Engraving on a cross: Num hoc veritas vincit

By Anonymous, in 'Latin to English Translation', Mar 1, 2010.

  1. Anonymous Guest

    I inherited a gold cross from my Catholic (Polish) grandmother over 40 years ago, and the cross is already over 100 years old.
    The following phrase "num hoc veritas vincit " is engraved on the back.

    I know that veritas vincit means "truth conquers", and that hoc is "this". I also gather that num can introduce an indirect question. So is the phrase asking whether it is true that truth conquers? Whoever had it engraved may not have been a latin scholar! I have been unable to find a reference to this as a "known" latin phrase.

    I'm intrigued by this, and I'd appreciate help with a translation.

    Thanks very much.
  2. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Num hoc veritas vincit...

    Okay, take my translation with a grain of salt. I have little experience in this...

    I know that veritas is a third declension nominative, and I guess is that "hoc" is in the accusative case (since it does not agree with veritas). I think that renders the sentence to mean:

    Does truth not conquer this?

    I take it that the phrase refers to the cross with "hoc" as a symbol of death (I would say Jesus's death, but it isn't in the past tense). Truth conquers death in the end.

    Someone smarter than myself, mitte auxilium!
  3. Chamaeleo New Member

    Location:
    Melbourne
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    If it were ‘nōnne’ then it could be ‘Does truth not conquer this?’, encouraging a positive answer. ‘Num’ normally encourages a negative answer: ‘Does truth really conquer this??’, ‘Surely truth does not conquer this.’
  4. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    Location:
    Oklahoma, US
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Ah, that was my first thought, but I convinced myself that it couldn't be that because it just sounds wrong (given the context).

    So, perhaps the maker of the cross was (as clguest suggested) not experienced in Latin, or maybe had doubts? Or do I just not understand the meaning?
  5. Chamaeleo New Member

    Location:
    Melbourne
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Maybe it was not intended as a question. I dunno.
  6. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Hoc presumably cannot refer to the crucifix, as crux is feminine...
  7. Chamaeleo New Member

    Location:
    Melbourne
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    But ‘hanc’ would mean ‘this one’, i.e. this crucifix as opposed to another crucifix. ‘Hoc’ is just ‘this’, in the style of Spanish ‘esto’ or French ‘ceci’. Right?
  8. Damoetas Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Chicago
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Remember the famous saying from Constantine's vision, In hoc signo vinces, "By this sign you will conquer," and he saw an image of a cross. Your quote could be a reference to that; if so, then hoc is ablative singular, with understood signo. Num does usually expect a negative answer, although it doesn't always have to.... It would indeed seem odd in this circumstance!

    So if my guess about Constantine is right, then perhaps the intended meaning is:

    "Does truth conquer by means of this [sign]?"
    (or)
    "Is this the sign by which truth conquers?"
  9. Anonymous Guest

    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Thank you all for your responses. They seem to indicate that the "author" was not as skilled in Latin as they thought!! And I also wonder, just what he/she was tryng to convey, but I think you have it covered!
    It just occurred to me it could be a phrase, or trying to be like a phrase, from a Latin Mass or scripture as all Roman Catholic services were in Latin until over 50 years later than the date on the cross (1897!).
    Thank you all again for your help.
    clguest
  10. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    Location:
    litore aureo
    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    I couldn't find anything obvious in the Vulgate related to this.

    There is nothing wrong with the Latin, it means, "Surely the truth does not defeat this", or "Surely the truth does not conquer through this". We may just be missing his point.
  11. Anonymous Guest

    Re: help with a short latin phrase - engraved on a cross

    Great Cinefactus. Thank you again and everyone for taking the time to respond.
    clguest

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