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I want to understand a diploma text:

DIPLOMA

QVOD DEVS OPTIME VERTAT
EX LEGIBVS

VNIVERSITATIS JYVÄSKYLÄENSIS

ATQVE EX DECRETO
FACVLTATIS (…)

If I consider Diploma as a title and Quod Deus optime vertat a subtitle (not grammatically tied to following text), I can parse the sentence starting ex legibus universitatis Jyväskyläensis atque ex decreto facultatis…: "by the rules of the University of Jyväskylä and by the decision of the faculty…". The rest of the diploma makes sense as a sentence.

The real question is, what does quod Deus optime vertat mean? The reason for giving additional context is that it might somehow be part of the sentence that the rest of the diploma forms. I assume it is a separate "slogan", but there is no punctuation whatsoever and the layout does not give clear syntactical clues. (If the second line is grammatically entirely separate from the third one, I will recommend to the university that a blank line be added in between for clarity.)

My best guess is that the second line means simply "May God bring success", and a separate sentence starts at the beginning of the third line. I would like to be sure.


Here is the full text for a female graduating as a Master of Psychology (with the added empty row if my suspicion is correct). Feel free to skip; this is just additional background information for the curious.

DIPLOMA

QVOD DEVS OPTIME VERTAT

EX LEGIBVS

VNIVERSITATIS JYVÄSKYLÄENSIS

ATQVE EX DECRETO
AMPLISSIMAE RERVM CIVILIVM IN EA VNIVERSITATE FACVLTATIS
ABSOLVTO OMNI SPECIMINE LEGITIMO

ARTIS PSYCHOLOGICAE MAGISTRA

CREATVR OMNIBVSQVE HVIVS DIGNITATIS IVRIBVS PRIVILEGIISQVE ORNATVR
IN VRBE JYVÄSKYLÄ
IDIBVS AVGVSTIS ANNO MMXVI
FEMINA PRAECLARISSIMA

<insert name of student>

ARTIS PSYCHOLOGICAE CANDIDATA
QVOD FACTVM
NOMINE MEO SVBSCRIPTO ET SIGILLO VNIVERSITATIS ADFIXO
EGO CONFIRMO
LEGITIME CONSTITVTVS PROMOTOR

<insert name of conferrer of degrees>

Quick English translation (as it seems to me) of the whole thing:

Diploma

May God bring success

By the rules

of the University of Jyväskylä

and by the decision
of the great faculty of social sciences
after the completion of all due exams

the exceptional lady
Bachelor of Psychology

<insert name of student>

is promoted to

Master of Psychology

and is equipped with all rights, privileges and insignia of this status
in the city of Jyväskylä
on August 13, 2016

which I confirm by my signature and the seal of the university
as the legitimately appointed conferrer of degrees

<insert name of conferrer of degrees>

9

A Google search reveals several instances of Quod Deus Optime Vertat or simply QDOV in titles of things, but most of them seem similarly ambiguous.

However, a letter written on September 21 of 1520 in Frankfurt by Karl Gillert to Conrad Mutianus (as quoted in Historical Sources of the Province of Saxony and Adjacent Areas, volume 18, which seems to contain nothing but the correspondence between the two of them, which leads me to wonder to just how many volumes the series extends) contains the following paragraph (forgive me; I'm in a rush and can't take the time to figure out exactly who it's from or what the circumstances are, but when I return later I'll edit this answer to include that information).

Huc princeps noster pientissimus vere pater Romani imperii, nedum patriæ et suorum incolumis cum suis pervenit heri, mi eruditissime præceptor Mutiane, cras Deo adjutore hinc navali profectione soluturus Agrippinam. Quod Deus optime vertat. Salutavit Hessorum principem id magnis precibus petentem exultante omni Hessia et applaudente.

The context, along with the other citations in titles, leads me to believe that your impulse is correct in believing that it's a separate saying or slogan: "May God turn it [= whatever matter is under discussion] to the best." If this is so, then yes, there definitely ought to be a line separating it from ex legibus, etc.

  • 1
    Thanks! It would make some sense to combine the first two rows to diploma, quod Deus optime vertat, but it's probably not intended. (How do I even express a wish in a relative clause in English? "Diploma, may God turn which to good"?) Searching for an alternative quod Deus bene vertat may or may not produce deeper enlightenment, but I guess a detached "may God bring success" is a decent translation. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 21 '16 at 16:38
  • I think "May God bring success" is just right. I suspect you're right that a combination of the first two lines isn't what was intended; otherwise, the material I quoted would read quam Deus optime vertat, no? – Joel Derfner Jun 21 '16 at 16:58
  • (And, alas, there's no way to express a wish in a relative clause in English. You'd have to say "Diploma; may God turn it to good.") – Joel Derfner Jun 21 '16 at 17:04
  • I believe diploma is one of those Greek neuters in the third declension, not a first declension feminine. (Good to know that about English relative clauses. I sometimes end up wanting unusual constructions.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Jun 21 '16 at 17:12
  • Right. I was figuring quam would go not with diploma on the degree but with profectio in the 1520 letter. – Joel Derfner Jun 21 '16 at 17:34

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