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Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by imak117, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. imak117 New Member

    english
    Hi im having a tattoo and decided I really want the quote in latin

    Can anyone tell me the latin translation for the following

    'Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves'

    It is a quote by Henry David Thoreau.

    'Lost' is meant in the context of a person being lost, or lost their way, if that helps :)

    Any help here would be really great
    Thankyou very much :)

    Iain
     
  2. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Greetings

    There's quite a market for tattoos with Latin inscriptions at the moment. Perhaps I have missed my vocation?

    Anyway, to answer the question, This quotation certainly lends itself to the style of Latin epigram or motto.

    One possibility might be:

    viam perdendo nos [ipsos] invenimus

    Literally "in losing the way we find ourselves".

    If you want it more literal you have to use more words - one way would be nisi viam perdideris, te ipsum invenire non poteris coepisse. But this is long and prosaic and clumsy.

    Wait for other answers, though, before you decide.Σ
     
  3. imak117 New Member

    english
    Thanks so much for the help!

    I actually really like your idea on the translation 'in losing the way we find ourselves'

    viam perdendo nos [ipsos] inveni

    The part of the quote (ipsos) is in brackets? Would this need to be in brackets or are they not required? And what does that word actually mean?

    Sorry for all the questions ha. Really like that version of the quote though so thankyou again :)

    Iain
     
  4. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    In Scholiast's suggestion, nos ipsos compared with plain nos does not alter the semantic meaning: it simply adds a degree of emphasis to 'ourselves'. This is a nuance practically impossible to convey in English.
    Both nos invenimus and nos ipsos invenimus mean 'we find ourselves'.

    perdere strikes me as rather a strong verb for the context, though. Another way would be:

    nemo nisi via amissa sibi patescit: literal meaning, 'nobody, unless he has lost his way, is revealed to himself'.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  5. imak117 New Member

    english
    Thankyou for replying and explaining, much appreciated.

    It is comforting to know two people are in agreement over the translation.

    I like the version including 'ipsos' as I like that it emphasises 'ourselves' as I believe that to be the integral part of the quote....

    Thanks again :)
     
  6. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Well, I am not completely agreeing with Scholiast: I am suggesting that the word perdendo is not quite appropriate as it implies somehow culpable abandoning or wasting of something (perhaps Scholiast will have something to say about that).
     
  7. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Greetings again

    In response to wandle's #6, yes I agree that perdere is not quite right (I did think about this), but to my mind neither is amittere, for "to lose one's way" seems to me to be idiomatically an Anglism, and we cannot "mislay" a road or a track.

    falsis itineribus nos invenimus?

    Σ
     
  8. imak117 New Member

    english
    Wow, really glad im getting help here and not just relying on a translation website, it seems quite ambiguous.

    Im really quite fond of the expression 'in losing the way we find ourselves' now, so if there is a way of a direct translation for that which you both agree upon, that would be perfect :)

    Thanks again
     
  9. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    Deutsch
    What about

    Devio ergo me invenio
    Devians me invenio
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  10. Quiviscumque

    Quiviscumque Moderator

    Ciudad del paraíso
    Spanish-Spain
    Excuse me, Scholiast and wandle, but neither "perdere" nor "amittere": I prefer "errare via".

    via errando nos ipsos invenimus
     
  11. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Reading, UK
    English - UK
    Greetings again

    Quiviscumque has it (#10). errare is absolutely right, and I am kicking myself for not thinking of it. But surely with the gerund errando, via must be accusative, viam. Or perhaps closer to the sense of the original inquiry, an abl. abs., erratis viis nos invenimus.

    quid sentiunt alii?

    Σ
     
  12. Quiviscumque

    Quiviscumque Moderator

    Ciudad del paraíso
    Spanish-Spain
    "Errare via" (abl.) is classic, I think (Aeneidos 2.739).
    Perhaps we could use my beloved participle:

    "Via errantes, nos ipsos invenimus"
     
  13. imak117 New Member

    english
    Thanks again for your input here everyone :)

    So it seems the latter part of the quote is definitely 'nos ipsos invenimus' which I take to mean 'we find ouselves'

    Is 'via errantes' suitable for the first part of the quote 'in losing the way'?

    Thanks again :)
     
  14. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Quite right, as I ought to have recognised!
    The ablative is fine, and the gerund here seems to me the best option for the preference expressed by imak117

    However, nos ipsos invenimus 'we find ourselves' is more than the original says: 'begin to understand ourselves'. Finding ourselves is the outcome, rather than the beginning, of the process of self-understanding.

    Hence I would recommend dropping ipsos, which is not essential, and putting primum ('first') instead:
    via errando nos primum invenimus
    It is in wandering off the track that we first discover ourselves.
     
  15. imak117 New Member

    english
    Thanks very much for the reply.

    Very happy with the translation :)

    Good to know a few opinions on the matter.

    Thanks again :)
     

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