya MOHS-sayl myo AHL-toh fat-TOH-reh)

    Dinanzi_a me non fuor cose create

    (dee-NAHN-tsya meh NOHN fwor KOH-seh kreh-AH-teh)

    Lasciate_ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate

    (lah-SHAH-tyony speh-RAHN-tsa VOY keen-TRAH-teh)

    The "tyony" here is one syllable; both y's are consonantal.

    Basically, try to make the four stressed syllables in each line follow a regular rhythm, and allow the syllables in between to compress and run together in order to make everything fit. This isn't allowed in English, but is common in Italian and Spanish.

    Bailey, if you're going to tattoo part of the Divine Comedy on yourself, wouldn't you rather have it in the original Italian anyway, rather than trying to translate it into Latin?
  15. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    Aw man...anything iambic, whether you're working with stress or length, is tough in Latin. With length, you simply can't use any words with short-short, long-long, or any variation thereof, in addition to the normal difficulty of arranging the words. (This sort of issue, admittedly, arises with most meters; dactylic hexameter, for instance, cannot have short-short-short or long-short-long.) With stress you're even worse off; the first word has to be short-long-short (or a monosyllable followed by long-short), and, assuming no elisions, the subsequent words all have to be long-short. The last syllable of the stress-based meter, assuming pure iambic tetrameter (i.e. unstressed-stressed 4 times over), is actually impossible, since monosyllables and ultimae are unaccented.

    Anyway, would anyone care to scan the final Italian version so we can see what we can do? I would do it but my scansion is really bad :(
  16. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    Marius-I haven't even seen the original Italian. Unless that is what was given above. All of your suggestions are great. It's too bad that I have been reading all of this and have yet to understand any of it.

    (Quick note-I'm still a high school student but I am really facinated by different languages, including Latin.)

    But if I were to get the tattoo. Which scripture would any of you suggest? And if you don't mind showing a final translation that would be great too. =]
  17. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    My first post in this thread contained the original Italian...:p

    Anyway, my first suggestion would be the Italian to be honest. My second would be the Italian-Latin, which as of now is finalized with:
    Per me ingrediamini in urbem dolente
    Per me ingrediamini in aeternum dolorem
    Per me ingrediamini post gentes perditas

    Iustitia movit meum altum factorem
    Me fecerunt potestas divina et
    summa sapientia et primus amor

    Ante me nullae res factae sunt
    nisi factae sint aeternae et ego in aeternum permaneo
    linquite omnes spes vos qui intrant

    BTW Andy, "aeterne" is not good Latin...a fairly recent thread has a pretty good consensus on this. That's why I changed it back to in aeternum.

    But would "in perpetuum" perhaps be better? That would avoid the repetition of "in aeternum" and also create a nice alliteration with permaneo.
  18. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    California
    QMF:

    If you were going to translate this into Latin poetry, I would go ahead and use a dactylic meter, that shouldn't be a problem. However, rhyming would be nice. I know that Classical Latin poetry did not rhyme, and that Latin is not well-suited to rhyming at all, but Medieval and later poets did rhyme in Latin, mostly in imitation of their contemporary vernacular poetic styles.

    Bailey, look at QMF's first post for the original Italian. I think if you like the Divine Comedy enough to get three verses of it tattoo'ed, then you should definitely use the Italian as Dante wrote it, rather than asking us to hack together a cumbersome Latin version.
  19. Bailey777 New Member

    Location:
    United States
    Okay then. Ill go with the italian. Thank you all very much.
  20. Andy Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Urbs Panamae
    Rather than ingrediamini, what's the second person subjunctive plural of 'eo'?

    I must confess, I've no clue.

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