I am recently trying to read Regulus, the Latin version of the Little Prince translated by Augusto Haury, and I met some problems in Chapter 4. It may be somewhat troublesome to make several threads so I put them in this single post for the moment.

Latin text:

Ergo etiam hac de causa pyxidem pigmentorum graphidasque emi. [...] Conabor equidem imagines ipsius quam simillimas exprimere, sed non satis exploratum habeo id mihi prospere processurum esse. [...] Itaque modo haec, modo illa tempto, utcumque successura sunt.

Original French text:

C'est donc pour ça encore que j'ai acheté un boîte de couleurs et des crayons. [...] J'essayerais, bien sûr, de faire des portraits le plus ressemblants possible. Mais je ne suis pas tout à fait certain de réussir. [...] Alors je tâtonne comme ci et comme ça, tant bien que mal.

English version by Katherine Woods:

It is for that purpose, again, that I have bought a box of paints and some pencils. [...] I shall certainly try to make my portraits as true to life as possible. But I am not at all sure of success. [...] So I fumble along as best I can, now good, now bad, and I hope generally fair-to-middling.

  • What is the strange word graphida? By translingual comparison, this word is certainly for a pencil (crayon in French), but I find this word in almost no dictionary. Only DuCange gives graphida in a very late usage, as the synonym of scriba, a scribe. Is there any reason for Haury to use this word? In most part of his text, he tends toward a quite classical Latinity, for example, he uses volucris machina for an airplane, instead of a Neo-Latin word like aeroplanum, and he in fact, uses miniatura cerula for a colored pencil in Chapter 1. I have no idea why he uses this weird noun. (If it's worth a further discussion, I will split this to another post.)

  • What is the grammatical structure of the non satis ... part? Does habere + perf. ptcp. mean the same as a regular perfect tense?

  • What does successura sunt mean? Why future periphrasis? (The English version seems saying something different from the French, and the Latin version is much more paraphrased.)

  • 1
    The English translation certainly captures the sense, but reverses the modifiers. The French literally means "So I fumble around thus and thus, [doing] well as often as poorly." Whereas Woods has put the "good/bad" first and the "so-so" second. (And of course inserted "as best I can" and "I hope generally" to glue the parts together, I think a little gratuitously.) Commented Jan 20 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


I'll address each question in order:

Translation of "pencil"

Regarding the translation of "pencil" (French: "crayon"), the word is graphis, -idis, which is a Latinization of the Greek word γραφίς, -ίδος. Though the word is rare, it seems reasonable because the usual writing implement, a stilus, is quite different from a pencil.

Exploratum habeo

Regarding exploratum habeo, exploratum comes (obviously) from exploro, which can mean "put to the test" (see meaning II.B). Exploratus is often used as an adjective meaning "ascertained" or "certain." Habeo can be used to mean "hold something as X" (see meaning II.D), often with a double accusative. See, for instance, an almost identical construction in Cicero's De natura deorum, 1.51:

...habet exploratum fore se semper cum in maximis tum in aeternis voluptatibus.

Literal translation:

...he holds it as certain that he will always be in both very great and everlasting pleasures.

(Note: It's also possible to say habere pro + ablative.)

In the Regulus passage, non satis literally means "not enough" but could perhaps be more idiomatically translated as "not very" or--as in the French--"pas tout à fait."

Putting it all together, we could translate literally:

I do not hold is as very certain that it will turn out successfully for me.


The Latin translation isn't very literal here: "In whatever way they follow on one another." As for the future periphrasis, I'm not sure why the translator opted for that construction, but Livy certainly seems to use a similar construction, so it has attestations.


[1] For graphida, you would have had to recognize the classic 3rd declension ending -is, -idis, which is common among words of Greek origin. That makes the word in question graphis, which can mean a type of sketching pencil, same as it does in Greek. The final -as indicates that it's accusative plural, which is the ending (-ας) for 3rd declension nouns in Greek.

[2] Exploratum can mean "sure" or "certain" (hence explorate, "for sure, certainly"), and non satis habeo means "I think it is insufficient", so perhaps what is meant is "I think it is insufficiently certain" = "I am uncertain".

[3] The future participle regularly is used in periphrasis. With utcumque especially it gives the air of possibility, "however they might succeed." Lewis and Short actually provide an example of this usage from Tacitus.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. I haven't ever noticed this -as form so I considered it a regular -a declension word. Commented Jan 21 at 7:09

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