1. Anonymous Guest

    Hi. Ive been reading a novel called El Club Dumas (on which the film The Ninth Gate is loosely based) and I came across a Latin phrase: Nunc scio tenebris lux, which is translated as "Now I know that darkness comes from light". Now, although Im learning Latin online, I haven't yet reached the stage where I can understand the grammar covering the last two words in this sentence, but as an amateur linguist I have my doubts about "tenebris lux" meaning "darkness comes from light", and I wondered if any of you more advanced Latin speakers could confirm whether this is correct, or if not, give the correct translation?
  2. Iynx Consularis

    • Consularis
    I think you're right to be doubtful here.

    These words are not a complete sentence-- but of course that's common with mottoes, and with cryptic cabalistic inscriptions.

    The nunc scio is fine-- "now I know".

    Tenebris is either dative or ablative, "darkness". The word is plural in Latin, though singular in English-- think "shadows". But an ablative-of-separation here would (I think) generally employ a preposition. E tenebris lux ("Light out of the Darkness") is in fact a Protestant (and, I'm afraid, anti-Catholic) slogan from centuries back. Note the preposition (e).

    The lux means light, all right, but it's nominative, which is odd here (or so it seems to me).

    If I were trying to say "Now I know that the light comes from the darkness" I would likely say something like:

    Nunc scio lucem e tenebris venire

    This is an accusative + infinitive construction, literally "Now I know the light from the darkness to come", lucem being the accusative singular of lux.

    There's quite a lot about the Light and the Darkness at the beginning of the Gospel of John...but I don't think that's terribly relevant here.
  3. JC New Member

    I'm still learning and no expert, but couldn't 'lux' be nominative because it is the subject of its own clause? The speaker isn't saying 'I know light' (as a topic), he's saying 'I know that' (this following statement is true).

    By the same token, couldn't 'venire' be 'venit'? Or am I imposing English grammar onto Latin?
  4. Marius Magnus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Latin grammar expresses such "indirect speech" clauses (i.e., "He said that...", "I know that...") with an accusative + infinitive construction. So,

    Scio stilum meum in mensa esse. ("I know my pencil to be on the table.")

    rather than

    *Scio stilus meus in mensa est. ("I know [that] my pencil is on the table.")

    The second construction is not proper Latin.
  5. kmp Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Lynx and Marius Magnus are perfectly correct here, but I suppose you could avoid the accusative and infinitive construction and use ut with the subjunctive :

    nunc scio ut lux e tenebris veniat

    This is not as elegant, but I think it is still good Latin.

    It certainly preserves lux as a nominative, but the original you quoted is still not good - it has not got the "ut" or the "e" before tenebris.
  6. QMF Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Virginia, US
    I believe that scio ut+subj. is actually bad Latin, and that Latin has no direct equivalent of "I know that..." but rather always uses "I know...to..."
  7. kmp Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    On reflection, I think you're right, qmf - I was thinking of it as a kind of indirect question with "ut" meaning "how".

    The accusative and infinitive is the correct way to go - I was just trying too hard to get something a bit more like the original quote.
  8. Cinefactus Censor

    • Censor
    litore aureo
    It is not classical, but you could use the vulgar construnction: nunc scio quod lux e tenebris oritur
  9. Alena-Adler New Member

    "tenebris lux" means "the light of the darkness"
    "tenebris" is declinatio tertia, genetivus singularus. It´s just the meaning of belonging ))
  10. Quasus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Águas Santas
    Aue, Alena-Adler. :)

    I should think that darkness is tenebrae, ārum f. pl.
  11. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Moreover, that should be genetivus singularis.
  12. JaimeB Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    San Francisco, CA
    I believe the nominative in Latin is "tenebrae" (plural), first declension. Tenebris here would be ablative "from the shadows, light."

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