Posted by Dennis » Add Comment »
Laurand begins this chapter in the supplement to his Manuel (Pour mieux comprendre l’antiquite classique) with a nice anecdote about a certain English author. The story sounds familiar, and I wonder if anyone knows who he means (please leave a comment if you do):
Un auteur anglais raconte qu’un matin, il s’assit devant sa table de travail, ouvrit à la première le Discours sur la couronne et ne se leva pas avant d’en avoir terminé la lecture. « Jamais, ajoute-t-il, je n’ai autant admiré Démosthène que ce jour-là. »
C’est que l’impression produite sur nous par les anciens dépend beaucoup de la manière dont nous les lisons. Une interruption suffit parfois à rompre le charme.
Here’s my version for those sans français:
An English writer relates that he sat at his desk one morning, opened up to the first page of On the Crown, and did not rise until he finished reading. “I have never,” he says, “admired Demosthenes as much as I did that day.”
That’s because the impression that ancient writers produce upon us really depends upon how we read them. An interruption is enough to break the spell.
If the sentiment sounds familiar it may be that Laurand was the source of my previous posts on How to be a Classical Philologist (pt. 1 & pt. 2), as he had some very good advice on how to read elsewhere in the Manuel. This speaks to the importance of reading whole works, quickly enough to have a sense of the work as a unity, and this is something we all probably need to do a little more of.
Posted by Sarah » Add Comment »
Bad Latin really tries my patience.
I love finding Latin in unexpected places. That being said, it spoils the effect if the Latin is incorrect! While shopping today I saw this Jessica Kagan Cushman bracelet, original price: $125. It says: QUOSQUE TANDEM ABUTERE PATIENTIA NOSTRA?, which is nonsense. She was trying to quote Cicero’s First Catilinarian, which begins: Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?, or (roughly) “How long will you abuse our patience, Catiline? The bracelet’s “quosque” is meaningless in the context, since abutere takes the ablative. I would suggest, Ms. Cushman, next time you quote a Latin phrase, that you double-check your source before production.
Posted by Dennis » 17 Comments »
This is one is really, really bad. I was browsing around at some well-known blogs to see what sorts of useful things I might include here, and as I scanned the rather spartan Instapundit I came across this unfamiliar and baffling line in the sidebar:
Sic gorgiamus [sic] allos [sic] subjectatos nunc!
I knew that gorgiare was not a Latin verb, and that allos must be a mistake for alios (others).
The source is apparently the 1991 film adaptation of the Addams Family, and it serves as the family motto (you can see it in the script here), and the translation at least sounds like a motto: “We gladly feast upon those who would subdue us.”
If gorgio, gorgiare meant anything it would mean to speak gutturally, possibly to growl. (I found a reference to DuCange that suggests some authority for this meaning in Late Latin.) What’s really interesting, however, is the meaning of allus: it’s your foot thumb, better known as the big toe.
I feel that gorgiare should take indirect discourse, and so we should understand elision of esse with subiectatos. So what does it sort of mean?
“Thus do we growl that (our) big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!”
Will Hollywood never learn to consult a proper Latinist?
I might suggest something like this: “Laeti vescimur nos subacturis.”