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As I've only recently begun to study Latin, I'm not yet sure how to best translate "A big window into history".

  1. First of all, I'm not sure whether the adjective should precede, or rather follow the noun.
  2. Second of all, I'm not sure which preposition (if any) I should use.
  3. And, finally, which of the cases is correct.

My current attempts look like this:

  • Fenestra magna ad historiam

or

  • Magna historia ad historiam

However, I wonder if in is better here:

  • Fenestra magna in historiam

(or should it be the genitive/dative case instead, i.e. historiae?)

or

  • Magna fenestra in historiam (or historiae?)

I will be grateful for any hints. While I'm able to tacle basic declensional and conjugational patterns, I've got very little experience with prepositions and prepositional phrases.

Thank you!

P.

Addendum:

Now I see I should explain what I need the translation for.

As I've only recently begun to study Latin, I'm not yet sure how to best translate "A big window into history".

  1. First of all, I'm not sure whether the adjective should precede, or rather follow the noun.
  2. Second of all, I'm not sure which preposition (if any) I should use.
  3. And, finally, which of the cases is correct.

My current attempts look like this:

  • Fenestra magna ad historiam

or

  • Magna historia ad historiam

However, I wonder if in is better here:

  • Fenestra magna in historiam

(or should it be the genitive/dative case instead, i.e. historiae?)

or

  • Magna fenestra in historiam (or historiae?)

I will be grateful for any hints. While I'm able to tacle basic declensional and conjugational patterns, I've got very little experience with prepositions and prepositional phrases.

Thank you!

P.

Addendum:

Perhaps, I should explain what I need the translation for. As far as I can gather, a couple of friends of mine are preparing a photographic calendar with some very old pictures of our home town (some of them from the late 19th century, others from the time between the big wars, a few showing how much of the town was destroyed during the bombardment at the end of WWII etc.), hence the idea of a 'window' as something you can view the past through. In fact, they have also mentioned 'through a big window into history' as an alternative title for their project, so when deciding what may, or may not, sound natural in Latin, one might want to consider this as well.

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Whether you say fenestra magna or magna fenestra is up to you – both is absolutely fine in Latin.

If you go with fenestra at all, I recommend using the preposition ad, because there is a precedence from Terence (Heautontimorumenos 3,1,72): quantam fenestram ad nequitiam patefeceris “what a great window to licentiousness you will have opened.”

But that is not a common expression, the translation of “window” as fenestra seems too literal to me. A more common way to express the idea of an access or opening figuratively is janua (literally, “door”), usually with a genetive indicating what the door offers entrance to:

Magna janua historiae

But historia more typically means “recounting, account of past events” (it also means “story”). It is not wrong here, but since you are presumably referring to “things of the past” (and not to “historical works”), I would personally prefer res veteres (literally: “old affairs”). Also, magna is absolutely fine, but why say something boring like magna when you have cool words like pergrandis, so here is my preferred translation:

Janua pergrandis rerum veterum

(By the way, the word janua is etymologically related to Janus, the god of beginnings, and through him, to the month of January; the entrance to the year if you will.)

I like the idea of a door because, like a window, it can be big. But it is usually for going through, whereas a window is for looking through. You are probably talking about something that offers a view of history, which could be expressed by prospectus (or conspectus). It can be used with the genetive, but I guess that would be more of a “view of something.” Alternatively it is known to be used with ad (prospectus ad urbem is given as an example by the dictionary, though there is also conspectus in Capitolium). The disadvantage is that a view cannot be big, but I suppose it can, for example, be praestans (superior, excellent); so for example we might say:

Prospectus praestans in res veteres.

If you like, you can also combine these approaches:

Fenestra lata prospectum magnificum ad res veteres patefaciens
A wide window offering a magnificent view into the past.

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  • From where did you get letter "j" from, "ianua"? – tony Oct 13 '20 at 11:23
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    @tony Why, from the dictionary, of course ;-) – Sebastian Koppehel Oct 13 '20 at 12:58
  • What an answer! It exonerates you from a (potential) Roman-alphabet violation. – tony Oct 14 '20 at 8:29
  • A wonderful answer, @SebastianKoppehel, thank you very much! I've just added a few words to my question to explain what I need the translation for. The idea of a 'window' is based on old photographs a few friends of mine would like to use to create a historical calendar showing how our home town has changed in the past 150 years or so. So, I'm not sure janua is the best word here. Since the title should probably be as short as possible, I suppose prospectum magnificum ad res veteres could work here. What do you think? – petusek79 Oct 14 '20 at 10:46
  • @tony I suppose the jury is still out on that. More illustrious personages than me have fought this battle and lost ... – Sebastian Koppehel Oct 14 '20 at 14:49
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magna fenestra is fine, but as noted by @Sebastian Koppehel, historia is written history, rather than the historical events themselves which you probably want to refer to.

So I suggest magna ad antiqua fenestra or magna ad antiquitatem fenestra or magna ad vetustatem fenestra.

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    I consulted the Georges and found, somewhat to my surprise, the following distinction: "besonders »alte Geschichte«, und zwar res veteres, insofern sie seit Jahrhunderten oder Jahrtausenden besteht, res antiquae und antiquitas/antiqua, -orum, insofern sie der grauen Vorzeit angehört". That is, antiquitas for the dim and distant past. Not sure where George's got this. – Sebastian Koppehel Oct 13 '20 at 8:37
  • I can kind of see that antiquus is older than vetus – I could imagine vetus used of a living person, but not antiquus, which has an etymological implication of "former, bygone". – gmvh Oct 13 '20 at 11:17
  • Wow, another great answer. Thank you very much, @gmvh! I've added a few words to my question to explain what I need the translation for. It should be a title of photographic calendar composed of very old photographs of my home town, hence the idea of a window. Looking at the suggestions you've provided, I'm not sure which would be the best option here. I should probably ask my friends if it's really only going to be the photographs (which would mean relatively recent history) or whether they intend to include anything older than that. – petusek79 Oct 14 '20 at 10:54

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