benito talks about latin

anonymous asked:

As a Latinist, are there any neologisms that you find particularly detestable? Any Latinate or Latinoid words that sound particularly jarring in your ears?

Over the years, I’ve ultimately learned that it’s a losing battle that nobody cares about except basically me and the people I went to grad school with, so I’ve stopped saying anything about it for the most part, but, yeah, there are like four classes of ways people treat Latin that anger and/or mystify me.

1) This is the closest to what you’re asking about, but I hate when people coin new terms for words with no concern for whether they’re using Latin or Greek roots, especially mixing them, ESPECIALLY when they’re creating a new term for something for which a word already exists. I probably don’t need to tell you that the key offender here is “quadrilogy,” a bullshit word that a) mistakenly assumes the “tri-” in trilogy is Latinate even though -logy is a Greek as hell suffix and b) ignores the existence of the word “tetralogy.”

Along these same lines, but less offensive, is when people make new compound words using elements from an existing word but don’t break the elements of the word apart at the right place. Let’s say, for example, someone used the term “hydrocopter” to describe a helicopter that can take off from water or whatever. Okay. The problem is that the division of elements in helicopter isn’t heli/copter, it’s helico/pter. This happens pretty frequently, actually, but I’m blanking on the example that’s been bugging me recently. But no one’s ever going to get that right, no one cares, okay.

2) The other thing that bothers me is when people try to use Latin somewhere—their online profile or forum signature, tattoos, or worse, a published book—without any concern for how Latin works as a language. Like, okay, I get it, I guess. It’s not anyone’s native language, so who cares, who’s going to call you out on it except some meganerd, so why not just piss on three millennia of linguistic and literary tradition and legacy? Why not shit on our roots, right? It’s just some dumb bullshit. No one will know.

Okay, kind of got off track there. My point is, people who don’t know anything about Latin (or languages in general) often assume Latin (or any other language; this is hardly restricted to Latin) works just like English, when the fact is, that isn’t the case at all. Ask any twelve year old Latin I student: they can tell you that Latin syntax and grammar is notoriously different from English. Latin is a highly synthetic language, meaning the roles of words in the sentence are determined by putting those words into different forms. While English has retained this a little (for example, the grammatical differences between he/him or she/her; suffixes that help determine verb tense, such as -ed; forming plurals with -s and possessives with -’s), for the most part, meaning within a sentence in English is determined by word order. This is not the case (no pun intended) in Latin, and even someone who’s taken one week of Latin classes can tell you this.

To give you an example of what I’m talking about, let’s say someone wanted to put a twist on that old Latin chestnut “deus ex machina.” What if, instead of a god from a machine, we got a MACHINE from GOD, holy shit. Okay, well, the well-meaning unilingual English-speaker will go, “Machina ex deus,” boom, we did it, take five, everyone. Except that’s wrong?

It’s hard to express why that’s wrong in English, but it’s a bit like if I went around saying things like “Him ask she for she name.” You got lucky that the different forms of “machina” are orthographically indistinguishable in English, but the form “deus” can only be used as the subject of a sentence (okay, there are more uses for that form, but I’m not teaching a class here; that’s the main thing it does), not as the object of a preposition, as you have it here. It would need to be “machina ex deo.” But: no one cares, who gives a shit, I should just eat a bullet, wow, who cares, nerd, San Dimas High School Football rules.

Similarly, I saw someone who had a forum signature of “pluribus ex unum,” intending it to mean “many things out of one thing,” but instead it still means “out of many, one,” except it looks like an idiot said it (accurate).

Anyway, this one is a losing battle.

3) Along the same lines, people who, for FOR REAL PUBLISHED THINGS THEY GOT PAID FOR, either use Google Translate for their Latin translations or just flip through a Latin dictionary and write down the first words they see.

Google Translate is a goddamn robot, you guys. Language requires discernment and finesse, and, for example, the ability to tell the difference between homonyms.

There are literally, as far as I know, no two languages where translation between the two is just a one-to-one thing like it’s a fucking decoder ring.

I see this shit all the time in comics. You can always tell who used Google Translate because their sentence or motto or whatever has “is” in it. Look, that word exists in Latin, but using it unnecessarily/wrongly is a red flag for a total scrub.

Same for just looking something up in a dictionary and just writing down whatever you see, apparently without understanding how dictionaries work? I see you, tattoo that wants to mean “Born to sing” but just says like “Natus -a -um ad cano canere cecini cantus v/t.” I see you. I see that you are perhaps not smart enough to operate heavy machinery.

4) Finally, I really hate people who try to be fancy with Latinate plurals with total disregard for how Latinate plurals actually work.

I don’t know who decided that any word in Latin is pluralized by changing the ending to “-ii,” but I see this mystifying bullshit EVERYWHERE. IT IS EVERYWHERE. WHERE DID YOU LEARN THIS?

-ii is not an ending. There are zero Latin words made plural by changing the ending to -ii. There ARE words that end in -ii, that’s true; radii for example. BUT in that case, the word was radius to begin with! Notice how the -us is changed to -i, but NO ADDITIONAL I IS ADDED. It’s not radiii, as apparently the internet would desperately have it!


More than one penis? Penii, obviously! More than one crisis? Crisii! More than one deus? Deii, duh!



Also, also, also:

Definitively, please:

The ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY acceptable plural for the word “omnibus” is “omnibuses.” That is all. That’s the only one. Stop saying omnibi. And for FUCK’S sake stop saying omnibii.

Look, I get where you’re coming from. You might be aware that (some) Latin words that end in -us get pluralized to -i. Alumnus, alumni. Cool, good job.

Here’s the thing, though: the ending of “omnibus” isn’t -us. It’s -ibus, and that form is ALREADY plural. The word omnibus, the origin of the word bus, means “for all people.” It’s already plural. You cannot make it more plural. How much more plural can it be? None. None more plural.

Please stop.

Anyway, this went on a lot longer than I thought it would, but, yes, I see these things, and, yes, they annoy me. But unless someone asks me right out, I am unlikely to say anything about it, because, you know, who gives a shit.

A centuries-old Halloween tale, courtesy of Petronius

From the Satyricon LXII, a slave tells a story:

“Forte dominus Capuae exierat ad scruta scita expedienda. Nactus ego occasionem persuadeo hospitem nostrum, ut mecum ad quintum miliarium veniat. Erat autem miles, fortis tanquam Orcus. Apoculamus nos circa gallicinia; luna lucebat tanquam meridie. Venimus inter monimenta: homo meus coepit ad stelas facere; sedeo ego cantabundus et stelas numero. Deinde ut respexi ad comitem, ille exuit se et omnia vestimenta secundum viam posuit. Mihi anima in naso esse; stabam tanquam mortuus. At ille circumminxit vestimenta sua, et subito lupus factus est. Nolite me iocari putare; ut mentiar, nullius patrimonium tanti facio. Sed, quod coeperam dicere, postquam lupus factus est, ululare coepit et in silvas fugit. Ego primitus nesciebam ubi essem; deinde accessi, ut vestimenta eius tollerem: illa autem lapidea facta sunt. Qui mori timore nisi ego? Gladium tamen strinxi et in tota via umbras cecidi, donec ad villam amicae meae pervenirem. In larvam intravi, paene animam ebullivi, sudor mihi per bifurcum volabat, oculi mortui; vix unquam refectus sum. Melissa mea mirari coepit, quod tam sero ambularem, et: ‘Si ante, inquit, venisses, saltem nobis adiutasses; lupus enim villam intravit et omnia pecora tanquam lanius sanguinem illis misit. Nec tamen derisit, etiamsi fugit; senius enim noster lancea collum eius traiecit’. Haec ut audivi, operire oculos amplius non potui, sed luce clara Gai nostri domum fugi tanquam copo compilatus; et postquam veni in illum locum, in quo lapidea vestimenta erant facta, nihil inveni nisi sanguinem. Vt vero domum veni, iacebat miles meus in lecto tanquam bovis, et collum illius medicus curabat. Intellexi illum versipellem esse, nec postea cum illo panem gustare potui, non si me occidisses. Viderint quid de hoc alii exopinissent; ego si mentior, genios vestros iratos habeam.”

Awesome, right?

Oh, English? Okay, context first: a former slave recalls a time when he had fallen madly in love with a married woman only for her husband to die. So he decides he’s going to go visit her and woo her. Now:

So it happened that my master had gone to Capua to take care of some bullshit, so, seizing the opportunity, I persuaded one of our guests to go with me as far as the fifth mile-marker. He was a soldier, you see, and brave as hell. We headed out around the time the roosters were crowing, and the moon was shining as bright as the noontime.

We came upon a bunch of tombs [note: people were buried by the roadside at this time], and my man went off to check out the inscriptions. I, meanwhile, took a seat with a song in my heart and counted the tombstones. Then, as I looked back at my companion, he stripped off all his clothes and put them in a pile next to the road. My heart was in my throat; I stood still as a dead man. But this dude pissed in a circle around his clothes and out of goddamn nowhere he was a goddamn wolf.

Don’t think for a second that I’m pulling your leg here. I wouldn’t lie about this for all the money in the world. But, as I was saying, after he turned into a wolf, he started to howl and ran into the woods. For a second I barely even remembered where I was; but then I went to pick up his clothes, but they had all turned to stone. Who has two thumbs and almost died of fright? This guy. Still, I drew my sword and was slashing at shadows the whole fucking way until I reached the house of my beloved.

I came in white as a ghost, nearly shitting my heart into my pants, my crotch all swampy with sweat, my eyes like a dead man’s; I barely recovered. My dear Melissa couldn’t believe I had come so late and she said, “If only you had gotten here earlier, you could have helped us at least. A goddamn wolf came into the house and attacked all our sheep, ripping their throats out like a goddamn butcher. But he didn’t have the last laugh, even though he got away: a slave of ours ran him through the neck with a spear.”

After I heard that, there was no way I could close my eyes for even a second, so at first light I ran back to my master Gaius’s house like it had stolen my wallet, and when I got back to the place where dude’s clothes had turned to stone, all I found was blood. But when I got back to the house, I found that soldier of mine lying in bed like a dumb ox, and a doctor was patching up a hole in his neck. I knew then that he was a werewolf, and I would never let that dude buy me dinner again, not on my life. Other people can think what they want about this story, but if I’m lying, may your ghosts haunt me forever.

A couple of notes:

  • The Latin word for werewolf is “versipellis,” which literally means “skin-changer,” so it is not technically limited to werewolves. The phrase, theoretically, could also apply to like ferefoxes, lerelions, berebears, etc.
  • I may have added some swears for flavor (It does literally say “he was brave as hell,” though)

Felicissimum fautissimum fortunatissimum diem larvarum strigarumque vobis vestrisque exopto!

Classical sick burns

Praedia solus habes et solus, Candide, nummos,
aurea solus habes, murrina solus habes,
Massica solus habes et Opimi Caecuba solus,
et cor solus habes, solus et ingenium.
Omnia solus habes–nec me puta uelle negare– 
uxorem sed habes, Candide, cum populo.

Only you have land, Candidus, and only you have the cash,

You alone have stacks of gold, and you alone jars full of jewels,

You alone have all that fancy tall dollar wine,

You’re the only one with a heart, the only one with a brain,

You alone have every little thing! I would never say otherwise.

But your wife, Candidus? Her you share with eeeevvvveerrryyyyoooonnnneeeeee.

Martial 3.26 (translation this guy)

thecaptivephantom  asked:

Could you explain how Roman naming conventions worked? I've read a few wikipedia articles about the subject and I thiink I understand it, but your explanations tend to clear up misunderstandings I have.

The conventions for naming change a great deal over the course of Roman history, from the monarchy into the Middle Ages, but when people talk about “Roman names,” they almost invariably mean the tria nomina (three names) system of the middle Republic and early Empire, so that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Okay, so:

If you are an aristocratic male Roman citizen of the middle Republic to early Empire, you have three names:

1) a praenomen

2) a nomen (sometimes called nomen gentile or nomen gentilicium)

3) and a cognomen

(certain people might also have 4) an agnomen)

As you might be able to infer, “nomen” means name, and these terms are just variations on that.

The praenomen is a personal name that largely serves to distinguish you from your brothers. It is more or less the equivalent of given or first names in our culture, but they would largely be used only by people you were very close to. It was typical for eldest sons to take their father’s praenomen, so generations of identical names were common.

There were a limited number of common praenomens: Publius, Titus, Gaius, Tiberius, Marcus, Lucius, and so on. Some of the other popular ones—Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, etc—have numeric meanings (fifth, sixth, seventh, etc), which probably originally indicated birth order of sons, but eventually came to be applied more arbitrarily; it would not be unheard of for an eldest son to be named Quintus, for example.

The second name, the nomen or nomen gentile, is the name of your gens, or clan. The Roman gentes (clans) were big swathes of families descended originally from the earliest settlers of Rome, but then with other families, such as Etruscan and Sabine (nearby Italian civilizations) immigrants, eventually added in. You wanted a prestigious nomen, because it showed you came from a good pedigree.

The most famous Roman of all, Gaius Julius Caesar (though he is mostly known without his praenomen) was from the Julian clan, who traced their lineage back to Iulus, aka Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, the very founder of the Roman race.

The third name was the cognomen, which is ALSO a family name, but they represent a smaller family line within a gens. Think of it this way: the nomen is the trunk of your family tree, the cognomen is the bough.

Cognomens originated as personal nicknames to distinguish between family members with the same name, but soon were codified as family names themselves. The nickname nature of the origin of cognomens means some of them have interesting or ridiculous meanings: the poet Ovid’s cognomen was Naso, meaning “the nose”; the cognomen Cicero means “chickpea,” probably a reference to a wart; Tacitus means “quiet,” and so on.

Finally, the agnomen took over the role of nickname once cognomens became family names, but most agnomens were honorific, given as a result of some great victory or accomplishment. Probably the most famous of these are Augustus (perhaps you’ve heard of him) and Scipio Africanus (an agnomen applied due to his victories in the Punic War against Carthage [which was in Africa]).

Oh: if you were adopted, you dropped your birth name, took on your adopted father’s name and then turned your old nomen into an adjective and tack that onto the end.

So when Gaius Octavius was adopted by Julius Caesar, he became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus. (Which is why he is sometimes called Octavius and sometimes called Octavian.)

But names weren’t static by any means. They could change over the course of your life depending on what happened to you or what you did. Keeping Octavius as an extreme example:

  • Octavius is born Gaius Octavius Gaii filius, i.e., Gaius Octavius, son of Gaius.
  • In 44 BCE he is posthumously adopted by Julius Caesar, so he becomes Gaius Iulius Gaii filius Caesar Octavianus, meaning Gaius of the Caesar branch of clan Julia, son of Gaius, originally of clan Octavia.
  • In 42 BCE, Julius Caesar was officially named a god, which changes Octavian’s name to Gaius Iulius Divi filius Caesar Octavianus, or Gaius, of the Caesar branch of the Julian clan, son of the divine, originally of the Octavian clan.
  • In 31 BCE, Octavian is named imperator (commander-in-chief) by the army, so now his name is Imperator Gaius Iulius Divi filius Caesar Octavianus…you can put together what that means.
  • Finally, in 27 BCE, he is given the title Augustus and settles on this as his imperial title: Imperator Caesar Divi filius Augustus, which trims a lot of the fat, and focuses on his lineage from Caesar, rather than his less glamorous origins in the Octavian clan.

Anyway, most of the famous Roman dudes you know have names of this structure: Marcus Tullius Cicero, Publius Ovidius Naso, Publius Vergilius Maro, Gaius Horatius Flaccus, and so on. They just end up getting Anglicized in different ways.

As for women:

Typically women were known by the feminine form of their father’s nomen, so Gaius Julius Caesar’s daughter is Julia, for example. If you needed to further distinguish who you were talking about, usually this name could be modified by the genitive (i.e. possessive) form of the woman’s father’s or husband’s name, depending on whether or not she was married; e.g. Clodia Metelli (Clodia, wife of Metellus).

Later, women adopt cognomens as well, either the feminine form of her father’s cognomen (when applicable) or the feminine form of her husband’s nomen—Aquilia Severa, for example, wife of Severus—or even a diminutive version of her ffather or husband’s nomen or cognomen—Livia Drusilla, for example, being the daughter of Marcus Livius Drusus.

Women didn’t have praenomens, and daughters were usually distinguished from each other by ordinal number names. If there were only two daughters, they might have Major and Minor appended to their names (elder and younger, respectively), or if there were more, they might be Prima, Secunda, Tertia, and so on (first, second, third).

Uh, it’s all actually more complicated than that in the grand scheme of things, but there’s the basic outline for you. I hope that helped your understanding a little bit.

anonymous asked:

"Deo" and "dio," is what I meant by d-words. Sorry, I should've emphasized that.

Here is the first part of this question for anyone who missed it:

“Video” means “I see” and “audio” means “I hear,” then why are the d-words different? Sorry, I’d just google this, but I literally don’t know how I would even do it. Thanks in advance.

The things I’m about to say will make more sense if you have studied Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Greek, or basically any other major European language other than English, but that’s not a prerequisite as I will do my best to explain it without going into super extensive (and intensive) detail on the fundamentals of both Latin in particular and synthetic language in general.

The first thing I will say is that the letter Ds in these words are irrelevant. It’s completely coincidental that they have those letters in common. I could just as easily be talking about the words moneo (”I warn”) and haurio (”I absorb”) in terms of why one ends in -eo and the other in -io.

The next thing you need to know has to do with that link to synthetic language up there. Here is the super short, incomplete, quick and dirty version that will sound familiar to you if you have studied Spanish or one of those other languages I said up above:

Latin indicates changes in a verb’s person, number, tense, aspect, voice, and mood by adding elements such as stem changes, tense indicators, and personal endings to the verb. If you know that in Spanish hablo means “I speak” and habla means “he (or she) speaks,” then we are on the same page. If not, here is some more explanation.

English has lost much of the elements that made it a more synthetic language hundreds of years ago, but examples of the little bits of it that we have retained include the fact that we add -s to a verb when the subject is third person singular (i.e., he/she/it/a singular noun) and on regular verbs we add -ed to indicate the simple past. That is, we say “I eat” but “he eats.” What Latin (and many other European languages) does is it has a different form to indicate differences in person, number, etc, all those things I said a paragraph ago.

In English, things like tense and aspect are added by stacking helping verbs until you have a verb phrase. Latin doesn’t use helping verb, but rather does all this stuff internally by adding stem changes, etc. (This part will be unusual to students of modern European languages, which frequently do use helping verbs: ich habe gegessen, he comido, ho mangiato, etc.)

So for example, if I were take the most basic form of a verb–let’s say I run and its Latin equivalent curro–I can change its person, number, tense and so on with some helping verbs and an ending: I will have been running. The Latin equivalent is one word: cucurrero. Instead of stacking helping verbs, I changed the form of the verb from the present stem (curr-) to the perfect (i.e. past tense) stem (in this case cucurr-), while the -ero ending tells me that the tense is future perfect and the subject is first person singular (that is, I).

Clear so far? If yes, proceed. If no, read again from the top. ;)

All of that to say, one of the ways you know which endings and forms to use is that Latin verbs are divided into groups or families known as conjugations (to conjugate is to change a verbs form; if, for example, I were to ask you to conjugate a verb in a particular tense, you would give me all the forms in that tense). If you have studied Spanish, you know that hablar, comer, and sentir are conjugated differently. The reason for this is that the Latin words that they are derived from (fabulare, comedere, and sentire, respectively) are from different conjugations, i.e., families of verbs.

One of the things that distinguishes these conjugations is the vowel they use in their present stem. Latin has four verb conjugations (and then one that’s kind of halfway one and half another). They are called, fittingly, the first, second, third, and fourth conjugations.

First conjugation verbs have a as their stem vowel. First conjugation verbs include amare (”to love”), dare (”to give”), stare (”to stand”), and cantare (”to sing”). If you have ever recited amo amas amat amamus amatis amant, you have seen that a-stem in action.

Second conjugation verbs have e as their stem vowel. Examples include monere (”to warn”), habere (”to have”), and, yes, our friend videre (”to see”).

Third conjugation verbs actually have a consonant stem, but don’t worry about that. Examples include regere (”to rule”), vincere (”to conquer”), and dicere (”to say”). These look like they’re the same as second conjugation, but they are actually different in pronunciation–in second conjugation, that first e in the ending is long, while it’s short in third conjugation. This would be easier to explain out loud. Find me at a con and I’ll tell you all about it.

Fourth conjugation verbs have i as their stem vowel. Examples include venire (”to come”), hinnire (”to whinny [like a horse]”), and, yeah, audire (”to hear”).

So if I put those in the correct form, you get video (”I see”) and audio (”I hear”). By comparison, vides is “you see,” audis is “you hear,” videt is “he/she sees,” and audit is “he/she hears.”

As I said, having d in common is irrelevant, a coincidence. The o at the end is the same because the subject is the same (”I”). The key difference is the e vs the i, which shows that they come from different families of verbs.

Does this make sense at all, or did I lose you? If the latter, don’t feel bad. Here is a red panda:

Feel free to distract me from work tonight with more Latin questions.

May 9 is the first day of Lemuralia

Lemuralia (or Lemuria, but I’ll use Lemuralia to avoid confusion with the lost continent) was an ancient Roman festival held on May 9, 11, and 13 (on the Julian calendar, but whatever), the purpose of which was to drive evil spirits (lemures or larvae) out of your home.

Lemures were ancestral spirits who are pissed because they did not receive proper burial rites. To exorcise such spirits, during this festival, the paterfamilias would walk through the house at midnight with his head turned and his feet bare, and throw black beans behind him, saying “Haec ego mitto; his redimo meque meosque fabis,” or “I send you these; with these beans I redeem me and mine” nine times. The remainder of the household would then clang bronze pots and say, “Manes exite paterni!” or “Ghosts of my fathers, get out of here!”

Why black beans? Black was considered the appropriate offering to cthonic (i.e., underworldly) spirits, and beans, as seeds, are symbols of life. (I also have a theory that beans’ association with farting might have played a role in this, too, but that’s a whole other thing.)

Because of this festival, the whole month of May was associated with evil spirits, and as such, it was considered unlucky to get married in May.

And before you ask, these guys:

are named after the ghosts, not the other way around. Carolus Linnaeus, father of taxonomy, named these creatures after the Latin word for ghost because of their slow, nocturnal movements (he was observing the slender loris, not the much sprightlier ring-tailed lemur that we think of now when we hear the name).

intergalactic-zoo  asked:

I've noticed that in a couple of the recordings of "Angels We Have Heard on High" in my Christmas playlist, they pronounce the c in "excelsis" with a "ch" sound. I've only taken a couple of Latin courses, but they always pronounced c with a hard "k" sound. Meanwhile, the word "excel" has that soft "s" sound on the c. Can you explain what's going on? Thanks!

Latin is a language that has existed over the course of millennia, and just as English is not pronounced the same way now as it was in Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s times, Latin pronunciation changed over the centuries.

There are two main approaches to Latin pronunciation. The one you likely learned in school, especially if you attended public school (or a Protestant private school), is based on the restored classical pronunciation, which is an attempt to replicated the way Latin is believed to have been pronounced in the Golden Age of Latin.

Some notable features of classical pronunciation:

  • c and g are always hard, no exceptions
  • v is pronounced like w
  • ae and oe are diphtongs

The second pronunciation scheme is the liturgical pronunciation, which reflects the changes that started arising in Latin even by late antiquity. This is the way you would hear a Catholic priest pronounce Latin or how you probably learned it if you attended Catholic school.

Some notable differences from classical pronunciation:

  • c and g are soft in front of e, i, or y
  • v is pronounced like v
  • ae and oe have lost their diphthong force and are just pronounced like long e

So, for example, while Cicero would have pronounced Caesar as KIGH-sar, to Erasmus, it would have been more like CHAY-sar. As most Latin Christmas carols are both liturgical and medieval (or later), you get the church Latin pronunciation. Hence in eks-CHELL-sees and not in eks-KELL-sees.

Meanwhile, English has its own set of fucked up problems thanks to being a melting pot of linguistic influences and its various vowel shifts. That’s why we end up with our soft c sounding like an s instead of a ch like it is in, say, Italian (we’re not alone in this; soft c sounds like is in French and Spanish as well, for example). That’s why we say SEEZ-er instead of anything that really resembles something the way any Roman citizen might have said.

anonymous asked:

Which of the following is correct and what's the difference? "Tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis" or "Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis." (This is asked but not answered on p.97 of James Joyce's "The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.")


First: the phrase is a traditional adage. It means “Times change, and we change in them.”


Technically both are correct, but the first one is more correct than the second one. This answer will be confusing to someone who knows a little bit of Latin, because they will see that “et” means “and” and that the “nos” (meaning “we”) goes with the second clause. If I were presenting this phrase to a high school class, I would present them with the second word order just to avoid confusion.


The first wording is “more correct” for the following reasons:

1) This is the traditional word order. This was a proverb, along the lines of “look before you leap” or whatever, so this phrasing would be somewhat formulaic.

2) It’s also in the form of a one line poem. Greek and Roman poetry was all about meter, though their meter was based on vowel quantity (long vs short vowels) rather than stress accents. This particular line is–and this part is even nerdier than the rest of the post, so be ready–dactylic hexameter, the meter used in epic poetry like the Odyssey and Aeneid. What “dactylic hexameter” means is that the line is made up of six metrical feet (i.e., groups of syllables), in this case dactyls (a long syllable followed by two short syllables) and spondees (two long syllables). I don’t know that there’s anything to read into the fact that it’s in dactylic hexameter other than that it was a popular meter.


If I were to swap “et” and “nos” in that line, it would not actually mess up the meter, because either way their placement makes them both long syllables, which is necessary for the pattern, and so:

3) Moving the “et” after the “nos” emphasizes it both syntactically and metrically, giving it more of an adverbial force than a conjunctive one. Thus it might be better to translate it as “Times change; we, too, change in them.”

Thanks for asking a Latin question! I hope I answered it sufficiently.

More burns from Martial

Mentula tam magna est, quantus tibi, Papyle, nasus,
Ut possis, quotiens arrigis, olfacere.

Your dick is huge as hell, my friend,

Your nose is just as long:

Whenever you get a hard-on,

You can sniff your rancid dong

–Martial 6.36 (translation mine)

anonymous asked:

Since you were discussing Roman things... I know the Byzantines pretty much always called themselves Romans. When did the rest of the world stop calling them Romans and start calling them Byzantines?

For those who don’t know, the term “Byzantine” refers to matters of the eastern half of the Roman Empire beginning with when Diocletian split the empire into eastern and western halves in the third century, heightening when Constantine moved the capital of the empire to the city of Byzantium (hence the name “Byzantine”) and renaming it Constantinople after himself (which, you may have heard, is now called Istanbul, and not Constantinople), FURTHER advancing after the fall of the Western empire in 476 CE, and lasting until its conquest by the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s.

You are correct that citizens of the Byzantine Empire did not refer to themselves as such: to them, they were just Romans. They called themselves the Roman Empire, or, occasionally, the Empire of the Greeks, due to the predominance of Greek culture and language in the eastern half of the empire, even since its earliest days. This is why, for example, the New Testament, composed in various parts of the eastern empire including Palestine and Greece, is written in Greek.

(Sidenote: I once got my ASS REAMED by a Catholic dad because I implied to his child that maybe the fact that everyone spoke Latin in the Passion was maybe not super accurate. How dare I insinuate that the work of God’s chosen prophet Saint Melbert of Gibson was anything less than divinely and perfectly inspired?)

Anyway, this period of history began being referred to as Byzantine history in the 16th century in a work called Corpus Historiae Byzantinae, or a Collection of Byzantine History, written in Germany. French authors of the 17th century would also use the term, but it didn’t gain widespread use in the Western world until the 19th century, when the phrase “Byzantine Empire” appears in English for the first time in an 1857 work called History of the Byzantine Empire from 716 to 1057.

So there you go.

Anyway, I hope this does not inspire more questions about Byzantine history, because that shit is WAY outside my wheelhouse. I can barely give you the highlights of WESTERN Roman history.

anonymous asked:

Part 1: I'm working through some John Dee, I know no Latin (which he mostly wrote in) and am relying on translations. One passage in his "Daily Oration for Wisdom" makes no sense in my translation. The original is "Et si Mortalis nullus iam in terris Vivat, qui ad hoc munus aptus sit: Vel qui ex aeterna tua providentia, ad istud mihi praestandum beneficium assignatus fuerit:" The preceding lines are begging for wisdom.

Yeah, the translation in the link you sent is pretty bad. Like, it doesn’t even make sense in English syntax.

The bit you sent me means, “And if no mortal now lives on earth who is fit for this duty, or one who will have been assigned, in your eternal providence, to show this kindness to me,” which, as you can see, is only the beginning of a conditional. 

The second half comes after that: “Tunc equidem humilime, ardentissime et constantissime a tua Divina Maiestate requiro, Ut ad me de caelis mittere digneris bonos tuos Spirituales Ministros, Angelosque, Videlicet Michalem, Gabrielem, Raphalem ac Urielem: et (ex Divino tuo favore) quotienscunque alios, veros, fidelesque tuos Angelos, qui me plene et prefecte informent et instruant, in cognitione, intelligentiaque vera et exacta, Arcanorum et Magnalium tuorum (Creaturas omnes tuas, illarumque naturas, proprietates, et optimos usus, concernentium) et nobis Mortalibus scitu necessariorum; ad tui nominis laudem, honorem, et gloriam; et ad solidam meam, aliorumque (per me,) plurimorum tuorum fidelium consolationem: et ad Inimicorum tuorum confusionem, et subversionem.”

Which means, “Then indeed I most humbly, most ardently, and most firmly beg of your Divine Majesty that you deign to send to me from heaven your Spiritual Ministers and Angels, namely Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel: and (out of your divine favor) however many others of your true and faithful angels, to inform and instruct me fully and completely, in knowledge and understanding, true and exact, of your secrets and your great works (all your creations, and their natures, properties, and best uses) and of all things we mortals need to know; for the praise, honor and glory of your name; for my true consolation and the consolation (through me) of others, your many faithful; and for the confusion and subversion of your enemies.”

So: if no human can teach me the things I desire, send angels.

Guuuuyyyyyssss! I almost missed Ovid’s birthday!

Publius Ovidius Naso (March 20, 43 BC – AD 17/18)

The final lines of (one of) Ovid’s masterpiece(s), the Metamorphoses:

Iamque opus exegi, quod nec Iovis ira nec ignis

nec poterit ferrum nec edax abolere vetustas.

Cum volet, illa dies, quae nil nisi corporis huius

ius habet, incerti spatium mihi finiat aevi:

parte tamen meliore mei super alta perennis

astra ferar, nomenque erit indelebile nostrum,

quaque patet domitis Romana potentia terris,

ore legar populi, perque omnia saecula fama,

siquid habent veri vatum praesagia, vivam.


And now I have finished the work, which neither the anger of Jove, nor fire nor steel, nor all-consuming time can erase. When it so chooses, let that day, which has power over nothing but this physical body, make an end of my unpredictable expanse of life: but in the better part of me, I shall be borne, eternal, beyond the high stars, and my name shall never be forgotten, and wherever the power of Rome extends over the conquered lands, I shall be read by the lips of the people, and through all the centuries, if the prophecies of bards hold any truth, I shall live in fame.

anonymous asked:

So, if Spain calls itself Espana, what did the Romans call themselves or what were other popular names for the Romans?

All right, the two questions here, as I understand them:

1) What did the Romans call themselves?

2) What did other, non-Latin-speaking nations call the Romans?

Well, the answer to your first question is pretty boring. Our words “Rome” and “Roman” are pretty much direct derivatives of the Latin words “Roma” and “Romanus.” The Romans called themselves Romani.

The answer to the second question is a little harder.

The Greeks called the Romans—and later, themselves, once they had been absorbed into the empire— Ῥωμαῖοι or Rhomaioi, which is really just the Greek version of Romani.

What did other cultures call them? I don’t know. I have no idea how much we know of the Gallic/Celtic languages contemporaneous to the first century CE conquest of western and central Europe, and it turns out this is actually very hard to Google.

Another major culture that had contact—to say the least—with the Romans were the Hebrew people of Judea, but other than the fact that I know some sects of Judaism associated the Romans with the Edomites, I don’t know what term they used to refer to the Roman occupiers. If I had to guess, though, since they were in the Greek-speaking eastern half of the empire, they probably called them Greeks, or Yevanim.

And that is about all I know. I will gladly pass on information on this topic from anyone who knows better than I do.

I will point out, though, that the modern Spanish name España is a derivative of the Latin name for that region, Hispania (the origin of the term Hispanic), which is also the source of the English name, Spain.

So I’m not so useful at telling you other languages’ names for Romans, but I could tell you all sorts of Roman names for others.

winskp-deactivated20170301  asked:

Is there a Latin word for accidental pooping?

Is…is there an English word for that?

The closest example I can think of off the top of my head is the word “concacare,” which really just means “to fill with shit.” The most prominent use of this word comes from a work by Seneca the Younger called the Apocolocyntosis divi Claudii, or the Pumpkinification of the Divine Claudius, a play on the word apotheosis, meaning the deification of emperors after their deaths. 

Here is an excerpt from the scene in which Claudius dies:

“Ultima vox eius haec inter homines audita est, cum maiorem sonitum emisisset illa parte, qua facilius loquebatur: “vae me, puto, concacavi me.” Quod an fecerit, nescio: omnia certe concacavit.”

Which is to say:

“His last words among men were heard to be these, when he had made a rather loud noise from that part with which he spoke most easily [translator’s note: this means his butt parts; this is a fart joke]: ‘Oh my god, I seem to have shat myself.’ Whether he actually did or not, I don’t know. But he certainly shat all over everything else.”

Imagine this the next time you watch I, Claudius.

A choice bit I left out of my translation about the Sea Devil:

“During the reign of Pope Eugene IV, in the city of Sibinicum in Illyricum (roughly the stuff that used to be Yugoslavia) a merman was caught dragging a boy into the sea. He was dragged back onto dry land by those running after him, who had seen the whole thing, after they wounded him with sticks and stones. The likeness of this one was almost human, except his skin was like an eel, and he had two small horns on his head. His hands were formed with only two fingers, but his feet ended in two things that were like tails, from which wings extended to his arms, like a bat.”