Tuesday, June 24, 2014

St. Jerome in the Desert

This painting makes me smile. The angel has clearly startled poor Jerome by blasting him in the ear. Is the angel telling him to get back to work on the bible or that he needs to get dressed and go see the pope?

1 comment:

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

I know the episode, even if I can't see the painting.

He had been using Classical Latin.

An angel came to him, telling him, because he denied ordinary people immediate understanding, one can suppose, "you are a Ciceronian, not a Christian", Cicero being famous for his beautiful language.

So, he went back after that punch to writing a Latin closer to popular speech.

Possibly that angel was obeying some bishop, who thought he knew best, and if that bishop was St Augustine, this is ironic.

A word meaning "thou hast created everything together" was translated by him with "simul" for "together". This corresponds to what is now in French "ensemble", or in Italian "insieme".

But the Classical meaning for "simul" is "at the same time". And St Augustine reading this thought the word meant that and hence he got his theory of one moment creation. The six days being six successive views the angels had of the one moment.

You see, not all the provinces of the Empire came to use "simul" for "together".

The Classical word is iuxta. A word used in Spain was iunctim or even as adjective rather than adverb, iunctos, iunctas ... which is what Spanish uses to this day.

I speculate, since the Latin daughter languages of Sirmium and of North Africa are not extant. We cannot know "simul" was "together" in what is now Serbia (though we do know he spent time in Gaul, where they now use "ensemble"). We cannot know North Africa lacked the expression, just that St Augustine did not get it.