eat, drink, be merry

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by gred, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. gred Senior Member

    USA English
    I am looking for a good latin equivalence for "eat, drink, and be merry", and have several versions to work from.

    A love inscription in Pompeii was supposedly based on the funerary monument of Sardanapalos (668-626 BC) that said "eat, drink, be merry". The Pompeii inscription (79 AD) said "es, bibe, lude" for eat, drink, play (?)

    In Ecclesiastes 8:15 of the Vulgate (400 AD), for "to eat and to drink and to be merry" we have in Latin "comederet et biberet atque gauderet"

    In Luke 12;19 of the Vulgate, for "eat, drink, and be merry" we have in Latin "comede bibe epulare".

    Can anyone help me understand these differences, and propose an appropriate Latin, as in ancient Roman, equivalence for "eat, drink, and be merry" where be merry means to enjoy life, not necessarily "play"?

    Are there better translations to modern English of the "lude", atque gauderet" and "epulare"?

    thanks - gred
  2. Kevin Beach

    Kevin Beach Senior Member

    My immediate reaction is that the Pompeii inscription (which I've seen "live", I'm delighted to say, along with the drinks price list painted on the outside wall of the taverna!) is from the 1st century AD, whereas the Latin of the Vulgate comes from about 200 years later. AS I read and compared the versions you have quoted, it occured to me that the Pompeii version looks very natural, whereas the biblical versions look like an academic's reconstruction.

    Does anybody know - was St. Jerome (author of the Vulgate) a natural Latin speaker or did he have to learn the language?
  3. gred Senior Member

    USA English
    Could someone provide the English literal translation of

    "lude", "atque gauderet" and "epulare"?

    is there a better latin word to convey "be merry" in the sense of the phrase "eat, drink, and be merry"?

  4. I think as a rough equivalent with the same meaning-Nunc est bibendum-might be suitable. It was a phrase of Horace's.
    Now we must drink is an approximate translation I think
  5. gred Senior Member

    USA English
    thanks jamesosullivan - the ancient sources are always interesting. You wouldn't happen to know where in Horace this came from would you?
  6. Imber Ranae Senior Member

    English - USA
    These aren't all that different, really. Two of them are nearly equivalent as they are both commands, arranged in a tricolon. The only significant difference between the two is the final word. The first word of each has nearly the same meaning: es is the imperative of edo "to eat"; comede is an alternative imperative form for comes, which comes from comedo "to eat (up)/eat completely". The last word of each is quite different in sense, however: ludo means to play, frolic, sport, dally, amuse oneself, etc. whereas epulor more specifically means to feast or hold a banquet.

    es, bibe, lude = "eat, drink, and play"

    comede, bibe, epulare = "eat, drink, and dine sumptuously"

    The phrase taken from Ecclesiastes isn't quite equivalent to the other two because it is not a simple command but a part of a longer passage. In fact, it can't really be translated satisfactorily in isolation as you have it. The King James version translates these words as infinitives "to eat, and to drink, and to be merry", but in Latin they're all subjunctives in informal indirect discourse. To render them in the same construction as the other two phrases we can just drop the conjunctions and make the verbs imperative, like so:

    comede [or comes], bibe, gaude = "eat, drink, and be merry"

    This is the closest to your desired English version, since gaudeo means to rejoice or be glad.
  7. Imber Ranae Senior Member

    English - USA
    He is presumed to have been an Illyrian, so that would have been his native tongue. But he went to Rome and studied both Greek and Latin intensively from an early age, so there's no doubt that he had great facility with the language, as good as (if not better than) any native speaker.

    Why do you ask? Do you doubt his ability as a translator? It should of course be kept in mind that Latin had undergone significant changes from the classical norm by the fifth century A.D., and Jerome wrote the Vulgate to be understood by the common people.
  8. Imber Ranae Senior Member

    English - USA
    It's Odes 1,37
  9. gred Senior Member

    USA English
    Thanks Imber Ranae for all the wonderful assistance. I was klooking for a good word like gaudeo / gaude. "Be merry" can have so many different connotations though- gred
  10. yes thanks from me too Imber Ranae-my Latin book said that could be translated on its own no problem-thanks for correcting it!!! :)

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