Truth is one; its names are many

Ermenstaver

New Member
Greetings.

The above is a condensed form of Joseph Campbell's famous quote: "Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names", which is itself an adaptation of a verse from the Rig Veda (1.164.46), which in a more literal translation from the Sanskrit would read: "Truth is one/singular, the sages/wise speak of it variously". Then it lists a few names, so the 'many names' in Campbell's version is not wholly made up.

There are probably many ways this can be rendered into Latin, but I intend to incorporate it into an Ex Libris, so I'd lean towards a concise yet poetic version, like an aphorism or a saying (much like the English phrase in the thread's title). Feel free to paraphrase the source differently (of course expressing the same meaning as the original) if that makes for a better or more beautiful phrase.

I'm still more or less a beginning Latin student, so any help would be appreciated. Nice forum by the way! I think I'll stick around to ask questions if I need help while learning (I'm preparing to go into an academic field in which reading Latin is important).

Many thanks!
 
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J.M

Active Member
I think it would be something like "enim veritas, nomina sua sunt multis"(truth is one its many names are many.)
Even though wait for replies from other latin discussion members

Good luck on your latin studies!
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I think it would be something like "enim veritas, nomina sua sunt multis"(truth is one its many names are many.)
Even though wait for replies from other latin discussion members
That isn't correct at all, and looks so illogical I suspect it comes from a machine translator. Please refrain from making such suggestions.

Here's a correct translation: veritas una; nomina eius multa.
 

Ermenstaver

New Member
Here's a correct translation: veritas una; nomina eius multa.
That's more or less what I came up with myself: veritas una est; nomina sua multa. The est can be dropped as it's implied.

About your eius versus my sua, thanks! If I recall correctly, suus and its forms are to be used if the possessor of something is the same entity as the subject of the phrase, and eius if the possessor is someone or something other than the subject. Since veritas is both the possessor of the many names and the subject (of the phrase taken as a whole), I used sua (n. pl. to agree with nomina, since it's a possessive adjective). I realize now there are of course two phrases, both with their own predicates (sunt being dropped in the second phrase), making nomina a subject in its own right, requiring eius to refer back to the subject of the first phrase to arrive at the meaning 'the names of the truth' instead of 'the names of the ..names?' or something, which would be nonsensical.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Another thought, could the eius be dropped entirely? A phrase like veritas una; nomina multa seems correct as well to me. This would be more like English 'One truth, many names', only implying the many names belong to the truth instead of outright stating it. In a way, it sounds more like how the thought would be expressed if it were a genuine Latin saying. It has less of a 'translated' feel to it, if you take my meaning, but correct me if it is grammatically incorrect.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
That's more or less what I came up with myself: veritas una est; nomina sua multa. The est can be dropped as it's implied.

About your eius versus my sua, thanks! If I recall correctly, suus and its forms are to be used if the possessor of something is the same entity as the subject of the phrase, and eius if the possessor is someone or something other than the subject. Since veritas is both the possessor of the many names and the subject (of the phrase taken as a whole), I used sua (n. pl. to agree with nomina, since it's a possessive adjective). I realize now there are of course two phrases, both with their own predicates (sunt being dropped in the second phrase), making nomina a subject in its own right, requiring eius to refer back to the subject of the first phrase to arrive at the meaning 'the names of the truth' instead of 'the names of the ..names?' or something, which would be nonsensical.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.
You've understood it all correctly.
Another thought, could the eius be dropped entirely? A phrase like veritas una; nomina multa seems correct as well to me. This would be more like English 'One truth, many names', only implying the many names belong to the truth instead of outright stating it. In a way, it sounds more like how the thought would be expressed if it were a genuine Latin saying. It has less of a 'translated' feel to it, if you take my meaning, but correct me if it is grammatically incorrect.
I thought about dropping eius, and in theory it can be done, but I refrained because I thought it made the phrase a bit ambiguous. Veritas una, nomina multa could be understood not only as "one truth, many names (for it)", but also as "one truth, many pretences".
 
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