On the Necessity of Being

Latin Grammar: Word Choice when Translating

Unde verissime apparet, quod "sicut oculus vespertilionis se habet ad lucem, ita se habet oculus mentis nostrae ad manifestissima naturae" [Aristot., Metaph.]; quia assuefactus ad tenebras entium et phantasmata sensibilium, cum ipsam lucem summi esse intuetur, videtur sibi nihil videre; non intelligens, quod ipsa caligo summa est mentis nostrae illuminatio [Ps., 138, 11], sicut, quando videt oculus puram lucem, videtur sibi nihil videre.

Word Choice when Translating

Often the first meaning we learn for a Latin word does not convey the sense the author intended, particularly when we are looking at later developments in the Latin language.

The following common verbs, for example, can have meanings quite different from those you may have originally learned.

habeo, habere: have, possess, enclose
or, with se: to hold or keep one's self in a certain way; to behave

video, videre: see, understand or perceive
or, as videor (passive): seem or appear

Complete the following translation of the above passage, supplying the most logical translation of the highlighted verbs.

Wherefore it seems very true, that "just as the bat's eye (se habet) in the light, so the eye of the mind (se habet) before the most obvious things of nature";  because accustomed to the shadows of beings and the phantasms of the sensible world, when it looks upon the light of the highest Being, (videtur) (videre) nothing, not understanding that darkness itself is the fullest illumination of the mind, just as when the eye (videt) pure light (videtur) to itself (videre) nothing.

Make this exercise printable