In the 16th century, Robert et Antoine Lechevallier d'Aigneaux made a famous translation of Virgil's Aeneid which was seemingly praised in the French world; they also translated the Georgics including this segment:
At nebulæ magis ima petunt, campoque recumbunt;
Solis et occasum servans de culmine summo
Nequidquam seros exercet noctua cantus.
[ Et observant le temps que panche vers sa couche
Le soleil abaissé, son nocturne hou, hou
Du haut d'un toit chaumeux n'entonne le Hibou. ]
Actually one attributes to this very translation the first onomatopoeic use of houhou (similar to the oo sound in hoot in English, twice) in French to represent the owl's hoot (more on hou, pronounced [u] in Fr.). Needless to say, noctua cantus, the owl's chant I guess, doesn't contain any onomatopoeia.
- In Latin, what is, and how would you write, the sequence of onomatopoeia used to represent the cry a type of bird such as the owl makes? Do we have a well-known example from the classics or from that era?
- Could you please briefly analyze (cases, tenses, syntax) and explain the nequidquam seros exercet noctua cantus segment; in particular, what word is seros and what's its function; is exercet a passive verb 3SG; word for word is that something like: uselessly [seros] is done the owl's chant?