LUDI NOVI ROMANI MMDCCLXXIV - IPSE DIXIT: Solutions, Winner Proclamation and Official Ludi Closure

P. Annaeus Constantinus Placidus, aedilis curulis

Ædilis Curulis Publius Annæus Constantinus Placidus omnibus in Foro S.P.D.

"All good things must come to an end," the old proverb says. So this nice and very ejoyable Special LUDI NOVI ROMANI Anniversary edition of Nova Roma's longest running quiz, IPSE DIXIT, actually ends here. In the following lines I shall give the solutions to all Items of the quiz and then proclaim the winner.

However, I will do things in order. In the solutions below here, the original questions are in italic and the answers are in ordinary type.



1. Please translate this phrase literally into English. (1 point)

From the egg.

2. Where does this phrase originate from? (2 points)

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace), Satire 1.3; ab ovo usque ad mala = from the egg to the fruit, referring to the whole course of a meal.

3. Using your own words as far as possible, explain the meaning of doing something ab ovo. (3 points). NOTE: As with all of my 'interpretative' questions, the correctness of your answer here will be judged only by myself.

Ab ovo is used to mean "from the start", "from the beginning". Doing something ab ovo means starting from the beginning. E.g. when somebody tells a confusing story, he may be told "Please stop and start again ab ovo."



1. Please translate this sentence into English. You may add articles. (1 point)

Literally "hand washes hand". Commonly translated as "one hand washes one hand" or "One hand washes the other."

2. Where does this phrase originate from? (2 points)

Translated by Lucius Annæus Seneca from a play by Freek playwrigh Epicharmus.

3. Explain in your own words the meaning of this phrase, as opposed to its translation. (3 points)

The phrase indicates an exchange of favours. It is similar to the English proverb "You'll scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

4. Which famous Italian writer used this phrase, and extended it, in a very famous historical novel of his? (3 points)

Alessandro Manzoni in The Bethroted, chapter XIV: "One hand washes another and both of them wash the face". He means that an exchange of favours may lead to a bigger common goal.



1. Please translate this phrase into English. Feel free to add words which are not in the original Latin. (2 points)

If you want peace, prepare (for) war.

2. Where does this phrase originate from? (2 points)

Adapted from De re militari by  P. Flavius Vegetius Renatus.  The phrase suggests that people must always be ready to fight against a known enemy even in times of peace - in order to mantain the peace.

3. Please quote at least three examples of modern usages of this phrase, or part of it, or transations of it. (3 points)

A possible list of usages:
- It is the motto of the Royal British Navy.
- It is the motto for the Franco-Russian Pact of 1892.
- It appeared on the front door of the German weapons and ammunition factory Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DWM). A type of bullet made there came to be known as "parabellum".
- It is the motto of the superhero known as The Punisher, from Marvel Comics.
- American band Metallica, in their 1991 song "Don't Tread On Me", had the line: "To secure peace is to prepare for war."
- The 2019 film "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum" is named after the bullet. A character in the film quotes the original phrase.



1. Please translate this phrase into English. Feel free to add to it, but stick to the literal meaning of single words. (1 point)

The most common English translation, by far, is "Behold the man." This is quoted in most English-language Latin textbooks. However, it is not literal. Ecce, deriving from et+ce, literally means "and here", thus the phrase very literally translates into "and here man". The verb "is" and an article may be implied ("and here is the man").

2a. Where does this phrase originate from? (2 points)

Gospel of John, 19:5. Originally written in Greek. 2b. According to the writer, who is the originator of the phrase? (1 point)

Pontius Pilate.

3a. Explain in your own words the meaning of the phrase in its original context. (3 points)

Presenting a beaten, tortured and scourged Christ to a clamouring crowd, Pilate was mocking him, claiming that the abuse had made him unrecognizable as a man.  In other words, he was saying: "Look what have you done to this man!" or "Are you really sure you can still call this a man?" Other interpretations, like "He is a man and not the Son of God" are later, and not in the New Testament.

3b. Explain in your own words the meaning of the phrase as used in our own times. (3 points) NOTE: at least one modern usage of the phrase is usually ironical.

It is generally applied to all victims, especially of physical abuse. German philosopher Friederich Nietzsce used it ironically in a treatise about the failure of man's noble ambitions, and when somebody or something is defined as "like ecce homo" or "in a ecce homo status", they are defined as utterly untidy, messy and unrecognizable.




1. What was Martin's mistake? (2 points)

According to a traditional Italian story from the 1500s, Martinus (Martin) was an abbot in a convent in Tuscany. He wanted to place the above phrase as an inscription on the door of his convent. However, he put a dot (full stop/period) in the wrong place: after nulli instead than after esto.

2a. Please translate the phrase into English in its correct meaning. (3 points)

Door, may you stay open. May you not be closed to any honest (person).

2b. Please translate the phrase into Engish in its altered meaning, i.e. including Martin's mistake. (3 points)

Door, may you stay open to nobody. May you be closed to honest (people).

3. 3. What is the proverbial motto derived from this story?

In Italian it is "Per un punto Martìn perse la cappa", i.e. "Because of a dot, Martin lost his cloak". It refers to a seemingly trival mistake which may generate disastrous consequences.

Second place: AULUS SCRIBONIUS NASICA - 37 points
Third place: DECIMA AUTRONIA STOLO - 36 points

On behalf of the entire Ædilitas, I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the three contestants who sent me their replies, as well as to everybody who subscribed their chariots in my other game for these Ludi, the Virtual Chariot Race.

All of the above having been said, in the name of the Res Publica Nova Romana, I hereby declare the 2774 a.U.c edition of LUDI NOVI ROMANI officially CLOSED!

Optime valete omnes,
Publius Annæus Constantinus Placidus
Ædilis Curulis Novæ Romæ

Join to automatically receive all group messages.