Mercator Ortelio sal.

By Dr. Mark Riley, California State University, Sacramento



Salve plurimum mi D. Orteli. Magnus cunctator sum in remittendis iis, quae mihi liberaliter concessisti et ipse fortasse indiges. Tot occupationibus cingor ut exscribere illa vix tandem datum sit. Utinam reliquam eam continentem ita descriptam haberemus. Non dubito autem quin maxima eius pars a Portugalensibus sit descripta, postquam eam a Mexico usque in Cataium plures ac non semel peragrarunt, idque diversis itineribus, sed quae firmis praesidiis et legibus sibi subiecta non habent, non libenter (opinor) aliis spectanda permittunt, nam et Galli et Anglis occupandis terris inhiant.

Galliam universam particulatim descriptam esse, non dubito quin audieris. De Hispania simile quid temptatum intellexi, sed quousque deductum sit opus ignoratur. Has tabulas si nancisci posses (ut posse existimo, cum in plurium evangelicorum principum manibus versentur, apud quos facilem tibi gratiam fore non dubito) maximum exoptatissimumque Theatro tuo auctarium adiungeres. Scripsit mihi filius te aliquot Tabularum appendicem fecisse, eiusque exemplar mihi donasse, pro quo ingentes ago gratias; spero in eo me Artesiam Hannoniamque reperturum, nam Artesiam qui excusam vidit, etiam Hannoniam mox edendam nihi dixit. Boni quaeso consule quod Tabulas Americae tamdiu retinui. Si quid amplius a te habeo, aut alioqui penes me sit quo uti velis, significa; mittam continuo.

Bene vale mi Chariss. D. Orteli. Duysburgi 8 Aug. 1579.
Tuus perpetuo
Gerardus Mercator
Amico singulari C. Abrahamo Ortelio


Mercator Ortelio sal. Notes



Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594), the greatest of the Renaissance geographers, called by a panegyricist after his death:
Ingenio dexter, dexter et ipse manu.
Ingenious in mind, ingenious as well in hand.
He studied mathematics and astronomy at Louvain, later becoming a maker of scientific instruments. He constructed his first terrestrial globe in 1541. After moving to Duisburg in Germany, he completed his great map of Europe in 15 large sheets (1554) and a world map which was particularly useful for navigation, since it used his projection, in which a navigator could lay out a compass course with a straight line. His workshop produced improved and enlarged maps for the rest of his life. Posthumous works were completed by his son Rumold, who is mentioned in this letter. Many letters to and from Mercator survive, dealing with both geography and religion, most recently edited in M. van Durme, Correspondance Mercatorienne 1954.
Abraham Ortelius of Antwerp (1527-1598). Originally an engraver and dealer in antiquities, he became a friend of Mercator and began making maps. His chief work, mentioned in this letter, was Theatrum orbis terrarum (1st edition 1570), which contained 70 maps of a uniform format. The work remained in print throughout the 17th century. Mercator and Ortelius exchanged many letters.
This letter concerns 1) the delayed return of a map of the Americas which Ortelius had lent to Mercator, 2) the availability of recent maps of France and Spain, and 3) an enlargement of Ortelius' magnum opus, the Theatrum. The autograph of this letter does not survive. It was first printed in Thomae Crenii, Animadversiones philologicae et historicae. . . Lugduni Batavorum, Amstelodami, pars vii (1700) #16 (pp. 236-37) from which this edition has been made. The spelling and punctuation has been modernized for ease of use.


Salve. . .Orteli
plurimum - adverbial accusative (A&G 214d)
mi - vocative of meus; D. = Domine, Mister or Sir.

Magnus..indiges
cunctator est vir qui semper cunctatur
in remittendis iis - gerundive, ablative case (A&G 507(3)) from remitto. Ortelius had sent Mercator a map of the Americas, as mentioned at the end of this letter, and Mercator was slow to send it back.
concessisti = misisti. In this case it must have been a loan.
Ipse - tu ipse "you yourself"

Tot. . .datum sit
ut. . .datum sit - result clause (A&G 537) in primary sequence (A&G 483). exscribere is the subject of the verb datum sit. Remember, Latin does not have a nominative case of the gerund. Instead the infinitive is used. For example: "Seeing is believing" in Latin is Videre est credere. So here exscribere illa datum sit = "Copying them out was barely allowed" i.e. because of his other business. illa (neut. plural) - "those documents"
occupationibus - ablative of means
exscribo - "to copy it out" Ortelius sent him a chart or a geographical description of some location in the Americas, judging from reliquam in the next sentence.

Utinam. . .haberemus
Utinam - "I wish that. . ." "Would that..." Utinam introduces wishes that are contrary to fact (A&G 442); the imperfect subj. refers to the present time: "I wish that we had now. . ." The pluperfect subj. refers to past time: Utinam habuissemus "I wish we had had. . ."
eam - is, ea, id as a demonstrative adjective = "that" agreeing with continentem.
continentem - acc. of continens - "continent" (feminine, since terra or tellus is understood), here referring to the Americas.
descriptam - perf. participle of describo.

Non dubito. . .itineribus
Non dubito usually with quin plus subjunctive (A&G 558) "I don't doubt that...
eius refers to America: maxima Americae pars; eius is a pronoun here, not an adjective (contrast eam just above).
a Portugalensibus, abl. of agent - Mercator thought that the Portuguese had settled Mexico, rather than the Spaniards, but since many of the early explorers were Portuguese and since Portugal was for much of the period a part of Spain, a fine distinction between what are now two different nations should not be drawn.

postquam plures homines eam (i.e. partem Americae) a Mexico usque in Cataium saepe peragrarunt.
postquam plus indicative "after" (A&G543)
Mexicum is the nominative case of the Latin word for Mexico. Cataium = Cathay or China. Sina is the earlier Latin word for China, from which we get our prefix "Sino-," as in "Sino-American relations."
plures - "more" i.e. explorers, nominative plural
non semel - LITOTES (A&G 326c) "not once" = many times.
peragrarunt = peragraverunt (A&G 181a and b).
Id-que - "it" "and they did it/this" (i.e. travel through). . .
diversum iter - "different route" ablative of means

sed quae firmis. . .non habent, non. . .permittunt. . .
quae, subiecta, spectanda - all are neuter plural "those places which" "those territories which"
firmis praesidiis et legibus - ablative of means; praesidia and leges are the instruments by which these territories are controlled.
subiecta non habent - "they do not hold in subjugation, they do not hold in control".
sibi - (A&G 144b, 300.2) in subjugation "to themselves" i. e. the Portuguese.
spectanda - future passive participle or gerundive (A&G 500 (4)). "to be viewed". The gerundive with permitto is like a purpose clause = ut hae terrae spectentur non permittunt Portugalenses.

nam et Galli et Anglis occupandis terris inhiant.
occupandis terris - dative case, gerundive (A&G 505, with the addition that the dative of the gerund is much used in purpose expressions in later Latin). Alternative ways of saying the same thing are ad occupandas terras, ut occupent terras. Sir Francis Drake is the most famous of the English who lusted after Spanish lands. He and his cousin John Hawkins plundered in the Caribbean in the 1560's and 70's.

Galliam. . .descriptam esse - indirect statement (A&G 580) depending on audieris.
particulatim - "in detail" "province by province"

Non dubito quin audieris
non dubito quin - followed by the subjunctive (A&G 558)
audieris - perf. subjunctive in primary sequence (A&G 483)

De Hispanis. . .intellexi
simile aliquid - "something similar" after si, nisi, num, ne, quis/quid is used instead of aliquis/aliquid: si quis hoc fecerit. . . = "If someone does this. . ." (A&G 310). Here this usage is extended to simile.
simile - i.e. a description in detail, as for France.
temptatum esse - indirect statement depending on intellexi. In the active voice, this might be: intellexi virum nescioquem aliquid simile de Hispania temptavisse. . .

sed quousque. . .ignoratur
quousque. . .deductum sit opus - indirect question in primary sequence depending on ignoratur (A&G 574). opus ("the work") is the subject.
quo-usque -"how far", as in "Quousque abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?"
ignoratur - impersonal passive of an intransitive verb (A&G 207d). Mercator could have said ignoro or ignoramus.

Has tabulas si. . .posses.., adiungeres.
si nancisci posses,. . .adiungeres - contrary to fact condition (A&G 517): "If you could find them, you could add them." Strictly speaking, this should not be contrary to fact, since Mercator suggests that Ortelius can get the maps from the Protestant princes. Perhaps he thinks this is unlikely.
tabulas - "maps", the full term is tabulae geographicae.
ut (as) posse existimo - posse is a short way of saying te posse eas tabulas nancisci: "I think that you can get those maps."
cum tabulae in manibus versentur - verso -are "turn over, study", as in Horace's advice to an aspiring poet: "exemplaria Graeca nocturna versate manu, versate diurna" - "turn over the Greek models night and day in your hands."
evangelici -orum principum (gen. pl.) - "Protestant princes". This letter was written during a time of warfare between Protestant and Catholic powers. The Duke of Alba was ravaging the Low Countries; the Spanish Armada was nine years in the future.

apud quos gratiam fore non dubito
apud quos = apud evangelicos principes
tibi - dative of possession (A&G 373) = te facilem gratiam habiturum esse non dubito.
fore = futurum esse (A&G 170.a), future infinitive in indirect statement depending on non dubito.
Theatro tuo - Ortelius had written a geography called Theatrum orbis terrarum.
auctarium - "supplement"

Scripsit . . .te. . .fecisse. . .donasse
filius - Rumold Mercator continued his father's work
te. . .fecisse. . .donasse (=donavisse) - indirect statement with perfect infinitive (A&G 584) depending on scripsit.
Tabularum - of the maps in Ortelius' Theatrum
appendicem - "appendix"

Pro quo. . .gratias
pro quo = pro exemplari quod mihi donavisti, Judging from his next comment, Mercator had not yet received the copy.

Spero. . .reperturum (esse)
Spero usually takes a future infinitive in indirect statement (A&G 584).
in eo = in eo exemplari
Artesia - Artois, now a part of N. France
Hannonia - Hainaut, now southern Belgium. In Mercator's time Artesia, Hannonia, and the rest of the Low Countries were under Spanish/Hapsburg rule. Mercator hopes detailed maps of these countries are included in the package.

nam. . .dixit
Nam is vir qui Artesiam excusam vidit. . .
Artesiam - i.e. tabulam Artesiae
excusam - "engraved and printed"
Hannoniam mox edendam esse - edendam - future passive participle (A&G 500), but without a sense of obligation "must". The map was "soon to be published". edendam esse acts as the future passive infinitive, in place of the awkward editum iri (A&G 193 note). Another common way of avoiding editum iri would be mihi dixit fore ut mox ederetur (A&G 569a).

Boni. . .retinui
Boni consulo is a favorite idiom of Mercator: "take in good part," "don't be angry that. . ." followed by quod (A&G 572b).
quaeso - "please," usually the second word in the sentence.

Si. . .significa.
Si quid - indefinite (A&G 310a); quid - "anything" is the subject of sit:

si quid. . .habeo aut. . .penes me sit. . .
alioqui. . .sit - part of a conditional sentence: si quid habeo. . .significa (a simple condition (A&G 515a)); si penes me quid sit, significa (future less vivid (A&G 516d)). The first si clause, "If I have anything else, tell me," is considered to be just a statement of fact, while the second, "If there should be anything useful in my possession, tell me," is considered to be a less definite proposition; perhaps Mercator does not have anything else of Ortelius's.
amplius - "more, else"
penes me - "in my possession"
quo uti velis - quo is ablative depending on uti (utor; A&G 410); an indefinite clause, also called a relative clause of characteristic (A&G 535); Mercator is asking Ortelius to tell him if he, Mercator, has anything of the type of thing "that he would like to use."

Duysburgi locative (A&G 49a and 427) of Duysburgum, Duisburg (NW Germany), where Mercator lived in his later years.
Amico singulari Domino Abrahamo Ortelio - dative case in the address of letters. The first printing of the letter indicates that this was the inscriptio, perhaps written on the back of the letter.

Vocabulary:


adiungo, -ere, adiuxi, adiunctus - join, connect
alioqui (adverb) - at one time or another, otherwise, at any time
aliquot - some
amplius - more, else
cingo, -ere, cinxi, cinctus - tie up, tighten, involve in
concedo, -ere, concessi, concessus - grant, lend
continuo (adverb) - immediately
cunctor, -ari, cunctatus (deponent)- delay, be slow
deduco, -ere, deduxi, deductus - lead, carry on, carry forth a project
describo, -ere, descripsi, descriptus - write out, describe, copy
dono, -are, -avi, -atus - give, give as a gift
dubito, -are, -avi, -atus - hesitate (most common meaning), doubt
edo, edere, edidi, editus - to publish
exemplar, exemplaris (n) - copy
existimo, -are, -avi, -atus - think, suppose
exoptissimus (superlative) - most hoped for
fortasse - perhaps
gratia, -ae (f) - favor, favorable opinion
gratias ago plus dative - to thank someone
indigeo, -ere, indigui - need (cp. "indigent")
ingens, ingentis (adj.) - huge
inhio, -are plus dative - lust after
inscriptio, inscriptionis (f) - address
intelligo, -ere, intellexi, intellectus - understand
iter, itineris (n) - trip, route way
lex, legis (f) - law
libenter - willingly, gladly
liberaliter - generously
manus, mans (f) - hand
nanciscor, nancisci, nactus (deponent) - find
occupo, -are, -avi, -atus - seize, take
opinor, -ari (deponent) - I suppose
opus, operis (n) - work, a work of art, science, etc.
peragro, -are, -avi, -atus - travel through, traverse
permitto, -ere, permisi, permissus - entrust, allow
plus, pluris - more
praesidium (n) - garrison, guard
reliquus -a -um - remaining
remitto, -ere, remisi, remissus - send back
retineo, -re, retinui, retentus - hold back, keep
semel - on one occasion, at one time
significo, -are, -avi, -atur - tell, notify
similis, simile - like, similar
subicio, -ere, subieci, subiectus - to make submit, to control
tempto, -are, -avi, -atus - try, attempt
universus -a -um - all together, whole