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Thread: Clarification on a Translation from Italian to English

  1. #1
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    Post Clarification on a Translation from Italian to English

    Quote Originally Posted by Compos Stellae View Post
    My name is Compos Stellae,

    I have been studying Alchemy since 2009, and I have a little room for my "games"
    I'm italian and, luckly, our libraries have a lot of books translated from latin, deutch, french and english. Aniway, I prefer reading books in their original language

    I think Alchemy is a long and beautiful training, and I hope to have interesting conversations with you on books, and practice.

    Buen Camino
    Compos Stellae
    Welcome to the forum. Since you are Italian, please allow me to ask you for a small favor: I actually understand quite a bit of written Italian, but there is an interesting passage in Bonus' "New Pearl of Great Price" where he talks about the methods used by some "puffers" to give silver the density and color of gold that has given me a bit of trouble to fully understand. Unfortunately, the German, Spanish and English translations of this treatise are based on the mutilated "abridged" version by Lacinius, not the complete original by Bonus, so the passage in question does not read quite the same. But the Italian translation is of the complete original Latin text. However, in the Italian translation a couple of parts in the passage in question are couched in a style and vocabulary which I have not been able to fully understand. Allow me to quote it for you (words in bold are the problem ones):

    "Altri non sono dell'intenzione della natura nella generazione dell'oro: e perci nelle minere dell'oro e dei metalli ninno di quelli vi si ritrova. E per perch tale oro sofistico, sempre machiato dall'aere e dal fuoco dell'ignizione e dalle polvori che rodono, con le quali si fa 'I cemento. Overo se egli sostiene tutte queste cose et il cemento, alla guisa di questo, il quale fece gi un certo uomo come udito abbiamo, dell'argento ridotto al peso dell'oro: diciamo che non ha mollicia al maleo, n flessione, n la agnizione del-l'oro, n la fusione, n il suono muto dell'oro, ma del rame o dell'argento: n beve l'argento vivo facilmente come fa l'oro: n si possono indorare gli metalli con esso come udito abbiamo da quegli. Dal che si vede chiaramente che cemento non l'ultimo esamine dell'oro, come comunemente pensano. [Il] non [essere] adunque questo, che altera i metalli imperfetti in colore simile al color d'oro, potente di fare l'oro: ma quello il quale trasmuta dopo le ultime operazioni... Avenga dunque che la pietra dei filosofi doppo avute le alterazioni trasmuti,.. essa sola far l'oro: e questo ragionevole."

    And here is my attempted translation:

    "Others are not of the intention of nature in the generation of gold: and therefore in the mine of gold and metals none of those is found there. And yet because this gold is sophistical, always tainted by air, and by fire of ignition, and the corroding powders, with which the cement is made. Or indeed if it withstands all these things and the cement, in the manner of this, the which was already made by a certain man, as we have heard, of silver reduced to the weight (i.e. density) of gold: we say that it has not mollicia (?) to maleo (?), or bending, nor the ignition of gold, nor the fusion, nor the muted sound of gold, but that of copper or silver: neither does it drink quicksilver as easily as does gold, nor can the metals be aureated with it, as we heard from those. From which it is clearly seen that the cement is not the ultimate examination of gold, as is commonly thought. Not being therefore this (?), that which alters imperfect metals in color similar to the color of gold is able to make gold: but that which transmutes after the final operations… Therefore it follows that the stone of the philosophers after due alterations transmutes… it alone will make gold: and this is reasonable."

    I am assuming that "mollicia" and "maleo" have to do with "malleability". So he seems to be saying that this alleged artificial gold does not have the malleability of real gold. But what is "[Il] non [essere] adunque questo"? It is mainly because of this phrase that I can't quite make full sense of what he is saying here. He seems to be saying that it does not follow that because some things can give silver the color of gold that they will actually make gold.

    This is a very interesting passage that gives a death-blow to the fantasies of all those people who keep claiming that Bonus was not interested in "practical alchemy" but just speculations and theories, or that he was some "mystic" not interested at all in making artificial precious metals, or whatever nonsense ideas many people keep trying to project on a multitude of alchemists out of their whims & fancies just because they don't want to accept the plain and simple fact that alchemy is, and always has been, about the Philosophers' Stone and transmutation. It is also quite clear that far from being an ignorant or ingenuous fellow easily fooled by anything that "glitters", Bonus was in fact so reluctant to accept transmutation other than by means of the Philosophers' Stone that he even denies that operators who have succeeded in giving silver both the density and color of gold, and also make it able to resist assaying tests like cementation, have actually made real gold. This attitude is in fact quite typical of the alchemists. Very different from the attitude we see later on among "chymists" like Glauber, or Becher, or Kunckel, who accept a great deal of different transmutation methods.

  2. #2
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    JDP - How come your Italian is so good?

    I would have translated it that way as well, my family are from Italy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Barnes View Post
    JDP - How come your Italian is so good?

    I would have translated it that way as well, my family are from Italy.
    Well, I happen to be fluent in Spanish and also understand quite a lot of French. Once you are very familiar with a couple of other Romance languages, Italian is not that difficult to understand.

    By the way, feel free to make suggestions or corrections to the two parts I could not quite fully figure out, the ones in bold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Welcome to the forum. Since you are Italian, please allow me to ask you for a small favor: I actually understand quite a bit of written Italian, but there is an interesting passage in Bonus' "New Pearl of Great Price" where he talks about the methods used by some "puffers" to give silver the density and color of gold that has given me a bit of trouble to fully understand. Unfortunately, the German, Spanish and English translations of this treatise are based on the mutilated "abridged" version by Lacinius, not the complete original by Bonus, so the passage in question does not read quite the same. But the Italian translation is of the complete original Latin text. However, in the Italian translation a couple of parts in the passage in question are couched in a style and vocabulary which I have not been able to fully understand. Allow me to quote it for you (words in bold are the problem ones):

    "Altri non sono dell'intenzione della natura nella generazione dell'oro: e perci nelle minere dell'oro e dei metalli ninno di quelli vi si ritrova. E per perch tale oro sofistico, sempre machiato dall'aere e dal fuoco dell'ignizione e dalle polvori che rodono, con le quali si fa 'I cemento. Overo se egli sostiene tutte queste cose et il cemento, alla guisa di questo, il quale fece gi un certo uomo come udito abbiamo, dell'argento ridotto al peso dell'oro: diciamo che non ha mollicia al maleo, n flessione, n la agnizione del-l'oro, n la fusione, n il suono muto dell'oro, ma del rame o dell'argento: n beve l'argento vivo facilmente come fa l'oro: n si possono indorare gli metalli con esso come udito abbiamo da quegli. Dal che si vede chiaramente che cemento non l'ultimo esamine dell'oro, come comunemente pensano. [Il] non [essere] adunque questo, che altera i metalli imperfetti in colore simile al color d'oro, potente di fare l'oro: ma quello il quale trasmuta dopo le ultime operazioni... Avenga dunque che la pietra dei filosofi doppo avute le alterazioni trasmuti,.. essa sola far l'oro: e questo ragionevole."

    And here is my attempted translation:

    "Others are not of the intention of nature in the generation of gold: and therefore in the mine of gold and metals none of those is found there. And yet because this gold is sophistical, always tainted by air, and by fire of ignition, and the corroding powders, with which the cement is made. Or indeed if it withstands all these things and the cement, in the manner of this, the which was already made by a certain man, as we have heard, of silver reduced to the weight (i.e. density) of gold: we say that it has not mollicia (?) to maleo (?), or bending, nor the ignition of gold, nor the fusion, nor the muted sound of gold, but that of copper or silver: neither does it drink quicksilver as easily as does gold, nor can the metals be aureated with it, as we heard from those. From which it is clearly seen that the cement is not the ultimate examination of gold, as is commonly thought. Not being therefore this (?), that which alters imperfect metals in color similar to the color of gold is able to make gold: but that which transmutes after the final operations… Therefore it follows that the stone of the philosophers after due alterations transmutes… it alone will make gold: and this is reasonable."

    I am assuming that "mollicia" and "maleo" have to do with "malleability". So he seems to be saying that this alleged artificial gold does not have the malleability of real gold. But what is "[Il] non [essere] adunque questo"? It is mainly because of this phrase that I can't quite make full sense of what he is saying here. He seems to be saying that it does not follow that because some things can give silver the color of gold that they will actually make gold.
    I took a look at the Latin original of the full text:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=Ua...page&q&f=false

    The passage is found on page 250 of that edition. I was able to fully clarify the first one. In Latin it says "molliciem ad malleum", which means "softness to the hammer". As for the second unclear part, the Latin says this:

    "Non esse ergo istud, quod alterat metalla imperfecta in colore simili colore auri, est potens facere aurum..."

    Which might be translated as: "Then is not to be this, that alter in color the imperfect metals similar to the color of gold, [that] is able to make gold..." Subject to correction from someone with better knowledge of Latin than yours truly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    I took a look at the Latin original of the full text:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=Ua...page&q&f=false

    The passage is found on page 250 of that edition. I was able to fully clarify the first one. In Latin it says "molliciem ad malleum", which means "softness to the hammer". As for the second unclear part, the Latin says this:

    "Non esse ergo istud, quod alterat metalla imperfecta in colore simili colore auri, est potens facere aurum..."

    Which might be translated as: "Then is not to be this, that alter in color the imperfect metals similar to the color of gold, [that] is able to make gold..." Subject to correction from someone with better knowledge of Latin than yours truly.
    I can't find the sentence on the page 250... I can see the page 250, but the sentence is not there.

    I can translate your sentence: "Non esse ergo istud, quod alterat metalla imperfecta in colore simili colore auri, est potens facere aurum..."; but I am translating without reading the whole book and thus without having a good context.

    "Then this isn't [something] that gives the metals a color that is similar to the color of gold [but it's not gold], but something that can make gold... "

    LOL... I have more troubles with English than I have with latin, so it's not a 100% literal translation.

    The author is talking about some substance and is saying, in your Latin sentence, that this substance is not something that will simply give the metals the color of gold without making them become "true gold", but something that will turn them into actual or "real" gold (i.e, that the substance won't create "something that looks like gold, but is not gold"... that it will create real gold, not a fake gold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zoas23 View Post
    I can't find the sentence on the page 250... I can see the page 250, but the sentence is not there.

    I can translate your sentence: "Non esse ergo istud, quod alterat metalla imperfecta in colore simili colore auri, est potens facere aurum..."; but I am translating without reading the whole book and thus without having a good context.

    "Then this isn't [something] that gives the metals a color that is similar to the color of gold [but it's not gold], but something that can make gold... "

    LOL... I have more troubles with English than I have with latin, so it's not a 100% literal translation.

    The author is talking about some substance and is saying, in your Latin sentence, that this substance is not something that will simply give the metals the color of gold without making them become "true gold", but something that will turn them into actual or "real" gold (i.e, that the substance won't create "something that looks like gold, but is not gold"... that it will create real gold, not a fake gold.
    Sorry, it is on page 256, but the 6 is badly printed and looks more like 0.

    I think he is saying the opposite. He is implying that these things that seem to give silver the appearance of gold do not really make gold. A bit later Bonus goes on typical alchemical mode "all guns blazing" and declares that no true gold can be made except by the Philosophers' Stone. So he is attacking those "puffers" who say they can make gold from silver using other methods. Bonus is such a typically fanatic alchemist that he denies this even if the gold produced from silver by such methods answers not only to its color but also to its density and resistance to assaying methods like cementation.
    Last edited by JDP; 12-15-2015 at 10:57 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Sorry, it is on page 256, but the 6 is badly printed and looks more like 0.

    I think he is saying the opposite. He is implying that these things that seem to give silver the appearance of gold do not really make gold. A bit later Bonus goes on typical alchemical mode "all guns blazing" and declares that no true gold can be made except by the Philosophers' Stone. So he is attacking those "puffers" who say they can make gold from silver using other methods. Bonus is such a typically fanatic alchemist that he denies this even if the gold produced from silver by such methods answers not only to its color but also to its density and resistance to assaying methods like cementation.
    If I look at the context, you seem to be right... my translation does not make sense for the context unless the writer is crazy. His way of writing Latin is quite confusing (and some writers, specially in the field of alchemy, willingly write in a confusing way... but in this case, the whole sentence is quite weird and the grammar is not exactly amazing).

    If I read it it without the context, I would say that the sentence says exactly the opposite of what the author seems to be stating.

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