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Fun with Latin

On the lighter side...


  • Beard, H. X-treme Latin. London, 2004.
  • Beard, H. Latin for all Occasions. London, 1990.
  • Lovric, M., Mardas, N. D. How to Insult, Abuse and Insinuate in Classical Latin. London, 1998.
  • Geuss, R. Parrots, Poets, Philosophers, and Good Advice. London, 1999.
  • Robinett, B., Allen, V. Easy Latin Crossword Puzzles: Quid Pro Quo. Chicago: Passport Books, 1999.

Our own discoveries

In the course of our own translation work, we have found the following quotations entertaining, sometimes more for the parallel translation provided!

From Lucretius, De Rerum Natura. Loeb, 1975 [1924]. Book I, ll. 29-40.

29 Effice ut interea fera moenera militiai
30 per maria ac terras omnis sopita quiescant;
31 nam tu sola potes tranquilla pace iuvare
32 mortalis, quoniam belli fera moenera Mavors
33 armipotens regit, in gremium qui saepe tuum se
34 reiicit aeterno devictus vulnere amoris,
35 atque ita suspiciens tereti cervice reposta
36 pascit amore avidos inhians in te, dea, visus,
37 eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore.
38 hunc tu, diva, tuo recubantem corpore sancto
39 circumfusa super, suavis ex ore loquellas
40 funde petens placidam Romanis, incluta, pacem;

Here Mars and Venus are, shall we say, enjoying one another's company after a hard day of battle. Now, the interesting part, we think, is what is going on in lines 38-39. But it wouldn't have been so interesting if it was not for the Loeb translation which reads,

'There as he reclines, goddess, upon your sacred body, do you, bending around him from above, pour from your lips sweet coaxings...'

Could someone please explain to us what is going on here? The translator clearly has a hangup with certain realities. After all, line 37 already stated that Mars was on his back. And since no one lies on top of their own body, the 'tuo corpore sancto' is not refering to Venus, but to Mars. And Venus, the subject of the sentence, is the one 'circumfusa SUPER'. Also, the verb 'funde' in line 40, does not work very well on this translator's account given the laws of gravity. It seems that the translator did not appreciate enough the significance of his own marginal gloss on this section which reads, 'Persuade Mars your lover to give us peace.'