se haberet

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by machadinho, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. machadinho Senior Member

    pt br
    Hi. I translate temperamentum by constitution, but I can't translate se haberet by were constituted since I'd rather avoid constituted constitution. How would you translate se haberet here?

    My attempt:
    If our eyes were bigger or smaller, or if our constitution were set up differently, those things which now [appear] beautiful [would appear] ugly, and indeed those which now [appear] ugly would appear beautiful to us.

  2. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member


    A nice example, this, of how sometimes ideas neatly and epigrammatically expressed in Latin are readily comprehensible, but extremely difficult to translate.

    My suggestion: "were our faculties otherwise constituted..."

    (I am moved, incidentally, to wonder whether with longiores and breviores Spinoza was not thinking more of long-sightedness and myopia, rather than the size of the eyeballs.)
  3. machadinho Senior Member

    pt br
    Salve! Thanks for your translation, Scholiast, I appreciate it, and it's much better than mine.

    But I have to translate temperamentum by constitution for theoretical reasons, and thus I can't use to be constituted.

    And thanks for drawing my attention to myopia; Spinoza was a lens grinder!
  4. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings once more

    Yes, machadinho, I understand the difficulty, which is as much of philosophy as it is of language.

    So "...or our faculties otherwise ordered..."? This would be a slightly old-fashioned way of putting it (it would be so much easier into eighteenth-century Gibbon-ese). But why in heaven's name are you, a Brazilian Portuguese speaker, trying to translate Spinoza into English? My curiosity is aroused.
  5. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    There is no need to use 'be constituted'. aliter se habere means 'to be different'.

    Thus: si ... nostrum aliter se haberet temperamentum: 'if our constitution were different'.
  6. machadinho Senior Member

    pt br
    Yes, I agree it would be enough to say were different. Thanks! :)
    But what is se habere for? When do authors use it?
  7. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    They use it with an adverb in similar grammatical contexts.
    bene se habere: to be well.
  8. machadinho Senior Member

    pt br
    I see. Thank you!

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