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  5. "It is the second hour."

"It is the second hour."

Translation:Secunda hora est.

August 30, 2019



One thing that is not explained in all these examples is what is meant by "the first hour", "the second hour", and so forth.

The ancient Romans divided the daylight period into twelve hours, so, regardless of the season, the first hour always began at dawn, and the twelfth hour always ended at dusk.

We count the hours differently nowadays, and "prima hora" is now used to mean "one o'clock", as it is in any modern language.


In the Wikipedia page they say the opposite "from dusk to dawn"

Wikipedia could be wrong, because they states contradictory things in their article (I think). And I think it's more logical to count from dawn to dusk, than the opposite.

Ramsay (1896) maintain that the hours were always counted from dusk and dawn, hence that the "sixth hour" of the night or day represented midnight and midday respectively.
(Source: wikipedia)

It's possible that Ramsey makes a confusion between secular hours and religious prayer hours. (I think)

I don't know if the link is well documented, but they deny what is said in the Wikipedia page too: https://blogs.transparent.com/latin/horae-counting-the-roman-hours/

The Romans throughout the Empire considered the start of the day at different times. Some said the start was dawn, other claimed it was at was in later midnight. The modern English word “noon” is derived from the ninth hour “nona”.

I don't believe in the fact to start to count from midnight, as it seems to me absurd, no sundial in the night, it would be a really complicated way to have clepsydra etc, when it's easier to count from dawn.


"Altera" might be preferential for "second" in Classical Latin.


A quick search of the classical authors finds about a dozen instances of "secunda hora" or "hora secunda" and none of "hora altera" or "altera hora".


I bow to usage! Although, it does look like Martial Epigrammata 4.81 uses "altera" to refer to the second hour of the day. That is the only pop I got on a PHI proximity search, though. But considering your work, I'll prefer "secunda" in the future.


Altera is not "secund", it is rather: the other/the other one.

Altera gave "alternative", "alterity".


I recognize that it is often taught that way, but in practice it is regularly used where native English speakers would expect "secundus".

From Lewis & Short: As a numeral = secundus, the second, the next, ό ἕτερος: “primo die, alter dies, tertius dies



And "the second book" (of the Aeneid, say) is often called Liber Alter (even though there are more than a total of two books).


Very interesting link. Yes, you're right, because they write "As a numeral = secundus, the second, the next"

It's rather logical, because "the other one", is:

"The second solution among both solutions"

= the alternative

It seems that the first meaning was the "other" (=the second choice) and not "second" alone.

The "second one" when you have : 2 choices = the alternative solution.

The second alter in a different case: “alter alterius ova frangit,”


Why isn't "Est hora secundam." accepted?

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