In Capitulum Tertia of Hans Ørberg's book LLPSI, he has the following conversation snippet taking place between a mother, Aemilia, and her children:

Aemelia Quintum Interrogat: "Ubi est Iulius? Cur non venit?"
Aemelia Iulium non videt.
Respondet Marcus: "Pater dormit."
Quintus: "Mater non te, sed me interrogat!"
Aemilia: "St, pueri! Ubi est pater?"
Quintus: "Pater non hic est, sed Marcus hic est."

Which I take to translate to:

Aemelia asks Quintus: "Where is Iulius? Why does he not come?"
Aemelia doesn't see Iulius.
Marcus Responds: "Father sleeps."
Quintus: "Mother didn't ask you, but she asked me!"
Aemilia: "Shush, boy! Where is father?"
Quintus: "Father is not here, but Marcus is here."

Assuming I'm translating correctly, that last statement by Quintus is odd to me. Aemilia would be well aware that Marcus is there. Am I misunderstanding that statement, or is it more of a contrived reply just to further the goal of understanding "hic"?

  • 4
    Your translation seems fine to me; it's just a weird dialogue.
    – Draconis
    Sep 24, 2019 at 23:57
  • 3
    BTW, are you regularly translating LLPSI into English (not just for this question)? I ask because I've occasionally I've come across people using LLPSI who don't know that it's designed to be read (and spoken) in Latin with no translation to your native language.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Sep 25, 2019 at 4:36
  • 2
    I haven't been translating it - I only did it for this post so there was something to show my understanding what I was reading. When I read it I try to not actively "translate" anything in my mind.
    – Adam
    Sep 25, 2019 at 15:49
  • 2
    I took it to mean "but Marcus is making sure we know he is here by insisting on talking"
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 25, 2019 at 17:22
  • 2
    @Adam Ah, glad to hear it. :)
    – Ben Kovitz
    Sep 25, 2019 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


Your translation of that sentence is perfect.

I read it mainly as simple Latin to be understood from context without use of a dictionary, enabling you to easily infer the meaning of the word hīc at its first use in the book, as well as get you accustomed to the sentence pattern with sed.

There might, however, be an additional, subtle part to the meaning. Notice that Aemilia's previous line was St, puerī!, the plural, not St, puer! It's clear that Aemilia knows that both boys are present. So perhaps Quintus's line is an attempt to goad Aemilia into giving Marcus a beating, or maybe just relishing the fact that Marcus is not going to escape a beating (since Quintus calls for Iulius in the next line). If you read the part after sed with the right intonation, you can convey this part of the meaning pretty clearly.

Reading the Latin with the intonation suggested by the story as well as in correct rhythm provides much of the fun that I've had reading LLPSI aloud with friends. I think it also helps establish the words as means through which people influence each other—i.e. it helps build the direct mental link between each word and its meaning rather than, say, to a word in one's native language.

P.S. As long as we're looking at a translation (normally not recommended with LLPSI), I notice that you have "Father sleeps" for Pater dormit. More accurate would be "Father is sleeping." You're learning, implicitly, that the Latin present tense carries this meaning, and even what in English would take the past tense, as in Quis mē vocat?

  • 2
    All of your points are exactly the reason I've been enjoying LLPSI so much. When I read the word "sed" for example, I don't see it and think "that means but/however" in my language. It actually just has that meaning intrinsically. I also think you're probably correct about Qiuntus's goal in mentioning Marcus; given the humor that Ørberg uses it makes sense. All it takes is speaking the sentence tone.
    – Adam
    Sep 25, 2019 at 15:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.