What is the exact translation into English of "Stat rosa pristina, nomine, nomina nuda tenemus" from The Name of the Rose?

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dymatsuoka's profile pic

dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The exact translation from Latin would be, "The ancient rose remains by its name, naked names are all that we have."


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cautious's profile pic

cautious | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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My understanding is "Yesterday's rose endures in its name, we hold empty names."

This line is from a book by Bernard of Cluny; 'De contemptu mundi'.  It is from a poem in which he satires the corruption of contemporary ecclessiastical institutions, the transitory nature of human existence and the futility of human endeavours.  In relations to Eco's novel, this line refers to the ruin of the library that housed ancient texts built up from centuries.  What is left are fragments of texts, stumps of books, pieces of parchment all scattered.  The library which was the reason for murders to preserve knowledge, sacred knowledge and information, is nothing but ashes and titles 'we hold empty names'.

gcle2003's profile pic

gcle2003 | eNotes Newbie

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There's nothing in the Latin to indicate 'ancient'. Also the first comma should be removed to make sense.

You're left with "(if) the pure rose remains in name, we have only the naked names"

The point is that just because a name exists, it doesn't mean something exists that the name refers to

lanz126's profile pic

lanz126 | eNotes Newbie

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"The ancient rose exists in name, we hold (have) only the bare name."

i.e. we know not the thing itself, only what it's name represents; we can hear the tale, or read it and study it - however we can not really experience it...

georgigirl's profile pic

georgigirl | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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ThisI have found two translations for, however the one above is closer to what i deciphered anyway!

"(A)nd what is left of the rose is only its name"

But..this is closer;

"The Ancient Rose exists in the name; we have bare names".

I absolutely love this book and am studying it now as part of a unit: Literature and Culture: Representations of the Medieval.

Digging around Aristotle at the moment...