My friend wrote this fake holy scripture passage for his nation's religion on NationStates, and I have been translating it into Latin, as any proper fake holy scripture should be. I came upon one part that reads "because it was as holy as a pigeon." How would one translate "as holy as a pigeon," or "as as a " for that matter? I believe it may use either ut or sicut, but I am not quite sure. Any help with this grammar would be greatly appreciated. (Note that I am using Classical Latin, if that makes a difference).

Here's the whole passage for your entertainment. It contains references to Cambridge Latin Course and some inside jokes, so it might not make that much sense to everyone, but it is still interesting.

There lived two tribes in the land, which is called Colum-ba because it was as holy as a pigeon. One tribe, the Quinti, had the favor of the Lord.

Grumio spoke to Pantagathus, king of the Quinti, "Tell my people that they have found favor in me. You will be saved, so long as you keep my commands. Go to the place east of here, and destroy the tribe of the Basedgodi. They have lost my favor, and worship strange gods. When the sky sings and the scent of roast peacock fills the air, you will know it is time to destroy them."

Pantagathus responded, "Lord, I am but your lowly servant. It shall be done."

And the Quinti went to the east, where they found the tribe of the Basedgodi. The Basedgodi king, Prit-zlaff, welcomed Pantagathus and took him into his own home. Then the wife of Prit-zlaff tried to seduce Pantagathus, but he resisted her advances.

A second time she tried to get him to go to bed with her, but once again he resisted.

On the third day, the wife of Prit-zlaff went to the room where Pantagathus was staying. Just as he was about to give in, the sky sang and the smell of roasted peacock filled the air.

The Basedgodi wondered at the miracle. But Pantagathus remembered Grumio's command. He slaughtered the wife of Prit-zlaff, and returned to his army. They lay waste to the land of the Basedgodi, sparing no child, woman, or animal. They took prisoner only the cooks of the Basedgodi, for it is written "You shall not lay a hand on the cooks of the enemy." The Lord granted them great victory, and they returned home rejoicing. They praised Grumio, for He had kept his covenant.

1 Answer 1


I would translate "as X as a Y" with tam X quam Y. Similarly I would translate "X like a Y" with X sicut Y. There must be other options as well, but these come to mind. Therefore I offer this:

the land, which is called Columba because it was as holy as a pigeon.
terra Columba appellata, quippe quae tam sancta quam columba erat.

Note added later: Depending on your style goals, you may wish to replace erat with esset. See this question for choosing between indicative and conjunctive with quippe.

  • Why do you include "quippe quae"? I am not familiar with that phrase...
    – Sam K
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 0:53
  • 1
    @SamK, a relative clause can be causal in Latin, and this causal nature can be emphasized by quippe. See this question about quippe for details. I think my translation is more idiomatic Latin than a more direct translation would have been. I think a combination of relativity and causality also fits the context. You can translate quippe quae ... erat as "because it was ...".
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 8:47
  • Okay, I think I understand. So "quae" should match the subject of the sentence, correct? And how would one translate it? (I'm assuming not the normal who/whom/which). Sorry to bug you with questions, I just want to understand the grammar correctly.
    – Sam K
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 12:39
  • @SamK, quae should match terra here. A relative clause can modify any noun, independent of its role in the governing clause. The quae is a relative pronoun and it can be translated by the usual "which" or the like. But causal relative clauses are not as idiomatic in English, so I would restructure the subordinate clause to use "because" or something similar. I might translate my Latin back to English as "the land called Columba, for it was as holy as a pigeon". (And don't be sorry. Understanding grammar is what the site is for.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 12:53
  • 1
    So here's what I found: Quippe is actually a shortening of quid pe, which means "why". So by saying quippe quae, you say "which is why." This is is basically the inverse of "because", as exemplified by the sentence "It was as holy as a pigeon, which is why it was the land called Columba." This may just be speculation, but I think it is something interesting to think about...
    – Sam K
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 0:22

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