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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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02:33 Jul 29, 2002
Latin to English translations [Non-PRO]
Latin term or phrase: Arma virumque cano
It is a quote from "Publius Vergilius Maro"
Josh
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 “Of arms and the man I sing”, but the new-style version quoted by Rowan is interesting. Another newer version takes this line together with the next few and makes it “I sing the hero who founded the Trojan kingdom in Italy, his voyages and his wars”.

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. Here´s one more, to indicate the range of possibilities: “This is the story of a man and his struggle”.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-29 10:24:17 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I slightly misquoted the traditional translation - there´s no \"of\". It 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.
Selected response from:

Chris Rowson
Local time: 00:29
Grading comment
Thanks a lot!
Josh
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +5This is the story of a man and his struggle.Chris Rowson
4 +2Of war and a man I singRowan Morrell


  

Answers


4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Of war and a man I sing


Explanation:
From a Yahoo search:

"Part I Arma virumque cano Of war and a man I sing (PDF)

3 Part I Arma virumque cano Of war and a man I sing We were a strange little group,
thinking back on it, some of us saints, some of us sinners, and at least ...
http://www.lynhamilton.com/pdfs/african.pdf


    Reference: http://www.lynhamilton.com/pdfs/african.pdf
Rowan Morrell
New Zealand
Local time: 12:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  luskie
7 mins

agree  senesino83: Absolutely :)
5 hrs
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
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 “Of arms and the man I sing”, but the new-style version quoted by Rowan is interesting. Another newer version takes this line together with the next few and makes it “I sing the hero who founded the Trojan kingdom in Italy, his voyages and his wars”.

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. Here´s one more, to indicate the range of possibilities: “This is the story of a man and his struggle”.


--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-29 10:24:17 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I slightly misquoted the traditional translation - there´s no \"of\". It 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.


Chris Rowson
Local time: 00:29
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 49
Grading comment
Thanks a lot!
Josh

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  irat56
1 hr

agree  Sheila Hardie
2 hrs

agree  senesino83
4 hrs

agree  Rod Darby: wow!
6 hrs
  -> I was waking up :-)

agree  xxxcmk
215 days
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