In English, the epigraph of A Christmas Carol reads

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.

In Carmen ad Festum Nativitatis, Tom Cotton translates this

Hoc scrípsí Manibus ornátum libellum nescióquid Phantasmatis subjiciendí causá quóminus sive inter meós lectórés singillatim vel úná sive dé tempore anní sive dé mé displiceantur. Eórum domicilia suaviter inquietentur neque sint qui expellere vélint.

Eórum Amícus fidélis et Servus, C.D.

Lewis Elementary defines subicio as

  1. to throw under, place under, cast below
  2. [of troops] to bring, cause to be encamped, post
  3. to set up, mount, throw up
  4. to substitute, forge, counterfeit
  5. to suborn
  6. [figuratively] to submit, subject, present

I'm assuming that Mr. Cotton is using subicio in its sixth meaning, "to submit, subject, present," since none of the others makes sense in this context. How does subicio used with this meaning work as a translation of "raise the Ghost of an Idea"? What are some other examples of subicio being used in this way?

(I understand that Latin is a far more concrete language than English, much less given to metaphor and fancy, so I see that a more literal translation of "raise the Ghost of an Idea" wouldn't be great Latinity. But in this case my impulse would have been to use suggero, whose sixth meaning is "to suggest, prompt," and I'm trying to understand what makes subicio a better choice here. Döderlein contains neither verb, so I don't have much to go on.)

1 Answer 1


Lewis & Short II.B.5 has this definition:

  1. To bring forward, propose, adduce; to bring to mind, prompt, suggest

with these examples:

"cupio mihi ab illo, iudices, subici, quoniam de militari eius gloria dico, si quid forte praetereo." (Cic. Verr. 2.5.25)

"I wish, O judges, to be prompted by him, since I am speaking of his military renown, if by accident I pass over anything." (Clark & Peterson translation)

vidi Archidemum, cum quidem idem hic mihi Maeandrius quasi ministrator aderat subiciens quid in suos civis civitatemque, si vellem, dicerem." (Cic. Verr. Fl 22.53)

I saw Archidemus, when this identical man Maeandrius came to me as a sort of attorney, suggesting to me what I might say, if I pleased, against his own fellow-citizens and his own city. (translation Yonge)

So prompt/suggest overlaps fine with suggero. I think the word though is especially appropriate here, since he is not just suggesting any old thing, but the main thing, the subject, if you will, which meaning subiectum holds in later Latin.

  • 1
    I've only just come across this question, but as the translator himself I think I should defend my use of subiicio. In fact, C.M. Weimer has it right. I defence I quote Cicero Acad 2.23, 74: ea quae sub sensus subiecta sunt.
    – Tom Cotton
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:03
  • 1
    @TomCotton Just saw this comment: I didn't mean my question as a criticism! My Latin is pretty basic, so there's a lot about nuance that I don't understand, and this was an attempt at chipping away at that lack of understanding. Sep 24, 2017 at 21:25

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