Latin Literature all sounds like epithets.

Just had an insight into why it sometimes seems like all of the Roman world spoke in small catchy phrases.

Because of their wont to write in subordinate clauses and retain only one main verb for a thought, their are many many more relative clauses than English. In English we usually only use relative clauses when we want to say something pithy and memorable. To explain:

Ubi tu es, ibi est frater tuus.

Literally translated: Where you are, there is your brother.

But when in English would we ever say that thought in that manner? Never. We’d say, “You’re where my brother is.” or “Your brother is in the same place as you.” Not this ridiculous heavy-handed Jesus-sounding “Where you are, there also is your brother.” Which brings me to a second point, how much of Jesus’ words have been diluted from their linguistic immediacy to this 17th century pithiness? The King James Bible perhaps sounded normal when written, but there’s a great loss to be had when we never hear what was said in the first place:

Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς. μήτι δύναται τυφλὸς τυφλὸν ὁδηγεῖν; οὐχὶ ἀμφότεροι εἰς βόθυνον ἐμπεσοῦνται; – Greek from New Advent

And he also told a parable to them: “Surely a blind man cannot lead a blind man? Won’t they fall into a pit?” – my translation

And he spake a parable unto them; Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch? -

The difference isn’t the most immediate there, but perhaps stilted and over-literal translations of important Greek and Roman and Christian figures have led to an a ridiculous view of both them and the relevance of their words to us now.

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One thought on “Latin Literature all sounds like epithets.

  1. Interesting, Peter. Nice blog. Isn’t it amazing that you are now translating Greek and Latin. Keep up the good work.

    Love, Dad

    Dr. Joseph Atkinson Theology of the Family Project

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