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On p. 29 of Roma Aeterna by Hans Ørberg, book II of Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, is this passage from a simplified Latin, solūtīs versibus (prose) rendering of Book II of the Aeneid:

Faunō mortuō, Latīnus, fīlius eius, regnum accēpit. Huius fīlius in prīmā iuventūte periit; sōla in rēgiā erat fīlia, nōmine Lāvīnia, iam mātūra virō. Illam multī virī ē Latiō tōtāque Italiā petēbant, ante omnēs Turnus, rex Rutulōrum.

What does virō mean in this context? Is it a dative, meaning "from the perspective of"? So then the whole passage would mean (liberally translated):

When Faunus died, his son Latinus received the kingdom. His son died early in his youth; alone in the castle was his daughter, named Lavinia, already mature for a suitor. Many men from Latium and throughout Italy sought her, most notably Turnus, king of the Rutuli.

Is that right? "Mature enough for a man"? "Mature enough to be married"? "Mature by the standard used for men"? "Already on the old side to take a husband"?

(Please let me know if I've made any other errors in the rest of the translation, too.)

1 Answer 1

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As the Lewis & Short entry for maturus notes under meaning II.A, a common construction is maturus + dat., which means "ripe/ready for X."

It gives examples such as:

  • maturus bello = old enough for war
  • vitulus templis maturus et arae = a calf old enough for sacrifice (literally: for temples and the altar)

In this case then, you're right: maturus viro literally means "old enough for a man/husband" but it sounds better in English to say, of marriageable age.

Virgil himself uses this same expression in Aeneid VII, along with a synonymous expression: nubilis plenis annis.

sola domum et tantas seruabat filia sedes
iam matura uiro, iam plenis nubilis annis.

You can also find this same expression in Gellius, Noctes Atticae 12.8:

P. Scipio filiam uirginem habens iam uiro maturam ibi tunc eodem in loco despondit eam Tiberio Graccho. . . .

Translation:

Publius Scipio, having a virgin daughter who was now of marriageable age betrothed her then and there, at the same place, to Tiberius Gracchus. . . .

See also Statius, Achilleis I.1: "virginitas matura toris" ("maidenhood that is ready for the marriage bed").

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    Similarly, viro can and often does simply mean "husband", as "man" can in English, муж once could in Russian.
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 20 at 19:09
  • Added that: you're right!
    – brianpck
    Commented Jun 20 at 20:07
  • @cmw As muž/mąż still can in other languages, Commented Jun 21 at 7:58
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    "Of marriageable age" probably beats "husbandripe" from Thomas Phaer's 1588 translation, though I guess the latter is as literal as can be! :)
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 21 at 17:39

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