I have just encountered this sentence from an old book, however I can't understand it. not only I can't understand 3 words in bold, but also the entire sentence I can't make up.

Alia vero multo luculentius eum quid est nobis ostendunt, nepe formicae, apes, fibri, canis,milleq

I doubt that milleq is even valid word as it contains q without u after it. so it might be that I'm wrong even in the Latin text.


The full sentence, which includes scribal abbreviations, is somewhat different. Here is a transcription of the whole thing, with emendations and additions in bold:

Alia vero multo luculentius eum quid est nobis ostendunt, nempe formicae, apes, fibri, canis, milleque huius generis industria sibi ingenita creatoris sapientiam, quamquam muta, praedicare videntur.

The two most notable abbreviations:

  • The line over the 'e' in 'nēpe' is a common abbreviation indicating that an 'n' or 'm' follows.
  • The semicolon-looking sign after 'q' in 'milleq;' is an abbreviation for the enclitic '-que'

Here's a rough translation. (See irregularities below)

But other things show us much more splendidly Him who is: indeed, ants, bees, beavers, the dog, and the innate [sibi ingenita] purposeful activities [industria] of a thousand [other things] of this kind, although mute, seem to proclaim the wisdom of the creator.

There are two problems with the text. This is probably a lot more detail than you need, but it explains some of my translation choices above.

  • eum quid est: This doesn't make much sense, unless it's to be construed as a direct object with some kind of epexegetical question, e.g. "show us him, what he is...." Given that "eius qui est" ("of him who is") occurs several times in the following sentences, and this conforms much better to typical Christian ways of referring to God, I take this as a typo for "eum qui est."
  • The list of animals is strange. There are two options:
    • If we read the whole list as nominative (as I've done in my translation), then canis is strangely singular, though the rest are plural. This also is strange because it lacks parallelism: "ants, bees, etc. and the purposeful activities of other creatures..."
    • Alternatively, we could choose to see the list as genitive singular, if we modify apes to apis. We could then translate, "The innate purposeful activites of the ant, bee, beaver, etc. all show..." This avoids the parallelism problem, but it also makes the reflexive sibi hard to account for.
  • Luculentius is the comparative form of luculentus, either as a neuter adjective, or as an adverb, brighter, more respectable, more brightly or more respectably.
  • Regarding nēpe, the bar here seems to mean a nasal consonant following. If so, it would read nempe, certainly (more or less a synonym of vero, a style resource, not really needed in the translation, IMHO).
  • The three vertical dots after letter q is also an abbreviation. The complete word would be milleq⋮, probably meaning milleque (and thousand). The dots are not the end of the sentence. In fact, milleque seems to be modifying the following words (hujus generis industria...)

Hence a possible translation would be:

Others, —much more respectably as it appears to us—, ants, bees, beavers, dogs, and thousand of this kind...

I'm not sure of the wording of the first part of the sentence. It seems to me that the verb is omitted, making reference to the verb in the previous sentence.


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