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  5. "Vates ad aram it."

"Vates ad aram it."

Translation:The bard goes to the altar.

September 2, 2019



Can we (collectively) come up with a better translation than "bard"? I know it seems to align well with "vates," but it's obsolete in contemporary English, except as an honorific for Shakespeare.


I'm back home now, so I can pull my old (huge) Lewis and Short off the shelf. Here are the English equivalents it gives for "vates":

Original: a foreteller, seer, soothsayer, prophet

By transference: a poet, poetess

Post-Augustan: an oracle (i.e. a teacher, master, authority in any art or profession)

Even in 1879, they considered "bard" too archaic as a translation. :)


I like oracle or prophet


Soothsayer is occasionally given as a translation here and it often suits the situation better. Maybe in the context of 'bard', a more general word like 'singer' or 'musician' would do better.


From Proto-Indo-European weh₂t-i- (“seer”), from weh₂t- (“to be excited”). (Wiktionary)

The English vates, despite being borrowed from the Latin form, is generally used about ancient Celtic seers rather than Roman ones. As far as vates (“celtic seer”) and bard (“celtic poet and singer”) are used in English, they tend to be somewhat overlapping.

The Latin vates is either a cognate with Proto-Celtic “*wātis” (especially if we suggest a common Italo-Celtic branch, as some do), or it is borrowed directly from Celtic. In any case, pagan Rome had a vates institution of its own... something like “seers” and “soothsayers”, or even “oracles”, residing on the Hill if of the Vates (Vatican Hill). The word ”vates” itself fell out of fashion, but Virgil revived it from old texts. Virgil is the Man who is the sole measurement of what is Classical Latin.

There are many cognates to be found in different Indo-European branches; most of them are more or less obsolete – including English adjective wode, (”mad, possessed, rabid”), Old English substantive wōþ (”sound, voice, noise, cry, song, poetry”), Irish fáidh (“seer, prophet”), and Sanskrit: वात (vā́ta, “attacked, assailed, injured, hurt”).

Beside vates, the only one of the cognates I’ve learned from Duo the Owl so far, is the German adjective wütend (”angry”).


I do not understand a word of that sentence

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