My first Latin translation

By JarMan, in 'Latin Beginners', Aug 11, 2019.

  1. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    Scholars can and regularly do go wrong. Latin knowledge is on the decline, even among people who are supposed to be the best qualified.
    Indicas meas [historias] would be possible, but again, we need indicas to be a verb in order for the sentence to make sense. Or, as I said earlier, we'd need also to change legisse to legisset.

    All of this speculation seems altogether unnecessary, though, since the sentence makes full and obvious sense as it stands.
    The main verb in this sentence is cognovissem. A main verb can be in the subjunctive if it denotes something unreal or potential. For instance, the past unreal, as in "this or that would have been the case", is expressed by the pluperfect subjunctive, like here, cognovissem = "I would have known/realized".
    You need to learn about:

    1) reported speech/the accusative-and-infinitive construction
    2) ablative absolutes
    3) circumstantial cum clauses
    4) unreal conditionals

    Sorry, but this is a bit much for me to explain in this post. ;) They're concepts that you should easily find explanations about in a grammar or textbook, though. If you plan on reading and/or translating this sort of text, I think you need to acquire some grammar basics, anyway.
    Last edited by Pacifica, Aug 12, 2019
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  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

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    For an example of a scholarly work that was complete bullshit and yet managed to pass double-blind peer review, have a look here.

    (I don't mean to say that Dr Van Ittersum's work is as bad as that. For all I know, it could be excellent on the whole, but that doesn't exclude the possibility of a mistake. The Voynich thing is an extreme example, but you see what I mean: if something that big passed, even temporarily, how many smaller mistakes like this indicas thing do you think pass regularly?)
    Last edited by Pacifica, Aug 12, 2019
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  3. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    indicis would also be grammatically right (if you take it as a verb, not as an ablative plural adjective...) – Does it originally say indicis? In that case it would be even more of a stretch to change the whole thing.

    She has a PhD in history and teaches 'history and information studies'. She is not a Latinist. Of course, that doesn't mean that she couldn't know some Latin (I know some historians who know it pretty well), I'm just pointing out that history is her main discipline.

    By scholarly standards, you don't just make a conjecture if the text makes perfect sense the way it is. And Pacifica described it perfectly well: You would not only have to change 'indicas mea' to 'indicas meas' or 'indica mea' (and the change would be even worse if it actually said 'indicis' in the original, see above) – by making such a change, you would also eliminate the finite verb from the sentence, and to make up for that, you would have to change legisse to legisset. I don't rate the chances of the author making so many mistakes in a single sentence particularly high considering all the other sentences seem to be perfectly fine... especially if the sentence is totally fine as is.

    Note that 'mea', "my things/works/whatever" can refer to anything that has to do with the author. If the writer and the recipient of the letter were talking about his works on Indian history in an earlier letter, this word could still refer to his Indian histories.
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  4. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

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    I agree with what's been said: the sentence makes sense as it stands in the printed version of Grotius' letters (and it appears that Grotius himself was one of the editors); Van Ittersum's interpretation requires positing a further error, and seems much less likely. My guess is that she was misled by her knowledge of Grotius' other work into misconstruing indicas. On the other hand, she's probably read more Grotius than anyone here.

    If anyone cares enough to pursue the matter, they might want to contact her to ask what she thinks of this interpretation, which requires no emendation. She might agree, in light of what has been said; of course, she might become very defensive and tell us not to challenge a qualified academic.
  5. JarMan New Member


    I'm actually going to send her an email. Not because I doubt anybody's Latin skills, though. She's a renowned Grotius scholar and Grotius is the subject of my current research so it probably makes sense to open a line of communication with her anyway.
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  6. Quasus Civis Illustris

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    We want more Grotius! :clapping:
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  7. JarMan New Member

    Ok, but I'm a little discouraged from the last sentence. Here's the next one:
    My translation: "Selden is qualified; may he act favorably." If I'm not mistaken, the context is that John Selden is reviewing something Grotius has written and Grotius is hoping for a favorable reply. I'm a little confused about the role of quicum in this sentence, though.

    Next sentence:
    First part: "To Graswinckel I have written only a little,". But then I'm confused with the next part, particularly aperta. "I am sending you the facts so that you may seal and deliver them;"? This doesn't make a lot of sense. And then, "I do not proffer judgment." This all seems pretty cryptic. I'm sure I've gotten something wrong.
  8. Laurentius Weebus Maximus

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    It's probably quocum instead of quicum, the relative is often used in a construction with adjectives like dignus. Also notice that agatur is passive. I guess with aperta he either means unsealed or that he is not holding back any information, but I find the former more plausible considering what he says next.
  9. Ignis Umbra Ignis Aeternus

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    I agree with Laurentius on this; quicum doesn't seem to make as much sense as quocum, especially given that agatur is passive; there may be a legitimate typo on this one.

    I'd say that the implied subject of agatur is "business".

    quocum - you can think of this as being cum quo, where quo is the masculine ablative singular of the relative pronoun qui, quae, quod, which usually (I use this term loosely) is translated as "who, what, which". So, quocum means "with whom".

    "Selden, with whom business may be done favorably, is qualified" might be an acceptable translation.
    Aperta is a substantive neuter plural adjective. As Laurentius said, the most likely translation is "unsealed works" here.

    So, first, we have this: ad te aperta mitto - "I am sending (to) you the unsealed works"

    Then, we have this relative clause: quae pauca Graswinckelio scripsi. Quae is the neuter plural accusative form of the relative pronoun qui, quae, quod; the antecedent (the word that the pronoun refers to) of this is aperta. So the translation for that would be, "the unsealed works which...". Although pauca Graswinckelio scripsi means "I wrote a little to/for Graswinckel", the presence of the relative clause makes pauca awkward to translate into standard English as part of the relative clause. However, literally, quae pauca Graswinckelio scripsi is "which I wrote a little to Graswinckel".

    You've got the purpose clause correct: "so that you may seal and deliver them".

    Finally, I don't think ferre can mean "to prefer". I'd say "I don't tolerate judgement" instead.

    Here's a standard English translation of that sentence. I've color-coded the confusing bits.

    Quae pauca Graswinckelio scripsi, ad te aperta mitto, ut obsignes tradasque; judicium non fero.

    "I am sending you a little bit of the unsealed works which I've written for Graswinckel, so that you may seal them up and deliver them; I do not tolerate judgement."
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  10. JarMan New Member

    I initially had "proffer" here, meaning that he wasn't one to judge, but that doesn't seem to work from the context now that I understand the sentence.
  11. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    dignus doesn't really mean qualified; it means something like 'worthy' or 'suitable'. If dignus stands with a relative clause in the subjunctive, then the relative clause usually explains what a person is worthy of: "Selden is worthy of being dealt with favourably", "Selden is worthy of doing business with favourably" (if business is what is meant here) ... That' a bit clumsy as a translation, but that's what is meant here. Maybe, on a slightly freer level, you can say "Selden deserves a favourable treatment" or "Selden deserves to be dealt with favourably".
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  12. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    In Latin and Greek, you can sometimes drag the word to which a relative clause relates into the relative clause itself. For a translation into English, you have to take the word (pauca) out of the relative clause again: "the few things which I wrote for G."

    iudicium ferre does mean 'to proffer judgement' or 'to pass judgement'.


    But pauca cannot mean 'a little bit of' here. With what I wrote above in mind, I would translate it as "I am sending you the few things (/works/words) that I wrote for Graswinckel unsealed..." and "...; I do not pass judgement".
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  13. Ignis Umbra Ignis Aeternus

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    "I am sending you the few things I wrote" means exactly the same thing as "I am sending you a little bit of what I wrote"; there isn't anything wrong with the latter as a modern interpretation of pauca in this context. Yes, pauca doesn't literally mean "a little bit of" by itself, but, given its placement in this relative clause and the antecedent, that was the first translation that came to mind.

    However, I can also understand that this interpretation might be a bit too modern given that this is JarMan's first exposure to Latin. Was this your point?
    Ah; I actually misread "proffer" as "prefer". In that case, yes, "I don't proffer judgement" is valid.
  14. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    I don't want to be nitpicking ... but I will probably end up being nitpicking :p
    My point was that "I am sending you a little bit of what I wrote" sounds like he wrote a certain amount of text to/for Graswinckel and that he is now sending PART of it to the other guy.
    However, what he did was he wrote a small amount of text and he sends ALL of it to the other guy.

    Maybe another way of mirroring quae pauca in English would be to say "I am sending to you what little I write for/to G. (for you to seal it and pass it on)".
  15. Ignis Umbra Ignis Aeternus

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    No worries. With language, you have to be nitpicky to get it right.
    Ah; that's not how I thought of it when I wrote "a little bit of". I was thinking more along the lines of him writing multiple pieces of work and sending some of those pieces of work (in their entirety), but I can get behind how your interpretation would actually be the more likely. I suppose "a little bit of" is ambiguous then and shouldn't be used. :p
  16. Dantius Homo Sapiens

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    quicum is a perfectly acceptable alternate form for quocum, nothing wrong there.
    For instance,
    Passer, deliciae meae puellae, quicum ludere, quem in sinu tenere...solet
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  17. Dantius Homo Sapiens

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    Because qui is an old ablative form.
    cf., for instance,
    in tanta paupertate decessit, ut, qui efferretur, vix reliquerit.
  18. Quasus Civis Illustris

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    I forgot we were not done with this one. :rolleyes:

    Dignus quicum benigne agatur

    Qui is an alternative form of m./f. abl. sg. of qui, so that quicum is equvalent to quocum ‘with whom’.

    Agatur is the subjunctive of agitur triggered by dignus.

    Ago literally means ‘I drive’, but it has got a lot of figurative meanings having to do with actions. In this context it means ‘to treat’, which is, in particularly, suggested by benigne. Thus, cum Seldeno benigne agere ‘to treat Selden benignly’. Note that agere here is intransitive unlike the English treat.

    Now, the passive form here is a peculiarity of Latin. 3 sg. pass. of an intransitive verb means an undefined subject, much like in English it is said = they say, where they doesn’t actually denote a group of people. Thus, cum Seldeno benigne agitur ‘one does treat Selden benignly’.

    Dignus means ‘worthy, deserving’ and is normally accompanied by a relative clause with the subjunctive: dignus qui laudetur ‘deserving to be praised’, i. e. ‘deserving, who should be praised’.

    All in all,

    Dignus quicum benigne agatur ‘deserving, with whom one should act benignly’ = ’deserving to be treated benignly’.
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  19. Quasus Civis Illustris

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    JarMan, perhaps it’s not the right thread, but do you mind saying a few words about Grotius? For instance, what is special about him that attracted your interest?

    Because in a way, my situation mirrors yours. I like Latin, which leads me to Early Modern History, since they wrote a lot in Latin. Yet, I don’t know who was who, so to say. :)
  20. Laurentius Weebus Maximus

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    Ah didn't know, thanks!

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