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arma virumque cano

English translation: This is the story of a man and his struggle

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Latin term or phrase:arma virumque cano
English translation:This is the story of a man and his struggle
Entered by: Chris Rowson
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07:04 Dec 27, 2002
Latin to English translations [Non-PRO]
Art/Literary
Latin term or phrase: arma virumque cano
---Publius Vergilius Maro
Jared A. Kime
This is the story of a man and his struggle
Explanation:
This is the beginning of “Virgil´s Aeneid”, the famous epic poem of P. Vergilius Maro. Or at least it is in the accepted standard version – some of the old copies have a few lines before this. The Aeneid is the story of Aeneas, a figure from the story of the Trojan war, of whom little or nothing is really known. The poem creates a new origin myth for the Roman Empire, which replaced the Roman Republic and its myth of Romulus and Remus, and how they were raised by a wolf.

It tells how Aeneas, driven from his home city through its destruction by the Greeks in the Trojan war, wandered for many years, through many adventures, and eventually arrived in Italy and founded Rome. It is modelled on the epic poems of Homer, particularly the Odyssey, which tells of the wanderings of Odysseus after the same war. This was from the Greek side, though.

“Cano” – Latin often puts the verb at the end, but I want to take it first – means literally “I sing”. But this is Virgil claiming to be an epic poet in the tradition of Homer, a bard who sings an epic tale as entertainment at a feast, in the days before music systems. We could translate it as “I write”, which is what Virgil really did, I don´t think anyone ever sang the Aeneid. But I guess he earned his place amongst the bards, and we can give him his “I sing”.

“Arma” means arms, in the sense of weapons, but the meaning is wider. “War” is not a bad translation. You could argue, though, that it is not wide enough, since weapons are not used only in war – not when you wander many years, through often barbarous and uncivilised lands, in search of a new home.

“virumque”: the –que is a Latin form of “and”. “Virum” is from “vir”, Latin “man” (as opposed to woman). Latin does not use articles such as “a” and “the” – you can translate either as “ ... and a man” or “ ... and the man”.

The traditional translation, very literal, is “Arms and the man I sing”. The line as a whole was much quoted by the Romans and many people since. It really cannot be taken alone, but only in the context of the poem as a whole, and the culture it stems from. To translate it as a single line is almost meaningless, and there are a hundred ways to do it.

The traditional translation is by the English poet Dryden in the 17th C:

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate,
And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,
Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town;
His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.




--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-12-27 07:15:46 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

By the way, I didn´t write all this fresh - this quotation is already in the KudoZ glossary, which has a lot of great stuff in it: http://www.proz.com/?sp=mt
Selected response from:

Chris Rowson
Local time: 19:20
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement. KudoZ.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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5 +12This is the story of a man and his struggleChris Rowson


  

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9 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +12
This is the story of a man and his struggle


Explanation:
This is the beginning of “Virgil´s Aeneid”, the famous epic poem of P. Vergilius Maro. Or at least it is in the accepted standard version – some of the old copies have a few lines before this. The Aeneid is the story of Aeneas, a figure from the story of the Trojan war, of whom little or nothing is really known. The poem creates a new origin myth for the Roman Empire, which replaced the Roman Republic and its myth of Romulus and Remus, and how they were raised by a wolf.

It tells how Aeneas, driven from his home city through its destruction by the Greeks in the Trojan war, wandered for many years, through many adventures, and eventually arrived in Italy and founded Rome. It is modelled on the epic poems of Homer, particularly the Odyssey, which tells of the wanderings of Odysseus after the same war. This was from the Greek side, though.

“Cano” – Latin often puts the verb at the end, but I want to take it first – means literally “I sing”. But this is Virgil claiming to be an epic poet in the tradition of Homer, a bard who sings an epic tale as entertainment at a feast, in the days before music systems. We could translate it as “I write”, which is what Virgil really did, I don´t think anyone ever sang the Aeneid. But I guess he earned his place amongst the bards, and we can give him his “I sing”.

“Arma” means arms, in the sense of weapons, but the meaning is wider. “War” is not a bad translation. You could argue, though, that it is not wide enough, since weapons are not used only in war – not when you wander many years, through often barbarous and uncivilised lands, in search of a new home.

“virumque”: the –que is a Latin form of “and”. “Virum” is from “vir”, Latin “man” (as opposed to woman). Latin does not use articles such as “a” and “the” – you can translate either as “ ... and a man” or “ ... and the man”.

The traditional translation, very literal, is “Arms and the man I sing”. The line as a whole was much quoted by the Romans and many people since. It really cannot be taken alone, but only in the context of the poem as a whole, and the culture it stems from. To translate it as a single line is almost meaningless, and there are a hundred ways to do it.

The traditional translation is by the English poet Dryden in the 17th C:

Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate,
And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate,
Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town;
His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.




--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-12-27 07:15:46 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

By the way, I didn´t write all this fresh - this quotation is already in the KudoZ glossary, which has a lot of great stuff in it: http://www.proz.com/?sp=mt

Chris Rowson
Local time: 19:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 49
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement. KudoZ.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Elisabeth Ghysels
30 mins

agree  Yuri Smirnov
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agree  LQA Russian
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agree  Antoinette Verburg
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agree  irat56
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agree  flaviofbg
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agree  zebung: good research!
3 hrs
  -> Research? - I have this by heart ;-)

agree  Giusi Pasi
8 hrs

agree  Joseph Brazauskas
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agree  Eva Blanar: Beautiful answer!
10 days
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agree  Stefano Rosso: Interesting reading!
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agree  xxxcmk
64 days
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