To be yourself is not a crime.

By Viki Brammer, in 'English to Latin Translation', Jun 17, 2011.

  1. Viki Brammer New Member

    Hey guys,
    This phrase is going to be for a tattoo and it's a line of song lyrics by Billy Talent. I decided latin because it is no longer used anymore so the language has been forgotten but the meaning of the phrase still stays alive within me. Sounds corny and lame and probably wrong but that's my reasoning ^_^
    Thanks heaps xx
  2. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    Non maleficium/scelus/peccatum est ipsum esse, maleficium being "misdeed", scelus being a legal crime and peccatum being "sin".

    I advise waiting for further comment - I am not sure whether or not I should change "ipsum" to "ipse", but I think it should stay as is.
  3. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    Why accusative with esse?


    I think a relative clause would be ideal.

    Non scelus est talis esse qualis es.

    Id non scelus est, ut sis qui sis.
  4. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    there is no accusative ... but ipse for "yourself" doesn't seem to work here
  5. Viki Brammer New Member

    That all sounds a bit backwards lol, is that just the way it works, can youplease tell me the direct translation of what you're suggesting as well?
  6. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    Nik’s translation is literal. Mine is more ‘It’s not a crime to be who you are’.
  7. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    Sorry, we were just trying to discuss what the best translation might be ... but as you don't seem to care anyway, you may just go with anything
  8. Viki Brammer New Member

    I'm sorry I think I came across quite stand off ish.. I didn't mean to sound that way and I do care otherwise I would ofgone with the google translator. I am just trying to fully understand the phrase and why it may be written a certain way
  9. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    I thought that all infinitives took accusative subjects, but I wasn't certain.

    Hm... qui es rather than ipse/ipsum then?

    Non est peccatum esse qui es...?
  10. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    Well, NcIs don't, but it's right that AcIs can function as the subject of a sentence.
    I thought he mistook one of the neuter nouns for an accusative.

    The construction is grammatically fine, I just don't think "ipse" was ever used for this understanding of "oneself" (i.e. "who one is"), so Cursor's paraphrase makes a bit more sense to me. But with the above in mind, it should be talem esse rather than talis esse in his first suggestion

    don't know if it would be better to write "te esse" with the second person in the relative clause.
    I also don't know if the relative clause should be in the subjunctive because it depends on an AcI ... it is not oratio obliqua per se :wondering:
  11. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    You could avoid such problems with a translation like "scelus non est sibi/tibi (ipso) constare"
  12. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    For most phrases, there is quite a number of viable and good translations. Often, the most literal translation is by far not the best (or may not even work in the target language), so it's a good sign when your phrase is being discussed like that :>
  13. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    Really?? Unless you’re wrong, this is a revelation to me.

    My understanding (perhaps faulty) was that this terminology of ‘accusative and infinitive’ came about purely because such sentences happen to end up with an accusative in them since they tend to be the object of another transitive verb, but that there was absolutely no actual need for the subject to be in the accusative (which is not the appropriate case for a subject if it can be avoided).

    Now, in English we do certainly use an accusative for such subjects even when they are not simultaneously objects. For example, we say ‘him being there is vital’. I see this rather intrusive and apparently ungrammatical accusative as the product of an analogy with sentences such as ‘it is vital for him to be there’ or ‘I’m comforted by him being there’ or ‘I hate him being there’, in which the accusative is clearly justified by what precedes.

    Again, my (perhaps faulty) understanding was that Latin was stricter than this, and only used accusatives for those subjects which were, at the same time, objects.

    I feel somewhat vindicated in this belief by the first verses of Ovid’s Amores, where it essentially says dicitur Cupido risisse. Now, if we expressed it as ‘they say that Cupid laughed’, it would be dicunt Cupidinem risisse, with an accusative quite rightly used because Cupid being the object of dicunt trumps the fact that he’s the subject of risisse. But the passive verb does not require an accusative for its pseudo-object, and infinitives don’t require an accusative for their subjects; therefore, a nominative is used.

    I would therefore expect esse talis qualis es and esse is qui es with the customary nominatives for copular verbs, and not with accusatives, which lead me to search the sentence in vain for some transitive verb.
  14. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    I was thinking it might come under the complicated topic of subjunctive by attraction.
  15. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    Ah, I see you concede they can go with a nominative. Can you give some examples of accusativus cum infinitivo as the subject of another verb?
  16. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    Yes, of course! But in the nominative + infinitive constructions, the subject of the infinitive is also the subject of the finite passive verb. This is not the case in a sentence like "scelus est" where the (implied) subject of the infinitive is different from the subject of est. Latin seems to follow the same logic as English (you (=thee) being yourself is not a crime) using non-finite clauses with an accusative subject as the subject or subject complement.

    With est, such examples are not easy to find because most constructions like "scelus est" are just followed by bare infinitives leaving something like "aliquem" implied.

    The AcI being the subject of a sentence is more common with verbs like iuvat or licet:
    (iuvat) from Cic. ad Quint XI:
    teque hilari animo esse et prompto ad iocandum (subj clause) valde me (acc obj) iuvat
    (licet) Cic. Ver.II,5,45 - licet often goes with a dative, but it can also have an AcI-subject:
    (privatim autem nec proficisci quoquam potes nec arcessere res transmarinas ex iis locis) in quibus te habere nihil licet.

    scelus est is usually followed by a bare infinitive. I've found only one example where the subject clause is an AcI, and it's not really obvious there because it's a neuter plural:
    Ov. met.XV,88: heu quantum scelus est in viscera viscera condi

    I tried to search the best writer for different constructions with est where the accusative is the subject of the infinitive and the AcI is the subject clause / complement of est:

    est in + abl

    Cic.Tusc.I,3: est in Originibus <poetas> solitos esse in epulis canere convivas ad tibicinem de clarorum hominum virtutibus
    (perhaps not very persuasive because est implies something like scriptum est here)
    fas est
    Cic.Mur.80 Atque haec cives, cives, inquam, si eos hoc nomine appellari fas est, de patria sua et cogitant et cogitaverunt.
    necesse est
    Cic. inv.II,171:
    Nam aliter dicere solemus: "Necesse est Casilinenses se dedere Hannibali"; aliter autem: "Necesse est Casilinum venire in Hannibalis potestatem".
  17. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    The attractio modi is only of interest when the superordinate clause of a subordinate clause is in the subjunctive, as in your perfect example: id scelus est, ut sis, qui sis, where the subjunctive of the explicative ut hops over to the relative clause.
    In the AcI or the indirect speech, there is no such superordinate subjunctive unless you consider the AcI to replace a subjunctive. But basically, the subjunctive in subordinate clauses of the oratio obliqua is what is called the "oblique subjunctive" around here, reflecting the writers/speakers distance to what is said. scelus est doesn't really introduce any indirect speech, though.
  18. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    Excellent examples! I am persuaded, Prof Bitmap.

    Hmm, but I still have a niggling doubt: our sentence, with esse in the second part, seems somehow different. Are there any classical examples with esse? I suppose my main problem with it is that my talis wasn’t intended as a subject but as a complement. It doesn’t play the same role in the sentence as Casilinum. This makes me uneasy about talem, which feels wrong.

    Ah, sorry. I misread you: I thought you were talking about that second example. I shouldn’t skim-read.
  19. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Cygnea, Gena
    I'm pretty sure there are, but that would require me to do yet another search ... it's not like I know all those sentences off the top of my head :>

    For one thing, my dictionary offers non licet hominem esse from Terence, Heaut. 666

    My main problem is that I can't really think of any counter-examples, i.e. sentences where the infinitive has a nominative. It only occurs in NcI constructions, and even those only ever occur with passive verbs, being nothing more than inverted AcIs. In some other post, Imber Ranae (quem quanti facias scio) pointed out that there is not even any real NcI in Latin (as opposed to Greek): viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9788#p56602
    but perhaps this doesn't really pertain to this discussion.

    Anyway, I don't really see the big leap from "Casilinum venire in Hannibalis potestatem" to "Casilinum esse sub Hannibalis dicione", so for all the reasons I mentioned above, I still think your sentence should have talem.

    2 more Ciceronian examples featuring necesse est:

    Cic. par.Stoic.21
    Quodsi virtutes sunt pares inter se, paria esse etiam vitia necesse est

    Cic.TuscI,9
    necesse est enim miseros esse eos qui centum milibus annorum ante occiderunt, vel potius omnis, quicumque nati sunt.
    <this also answers my question regarding the relative clause. apparently, it doesnt have to be in the subjunctive>
    Cic.nat.deor.II,32
    ut enim nulla pars est corporis nostri, quae non minoris sit quam nosmet ipsi sumus, sic mundum universum pluris esse necesse est quam partem aliquam universi.

    yeah, ok ... it's 3 actually
  20. Manus Correctrix QVAE CORRIGIT

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Victoria
    OK, that all seems cleared up satisfactorily.

    Bitmap, I’m so impressed with your Latin and your English! :shock:

    Viki, we have your translation for you. Either of the following is fine:

    Non scelus est talem esse qualis es. — ‘It is no crime to be the way you are.’

    Id non scelus est, ut sis qui sis. — ‘It is no crime to be [he] who you are.’

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