Kepler translation (early modern astronomy)

Cinoc

New Member
In the 1620's, the astronomer Johannes Kepler was involved in a dispute with the English mystic Robert Fludd about the music of the spheres. The following quotation is from Kepler's response to Fludd's defense of his theory, which Kepler had attacked in his Harmonices mundi (1619). I've pasted the original, and then my (clearly faulty) attempt at a translation below. I realize this may be an impossible task without more context, but any help anyone can give me would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Sed quaeris (nec hoc insulse dictum vis) cum Planetarum motus in tempore fiat, cur ego temporum varietatem recusem? Quia non omne quod cum motibus est conjunctum, concurrit et ad Harmonias. Nihil enim ad eas facies Lunae variabilis, etsi non sine hac succedit Lunae motus. Quatenus verò tarditas vel celeritas alias alia, definitur per tempus; respectus temporis prior valet, nec à me recusatus est, ut dixi. Sed neque hoc dissimulare coram lectore meo possum: concinniorem in meo opere, quam hic apud te inveniri Vocum Musicae figuratae, distributionem inter planetas. Nam ad Harmonias duorum nihil interest, tota cuiusque periodus, quot constet diebus, sed quovis momento, quam sit eius motus tardus vel velox hoc interest: in periodo verò confusae insunt [innewohnen] omnes tarditates celeritatesque.

But you ask (you claim this is not an absurd thing to say), since the motion of the planets occurs in time, why I reject the variety of times [part of Fludd's theory that Kepler is rejecting]? Because not all that the motions involve also contributes to the harmonies [of the spheres]. For the changing face of the moon doesn't contribute to them, even if the motion of the moon does not occur without it. But just how far the slowness or the speed in the one or the other case [?] [no verb?], is determined by time; the earlier relation of time is valid [?], and was not questioned by me, as I said. But I can't conceal before my reader that in my work, the distribution of the voices of the fashioned music [?] among the planets is more artful than here in yours. For as regards the harmony of the two [what? planets?], it makes no difference how many days the complete period [= time for one complete orbit] of each lasts; what counts, rather, is how slow or fast the motion is at any given moment, whereas in the period all of the slownesses and speeds are mixed up together.
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
The planets were theorized to play music, long ago.
 

Iáson

Cívis Illústris
I don't know enough about planetary astronomy and how to talk about it in Latin to answer this confidently, but:
- in the quātenus... sentence an explicit verb is not needed, I think - it should be enough to just understand sit: 'how far the slowness or speed varies in different cases [='is different (alia) in different cases (aliās)'] is defined by time'
- respectus temporis prior valet: I want this to mean just that time is relevant insofar as it relates to slowness or speed, but prior presumably refers to former discourse, in this work or another, so I don't know. respectus would usually mean 'reference to' or 'consideration' rather than 'relation', unless this is a special Neo-Latin or scientific sense of the word, so I guess it could mean 'the former way of considering time is still valid'.
- I think it might make sense to understand concinniōrem distribūtiōnem inter planētās [esse in meō opere quam] apud tē invenīrī Vōcum Mūsicae figūrātae... ie., I assume the Vōcum Mūsicae figūrātae bit is just supposed to be in Fludd's work rather than in Kepler as well.
- I don't have a clue what harmōniās duōrum means, but I guess it could refer to two bodies with one orbiting the other: I think you'd have to find the same phrase elsewhere in Kepler or Fludd's works to find out.

That's about as much as I can do without specialised knowledge. Elsewhere the translation seems to work well, as far as I can tell.
 

Cinoc

New Member
This is *so* helpful, Iason, thank you so much!
One question: so should I translate
Sed neque hoc dissimulare coram lectore meo possum: concinniorem in meo opere, quam hic apud te inveniri Vocum Musicae figuratae, distributionem inter planetas
as
But I cannot conceal from my reader that the distribution among the planets is more artful in my work than the figures of the voices of music are discovered in yours
or rather as
. . . that the distribution among the planets is more artfully discovered in my work than are the figures of the voices of music in yours
, which in any event reads better in English?
And any idea what the hic (hīc?) is doing in this sentence?
Thank you!
 

Iáson

Cívis Illústris
I think hīc apud tē just means 'here in your work'/'in this work of yours' - presumably it refers to the part of Fludd's work that's under discussion here.

I assume that Kepler is assuming some sort of distribūtiōnem in Fludd's work as well: it can't be just 'that the distribution among the planets is more artful in my work than the figures of the voices of Music in yours', because this would require the accusative of a noun (ie. *Vōcum Mūsīcae figūrās). Vōcum Mūsīcae figūratae must be literally 'of the voices of fashioned Music' - since it is in the genitive we must understand distribūtiōnem and perhaps inter planētās with Vōcum Mūsīcae figūratae as well, although without knowing Fludd's theory it's difficult to tell.

And yes, it's probably better English to understand invenīrī with both parts and translate '...that the distribution among the planets is more artfully discovered in my work than the distribution (?) of the voices of fashioned Music in yours'. Again, without context I don't know how one should best render Vōcum Mūsīcae figūratae.
 
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