Seven Stillstones, Seven Books made...

Translated into Latin

by "BJ the Farer" E-mail:







Information about my Latin rendering:

By "BJ the Farer" E-mail:

Ancient Latin used no punctuation and often no spacing. Punctuation was introduced in medieval Latin (and later Vulgar), and did not achieve its "modern" pattern until much later. Dante Alighieri's Vulgar "the Comedy" (much later said "divine"), for example, is itself utterly punctuationless - any punctuation is fruit of the particular reading hypothesis (and indeed there are more than one accepted versions).

An early method for spacing, sometimes still used today in epigraphs, used visible symbols rather than "blank" spaces - one or more dots, a dash or a flourish of some kind (In some old or rather old-fashionedly written texts a symbol such as a stylized leaf is used as a paragraph-marker (without starting a new line); several such symbols are enclosed in present dingbat fonts (such as the most common "Wingdings").

In my Latin rendering, I used a mixture of two-dots and nothing at all: I used a two-dot (colon) to mark "normal" space, a double two-dot to mark "pause" (where today we could use some kind of punctuation); I didn't separate at all strictly correlated words - prepositions or adverbs and the nouns they refer to. This choice is in no way historically supported (or if it is, I don't know): it may represent an hypotetical way a Latin writer could have separated words in a period between the archaic "no-space" style and the common adoption of spacing marks (blank or otherwise), also based on the fact that Latin marked most cases with word suffixes rather than prepositions. I also used entirely capital letters; small-case letters were introduced in Medieval Latin, but I wanted to keep a more "epigraphic" flavor. The Æ diphtong and the letter U are also of late use. (classical Latin wrote AE; early latin used only V, another use that still remains in some modern epigraphs). An alternative could have been formatting the text in some gothic or uncial font; maybe I'll try later, to see what's the effect.

Latin poetry (and, at least to some extent, language) is not based on stress, but on quantity. The Latin-speaking ear perceived vowel and syllable lengths rather than emphasys; to some extent we can tell "short" and "long" vowels in modern European languages too, but this distinction has mostly become unimportant in respect to which syllable is stressed. Sometimes a differences in length correspond today to "open" or "closed" vowels; in poetry often the long syllables have become the stressed ones. Shakespeare's Iambic Pentameter and Dante's endecasyllable are a verse of 10 or 11 syllables, the even stressed. The Latin one was a verse made up of five iambs, ie sequences of short-long syllable. In reading poetry the syllables gained most likely a difference of pitch - current Latin was to a certain extent a chanted language.

My knowledge of Latin metrics being very poor, in my text I simply tried to "hear" rythm, pitch and length (or at least stresses), making up groups of consecutive verses with a coherent syllabic pattern (not necessarily the same - I kept some variationsfor esthetical purposes. Moreover, if we assume the text dates back to a time corresponding to the early Dark Ages, it could be the work of a Mole not very expert in metrics, and therefore to a certain extent rough or unprecise). This resulted in some cases in a rearrangement of words in respect to the corresponding english verses and even in an apparently awkward arrangement of words in a sentence; the existence of cases in Latin allows this, since the function of a word is much less depending by its relative position.

Rendering choices:

The first two verses were translated by Giuseppe Picca (after the two Old English verses in the original edition). "PERFECTI" means literally "completed", and so "made".

"CAEDES" (genitive CAEDIS) is reported on Calonghi dictionary for "bloodshed"; it means literally "slaughter".

"LUX" means "light" as a phenomenon or condition; I chose rather "LUMEN", "light" as a physical thing.

I translated "last stone" as "EXTREMA PETRA", literally "last, ultimate"; "last book" as "SUMMUS LIBER", literally "highest", "peak", with a meaning of completion. The Calonghi dictionary reports the use of "LIBER SUMMUS" for "the last volume" of a work.

I don't know what the Roman name for Uffington was (or if there was one); I rendered it as "UFINTO, UFINTONIS" (nominative, genitive).

"courage": "ANIMUS FIDENS"; literally "steady..." or "sure spirit"

"song": I preferred "CANTICUM", "canticle" or "chant" than "CANTIO", "song", but with a less solemn hue

"SUUM PETRAE SILENTIUM": the verb "EST", "is", can be left understood as in the English text. In latin actually this is done much frequently in nominal or adjectival predicates.


According to Ancient and Classical Latin, all vowels are pronounced singularly - thus "AE" sounds laike A+E (bAt + sEt); I is as hIt or hEEl, never as fIle. Y has a narrow sound (German Ü [U umlaut]), while U and V tend to merge in a semi-vowel sound. G and C are always hard: GaG, not Gene; Cork, not CHurch or Civil (K exists but is scarcely used); H is aspired as in Hat.

In Late and Medieval Latin, the pronounciation changes, becoming closer to modern languages and probably varying from region to region. "AE"and often "OE" become one sound (about the same, something like fErn or Urn). Y tends to be pronounced as I, U and V are distinct. G is soft in front of I and E (Gene); same for C, that is pronounced CH (as Church) in Italy, but possibly sometimes S (as Civil) in Britain and maybe even "TZ" in Germany. In SCI, SCE is pronounced SH (SHeep) in Italy, but often SS (SCience) in Britain. GN+vowel are often pronounced as Spanish [N tilde]; in Britain NN (GNome). TI+vowel, except at the beginning of a word, is ZI. H is often mute.


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