I'm reading Arcadius Avellanus's translation of fairy tales (he was the last known native speaker of Latin), and I've come across this sentence:

Regia Filia jocum dignata mittit ancillam cum lucerna, quam et magus erga novam perlibenter emutavit, quod satis novit in tali tantaque Aladdini palatio haud duas lucernas antiquas reperiri posse.

There are two things in the sentence that escape me. The first is that et, which context makes clear isn't the first or second of a pair. What does it mean here?

The second thing I'm having trouble with is novit in tali, which I can't make heads or tails of, whether the subject is Regis Filia or magus. Is in tali tantaque an idiom? It was indeed printed as tantaque, not tantoque, in the original from 1918.

Any thoughts about either of these things?

  • 2
    As for et, I'd take it as "also": "which the mage, too, ..."
    – TKR
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 7:39
  • Tali e tanti is idiomatic Italian so "tali tantaque" sounds as the natural latin basis for it to my ears.
    – Francesco
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


I am using this edition of the Fabulae Divales as a basis for my below answer.

quam et

In general, Latin prefers to link clauses that would often be independent in English: propter quod, quam ob rem, qua ratione are examples of causal linking.

Using the relative pronoun with et (or, even more commonly, autem or enim) has many precedents: it links two otherwise separate clauses.

In eo perpetua canalis, in quam et cibus imponitur iis et immittitur aqua (Varro, De Agri Cultura, III.11)

There is a perpetual channel in it, and in it [=this channel] food is placed for them and water is allowed in.

in tali tantaque

This phrase is fairly common and means something like "of such a great kind". At least in my own head, I see it as a kind of hendiadys ("use of two words connected by a conjunction, instead of subordinating one to the other, to express a single complex idea").

Here is one classical example of its usage:

atque hoc non solum in te, tali et tanto viro, satis habebit (Letters to Atticus)

tantaque throws me for a bit of a loop, but I am confident that it is a typo. The only feminine words it could agree with in context are ancilla and lucerna, but neither works: tanta ancilla is rather mean, and there is no way to make tanta lucerna work with the rest of the sentence.

I read through the (otherwise delightful) Latin of the tale and noticed some other small errors such as:

  • pg. 9: qaum instead of quum (= cum)
  • pg. 12: nolli timere instead of noli timere

So, in the absence of better suggestions, I am willing to chalk this up to bad copy-editing or type-setting.

My proposed full translation (keeping the narrative present tense):

Regia Filia jocum dignata mittit ancillam cum lucerna, quam et magus erga novam perlibenter emutavit, quod satis novit in tali tantaque Aladdini palatio haud duas lucernas antiquas reperiri posse.

The Princess, consenting to the joke, sends her handmaid with the lamp, and the magician gladly exchanged it for a new one, for he knows well enough that two old lamps can hardly be found in such a great palace as Aladdin's.

  • 4
    Thank you so much—this answers my questions completely! I'm good with things like enim and autem, but I didn't realize that et could also be used postpositively—that was the missing piece there for me. As for the rest—erga tale tantumque responsum, quid multa? :) Commented May 26, 2016 at 21:38
  • 1
    On second thought--perhaps my example from Varro isn't good, since it is probably an et...et construction...
    – brianpck
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 22:05
  • Hmm. I'll keep an eye out for examples, but if you come across any in the meantime, I'd love it if you could add them (and maybe ping me in a comment so I know to look). Commented May 27, 2016 at 0:27
  • 1
    @JoelDerfner Et can (I believe) be used postpositively in verse, but that's not that case here -- it's going with magus.
    – TKR
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 22:36
  • 1
    Must by my ear, but I definitely read it as postpositive: "quam et magus" = "et magus hanc" for me...
    – brianpck
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 23:53

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