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In Suetonius' "Div. Aug. 28.2":

"...et moriens ut feram mecum spem mansura in vestigio suo fundamenta rei publicae quae iecero." =

"...and in dying I will carry the hope with me, that the foundations which I have laid for its future government will stand firm and stable." (Perseus: Alexander Thomson, 1889)

In John-Buchan's book, "Augustus", p.129:

"...and bear with me the hope when I die that the foundations that I have laid will remain unshaken."

The neuter noun, "vestigium", has its well-known definitions: "footprint"; "track"; "sole-of-foot"; "imprint"; "vestige"; in the ablative, "e vestigio" = "immediately" (Oxford; L&S). The translations of "vestigio suo" = "firm"; "stable"; "unshaken", above, do not appear to fit with any of these established ones; apart from, "in its foot", which sounds fatuous.

What's going on, here?

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  • 1
    mansura in vestigio suo → are to remain on their track. Is that what you are asking?
    – Rafael
    Apr 28, 2022 at 12:40
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    I agree with Rafael. Caesar uses the phrase eodem remanere vestigio, meaning ‘to remain in the same place’. Here the phrase, referring to the foundations, expresses Augustus’s hope that ‘the foundations he has laid will remain in their place’, i.e. unalterable. Apr 28, 2022 at 13:16
  • @Rafael: Being "on track" may provide guidance for future direction but is it synonymous with "firm"/ "stable"?
    – tony
    Apr 28, 2022 at 15:23
  • @Jonathan Hadfield: If it is simply a matter of remaining in the same place why not just say, "in suo loco"? I am going to annotate my copy of the OLD with your interpretation. Interesting that dictionaries do not recognise this.
    – tony
    Apr 28, 2022 at 15:34
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    in suo vestigio is different from in suo loco since it means ‘in the place where they stood’ cf. in suo vestigio mori ‘to die in the spot on which they stand’. Livy 28, 22:- neminem cedere atque obstinatos mori in vestigio quemque suo vidit’ ‘when they [vetus miles= collective subject] no-one giving way and resolutely dying in their tracks’ i.e. exactly where they stood. vestigio as opposed to loco means exactly where they stood. Apr 29, 2022 at 9:31

1 Answer 1

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Vestigium can just mean "a spot, a specific place," even in time. For instance, eodem vestigio means "in that same spot" or even "at that same moment."

OLD gives in vestigio as "in (the same) position; where one stands."

Lewis & Short renders eodem remanare vestigio in Caesar as to stay in the same spot or place. That's pretty similar to mansura in vestigio suo: will remain in their place (where they currently stand).

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  • Could it have been written as, "in statu quo"?
    – tony
    Apr 29, 2022 at 11:48
  • See the OED:- As the Oxford English Dictionary explains, ‘status quo (Latin for the state in which) showed up in the fifth century in the writings of Augustine of Hippo (St. Augustine), and was “probably extrapolated from in statu quo” (in the state in which). Apr 29, 2022 at 14:17
  • @tony “in statu suo” with a similar meaning: in their current place/condition Apr 29, 2022 at 16:00

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