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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 10:46 am
Dr. Weevil investigates etymological confusion at leftoid group-blog Larvatus Prodeo:
The About Larvatus Prodeo page credits the name, pompously, to the juvenilia of René Descartes, as quoted by Jacques Maritain, quoted in turn by a William Gaddis fan site, and translates, redundantly, ‘Like an actor wearing a mask, I come forward, masked, on the stage of the world.’
This may be a correct rendering of Descartes’ idiosyncratic Renaissance Latin, but is only half-right for standard classical Latin. The word prodeo does indeed mean ‘I come forward’: eo is ‘I go’, pro is ‘forward, in front’, and the d is inserted for euphonic reasons. But larvatus does not mean ‘masked’ in classical Latin. To quote the Oxford Latin Dictionary, it means …
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