Could anyone help me understand the meaning of the Latin in this Jodocus Hondius map from the early 1600s?

Exquisita & magno aliquot mensium periculo lustrata et iam retecta Freti Magellanici Facies.

I know very little Latin but have managed to figure out via Google Translate that "Freti Magellanici" is the Strait of Magellan (which is what this map is), but the rest of it is unclear, something about "exquisite and great danger for several months examined and already unveiled" which doesn't quite make sense.

A map.

for what it's worth: from looking at C.M. Weimer's answer, the Dutch that follows may be the same text in both languages:

Eijgentlicke afbeeldinghe der Magellanisher Strate die nu met veel gevaers ettelijeke Maenden doorsien, van nieus ondecktis

which I'm not sure about either, except that "Eijgentlicke afbeeldinghe der Magellanisher Strate" means something like "authentic image of the Strait of Magellan". "Maanden" (not Maenden) in modern Dutch is "months", "gevaarlijk" (not gevaers) is "dangerous", "ettelijke" is several/some, and "ondeckt" is "discovered"... "nu" is "now", "met" is with, "veel" is "many", "nieuw" is new/recent, but I can't figure out what "doorsien" is, so a literal translation would be something like

Authentic image of the Strait of Magellan, that now with many dangerous several months ???, from recent discoveries.

Ooh: here we go, I found something about doorsien:

Doorsien is a Dutch word that literally means "plunge through." Dutch painters were particularly interested in views into the distance, which they called doorsien

so I can get it to something like:

Authentic image of the Strait of Magellan, that now with many dangerous several months of observation, from recent discoveries.

  • Welcome! Thanks for making an effort to translate this yourself. For more tips, see How can I ask a translation or homework question?. Mar 21, 2016 at 19:54
  • 1
    I think the Dutch should read "...die nu ... doorsien, van nieus ondeckt is", where doorsien and ontdeckt are both participles: "which has been surveyed and discovered".
    – TKR
    Mar 21, 2016 at 23:54
  • oh good, thanks! I'm just in language-decoding-mode so any actual knowledge of Dutch is an improvement.
    – Jason S
    Mar 22, 2016 at 0:39
  • where does the van nieus ... is fit into van nieus ondeckt is?
    – Jason S
    Mar 22, 2016 at 0:40
  • van nieus = "recently", I believe. And veel gevaers = "much danger" (not plural, contra my previous comment).
    – TKR
    Mar 22, 2016 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


Since Jodocus Hondius was Flemish (Joost de Hondt / d'Hondt), it makes sense to interpret the Dutch first, and then treat the Latin as a translation in our analysis.

Eijgentlicke afbeeldinghe der Magellanisher Strate die nu met veel gevaers ettelijeke Maenden doorsien, van nieus ondeckt is.

  • Eijgentlicke can mean, and probably means, "reliable, faithful to the original", as in a faithful representation.

  • Afbeeldinghe means a depiction of something.

  • Nu means "now".

  • Gevaers is an old plural of gevaar, "danger". Met veel gevaar means "with great danger".

  • Ettelijeke means "several".

  • Doorsien means, amongst other things, "inspected, surveyed".

  • Van nieus is an old expression meaning "anew, again" (see nieuwe under 4.b).

  • Ontdeckt means "discovered, revealed".

So the Dutch is best translated as follows:

"Faithful depiction of the Strait of Magellan, which now, surveyed with many dangers for several months, has been revealed anew."

The Latin words seem to be all translations of Dutch words, except that the syntax has been shaken up a bit:

Exquisita & magno aliquot mensium periculo lustrata et iam retecta Freti Magellanici Facies.

  • Exquisitus can mean "ascertained, accurate" and seems to be a translation of eijgentlicke.

  • Aliquot means "several" and is a translation of ettelijeke.

  • Lustrata means "surveyed" and is a translation of doorsien.

  • Retecta means "revealed, discovered" and is a translation of ondeckt. Perhaps the prefix re- is intended to perform a double service, as the re- in "reveal" as well as a translation of van nieu "anew".

  • Facies means "shape, appearance, aspect" and is a translation of afbeeldinghe.

A literal translation of the Latin would be as follows:

"Accurate & surveyed with the great danger of several months, and now revealed (anew), the shape of the Strait of Magellan."

A more liberal translation:

"Accurate representation of the Strait of Magellan, revealed anew with great danger after a survey of several months."

  • I still don't like the fact that "for several months" is temporal and not a genitive proper in its use here.
    – cmw
    Mar 23, 2016 at 5:42
  • @cmw: I'm not exactly jubilant about it either. It is odd to say "the danger of several months" in Latin. But the Dutch seems clear enough, and it uses a different construction, where I think ettelijke maanden doorzien can only mean "surveyed over several months". Ettelijke must mean "several", not "certain specific months": the WNT gives no other options.
    – Cerberus
    Mar 23, 2016 at 14:08
  • could you comment on "with great danger" vs. "with many dangers"? I have a colleague from South Africa (his native language is Afrikaans) and his best guess on the Dutch was something like "...the latest, with many dangers, only months after discovered"
    – Jason S
    Apr 20, 2016 at 16:46
  • @JasonS: Veel means "much" when it modifies a singular uncountable word, "many" with a plural word. If we take gevaers to be plural, as I think we should, it would mean "with many dangers".
    – Cerberus
    Apr 20, 2016 at 23:21

Exquisita & magno aliquot mensium periculo lustrata et iam retecta Freti Magellanici Facies.

The shape of the Straits of Magellan, accurate and illuminated with great danger of several months and now laid open [for all to see].

I understand facies as referring to the shape of the straits, which must have proven tricky for navigators. The islands and shadows seem to support that idea.

magno aliquot mensium periculo must mean a particular danger that is associated with certain bad months, such as winter in the Mediterranean. The idea is that the shape was figured out and illuminated during dangerous sailing seasons, however, now that it's figured out, it's no longer a mystery for ships to take them.

Exquisite isn't really the right meaning here. As you know, exquiro means "to search out diligently," and so this map is the result of diligent inquiries into the shape. It could either have that force, or, more simply, "accurate," but both are implied in the word simultaneously.

  • Maybe "surveyed" for lustrata? As for "exquisita", I think it does have the "sought out" meaning here, since the three participles express a chronological process of discovery -- first the layout of the straits was "sought after", then it was "surveyed", finally it has been "laid bare" or "discovered".
    – TKR
    Mar 21, 2016 at 22:13
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    As an even more minor quibble, I'm not sure aliquot mensium should be taken as referring to certain particularly dangerous months of the year, since aliquot is just about number. I understand it as simply meaning that mapping out the straits required several months of dangerous work.
    – TKR
    Mar 21, 2016 at 22:14
  • @TKR You're probably right, but if so, I would have expected it to be accusative, not an embedded genitive. Bad late Latin! (Now just find me a Classical counterexample so I can arbitrarily decry it as poor wording, too! :P)
    – cmw
    Mar 21, 2016 at 22:26
  • 1
    This is like a mini-Rosetta stone.
    – Jason S
    Mar 21, 2016 at 23:33
  • 1
    I think a genitive is what's expected for aliquot mensium simply because it's dependent on magno periculo, regardless of what particular type of temporal expression it may be.
    – TKR
    Mar 21, 2016 at 23:56

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