In another 17th century ecclesiastical Latin book I'm reading, Creaturae ad Poenitentiam Dispositio, the author speaks of someone who goes "over the top" in humility, claiming to be the worst of the worst, worse than Judas Iscariot, worse than Lucifer. He says of the pastor or spiritual advisor of such a person:

Utinam, etiam in conferta turba clamet, ut impudentissimum hunc canem de ecclesia ostiarii pellant.

Which I translated as

If only he would cry out [the comma seems oddly placed here], even in a packed crowd, that they throw this most impudent dog from the church of the door.

Surely this should read "from the door of the church"? Or am I missing something?


1 Answer 1


Ostiarii is not a singular genitive but a plural nominative. It is the subject of pellant. The door keepers (ostiarii) are supposed to throw the dog out.

There are a couple of ways to parse the sentence. In both ways I found something (the comma or the ut) is out of place.

  1. The subordinate concessive clause is in the middle of the main clause, and separated by commas from both sides. The main clause is:

    Utinam impudentissimum canem de ecclesia ostiarii pellant.
    If only the door keepers threw the impudent dog out of the church.

  2. The main clause is the wish Utinam etiam in conferta turba clamet followed by an ut clause. This seems to be the way you read it and I agree that it makes more sense, but the comma indeed seems out of place.

The big difference between the two readings is that the two clauses have opposite roles (governing vs. subordinate).

  • I would have thought it would be punctuated "Utinam, etiam in conferta turba , clamet ," ? Mar 30, 2017 at 19:58
  • And I don't know how I translated "ostiarius" as if it were "ostium". Hmf. Mar 30, 2017 at 19:59
  • @MattGutting Now I think I understand what you meant about the comma. I originally used reading 1, but you apparently used 2. Or something yet different?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Mar 30, 2017 at 20:08
  • Yes, I used 2. "If only he [the spiritual advisor] would cry out, even in a dense crowd, that ..." Perhaps this would be better as Utinam clamet, etiam in conferta turba, ..." Mar 30, 2017 at 20:15
  • 3
    Fun fact: ostiarius can be a technical term for one of the four minor orders (porter): the other 3 are lector, exorcista, and acolyta.
    – brianpck
    Mar 30, 2017 at 20:24

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