# Deno diérum circulo Ducto quater notíssimo

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by voltape, Mar 8, 2013.

1. ### voltapeSenior Member

Lima, Peru
Peruvian Spanish/USA English

E
x more docti mystico
Servémus hoc ieiunium,
Deno diérum circulo
Ducto quater notíssimo.

The fast, as taught by holy lore,
We keep in solemn course once more:
The fast to all men known, and bound
In forty days of yearly round.

This Hymn of Matins in Lent has me mystified for decades. “Deno diérum circulo Ducto quater notíssimo”. Now I’d like to understand what it means - - “Deno” is 10, so Deno with Quater makes 40, due to the arrangement of words permitted by Latin. Is it so?

Thank you

2. ### jrundinSenior Member

USA, English
I think the key here is to know how Latin does multiplication.

"deni, -ae, a" is the distributive numeral for ten. Literally it means something like "ten each."
It can be used in expressions like "we gave the men ten acres each."

(alongside cardinal and ordinal numbers, Latin has
"distributive numbers"; they are almost always plural,
except for "singulus," which can show up in the singular:
singuli, bini, terni, quaterni, quini....)

"quater" is an adverbial numeral. Latin also has those, too. They mean
once, twice, thrice, four times, five times.....
"quater" means "four times."

When doing multiplication, Latin uses an adverbial number and a
distributive number. 4 X 3 is "quater terni" (four times three each).

So, "quater deni" means 4 X 10. Here there appears to be some
poetic license or dialectical variant that allows a singular "denus";
It may be because we have a transferred epithet: it ought to be
with plural "dierum," but it's been transferred to singular "circulo."

I'm not sure what "ducto," from "duco" means here. It may merely refer
to the drawing out of the time of the cycle. It may refer
to the calculation of counting out four times ten days; I'm
going with the first choice since it seems less recondite. I'll
take a risk and translate it "celebrated."

So the whole poem is, literally, "Let us, having been taught from mystic
custom, observe (seruemus is subjunctive) this fast, in the most famous
four-times-ten cycle of days celebrated."

I don't read much later Latin, so I easily get confused by this sort
of stuff. In particular, I am not happy with my translations of
"ducto" and "notissimo." By Latin gut-feelings tell me that "cyclo...ducto...notissimo" should
be some sort of ablative absolute. But I can't make that work
properly. There appear to be two competing predicates: "ducto"
and "notissimo." I'd like to subordinate
"notissimo" to "ducto" and make it adverbial (with the cycle celebrated
most famously), but the tense of "ducto" is not what I would expect for that,
since its perfect tense means that it should be in some sense prior to "servemus," and it is not.
Perhaps it is logically prior, therefore this whole phrase means "because."
"Let us observe the fast because the forty-day cycle is famously
being celebrated." Alternatively, it may be that classical Latin's strict
contrast of perfect and present aspect is no longer relevant to this
Latin text.

Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
3. ### relativamenteSenior Member

catalan and spanish
The meaning of words in medieval Latin sometimes is closer to romance words than to classical, I think in this case ductus can be explained with Spanish "ducho" derived from ductus and meaning that somebody is skilled because he or she is very accostumed to something. This would convey the idea that lent is something accustomed for long time.

4. ### jrundinSenior Member

USA, English
That's an interesting suggestion!

In this case, it may just be an ablative of time, not an absolute construction.

"during the customary illustrious (notissimo) four-times-ten cycle of days."

Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
5. ### voltapeSenior Member

Lima, Peru
Peruvian Spanish/USA English
Thank you very much to you all -- This is becoming very interesting. Jrundin, a great explanation - it is whetting my interest in learning more Latin grammar
And Relativamente, tu aporte es increible - jamas me hubiera imaginado que DUCTUS pudiera ser DUCHO, pero parece que es algo así. I'm going to continue delving into this matter.

6. ### voltapeSenior Member

Lima, Peru
Peruvian Spanish/USA English
en efecto: La Real Academia Española dice:
ducho
, cha.
(Etim. disc.; cf. lat. dŭctus y dŏctus).