General Question

Hobbes's avatar

Can you translate this Latin phrase?

Asked by Hobbes (7355points) October 21st, 2008

I came across this phrase and I’d like to know what it means, but I don’t know any Latin. If there are any dead language speakers in the collective, I’d appreciate your help!

The phrase is: “Unica nata meo pulcherrima cura dolori”

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20 Answers

breedmitch's avatar

Something about birthday and pain management??

marinelife's avatar

I think this might be fake Latin. As written, it does not make sense.

gailcalled's avatar

Eureka. It is the first line of one of the love elegies written by Propetius;

From book II:25

Unique woman, born to beauty, you, the object of my pain, since fate excludes me from your saying: ‘Come, often’: your form will be made most famous by my books: with your permission, Calvus: and Catullus, peace to you, with yours…

“Unica nata meo pulcherrima cura dolori, excludit quoniam sors mea ‘saepe veni,’ ista meis fiet notissima forma libellis, Calve, tua venia, pace, Catulle,tua.”

gailcalled's avatar

(English is also interesting, since I am a living speaker but not of a dead language.)

marinelife's avatar

Brava, GC. Great find. Now all those different masculine and feminine references make sense!

One tiny fix: Propertius.

gailcalled's avatar

Thanks, Marina; it took me an hour of Googling. I don’t what makes me so compulsive sometimes. You are right, of course, about Propertius, whom I never heard of, but apparently Ovid did. Gawd (to coin a phrase), it’s 12:15 AM.

Nimis's avatar

Gail: A-ha! I thought it said uniquely born.
Totally neglected the feminine references.

Usually hate the word pulchritude. Have yet to see an instance where it couldn’t have been replaced with beauty to the same effect. More to show off vocabulary than anything else. But its Latin counterpoint pulcherrima might make it grow on me a little more. ‘Tis pretty.

Does cura mean object, as in curating?

Hobbes's avatar

Thanks, gail!

Edit: “speakers of dead languages”... whoops.

susanc's avatar

Well Gail has made it impossible for me to get away with the translation I was going to
offer, but out of pure cantankerousness, I’ll give it to you anyway:

Whipped cream and (only whipped cream) can heal the sorrow of my great beauty.

gailcalled's avatar

@All; I was futzing around with an inadequate Cassell’s New Latin Dictionary from 1980 and a brain from 1937. MY two years of HS Latin didn’t help either.

But once I discovered the line was from a series of long love poems, I figured that Prop. messed with word order for the sake of the Latin meter.

My = meus, meum, mei, mea. “So what ending is meo.” I asked myself. Myself said, “No idea.” But, hark; meo is modifying dolori (of my pain) and unica goes with pulcherrima. And note that meis modifies libellis, in the second line of the poem.

This is when I love Fluther. I wasted an entire hour (supposedly dedicated to chores) on this. Now I plan to buy a used Latin I grammar and Spanish I grammar from Amazon.

Susan: wouldn’t pulcherrima give you whipped cream with cherry on top?

Hobbes's avatar

According to a friend of mine, nearly all of the poets had a habit of messing with word order, and each did it in their own special way (which made them very hard to translate).

Knotmyday's avatar

“O! Plus! Perge! Aio! Hui! Hem!”

gailcalled's avatar

Sona si latine loqueris.

gailcalled's avatar

Si hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis propinquus ades

Nimis's avatar

(Maybe just too close.)

gailcalled's avatar

And Flutherers say that we are not multilingual. In vino veritas. Hic!

And here’s the ultimate cheat sheet

One of my treasures, I might add.

Nimis's avatar

In beer-o veritas. Hic!

gailcalled's avatar


nina's avatar

Gail, you are the best!

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