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#664518 - Sun Oct 30 2011 07:37 PM Experts in Latin, Please Help!
aguardino Offline
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Registered: Sun Oct 30 2011
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While in Italy recently, I stumbled upon a remote, unused fountain in the farm fields of a small mountain town outside of Naples called "Morra" that had an inscribed stone monument attached to it bearing the following Latin words below. Is there anyone out there that can help translate this inscription? Thank you. - Aguardino

A.D 1634
HVNC FONTE MAERE PUBLICO ILL maD VICTORIA DE MORRA INST CVRAVI

I can send a photo, if need be. Thanks again.

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#664532 - Sun Oct 30 2011 09:25 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
Barbarini Offline
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Although I did study Latin in school, it was such a long time ago, the most I could come up with from memory is veni, vidi, vici...not much help I'm afraid.

Here's the google translation...still a bit gobbledygookish.

Ill a criminal HVNC FONT grief maD victory over the Morris NEAR CVRAVI


Try this latin translation to english website as well. You might be able to decypher from that. http://www.stars21.com/translator/latin_to_english.html

Good luck!
Barbara

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#664534 - Sun Oct 30 2011 09:49 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
ren33 Offline
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My Latin is by now very ropy but the first bit is (I think) "This Fountain mourns/laments..................................(curavi may have to do with cured/recovered). There you have the full benefit of my meagre knowledge. Ask Tabby Tom.
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#664569 - Mon Oct 31 2011 03:25 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
DanielPoulson Offline
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It's difficult for me to translate this, but I think that the general gist is that the fountain is in memoriam of Victoria de Morra. I would guess that Victoria de Morra is a name, rather than something in Latin, but I'm not sure, I can check and get back to you, but Tabby Tom may well come along and solve this for us.
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#664570 - Mon Oct 31 2011 03:43 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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I wonder whether the word division has gone awry at the beginning. If we put the M on the end of FONTE, we get:

HUNC FONTEM AERE PUBLICO ILL maD VICTORIA DE MORRA INST (abbreviation for INSTITUI) CURAVI.

"I, ... Victoria de Morra, had this fountain built at public expense".

As for "ILL maD", I can only hazard a guess that it's an abbreviation for something like "illustrissima domina" ("the most excellent lady"). This sounds a bit immodest if the inscription is in the first person, but possibly a final T has disappeared from CURAVI, and the original inscription may have read CURAVIT ("The most excellent lady Victoria de Morra had this fountain erected at public expense").
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#664572 - Mon Oct 31 2011 04:13 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
flopsymopsy Offline

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Was there a graveyard near this fountain? I think 'maero' means to grieve or express sorrow. So "Madonna Victoria de Morra had this fountain built for (the use of) the grieving public."

More likely that the lady of the manor paid for the fountain rather than getting one built at public expense?
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#664573 - Mon Oct 31 2011 04:22 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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Quote:
I think 'maero' means to grieve or express sorrow.

"Maereo" certainly means to grieve, but the first few words don't hang together in Latin. "Hunc" is accusative, "fonte" is ablative, and "maere" is the imperative singular (i.e. an order "Grieve!" addressed to one person).

Still, I think we're on the right track between us. On this webpage, you can find the following in a discussion about Morra.

Quote:
La prima fontana che si incontra scendendo è chiamata "la fontana di Morra". E' situata in una grotta ed ha due canali e una bella lapide scritta in latino della feudataria dell'epoca che la fece costruire: Donna Vittoria Morra.


This seems to mean something like “The first fountain you come to on the way down is called the “Fountain of Morra”. It is situated in a cave and has two spouts and a fine stone inscribed in Latin for the landowner at the time, who had it built: the lady Vittoria Morra.”
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#664574 - Mon Oct 31 2011 04:45 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
flopsymopsy Offline

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Ah, from reading that page (though my Italian's not wonderful) it seems there is more than one fountain on that, presumably slightly hilly, walk erected for use by people who wanted to "picnic". Though in mediaeval times when Donna Morra had her fountain erected it was possibly more to do with people working the land who would need water.
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#664588 - Mon Oct 31 2011 09:27 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
Jakeroo Offline
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Aguardino: What does the fountain look like? And is the town called "La Morra", or "Morra de Sanctis"? (I'm guessing the latter, as it seems to be closer to Naples than the other and used to be called Morra Irpino prior to 1937).

If it's indeed the latter, you could try contacting their city hall:
Address: Piazza F. De Sanctis - 83040 Morra De Sanctis - ITALY
Phone Number: (+39) 0827-43021; Fax: (+39) 0827-43081
Mayor: Gerardo Capozza

I've found that many folks are more than willing to talk about their town/city, even if it might take some time before they get back to you.
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#664612 - Mon Oct 31 2011 11:13 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
Verbonica Offline
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I see where INST can also mean "continue", so maybe it's something like:

This fountain is to publicly mourn the lady Victoria of Morra (who) continues to take care of us.

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#664621 - Mon Oct 31 2011 12:21 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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You really can't translate Latin without taking account of the inflections.

I can't see any way in which “this fountain” can be “hunc fonte”. If it's in the accusative case, it will be “hunc fontem”; if it's in the ablative it will be “hoc fonte”. Similarly, “maere” can only be the imperative of the verb “maereo”: it can only be a command.

This is why I think the M belongs on the end of FONTE(M) and not at the beginning of (M)AERE. If you google on the phrases “aere publico” (sometimes abbreviated to AER P) and “institui curavit”, there are a number of instances of the phrases (though admittedly in those quotations “instituere” usually has the sense of “instruct” rather than “erect”).
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#664638 - Mon Oct 31 2011 01:30 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
flopsymopsy Offline

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Could this be a case of poor grammar in the sign? Like the modern road-painters who tell you there's a shcool coming or a pedistrian crorsing? Just a thought. grin
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#664645 - Mon Oct 31 2011 01:49 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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Yes, I think that's exactly what has happened.

The council officials who commission our road signs know how to spell “school”, but the painters who paint them sometimes don't.

Similarly, I think that the original inscription at Morra would have been composed by someone who knew Latin and said “FONTEM AERE”, and this was corrupted by the masons into the meaningless “FONTE MAERE”. If I'm right, the intended inscription is grammatical Latin and uses the kind of phrases that one would expect to find on a monument.


Edited by TabbyTom (Mon Oct 31 2011 01:50 PM)
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#664658 - Mon Oct 31 2011 02:54 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
mehaul Offline
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Historically. there were no political or military activities a monument might be raised for. In 1632 the Spanish of Toledo had held sway in what was then the second largest city of Europe, Naples, in a laissez-faire fashion. It seems that economically, this was a good time to be in that part of Italy.
Could the inscription be a mix of Latin and Italian of the time? Or could the Spanish have had an influence on the syntax of the Latin used?

The original description above about the fountain near farm land seems in conflict with the grotto/cave fountain. That picture offered would indeed be welcome to help insure which fountain is under discussion. Can it be posted here or does it need to be linked to in the Photography threads somewhere?

There was a pope possibly from there a few hundred years earlier (This is a result of a Morra search in Wikipedia:) Pope Gregory VIII (c. 1100/1105-1187), born Alberto di Morra (But note there are two other Morras in Italy. La Morra in the Northwest and Morra city in the center.
Pope Gregory is listed as having been born in Benevento which is just east of Naples. He was the son of Sartorius di Morra. Popes' families were usually well off after the pope's reign so di(e) Morra was probably a very wealthy family a few hundred years after Gregory's time.


Edited by mehaul (Mon Oct 31 2011 07:01 PM)
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#664661 - Mon Oct 31 2011 03:47 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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Registered: Wed Oct 17 2001
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Quote:
Could the inscription be a mix of Latin and Italian of the time? Or could the Spanish have had an influence on the syntax of the Latin used?

The tradition of “macaronic” composition, mixing Latin with vernacular languages (Romance or Germanic), would certainly have been well established by the 1630s, but in my experience it was used for comic effect among scholars and students. I'm pretty sure that a commemorative inscription on a public utility like a fountain would be composed in good classical Latin by someone who had a good knowledge of the grammar.

I am contacting the administrators via a moderators' forum to see if we can have a photo posted here. However, if I were an administrator, my answer would almost certainly be “No”: there are good reasons for restricting photos to certain forums.
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#664683 - Mon Oct 31 2011 05:50 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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aguardino,

As you can see, we can't really decide on the meaning of the inscription. I think a photo would help, but we don't allow photos in our general discussion forums. Can you possibly post a clickable link to the photo that you have?
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#664753 - Tue Nov 01 2011 04:25 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
dsimpy Offline
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Any old Latin inscriptions I've seen frequently have the letters running together without breaks between words. If that's the case here it might explain any confusion about whether it reads 'fontem aere' (which makes clear sense to me as TT has translated it) or whether it appears to read 'fonte maere'.

I'm curious about why Victoria de Morra would receive such credit for a fountain erected at the public expense (as opposed to from her own pocket). Was this common?
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#664770 - Tue Nov 01 2011 07:18 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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Well, it's not unusual for a government or local council to boast of spending the taxpayers' money on things that they think are for the public benefit. For instance, this webpage has a picture of an inscription in Cagliari with a very similar formula:
Quote:
Felicissime regnante serenissimo et invictissimo Philippo Hispaniarum et Sardiniae rege Catholico Tertio orbis monarcha orthodoxae fidei protectore Calaritana Civitas totius Sardiniae Regni caput primas praesidium et emporium celebre hoc fontis B. Luciae nominatum opus aere publico fieri curavit. Consulibus Gaspar Fortesa Petro Johanne Otgerio Stephano Satta Quenza Antioncho Maltes et Matheo Xinto anno a Christ i nativitate MDCIlII.

There's a picture of the Cagliari inscription on the page, and the words, as dsimpy suggests, are not very clearly separated. The essence of the inscription (in bold in my quote) is "The city of Cagliari had this work, named the fountain of the Blessed Lucy, carried out at public expense."

If Donna Vittoria was the power in the land around Morra, I suppose she might take credit for herself in the same way.
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#664783 - Tue Nov 01 2011 09:23 AM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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I've had a note from Arlesienne giving us this link , which has a photo of the inscription at Morra (fifth photo down from the top of the page).

The original photo isn't very clear, and my graphics editor isn't working properly so I can't play around with the contrast, etc. However, I think we can safely read the last two words as INSTAVRANDVM CVRAVIT.

Thank you, Arlesienne: this is just what we need!
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#664827 - Tue Nov 01 2011 01:05 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
AlexxSchneider Offline
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You can see clearly in the photo that it is indeed FONTEM AERE. I completely agree with your translation, TabbyTom. This thread was really interesting (I'm about to graduate in June with an MA in Classics, so it's my field; the Latin anyway) smile
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#664834 - Tue Nov 01 2011 01:28 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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Thanks, Alexx. My own qualification is a mere A-level gained in 1963, so I'm very grateful for the endorsement.
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#664838 - Tue Nov 01 2011 01:46 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
flopsymopsy Offline

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I've just played with the image in Photoshop and while it's quite difficult to get good contrast in the bottom line it clearly says INSTAVRANDVM CVRAVIT. Good for Ma Donna Victoria, eh. smile
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#665367 - Thu Nov 03 2011 01:01 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
AlexxSchneider Offline
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You're very welcome, TabbyTom smile
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#672886 - Sun Dec 11 2011 08:59 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
aguardino Offline
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Registered: Sun Oct 30 2011
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I want to thank TabbyTom and all others that contibuted to answering my translation question. Indeed, the link to the photos that Arlesienne posted shows the fountain and stone inscription that I was referring to. I also note that I omitted a word or part of a word on the last line of the stone(so sorry!). Having now confirmed the inscribed words as: "HVNC FONTEM AERE PUBLICO ILL maD VICTORIA DE MORRA INSTAVRANDVM CVRAVIT" I am curious as to your thoughts on the final translation. Thank you again for all of your help.

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#673051 - Mon Dec 12 2011 05:59 PM Re: Experts in Latin, Please Help!
TabbyTom Offline
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I would suggest "The most illustrious lady Vittoria de Morra had this fountain built* at public expense".

" The verb "instaurare" can mean to restore or repair as well as to erect, but I'm inclined to think that her ladyship is claiming credit for the original building of the fountain.
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