Unsolved Mysteries

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


The Lost Symbol's ISBN unlocked!

 
Monday, September 14, 2009, 16:00 - Unsolved Mysteries and Myths
Posted by Administrator
To all numerological nuts out there, this is not to be missed:

The Lost Symbol - Decoding the ISBN (0385504225). From Solomon Key to Jupiter Square!


This adds new meaning to the words of NY Times:
"Mr Brown's splendid ability to concoct 64-square grids outweighs what might otherwise be authorial shortcomings."

Apparently, not only 64-square grids...

"The Christ Bowl" - a sad excuse for biblical archaeology

 


A team of scientists led by renowned French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio recently announced that they have found a bowl, dating to between the late 2nd century B.C. and the early 1st century A.D., that is engraved with what they believe could be the world's first known reference to Christ.
...
The full engraving on the bowl reads, "DIA CHRSTOU O GOISTAIS," which has been interpreted by the excavation team to mean either, "by Christ the magician" or, "the magician by Christ."


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26972493/

Well, first of all I would really like to see the other side of the bowl... But let us look at what's available:

DIAXRHCTOU

Christ in Greek is normally spelled XRICTOC, but I have found a few inscriptions where H is used.However, XPHCTOC is also an adjective meaning 'excellent', 'meek', 'useful', 'noble'. This alone significantly increases the number of interpretations of the inscription.

But what I would REALLY like to see is what stands for O GOISTAIS. The Greek word they have in mind must be GOHC (charlatan, magician), but what is GOISTAIS???

If there is a Bible reference here, it is best to interpret GOISTAIS as Gestas, one of the thieves who were crucified next to Christ. :) Then the inscription makes total sense grammatically:

"Gestas, Through Christ"

It is known, of course, that it was Dismas, not Gesmas who was saved by Jesus. So, the inscription must imply that early Christians believed that God's compassion is so great that even the foolish taunter of Christ eventually received pardon and salvation. Trust me, this interpretation is no worse that the "magic" one, but at least I am not making a big deal out of it!

Tutela Valui and "Adjectives in Past Tense"

 
Another example of an odd Latin tattoo. A certain Ashley Dupre, Governor Spitzer's acquaintance, bears it on her belly:

Tutela Valui

An article in NY Daily News quotes several translations, including what I think is the most fair and grammatically meaningful:

Daniel Nodes, a classics professor at Ave Maria University in Florida, translated it as "I've been well and remain that way because I have protection."

An odd saying, if you ask me. Maybe the happy owner of the belly that features this tattoo could elaborate on its meaning? The world is holding its breath. It has been my observation that is such cases things can be clarified very easily once you know the English phrase people were trying to translate and the exact Latin dictionary that they used in their failed attempt to produce a meaningful phrase in Latin. On the whole, this is a worthy enterprise. Just don't use these translations for tattoos and engravings!

What's more interesting, Helen Kennedy, a staff writer at Daily News gave her readers a taste of how erudite modern journalism can be:

Tutela, which is related to tutor, has to do with a protector or guardian. Valui appears to be a past form of the word strong.

I admit, there may be languages somewhere that conjugate adjectives in the past sense. You would use one form to say 'strong' in a present tense statement, and an altogether different form to say 'strong' in a past tense sentence. It is more likely, however, that the Daily News journalist has a very poor understanding of some basic principles of grammar. And that's ok, folks. As long as she does not tattoo statements like that on her belly.

For the curious. Valui is Perfect active of the verb valeo 'to be strong.' Tutela means care, support, protection, and also guardian and keeper. The key to understanding this phrase (as long as it was translated by someone who has at least some knowledge of Latin) is to take Tutela as an Ablative.

A word of advice to people who are visible in the world of politics and entertainment. Before you commit to a specific tattoo, why not try a fake one first? Have the media pick it up. If no expressions of utter bewilderment follow, go ahead and make it permanent.


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An acrostic in Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica

 
Tuesday, April 1, 2008, 14:26 - Latin Language, Unsolved Mysteries and Myths, Poetry, Literature, Music
Posted by Administrator
Haec ubi non ulla iuvenes formidine moti
accipiunt (dulce et dura sic pergere mente), 175
terga sequi properosque iubet coniungere gressus.
litore in extremo spelunca apparuit ingens
arboribus super et dorso contecta minanti,
non quae dona deum, non quae trahat aetheris ignem,
infelix domus et sonitu tremebunda profundi. 180
at varii pro rupe metus: hinc trunca rotatis
bracchia rapta viris strictoque immortua caestu
ossaque taetra situ <et> capitum maestissimus ordo
per piceas, quibus adverso sub vulnere nulla
iam facies nec nomen erat; media ipsius arma 185
sacra metu[que] magnique aris imposta parentis.


Val. Fl. 4

The acrostic reads LANIABO. However, in older editions line 184 used be rendered as "respicias." So, we would have had LANIABOR, which is a lot more interesting. Did the acrostic contain a self-fulfilling prophesy about the transmission of the text?

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