Can anyone render this passage from Lorenzo Valla's original Latin translation of Herodotus into modern text? I'm not looking for a translation, rather, I need to have the typographics normalized. There are too many words I can't decipher because they are printed with 15th century conventions.

The passage in question is on page 80 of the linked original, Thalia Liber (Chapter Three) and begins on line 38 with "Aegyptios autem" and concludes on line 40 with "deuorata emori." (I think.)

I'm just not familiar with either Latin or the printing style of the period. Link to text

  • 3
    And if you could paste just the passage that interests you (not the whole book).
    – fdb
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 9:52

1 Answer 1


enter image description here

Aegyptios autem, qua p(er)suasum habent ignem animatam beluam esse, et o(mn)ia quae nascuntur (nanciscitur) de uorare (devorare): et post(quam) deuorando (devorando) fuerit expleta, una cum ipsa re deuorata (devorata) emori.

Text in brackets is compared to better known versions (Svikert 1820) of the text or abbreviations expanded.

The "p" in "psuasum" has an understroke making it "persuasum"; the "postque" near the start of the 3d line is definitely "postquam": the "q" has both an understroke making it a "qu", and an overstroke indicating "am". – kimchi lover

The text uses long s ſ and a historic form of & for et. Diacritics seem to abbreviate prefixes and suffixes. At times the text seems to use a different source or is just corrupted.

Especially the differences between Svikert nanciscitur nancīscī, nancīscor, nactus sum (verb, cons. conj.) nanciscitur: 3. Ps. Sg. Pres. Ind. (deponens) seems weird compared to Valla nascuntur nāscī, nāscor, nātus sum (verb, cons. conj.) nascuntur: 3. Ps. Pl. Pres. Ind. (deponens).

For those reading along here but not 'fluent' in Latin, the passage is originally Greek and reads in English something like:

III. 16:

When they were weary of doing this (for the body, being embalmed, remained whole and was not dissolved), Cambyses commanded to burn it, a sacrilegious command; for the Persians hold fire to be a god; therefore neither nation deems it right to burn the dead, the Persians for the reason assigned, as they say it is wrong to give the dead corpse of a man to a god; while the Egyptians believe fire to be a living beast that devours all that it catches, and when sated with its meal dies with the end of that whereon it feeds. Now it is by no means their custom to give the dead to beasts; and this is why they embalm the corpse, that it may not lie and be eaten of worms. (p23)
–– Herodotus with and English translation of Alfred Denis Godley, in Four Volumes, Volume II, Books III and IV, London: William Heineman's, New York: GP Putnams's Sons, MCMXXVIII

While in a critical edition of the sources it would read like:

Πέρσαι γαρ θεὸν νομίζουσι εἶναι πῦρ. τὸ ὦν κατακαίειν γε τοὺς νεκροὺς οὐδαμῶς ἐν νόμω οὐδετέροισί ἐστί, Πέρσῃσι μέν, διόπερ εἴρηται, θεῷ οὐ δίκαιον εἶναι λέγοντες νέμειν νεκρὸν άνθρώπον • Αἰγνπτίοισι δὲ νενόμισται πῦρ θηρίον εἶναι ἔμψυχον, πάντα δὲ αὐτὸ κατεσθίειν, τά περ ἂν λάβῃ, πλησθὲν δε αὐτὸ τῆς βορῆς συναποθνήσκειν τῷ κατεσθιομένῳ. (p263–264)
–– Herodoti Historiae, Volumen 1, Libros I–IV Continens, Edidit Haiim B. Rosen, Bibliotheca Scriptorvm Graecorvm Et Romanorvm Tevbneriana, BSB B. G. Teubner Verlagsgesellschaft: Leipzig, 1987.

enter image description here (p247)
–– Herodoti: "Historiae", Recognovit Brevique Adnotatione Critica Instruxit N G Wilson, Collegii Lincolnensis Apvd Oxonienses Socivs, Tomus Prior, Libros I–IV Continens, Scrptorium Classicorum Bilbiotheca Oxonisensis, Oxonii E Typographeo Clarendoniano, Oxford University Press: Oxford New York, 2015.

  • 2
    The "p" in "psuasum" has an understroke making it "persuasum"; the "postque" near the start of the 3d line is definitely "postquam": the "q" has both an understroke making it a "qu", and an overstroke indicating "am". Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 11:54
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    Wow! Thank you very much for this really helpful response. Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 14:15
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    The Greek is a total mess. Did you copy it out or is it scanning error?
    – fdb
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 15:18
  • 2
    επἶναι > εἶναι .
    – fdb
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 17:25

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