Latin Song Porta bene: Ungula te providebo, sicut aurum...



Hello, this is the third stanza of a Latin song Porta bene, can you please help me translate it:

Ungula te providebo,
sicut aurum lucem dat,
nam scintilla bonum equum
delectat, delectat.

Many thanks in advance.


Hmm...there seems to be a problem with that first line. Providebo usually takes the dative unless it means "forsee" here, which doesn't make any sense. And what to make of ungula - "hoof" (given the subsequent lines). Context might help.

The rest is pretty easy: "Just as gold reflects (gives) light, for the glint delights (2x) a good horse."

Fulgor Laculus

Civis Illustris
For the first line - (literally) By the hoof I shall see you coming from a distance. Could it be that the poem is being sung by one horse to another ? The title seems to corroborate this notion.
If so, the first line can be translated - By thy hoof I shall foresee thy advent.

I concur with Cato's translation of the rest.


here's the whole song:

Porta bene

1. Porta bene, niger euque,
porta me et propera!
Ungula te providebo
tenera, tenera.

2. Ungula te providebo
e metallo ferreo;
ad currendum te iuvare
debeo, debeo.

3. Ungula te providebo,
sicut aurum lucem dat,
nam scintilla bonum equum
delectat, delectat.


hmm...could ungula really be uncula - "little hooks" here? That word could be stretched then to mean "spurs", and that makes sense as something that would be e metallo ferreo and make the horse run faster.

I'm also going to assume providebo - "provide, give" is being used with a double accusative (incorrectly, but possible if this is a Medieval poem). And I'll assume euque is a typo for eque, the vocative of equus:

1. Carry well, black horse,
carry me and hasten!
I'll give you the spurs
tender(ly), tender(ly).

2. I'll give you the spurs
of iron metal;
to help you run
I ought, I ought.

3. I'll give you the spurs,
just as gold gives back light,
for the spark entices, entices
a good horse.

In that 2nd to last line, I suspect scintilla has a double meaning, referring to both the glint of gold and the jab of the spur. Just as the glint of gold entices humans, the jab of the spur entices the horse to run. Or something...

I can't say I completely get it, and I've made some assumptions and bent some grammar to get this. Could you let us know the context, e.g. who wrote it and when?


Well, this song appears in my Latin textbook (the only Latin textboook on the Czech market) without reference to either its author or date of origin. It is sung to the tune of a Czech folk song Only You, My Horse, which would suggest its medieval origin. In the Czech song, the word horseshoe is mentioned several times, so I thought "ungula" refers to that, even though the Czech and Latin texts are largely dissimilar.
The thing that makes me furious is that it appears without translation or explanatory notes at the end of lesson four, when the only grammar featured so far was pronoun declension I and verb conjugation I...


Staff member
Can't ungula be vocative? O my horse I see you coming?

(Stretching the meaning of provideo a little!)