Pro hoc et Ecclesia ab apostolis traditionem suscepit

imscoop22

New Member
Hello, I am new to the forum and am looking for assistance with translating the following text that came from a volume of early church literature that was published in the 19th century. The Latin manuscript from which this was copied would have been originally written in the late 4th century and itself was a translation from an original Greek text:

"Pro hoc et Ecclesia ab apostolis traditionem suscepit, eliam parvulis baptismum dare. Sciebant enim illi quibus mysteriorum secreta commissa sunt divinorum, quod essent in omnibus genuinae sordes peccati, quae per aquam et Spiritum ablui deberent."

I'm particularly interested in the word in bold. I have seen two English translations that render this as "infant" but from a little research, it seems there is a distinct Latin word for infant (infans) and "parvulis" may be more appropriately rendered as "young/small/little child." How broad an age range would either of these words cover and are there any other Latin words that could be used for children...what age ranges would be appropriate for them? In English, there are so many words...infant, baby, toddler, youngster, kid, child, adolescent, teen, etc. Is Latin as broad in scope?

Thank you for any assistance.
 
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Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Hello,

I don't know that there are any clear limits to the age range that it can refer to. It means literally "(very) little ones": that can be infants or small children. "Infants" seems a reasonable translation here, given that the text deals with the stain of sin that everyone is born with.
 

imscoop22

New Member
Thank you...are there reasons why an author would chose this word over one that distinctly refers to infants? In another text by the same original author, I found the following sentence, which seems to use two different words:

"Quid enim tarn amaruni quam ut puer octava die circamcisionis yulnus accipiat et rigorem ferri tenera patiatur infantia?"
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Thank you...are there reasons why an author would chose this word over one that distinctly refers to infants?
No particular reason that I can see.
In another text by the same original author, I found the following sentence, which seems to use two different words:

"Quid enim tarn amaruni quam ut puer octava die circamcisionis yulnus accipiat et rigorem ferri tenera patiatur infantia?"
I'm not sure what your question is (if any) but here's what I can say:

"Quid enim tam amarum quam ut puer octava die circumcisionis vulnus accipiat et rigorem ferri tenera patiatur infantia?"

"What is so bitter as for a child to receive the wound of circumcision on the eighth day, and for tender infancy to suffer the hardness of a blade?"

Here the child in question is obviously an infant, being eight days old; but generally the word puer, which can translate as "child" or "boy", can also apply to older children and even teenagers. Infantia, in its strict sense, means the period during which a child is unable to speak (if you translate the word etymologically it means something like "unspeakingness"). It's possible to find it used in a more extended sense like "childhood", but in this passage it's being used in its proper sense.
 
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Gregorius Textor

Civis Illustris
are there any other Latin words that could be used for children...what age ranges would be appropriate for them?
According to Döderlein's Handbook of Latin Synonyms (1875):

"Puer (from parere, πάϊς,) in a wider sense, is the man in his dependent years, so long as he neither can be, nor is, the father of a family, as a young person, in three periods, as infans, νήπιος, παιδίον, from his first years till he is seven; as puer, in a narrower sense, παῖς, from his seventh year till he is sixteen; as commencing adolescens (from ἄλθειν) a youngster, μειράκιον, νεανίας, from his sixteenth year. Juvenis, in a wider sense, is as long as he remains in his years of greatest strength, from about the time of his being of age to the first appearances of advanced age, as the young man νέος, which also may be divided into three periods;—as ceasing to be adolescens, from his eighteenth year; as juvenis(from ζέω) in a narrower sense, νεανίας, from his four-and-twentieth year; as beginning to be vir, ἀνήρ, from his thirtieth year."
 
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