Could you please help me understand what is written here?

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Codinome Shlomo

Senior Member
Portuguese (Brazil)
Hello

Could you please help me transliterate the following quote? I can't understand some symbols and words.

"Ego eluris, [???] simus ascriberem, paruas enim, [???] exiles genas habent, [???] sunt furaces, va fre, [???] insidiose, [???] per hec animalia etusdem ingenu homines deprehenduntur, qui scilicet clam insidiosi, vafri, [???] maligni sunt."

Also, why do some letters have an "umlaut" and an acute or grave accent? It doesn't make sense to me.

Thank you in advance!
 

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  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    saluete omnes, praesertim Shlomo

    What a curious piece! I wonder where it comes from.

    First, in "simÿs" and "ingenÿs" we have not umlauts, but ligatured ii. So the words are simiis ('monkeys') and ingeniis.

    Secondly, I think what appears to be a grave accent on clam is an accidental mark which has nothing to do with the Latin.

    Thirdly, the second word is aeluris (transliterated from Greek for 'cats')—watch out for the æ ligature, used consistently in this MS.

    Next, at end of l. 1 and beginning of l.2, read one word, vafrae.

    Finally, the symbols marked by Shlomo with '[???]' (and of which there are two forms) stand for et.

    I would transcribe therefore as follows:

    'ego aeluris et simiis adscriberem, paruas enim et exiles genas habent, et sunt furaces, vafrae et insidiosae, et per haec animalia ingenii eiusdem homines deprehenduntur, qui scilicet clam insidiosi, vafri, et maligni sunt'.

    Σ
     
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    Codinome Shlomo

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Brazil)
    Thank you for your help, Scholiast!

    What a curious piece! I wonder where it comes from.
    It comes from a 16th century book. Its author is a polymath and talks about the behaviour of certain animals and attributes their physical characteristics to it. Then he compares their physical characteristics to humans'. It is obviously a pseudoscience, and most (if not all) of it is rubbish--as it changes according to your own experience with people and animals and your knowledge thereof--, but it can be an interesting read anyway--even though it is toxic. Also, it is pretty much artistic, and there are great illustrations.

    Secondly, I think what appears to be a grave accent on clam is an accidental mark which has nothing to do with the Latin.
    I mentioned that diacritic because it is very frequent in this MS and appears in words like "clàm", "ferè", "verò" -- and also in prepositions like "à". Also, frequently a "q" has an acute accent, and so does an "s".
     
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    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    @Codinome Shlomo (# 3)

    Greetings again

    (a) the diacritics: it would need someone more expert than I in the calligraphy of the period to explain these, so I'm sorry, at present I can shed no more light on this question.

    (b) thank you for the contextual information: I had figured out that at least this extract, if not the whole work, was something of the kind—which moves me to think that you are perhaps a little harsh on the 'science' of the period. Classical science (and classical rhetoric) often argued or assumed that moral character and physical appearance were related; and the bit about cats and monkeys having 'thin and drawn cheeks' (paruas et exiles genas)—associated with thievish, cunning and devious behaviour (furaces &c.)—reminded me of the words which Shakespeare makes Caesar say, of his later assassin Cassius, 'Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, He thinks too much; such men are dangerous' (Julius Caesar, Act I Scene 2).

    Anyway, I am glad to have been of help as far as I am able.

    Σ
     
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    Codinome Shlomo

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Brazil)
    Classical science (and classical rhetoric) often argued or assumed that moral character and physical appearance were related; and the bit about cats and monkeys having 'thin and drawn cheeks' (paruas et exiles genas)—associated with thievish, cunning and devious behaviour (furaces &c.)—reminded me of the words which Shakespeare makes Caesar say, of his later assassin Cassius, 'Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, He thinks too much; such men are dangerous' (Julius Caesar, Act I Scene 2).
    Thank you very much for your insight and for sharing your knowledge with me. I am very interested in the history of physiognomy, and I found your observation fascinating.

    To be honest (like my military training instructor in the Air Force would say, "don't bullshit me"), I felt like I would be reprimanded for even reading such a book, so I felt compelled to show aversion to its content. I guess I have participated so much in extremely politically correct communities that I got used to being banned for expressing my thoughts. Thought I would find the same kind of people here; glad I didn't.
     

    radagasty

    Senior Member
    Australia, Cantonese
    I mentioned that diacritic because it is very frequent in this MS and appears in words like "clàm", "ferè", "verò" -- and also in prepositions like "à". Also, frequently a "q" has an acute accent, and so does an "s".
    These diacritical accents are a recurring feature of not only the manuscript, but also the typescript, of the Renaissance.

    The accent grave, for instance, was often used, inter alia, on function words, appearing over the last syllable, whence clàm, ferè and verò, but not on prepositions, save à and è. At times, it served to distinguish homonyms, e.g., the conjunctions cùm and quòd from the preposition and the pronoun respectively.

    The acute accent usually indicated the displacement of stress from its wonted syllable, often due to enclitics like -q́ue or -v́e. In principle, the accent should appear over the stressed syllable, but often enough, it appeared over the enclitic itself, hence, I imagine, the accented q́'s that you mention.
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    Medieval and Renaissance Latin used lots of diacritcal marks. We discussed that here a few years ago.

    The section on diacritics in the Wikipedia article on New Latin explains them.
    The acute accent marked a stressed syllable, but was usually confined to those where the stress was not in its normal position, as determined by vowel length and syllabic weight. In practice, it was typically found on the vowel in the syllable immediately preceding a final clitic, particularly que "and", ve "or" and ne, a question marker; e.g. idémque "and the same (thing)". Some printers, however, put this acute accent over the q in the enclitic que, e.g. eorumq́ue "and their". The acute accent fell out of favor by the 19th century.

    The grave accent had various uses, none related to pronunciation or stress. It was always found on the preposition à (variant of ab "by" or "from") and likewise on the preposition è (variant of ex "from" or "out of"). It might also be found on the interjection ò "O". Most frequently, it was found on the last (or only) syllable of various adverbs and conjunctions, particularly those that might be confused with prepositions or with inflected forms of nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Examples include certè "certainly", verò "but", primùm "at first", pòst "afterwards", cùm "when", adeò "so far, so much", unà "together", quàm "than". In some texts the grave was found over the clitics such as que, in which case the acute accent did not appear before them.

    The circumflex accent represented metrical length (generally not distinctively pronounced in the New Latin period) and was chiefly found over an a representing an ablative singular case, e.g. eâdem formâ "with the same shape". It might also be used to distinguish two words otherwise spelled identically, but distinct in vowel length; e.g. hîc "here" differentiated from hic "this", fugêre "they have fled" (=fūgērunt) distinguished from fugere "to flee", or senatûs "of the senate" distinct from senatus "the senate". It might also be used for vowels arising from contraction, e.g. nôsti for novisti "you know", imperâsse for imperavisse "to have commanded", or for dei or dii.
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English - American (U.S. - New England)
    Fascinating...wonderful stuff.
    It comes from a 16th century book. Its author is a polymath and talks about the behaviour of certain animals and attributes their physical characteristics to it.
    Presages what we know about natural selection/descent with modification, in a manner of speaking, does it not? Of course, without understanding the key element of genetic mutation, such observations can but take "pseudoscientific" turns after initial observations have been made, which can only increase one's admiration for Darwin and his insight. This type of adaptation, however, is not the subject of physiognomy, and I think that the author of the instant excerpt had adaptations caused by natural selection, which are primary in nature, confused with those resulting from psychological makeup/qualities of mind.

    I am very interested in the history of physiognomy, and I found your observation fascinating. To be honest (like my military training instructor in the Air Force would say, "don't bullshit me"), I felt like I would be reprimanded for even reading such a book, so I felt compelled to show aversion to its content. I guess I have participated so much in extremely politically correct communities that I got used to being banned for expressing my thoughts. Thought I would find the same kind of people here; glad I didn't.
    Shlomo, I understand your circumspection in presenting this question, especially in the highly protective "P.C." age in which we find ourselves. I myself am vaguely interested in physiognomy, having noticed and been oft reminded that people in differing social strata seem to tend to develop certain "secondary external characteristics" in common with those in their own stratum (not talking about sex characteristics here), especially in their facial expressions and mannerisms. I would say, though, that physiognomy, since it pertains to psychological makeup resulting from a highly complex brain, is only applicable to humans and a few of the more intelligent species of other animal: certainly to apes and certain other primates, perhaps to dogs, but certainly not to cats or animals of similar intellect. For instance, one can usually tell if a dog has an agressive nature or a passive nature at first glance, and the same is almost never true for a cat.

    To conclude, will you please provide a citation for this excerpt? Just curious.
     
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