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I want to translate the phrase drama ingens in hac familia actum est from Latin to English. I know what the phrase means, but I struggle to find an idiomatic translation in English.

Is it just "a great drama has been acted in this family"? The word I am unsure about is "act". Should it rather be "enact", "act out", or something else, or would it be better to say "there was a great drama in this family"?

This phrase is a simplified version of something that will appear in a certain Latin performance, and it needs to be "subtitled" for the benefit of an international audience with a limited command of Latin.

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Taking Latin drama as English a drama, play:

  • A great drama has been performed by this family
    • This indicates that a particular family put on a performance of a play. I.e., The Collins family performed The Sound of Music for us, and it was great!
  • A great drama has been acted out in this family
    • This indicates that the events of the family's life unintentionally produced a dramatic story. I.e., It's terrible to say, but I love keeping an eye on the Collins family—their lives lately have been so interesting, and I can't wait to see how things turn out!
    • Performed in place of acted out would result in a similar meaning, but to me would imply more intentionality.

In English drama can also refer more colloquially to dramatic:

  • There was a lot of drama in this family
    • Many dramatic things happened within this family – usually referring to the interpersonal relationships within it. I.e., Now that Tina is back from school, there is a lot more drama with her sisters as they fight over who sleeps where, who gets the bathroom first, and who has the cutest boyfriend.

Finally, here are a few notes on the options you suggested:

  • A great drama has been acted in this family
    • This is not idiomatic. "Acted" here needs to be "performed" or "acted out"
  • There was a great drama in this family
    • This isn't idiomatic, except perhaps in the sense that the family was or will be responsible for the production of a great drama at some point in their lives. Similar in sense to Tina has a great song in her; she just needs to sit down and write it.
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    Thanks! I think I'll go with "A great drama has been acted out in this family". The phrase refers to a single series of dramatic events, not an overall dramatic nature of the family. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 26 '16 at 12:20
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I suggest: "A great drama has been played out in this family".

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