Friday, April 13, 2012

Non Sine Causa

92     -     93     -     94

Non Sine Causa
Non frustra gladium princeps gerit, aut sine causa,
   Sed facit officium, praecipiente deo.

To Kings, both Sword and Mace pertaine
And, these they doe not beare in vaine.

Source: Gabriel Rollenhagen (1583-1619), Emblemata, 3. Meter: Elegiac. The English rendering is by George Wither. As often, Rollenhagen shows the hand of God reaching out from a heavenly cloud, wielding the prince's hand that wields the sword.

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. All the words in this poem are on that list:

Not in vain (non frustra) does the prince wield his sword (princeps gerit gladium) or without cause (aut sine causa), but he is doing his duty (sed facit officium) as God commands (praecipiente deo).

aut: or
causa -ae f.: cause, reason
deus -ī m.; dea -ae f. god; goddess
faciō facere fēcī factum: do, make
frūstrā: in vain
gerō gerere gessī gestum: bear, manage; bellum gerere, wage war
gladius -ī m.: sword
nōn: not
officium -ī n.: service, duty
praecipiō -cipere -cēpī -ceptum: anticipate, advise, warn
prīnceps -cipis: first, chief
sed: but
sine: without (+ abl.)


  1. Thank you very much for this blog, I find i really useful and inspiring.

    I just have a question: I didn't quite understand the "praecipiente Deo" part. Deo is ablative, isn't it? "by God", but what does "praecipiente" means? According to William Whitaker's "Words" (a DOS-like program), the ending means Verb-ing, used as an adjective or noun. So should it be literally translated as "God advising" or "God commanding"? Is it a similar construction as "Deo volente"? But why ablative?

    Thanks, and sorry for the trouble!!!

  2. Yes, it is just like "deo volente," and the construction is called an "ablative absolute" in Latin. It is very common in Latin, but the absolute construction is not so common in English, so it is usually translated with some kind of subordinate phrase (because, when, since, etc. depending on context).


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