Marcus Aurelius describes himself succinctly and humbly in the third book of his Meditations. I would like to come up with a Latin translation, but have a few questions on diction.

ἔτι δὲ ὁ ἐν σοὶ θεὸς ἔστω προστάτης ζῴου ἄρρενος καὶ πρεσβύτου καὶ πολιτικοῦ καὶ Ῥωμαίου καὶ ἄρχοντος, ...

And yet let the god within thee be a guardian of a living being, male, mature in years, a statesman, a Roman, and a ruler, ...

(Meditations 3.5)

Here's my best shot at a Latin translation, but I'm sure there are many mistakes.

Tamen autem deus in tibi sit vindex2 animi3 masculi et maturi et civis4 et Romani et imperatoris.5

What changes would you suggest? What errors did I make?

1 Does "deus in tibi sit" look right to you?
2 I was on the fence between vindex and defensor, but perhaps both are wrong.
3 On the fence between animi and vitae, but the latter would necessitate feminine adjectives.
4 The Greek πολιτικός could be "statesman" or "citizen". How would you say "statesman"?
5 The adjectives are genitive by analogy to the Greek. But I'm not sure about this choice.

^ The five degradations of Hesiod my Latin sentence.

1 Answer 1


My thoughts to get things started:

  1. Deus in tibi definitely isn't right, because the Latin preposition in never has a dative with it. You want in te (ablative).
  2. I have a strong suspicion that the προστάτης bit is meant to render the Latin word genius. After all, 'guardian of a living being, male,' is practically the dictionary definition of genius. And this word also had special meaning when applied to the emperor and his divinity. In that case, you can probably just say genius viri instead of vindex animi masculini.
  3. See #2.
  4. One way of rendering 'statesman' would be vir civilis, so you could likely get away with using just the adjective civilis here, together with your other adjectives. (Or, I suppose you could work in some sort of periphrasis, such as peritus rei publicae gubernandae, depending on what you think it means to be statesman.)
  5. Grammatically, yes, the words need to be genitive for the way you've phrased this.

Other points:

  • I'm not at all sure tamen is correct for ἔτι δέ, but I can't find my copy of Denniston's Greek particles at the moment. Both tamen and ἔτι do translate as 'still' in English, but the English word is ambiguous: tamen is 'still' in the sense of 'nevertheless'; whereas ἔτι is (usually, at least) more temporal (as in 'I'm still here') or even about degree (as in 'still greater rewards'). At any rate, using both tamen and autem as you've done is definite overkill.
  • I guess maturus works for πρεσβύτης; senex seems the more obvious choice though, especially because Marcus Aurelius seems to be going for very basic terminology that's rooted in Roman tradition, even though he's expressing it in Greek: man, citizen/statesman, elder, Roman – and even emperor (as an extension of the traditional term imperator).
  • Thank you for your points. Genius, civilis, and senex are all good suggestions. Especially genius. And I agree, I did suspect that tamen autem was overkill. I guess that spending so much time with the Vulgate, I wanted to translate a particle with a particle. I still do, if possible. I should look into how St. Jerome translates eti de.
    – ktm5124
    Nov 26, 2017 at 22:08
  • Follow-up: I'm accepting this answer for now because it is very good. But if a new answer shows up that adds new information I'll reconsider my choice.
    – ktm5124
    Nov 28, 2017 at 5:02

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