impius

roryomolly  asked:

I was wondering about the post calling out John Laurens' Latin because I'm a Latin student and a fan of Hamilton and I'm curious what it's about? Thanks!

In a letter to Francis Kinloch dated November 6, 1774, John Laurens wrote the following:

He was quoting part of Virgil’s First Eclogue, which reads as follows:

impius haec tam culta novalia miles habebit,
barbarus has segetes. en quo discordia civis
produxit miseros; his nos consevimus agros!

@ciceroprofacto and I were struggling to translate for several reasons:

  • John put an exclamation point after “habebit” and a question mark after “segetes,” so we weren’t really looking at these as connected sentences.  We thought he might have dropped the “esse” in “Barbarus has segetes?” and was just really bad at matching cases, numbers, and genders.
  • We thought “perduxit” was “perdonit.”
  • “En quais” was supposed to be “his nos.”  Is “en quais” even Latin?????
  • We thought “consevimus agros” was possibly “consevi bonus agros” (it was hard to tell with the tear in the paper), which again led us to believe that John could not match numbers and cases.

Here’s what the passage says in English, as translated from Virgil’s version:

A disloyal soldier will own these well-tilled fields,
a barbarian/foreigner (will own) these crops. To this, discord has led
our unfortunate citizens: for these men we sowed our lands.

ciceroprofacto suggested that John’s use of a question mark in “Barbarus has segetes?” could mean that he was “being a belligerent shit” (direct quote from cicero) and was questioning whether they would let the British soldiers take their lands, and I think this interpretation definitely fits John’s personality and sentiments.

And here’s a summary of Vergil’s First Eclogue, from here:

[I]t reflects the days after Julius Caesar’s assassination when residents of northern Italy were dispossessed to provide land for discharged soldiers. Maliboeus, one of the speakers, is among the exiles. He has left his newborn goats on the rocky road as he makes his way toward a new home in Africa, Scythia, or Britain. He laments the fact that the land he has labored to cultivate must fall into the hands of some barbarous veteran, and he inquires how his friend Tityrus has managed to escape the general desolation. Tityrus explains that he went to Rome to plead for his land and that a youth, whom some have identified with Augustus, granted his request, leaving him free to enjoy the humming of the bees on his neighbor’s land. He offers his sympathy and his simple hospitality to the unfortunate Maliboeus.

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(Boooo, no shadows because of the “clouds” there!  But hey, I was rockin the outfit without em, LOL)