Grammar of: factumque est vespere et mane, dies unus.

By bathtime, in 'Latin to English Translation', Dec 25, 2017.

  1. bathtime Member

    I'm trying to wrap my head around the grammar of this:

    This is from the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims: Genesis 1:5,

    Appellavitque lucem Diem, et tenebras Noctem: factumque est vespere et mane, dies unus.
    And he called the light Day, and the darkness Night; and there was evening and morning one day.

    I would like someone to explain to me the grammar of vespere and mane, which are both in the ablative. What is this literally saying? Is it '<in respect to> evening/morning'?

    My guess is that it's something like:

    ... and day one was made <with respect to> the evening and morning.

    Thanks.
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    The grammar there is a bit weird indeed, as sometimes happens in the Vulgate. Vespere and mane seem to be used as nominatives. Note that mane is sometimes used as an indeclinable noun even in classical Latin—not vespere, though.
    bathtime likes this.
  3. bathtime Member

    This is not the most satisfying answer; I was hoping there would be some decent logic behind it. I don't see in any latin dictionary such a use for vespere. :(
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    I'm sorry, but that's the most likely explanation that I can find.

    The Septuagint version is strange too, using a nominative noun for "evening" but an adverb for "(in the) morning".

    καὶ ἐγένετο ἑσπέρα καὶ ἐγένετο πρωΐ, ἡμέρα μία.

    I wonder if an analysis of the Hebrew could shed any light on what happened here. Etaoin Shrdlu , I know you know only some basics of Hebrew, but you've helped before, so is there anything you can tell us about this verse?
  5. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    However, whether the original Hebrew can explain this or not, keep in mind that those versions are neither classical Latin nor classical Greek, but late texts. Adverbs sometimes tend to come to be used also as nouns as languages evolve . Take English "today" for example: it's originally adverbial, but now can also be used as a noun. Same thing with the French equivalent "aujourd'hui". So maybe at this point it had already happened in Greek and Latin with these adverbs/nouns.
  6. Godmy A Monkey

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    I'm sorry, I think I might have drunk too much alcohol yesterday so forgive my mental sluggishness, but how did you figure out that vespere is a nominative?
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    I know it isn't supposed to be nominative in classical Latin, but it seems to be used as such here—that's just what seems to make sense.
  8. Godmy A Monkey

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    Well, I think I must be really idiotic... but I know vesper, eris ... and vespere in ablative, and I see vespere there as ablative of time? At least in what he quoted?
  9. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    "It was made in the evening and in the morning: day one" isn't supposed to be the sense of the verse, and it doesn't seem to fit the context well. The sense is supposed to be "There was made an evening and a morning: day one."

    Besides, the Greek has a nominative noun for "evening", though it has an adverb for "morning", as I said, which is weird too. I'm impatient to get some insight on the original Hebrew from Etaoin.
  10. Godmy A Monkey

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    "factumque est" is impersonal, isn't it?

    Sorry, can't speak for Greek etc.
  11. Godmy A Monkey

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    I mean, what¨s wrong with the Latin? You dislike the translation? But the Latin is Okay.
  12. Godmy A Monkey

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    It was made in the evening.... fine, he didn't say that he made the evening/morning/whatever, it's rephrased, but the grammar is fine.
    Last edited by Godmy, Dec 26, 2017
  13. Godmy A Monkey

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    I just want to know where in "factumque est vespere" you see a nominative. Sorry for the spam. I'm used to spam from a chat :p
  14. Godmy A Monkey

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    Anyway, bedtime: it is ablative of time.
  15. rothbard Civis Illustris

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    Sebastian Castellio's version has "Ita exstitit ex vespere et mane dies primus".
  16. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    For what it's worth, the Douay-Rheims Bible, which was translated literally from the Vulgate, seems to take it the same way as me:

    "and there was evening and morning"

    Taking them as ablatives of time just doesn't seem to fit the context so well; now I can't claim to know for sure what was going on in the Latin translator's head, especially not before I know how the Hebrew is constructed and whether there is any ambiguity in it. Whatever the right literal interpretation turns out to be, the phrasing is weird in any case (as isn't rare in the Vulgate).
    Last edited by Pacifica, Dec 25, 2017
  17. Godmy A Monkey

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    But it is an ablative of time. Even though it seems nonsensical to you context-wise, there is no talking about it when it comes to morphology and syntax of the sentence. I don't think you can conjure up nominative so easily just by wishing it... there is no nominative and Jerome wasn't an idiot when it came to Latin declensions.

    I really don't contend any theological nonsenseness of Jerome's translation, I happily grant it to you if you wish, and I can't analyze the Greek nor the Hebrew, I'm speaking just for this Latin sentence alone as it stands.


    ---------

    And after all, if Bible is nonsensical in general, I don't really care either. I care just about a particular language in isolation...
  18. Godmy A Monkey

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    In your defense, Latina Vetus seems to phrase it more the way you would like https://archive.org/stream/bibliorumsacroru01saba#page/8/mode/2up

    In light of that, I could very well imagine ablative of respect too, but ablative of time is usual with the temporal nouns and, unlike ablative of respect, doesn't seem experimental with them. And I don't see rephrasing of the sort "And it was done in the night and in the morning." unimaginable for a thought of a sort: "And the light was done in the time that the day/morning was supposed to be happening and the darkness in the time that the night/evening was supposed to be happening."

    My main crux was calling that a nominative. You certainly know Jerome's letters and other works, you know that he was, in fact, very Ciceronian in his nature and that he repressed it stylistically and partially lexically in the Vulgate for the sake of common folk, but in the morphology and syntax? That's a very bold assertion that we shouldn't make at all just on principle.
    Last edited by Godmy, Dec 25, 2017
  19. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Jerome wasn't the sole author of the Vulgate. He kept some of the passages from Vetus Latina versions (which were many at the time). I don't know about this verse, though.
  20. Godmy A Monkey

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    Well, according to the link I sent (and, even though I skimmed through it just very quickly, it seems to be quoting our Vulgate side by side an older translation - I suppose Latina Vetus) this verse was different and more faithful to what you say the verse should be.

    So, may it be whatever ablative then (I can imagine the temporal one without bigger problems even in this context), I just think that forcing there nominative with the Vulgate's morphology (and syntax: factumque est vespere & mane) may be over the line. But I understand if you see this rephrasing alone by the author as over the line too, ok.
    Last edited by Godmy, Dec 25, 2017

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