Deno diérum circulo Ducto quater notíssimo

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

  1. voltape Senior Member

    Lima, Peru
    Peruvian Spanish/USA English

    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. jrundin Senior 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. relativamente Senior 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. jrundin Senior 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. voltape Senior 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. voltape Senior Member

    Lima, Peru
    Peruvian Spanish/USA English
    en efecto: La Real Academia Española dice:
    , cha.
    (Etim. disc.; cf. lat. dŭctus y dŏctus).
    1. adj. Experimentado, diestro.
    Se ve que eres ducho en estos menesteres

    Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados


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