Latin Translation

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.


Latin quote from 'Braveheart': Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus

 
Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 15:53 - Bad Latin Quote Alerts, Latin Translation
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Ego numquam pronunciare mendacium, sed ego sum homo indomitus
Supposed to mean "I never tell a lie, but I am a savage."

I have seen Braveheart only once a long time ago, so I have no idea at what point in the movie this phrase comes up and in what context. It does, however, seem to be not so good Latin. Which is a shame, because there is no doubt that some people found this quote appealing and as a result chose to feature it on their skin (off all places!).

Some reasons that should make it clear why the Latin is substandard.

1. Pronunciare is an infinitive. Why the infinitive was chosen is beyond me, especially because a standard form found in Latin dictionaries (pronuncio, 1st sing, Present Active) would have looked a lot more plausible. There is no reason here for Historic Infinitive and I just cannot think of any other explanation other that someone's attempt to translate into Latin something like "I am not to tell lies."

2. Nowhere in Latin literature, both Classical and Medieval, the words pronuncio mendacium can be found. This expression simply was never used by anyone, even though it is quite understandable to anyone who spent some time learning Latin.

3. Nowhere in Latin literature the words "homo indomitus" can be found. This is clearly a made-up way of locution that has no precedents.

4. The word order in the second half of the quote seems unnatural. The "Ego" is also quite redundant.

This post is a part of my "bad Latin quote alert" efforts. Unless you find confirmation from a Latinist much better than yours truly, please only use the quote in question with full knowledge of its erroneous nature.

Translation of the Aeneid by C.S. Lewis

 
Saturday, May 17, 2008, 00:40 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Translation, Poetry, Literature, Music
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A little rumor spreading here. I heard, on pretty good authority, that a verse translation of Virgil's Aeneid by C.S. Lewis is presently "in the hands" of a renowned Classicist. It is possible that the C.S. Lewis Foundation is going to publish it?

On a related note, C. S. Lewis once wrote about the Aeneid that no one "who has once read it with full perception remains an adolescent." Personally, I find this statement extremely profound and true.

Virgil's Aeneid: which edition NOT to buy

 
Saturday, May 3, 2008, 14:38 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Translation, Poetry, Literature, Music, Reviews
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A few weeks ago I was at a used bookstore and a very promising title caught my attention: Virgil's Aeneid (Interlinear). The book was in one convenient volume, attractively priced -- something I just don't have yet. I like to have cheap editions of my favorite books, so I can take them places without the fear of loosing or damaging them (I won't take my Mynors to the beach!). Anyways... I opened this Aeneid and discovered that the way this edition was organized simply goes against everything that is good and honorable in this world. They simply translated the Latin text verbatim and then... and then... Well, they rearranged Virgil's text, so that the word order would follow the English translation. For instance, let's take the opening lines:

arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam fato profugus Laviniaque venit
litora.


This "interlinear" text has something like that:

cano arma que virum qui ob oris Troiae primus venit Italiam que litora Lavinia, profugus fato.

Then I remembered that I actually have a copy of Cicero published in this exact manner. I never fully understood the purpose of this pedagogical practice, but it is so much worse when it comes to poetry. So, people, be on the lookout for those "interlinear" texts!


Love conquers all -- The imporatance of learning Latin

 
Tuesday, January 29, 2008, 10:34 - Learn Latin Language, Latin Translation, Popular Latin Phrases, Mottos, Slogans
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Omnia vincit amor - Love conquers all

In one of the last episodes of the Showtime Original Series 'The Tudors'(Season One) there is a following exchange between, if I recall correctly, Henry VIII and his courtier (I only convey the part that pertains to this discussion):

C. Omnia vincit amor!
H. Ah, yes! Everybody is won by love!

I would not vouchsafe for the precision of the quote, but the gist is there. What's happening? Henry VIII clearly misinterprets the first half of Virgil's famous line from Eclogue 10:

Omnia vincit Amor: et nos cedamus Amori.

Yes, 'Love conquers all' is the correct translation. However, this 'all' is Neuter. Thus the meaning of the phrase is more philosophical: 'Love conquers all things, everything in existence'. Henry interprets it in a very trite sense: 'All people are subject to love'. Sure, he was a real expert in matters of love, but I won't believe that he was not a good enough Latinist to see a very simple grammatical point.

The moral is, it is ok to quote translations of Latin phrases. But one should not modify these translations, because the resulting paraphrase can become untrue to the original!

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