Nescio quid majus nascitur Iliad!

By K§H, in 'Latin to English Translation', Apr 12, 2018.

  1. K§H New Member


    My name is Kenneth, and I am obviously new to this forum. I work mostly with Early Modern English texts, but I have just started learning Latin in order to help me understand especially notes made in Latin at the time, often in the margins of manuscripts/books.

    I have an older edition of Milton's Paradise Lost with an inscription in Latin just above Milton's portrait (I have attached a photo of the inscription). I am fairly sure the two first sentences mean something like "Give way, Roman writers! Give way, Gray!". When it comes to the sentence Nescio quid majus nascitur Iliad!, with my limited knowledge the sentence should mean something like "I know not what is greater than the Iliad!". However, I'm quite unsure to be honest.

    I would be very grateful for all assistance from the much more experienced members of the forum.

    All best,

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by K§H, Apr 12, 2018
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris

    It's a quote from Propertius. You can find it with a translation here.
  3. K§H New Member

    Thank you very much! The translation "Make way, you Roman writers, make way, Greeks!
    Something greater than the Iliad is born." makes perfect sense. I am afraid I don't really understand how the nescio component fits into it, but one step at a time.
  4. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Nescio quid = "I know not what", "something".
  5. K§H New Member

    Thanks. I didn't think of that at all, but I have seen similar things in other languages.
  6. Hemo Rusticus Active Member

    Editors sometimes write it as one word to distinguish it from the 'literal' construction, thus:
    nescio quid faciam 'I know not what I am doing.' (where faciam is subjunctive)
    nescioquid faciam 'I shall do something.' (lit. 'I shall do I-know-not-what.', where faciam is future indicative)

    I know you get it now, but I'll mention that the convention used to be to write final 'i' as 'j' where it is preceded by another 'i' (of whatever sort). So that last word is not Gray, but Graij, plural (as you've found out) of adj. Grāius 'Greek' (where the 'i' is a semivowel).

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