Friday 22 June 2012

More on Hearts and Minds

In comments on my recent post about the Latin of the Angelus, there was a bit of a discussion about mens meaning mind or heart, and how cor fitted in with this.

Interestingly, Lewis and Short give both heart and mind as possible translations for either word.

We tend to associate mens primarily with mind (English derives mental etc from this root). Cor certainly means heart, anatomically speaking.

It all started because I translated (provocatively)

Oremus: Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; 


Let us pray: Thy grace, we beseech thee O Lord, into our minds pour forth; 

The traditional (and better, I would argue) translation is Pour forth we beseech thee O Lord, thy grace into our hearts.

But the discussion set me off thinking about the link between mens and gratia, as found for example in O Sacrum Convivium.

And I have just remembered another, the Veni Creator Spiritus, where we find: 

Veni, creator Spiritus
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia,
quae tu creasti pectora.

Again, that association of gratia with mens.  Later the heart, cor, is mentioned, of course, and associated with amor  (love): 

Accende lumen sensibus,
infunde amorem cordibus,

I am not sure what conclusions, if any, one can draw from these examples.  I think I will continue to collect them as I come across them, and hope that while I procrastinate, someone better informed than I am will offer some wisdom!


Anonymous said...

"Pour forth we beseech thee O Lord, thy grace into our hearts"

Surely that's the proper prayer..didn't know of any other!

Ben Trovato said...

You are quite right Jackie, that is the traditional prayer - but it is a translation from the Latin.

My point was about what the Latin original says where it uses mens (=mind, most literally). So it seems that in Latin we pray 'minds', in English, 'hearts'... Why is that? That's what I'm on about here.

Interestingly (to me at any rate) the French and Germans pray 'hearts' (coeurs and Herzen respectively)) and the Italians 'spirits' or 'souls' (spirito)....