Life is just a blink of an eye in the face of eternity

By Andrew85, in 'English to Latin Translation', Jul 13, 2013.

  1. Andrew85 New Member

    Hello, I would first off like to say thank you in advance for the help. This is a quote from my friend, he passed away last December.
    Again the quote is, "Life is just a blink of an eye in the face of eternity." What it means to me is how he viewed life, and to never take it for granted. I like, many others I'm sure, want a meaningful quote for a loved one tattooed on me in honor of them. He was my closet friend, and it is the least I feel as if I can do to get something personal to remember him by.
    Thank you, sincerely, for any help you provide.
  2. LCF a.k.a. Lucifer

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Apud Inferos
    vita est [brevis] sicut ictus oculi, adversus aeternitatem.
    // life is [short] like a blink of an eye, in the face of aeternity.

    vita est tantum ictus oculi, adversus aeternitatem.
    // life is just a blink of an eye, in the face of aeternity.
    [IMG]
    in ictu ocli, in the blink of an eye, is not a classical expression. I do not know of a classical one. But that should not matter I hope.
  3. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    "In the face of" here means "compared to", not really "facing" as adversus. For "eye blink" I've found nictatio and nictus.

    So if we go rather literally:

    Vita nictatio tantum est in comparatione aeternitatis.
    Life is just an eye blink in comparison with eternity.

    But I'm not completely sure the eye blink metaphor = very short time would be understood in Latin.

    So maybe:

    Vita punctum temporis tantum est in comparatione aeternitatis.
    Life is just an instant ("a point of time") in comparison with eternity.

    Or, if you want it both to be clear and to keep the eye blink thing, but then maybe it will start getting long:

    Vita punctum temporis tantum est, quale sufficit ad nictandum, in comparatione aeternitatis.
    Life is just an instant, such as suffices to blink, in comparison with eternity.
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Jul 14, 2013
  4. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    Was the word you were looking for nictus rather than ictus?

    Ed. I see that The Vulgate, Augustine and others do actually use in ictu oculi:
    http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/bible/corinthians1.html
    http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/augustine/conf7.shtml
    http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/augustine/trin14.shtml
    http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/bacon/bacon.liber2.shtml
    though it is criticised here:
    LCF likes this.
  5. LCF a.k.a. Lucifer

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Apud Inferos

    adversus does not always mean contra hostes. It is perfectly suitable for the sense of comparison. See L&S for a range of senses.


    yeah i was reusing the Augustine's expression :).


    thanks will take a look.
  6. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    If eye-blinking has already been used in Latin with the meaning "very short time", then there should be no problem in saying it literally:

    Vita (n)ictus oculi tantum est in comparatione aeternitatis.

    But now the problem is, should we choose ictus or nictus? On the one hand, ictus seems controversial, and on the other, nictus oculi seems to be found nowhere as an indication of time... Maybe ictus nonetheless, as, even if it was an error at first, it entered the "tradition"...?
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ok, I'd never seen that meaning.

    We go for vita ictus oculi tantum est adversus aeternitatem, then?
    LCF likes this.
  8. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    This is an interesting one, because nictus, not ictus, was surely the original word used in this expression. It's easy to envisage, though, how over time the spoken language slipped inexorably away from the rarer word nictus and assumed that what it was dealing with was the more widely known ictus. Doubtless there was a difference in pronunciation with nictus, but it was too slight to resist the slide towards ictus. It'd be nice to find some evidence to confirm this theory.
    A similar phenomenon can be seen in the English word "helpmate". In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 2, an early translation runs:
    And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
    This gave rise to the noun "helpmate", because too few people understood the original construction, in which meet is an adjective meaning "suitable".
    Pacis puella likes this.
  9. LCF a.k.a. Lucifer

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Apud Inferos

    I can buy that.
    Cite from your link. 'in ictu oculi' Valla putat scriptum ab interprete, 'in nictu oculi' nam oculorum est nuere, annuere et nictare. Sed postea e 'nictu' factum 'ictum'..."

    But I would not dismiss 'ictus oculi' as a misprint that fast. A beat of an eye, a pulse if you will, can also convey the idea.
  10. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    No, you're quite right. The fact that it recurs so frequently must surely indicate that it was intentional.
    Yes, the fact that there is a plausible justification for ictus only increased the chances of the switch from nictus occurring.
    LCF likes this.
  11. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    We begin to see even more of the picture when we encounter Gellius (XIV, 1, 27) writing eodemque ictu temporis - "in the same stroke of time", i.e. in the same moment. With the advent of in ictu oculi, the action of blinking (nictus) an eye has been transformed into the stroke (ictus) of time within which the action is completed, and an apparent case of cross-contamination suddenly appears to be a relatively successful attempt at killing two birds with one stone.
    LCF and Pacis puella like this.
  12. LCF a.k.a. Lucifer

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Apud Inferos

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