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In this answer a quote from Horace's, "Satire of Persius" (Satires 4, line 47):

"...si facis in penem quidquid tibi venit...",

was translated by Tyler Durden to:

"...and come to do whatever your prick suggests...".

(The only translation I could find, on the net:

"...if you follow your prick...".)

For TD's translation to work, "in" + accusative would have to mean something like "from" or "through"; literally:

"...if you do whatever comes to you 'from/ through' your penis...".

Listed definitions of ("in" + accusative) are of the "to; into; against; for; towards; until" (motion-) kind (Oxford). If "towards" could be reversed it might fit.

The desired "from" or "through" or "follow" (above) do not appear.

What does "in" mean, here?

1 Answer 1

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This is a variation on the phrase mihi in mentem venit, "it comes to my mind" or "it occurs to me". In this satire the thought comes not to one's mind but to one's penis, but the structure is the same.

You can understand the original idiom literally or you can treat it as a fixed idiom. Either way, I would see the satirical thing as a variation of it rather than an independent expression.

There are many ways to translate this into English. What Tyler chose describes the idea well, but you could also choose to highlight the parallel between mind phrase and the penis phrase in your translation the way Latin does.

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  • Hard not to think of the possible connection between mentula and mens; But then, why Horace didn't use here mentula? Maybe its the meter in verse
    – d_e
    Oct 26, 2022 at 16:23
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    @d_e Horace never uses mentula. It's a naughty word, one that Cicero was too embarrassed to explicitly use even though he alludes to it. You get it in Catullus, the Priapeia, and then Martial, not hardly anyone before, at least in the surviving corpus.
    – cmw
    Oct 28, 2022 at 11:10

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