I am translating the phrase Those in Whom Deserts Hide, which was inspired by a line in the poem Dionysian Dithyrambs by Nietzsche ("The desert grows: woe to him in whom deserts hide").

This is my initial translation:

Illi in Qui Solitudina Occultant

I'm fairly confident on my vocabulary choice, but not so confident on my conjugation and declension. Solitudina in particular concerns me, because while I think it's the right declension for plural accusative, I couldn't find any examples of it. Is this correct and does it make sense?

  • Have you tried using a participle rather than a relative clause? – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 6 at 15:30
  • Not yet. You're thinking something like Occultas, i.e. Those in whom deserts are hiding? – Adam Apr 6 at 15:54
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    Like occultans. In general illi qui occultant = occultantes. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 6 at 16:05
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    @Adam, continue: To render it like the English, I would go for: Illi in quibus Solitudina se occultant (here in the clause Solitudina is the subject, the obj. is se and the place of of hide is ablative quibus – d_e Apr 6 at 17:32
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    Ahh, ok! Can you post this as answer? I like both your answer and the answer that @gmvh posted, but yours will have better visibility as a separate answer. – Adam Apr 6 at 18:33

Quibus latent deserta.

Latēre = ‘to be hidden’; dēsertum = ‘desert’ (quite common in Vulgate, but also in Vergil, see L&S s.v. dēsero in fine).

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    Lateo does seem the most natural choice of verb here. Note that as far as I can tell, it takes a bare ablative only in verse; in prose you would probably want in quibus. – TKR Apr 6 at 22:47
  • Thanks! And, yeah, but the distinction prose/poetry is somewhat artificial IMHO (and arguably at least the original English phrase here is kinda poetry)! – Batavulus Apr 7 at 7:25
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    @Batavulus: The actual original is, of course, in German: "Die Wüste wächst: weh dem, der Wüsten birgt…" – Ilmari Karonen Apr 7 at 11:48
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    Ah, please forgive my ignorance! In that case Crescit desertum / Crescunt deserta; vae illi (in) quo latent deserta. – Batavulus Apr 7 at 16:20

desolationes (in se) abscondentes — those that cover/hide deserts (within themselves)


Keeping to vocabulary selection the same (I assume the word is solitudo), I think a straight-forward translation is:

Illi in quibus solitudines se occultant

solitudines here is not the accusative case, but rather the nominative.

Another options is to use the passive voice instead of active se occultare. I like this option the better, as desert is not the active agent:

Illi in quibus solitudines occultantur

I think in both cases the preposition in can be omitted without meaning change as occulto might take an ablative of means.

General note: [Though I used the indicative mood in the answer] I'm unsure if the subjunctive mood in the relative clause is necessary, but I think it might be better than the indicative here, since the clause is restrictive; especially where Those are simply general people and not specific.

  • I agree that indicative works only if the people are specific. But in the question's context they might actually be. – Joonas Ilmavirta Apr 7 at 5:40
  • Would the passive work with latentur? – Adam Apr 9 at 13:59
  • @Adam, I think passive would not work with lateo. since lateo already means somewhat passive "to be hidden"/to hide himself, where occulto is hide something. Not 100% sure though – d_e Apr 9 at 14:28
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    @Adam, I think so. example from Distichs of Cato: Quod flumen placidum est, forsan latet altius unda (For when the river is quiet, perhaps deeper water is hiding.) – d_e Apr 9 at 14:53
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    @Adam, maybe better translation would be "...water is hidden" – d_e Apr 9 at 14:56

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