4

Greetings Latin StackExchange. One of my hobbies is to write stories and in one of my stories I would like to incorporate an item called "The Prince's Book". My ideal goal is that this item is written 100% in Latin and that that poses as a strugle to my characters.

Now, I'm a bit stuck in my research here. I would like to describe some parts of the interior of the book and one of them is the first printed page which would have this sentence on it.

I started out with Google Translate just to get a general feel for which words I could or could not use (and how horrible the syntax would look, eek) and went onto the "Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short" online dictionary to see what I could make of it.

So far what I have is either:

  1. Princeps Ex Libro;
  2. Liber Princeps.

But I have a really strong feeling that neither are correct! From the very, very, very little tiny knowledge of Latin that I have, is Libre not related to freedom?

I am also getting a very ill feeling about the word Princeps. I've found way too many meanings for it that differ from each other a lot.

I would be really, really grateful if someone could help me properly word the title of the item as to not make it just some cheap prop done with 5 minutes of research and zero respect for the actual language.

Thank you very, very much in advance for any help that you can provide.

Kind regards,

A Very Amateur Writer

  • No, "liber" does mean book, "libertus" references to a freedman and "libertas" is freedom. And what do you mean by The Prince's Book, is it a book about a prince or a book by a prince or what? – tox123 Feb 28 '18 at 23:05
  • @tox123 Thanks for the quick reply! It is suppose to be a sort of journal/diary to put is simply, so the context would be "by", as in, it is his property. And sorry, libro and liber were really confusing me. – Very Amateur Writer Feb 28 '18 at 23:25
  • Now that you have passed 15 reputation points, you can vote on any questions and answers on the site you like. Please have a look around and vote what you like! If you have trouble accessing your account, you can create (and register) a new one and ask a moderator to merge the two. We'll be glad to see more questions from you! :) – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 1 '18 at 16:43
4

The word “liber” does mean “book”. Think of “library”. It’s also true that “liber” means “free”. They’re just homographs (but in Classical Latin, not homophones: the i in the “free” word is pronounced longer than the i in the “book” word).

“Princeps” does have various meanings, but one of those is “prince” (as in "a ruler" e.g. Machiavelli's The Prince), so I don’t think it’s a bad choice. However, I am still at a low level in my studies of Latin so I can’t give any in-depth advice about word choice here—for that, you’ll have to wait for one of the more knowledgeable site members to make a post.

To indicate “of”, you should probably use the genitive-case form of the noun: “principis” (although as tox123 points out in a comment, the best translation would depend on what you mean exactly).

Together, it would be “Liber Principis” (or “Principis Liber”). I have the impression that in Latin, genitives of this type typically follow the modified noun (at least, in titles like this), so I would prefer “Liber Principis”, but either word order is grammatical.

Neither “Princeps Ex Libro” nor “Liber Princeps” is a grammatical way of expressing “The Prince’s Book”/“The Book of the Prince”.

  • Thanks for the reply! I already answered above what the context was. So I'm guessing the best way of putting it would be "Principis Liber", correct? – Very Amateur Writer Feb 28 '18 at 23:29
  • Sorry, this is my first time posting and didn't know. I updated my notes to "Liber Principis", I misread something. I'm really grateful for the help, this is really, really useful! Thank you so much! @sumelic – Very Amateur Writer Feb 28 '18 at 23:46
  • @VeryAmateurWriter: No problem. Welcome to the site! I looked around and found another post about word order that seems relevant: Why might “Philosophiae Doctor” (the source of “Ph.D.”) have been preferred over “Doctor Philosophiae”? The answer says either genitive + noun or noun + genitive is a natural choice for Classical Latin; I wonder if the preference I have for noun + genitive may be influenced by my exposure to scientific Latin terminology, which makes much less use of free word order. – sumelic Feb 28 '18 at 23:48
6

Liber principis is certainly a good choice. The genitive "prince's" is best expressed with the Latin genitive, whether the prince owns the book or wrote it. It is typical to put the genitive after the main word in Latin.

Liber is the typical translation for "book". Another option is volumen, but it usually refers to a book which is rolled open.

Princeps is a good word for a prince, but not the only option. There is also regulus (literally "little king"). You can also use the word delphinus for the crown prince, but I'm not aware of this having been used outside France. The phrase ad usum delphini may or may not be familiar. If you pick this word, be aware that it also means a dolphin.

Google Translate is very unreliable. Translated to English, princeps ex libro means "the prince from the book" and liber princeps "the principal book" or "the free prince". Neither is close to what you want; the choice of words is fine, but the choice of structures is not.

Here are the options that came to my mind, collected together:

prince's book
liber/volumen principis/reguli/delphini

3

If you are using "prince" in its usual English meaning ("son of a king"), then princeps is definitely the wrong word. The word that Livy uses for the son of a (foreign) king is regulus. So a "prince's book" would be Liber reguli.

  • A little too strongly worded: Livy uses regulus, but Tacitus (according to L&S) is more than happy to use princeps for "heir." – brianpck Mar 1 '18 at 14:42
  • 1
    @brianpck. I don't really think that is what he means with principes iuventutis.Have a look at the context. – fdb Mar 1 '18 at 14:52
  • Yeah, you're right on that passage. I'm still not entirely sure of the negative claim, but it could just be my prejudice as an English speaker! – brianpck Mar 2 '18 at 3:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.