UNIVERSUM

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
On the naming of the Universe in Roman times.

How did the Romans understand and label the universe? They could perceive that the Earth was round (based on earlier findings, of course) and give it names.
But when it came to the vastness beyond the heavens and Earth, what was the reckoning and terminology? ( If there was such understanding.)
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
The universe wasn't understood in quite the same way as it is today, of course, but there was a similar concept. The classical universe included the earth and the heavens with all the planets and stars, and was, I think, typically seen as consisting of spheres placed within one another and producing music as they rotated ("the music of the spheres"). Cute, ain't it?

The word I've seen used most often in classical Latin for the universe is mundus. Yes, in classical Latin mundus more often meant the universe (both the earth and the heavens) rather than "the world" in the sense of only the earth.

I think universitas rerum is a possible translation too.
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
The universe wasn't understood in quite the same way as it is today, of course, but there was a similar concept. The classical universe included the earth and the heavens with all the planets and stars, and was, I think, typically seen as consisting of spheres placed within one another and producing music as they rotated ("the music of the spheres").
I knew about the spheres, but music?

The word I've seen used most often in classical Latin for the universe is mundus.
Yes, I know that. Before that, I learned another word, orbis, that can mean Earth (and the other universy stuff. Right?)


I think universitas rerum is a possible translation too.



I like it.
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
Cute, ain't it?

Well, if I were a Roman hearing that, I'd start to doubt that the spheres in spheres in the heavens are blasting God's playlist.
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
It's worth mentioning that the definition of orbis I'm talking about was the last entry for the word in the dictionary, I believe.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I knew about the spheres, but music?
Yes. Google "the music of the spheres", and you'll see.

Cicero mentions it in his Somnium Scipionis:

'Quid hic?' inquam, 'quis est, qui complet aures, tantus et tam dulcis sonus?' 'Hic est,' inquit, 'ille, qui intervallis disiunctus imparibus, sed tamen pro rata parte distinctis, impulsu et motu ipsorum orbium efficitur et acuta cum gravibus temperans varios aequabiliter concentus efficit; nec enim silentio tanti motus incitari possunt, et natura fert, ut extrema ex altera parte graviter, ex altera autem acute sonent.
Before that, I learned another word, orbis, that can mean Earth (and the other universy stuff. Right?)
I'm not sure about that. The L&S dictionary gives one alleged example where orbis could translate to the universe, but when I look at the context, it seems just as (if not more) likely to mean the world:

Iuppiter arce sua totum cum spectet in orbem,
nil nisi Romanum quod tueatur habet.

(Of course, orbes can mean the spheres, as in the Somnium Scipionis passage.)
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
The naming of the universe would've changed with the understanding (sort of), right?
When does universum come into play?

They already referred to the whole things as mundus, so there was already thought of unity, certainly.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
Thanks! I had no idea it was already attested!!!

tum censet imagines divinitate praeditas inesse in universitate rerum: tumprincipia mentis, quae sunt in eodem universo, deos esse dicit.

So, universum is old enough.
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
Facile credo, plures esse Naturas invisibiles quam visibiles in rerum universitate. Sed horum omnium familiam quis nobis enarrabit? et gradus et cognationes et discrimina et singulorum munera?
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
13.799±0.021!
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
I'm not sure about that. The L&S dictionary gives one alleged example where orbis could translate to the universe, but when I look at the context, it seems just as (if not more) likely to mean the world:

Iuppiter arce sua totum cum spectet in orbem,
nil nisi Romanum quod tueatur habet.
A better case could be made for it meaning the universe in these lines from the beginning of Ovid's Metamorphoses:

Ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum
unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,
quem dixere chaos

Though it could also be argued that this was before the universe existed as such.
 

Issacus Divus

ᛋᚢᚾᚢ ᚱᛖᛟᚱᛞᚲᚤᚾᛁᚾᚷᚨᛋ
I suppose it could still be argued against, but I appreciate it nonetheless.
 
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