20 February 2015

Only for Classicists: Nugacitas venusta et lepida ...

A recent post of mine about canonisation cited the words "... [Sanctus Spiritus] qui omni tempore supremum Magisterium erroris expertem reddit ... "

expertem, indeed! What a charming piece of humour, that a phrase denoting the exemption of the Papacy from error should be expressed with ... an elementary grammatical error!! Notice the delicate skill with which it is the very word bearing the sense of "exempt from error" which actually constitutes the grammatical howler!!!

Something like the joke about the Cretan who so truly said that Cretans invariably lie?

But such a sophisticated lusus verborum suggests a culture some way to the South even of Crete ... rather nearer to the city of Cyrene, d'you think?


fr. Thomas said...

I suppose (grammatically not theologically) one could render it: 'has made the supreme magisterium to be a man exempt from error'

Dale Crakes said...

Fr as usual I pass your Latin post along to an RC trad Latin prof, of your vintage and received this response to which I was surprised as his usual response is something akin to an American Right On! "How very odd. Am I missing something? Expers with the genitive, as here, is a perfectly standard classical word much used by Cicero and meaning 'free from' or just 'without'. Cicero uses it with eg veritatis, humanitatis and eruditionis. To describe its use here as an 'elementary schoolboy howler' is incomprehensible. Is it possible that Fr Hunwicke is himself eruditionis expers?"

Dr Ludwig Ott said...

Your Prof has nodded: Magisterium is neuter, expertem isn't.

Anonymous said...

So, the Holy Spirit turned the Magisterium into a person free from error. A Freudian slip? There are those who think that the Magisterium does vary with the person in charge, so that any Pope could say, "I am the Magisterium and supra depositum fidei."

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Crakes

I had thought that, by now, there might have been another contribution from your 'prof' ... via you, of course.

We must do our best to keep this rolling!

Dale Crakes said...

Patience Fr I'm on the opposite side of the world, you know, time zones,sleep, grocery shopping. Anyway here is his Mea Maxima Culpa "Oh dear, how embarrassing. In so far as I thought at all I suppose I read it as magistrum and took it to be a reference to the Pope!

I don’t know anything about Fr Hunwicke or his knowledge of Latin: I assumed he misunderstood the word expers, as many beginners do, though I’ve since looked at his website and it is clear that he is very masterly.

Please convey my sheepish thanks to Dr Ott and Fr Hunwicke.Dr David Daintree." I have comment from another but mea maxima is the extent of my Latin it may be repetative.

Dale Crakes said...

And from another. "Dear Mr. Crakes,

Regarding this:


surely the error in "... [Sanctus Spiritus] qui omni tempore supremum Magisterium erroris expertem reddit ... " is that expertem, which is the m. and f. form (accusative case) of the adjective expers should be expers (neuter singular accusative) in order to agree with supremum Magisterium."

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Crakes

Please, if you would, convey my compliments and very best wishes to Dr Daintree.

John Hunwicke

Figulus said...

I am having a hard time getting my mind around the context of this phrase, but I suppose a reference to a "supremus magisterius erroris expers" is out of the question?