Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


More Latin Witchcraft - a Latin magic spell (funny stuff)

 
Monday, October 29, 2007, 14:29 - Latin Language, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern
Posted by Administrator
I saw this amusing snippet of "Latin" in a few places online:

Imperiequeritis, tria pendent corpora ramis dis meus et gestas in media et divina potestas dimeas clanator sed jetas as astra levarut.

This phrase is actually a magic spell, supposed to alleviate pain and suffering caused by torture. Well, maybe. Maybe not. The Latin language is the one being tortured here, because the original phrase looked like this (a little piece of Medieval poetry):

Imparibus meritis, pendent tria corpora ramis,
Dismas et Gesmas, media est divina potestas.
Gestas damnatur, Dismas ad astra levatur.


Unequal in their merits, three bodies hang on the tree,
Dismas and Gesmas, and in the middle - God's Might.
Gestas is condemned, and Desmas is lifted up the the stars.


I must add that there are many variations in the apocryphal names of the two criminals that were crucified alongside Jesus.

Lex non favet delicatorum votis

 
Friday, October 26, 2007, 19:57 - Latin Language, Legal Phrases and Expressions
Posted by Administrator
That's right. The law does not favor the wishes of the dainty.
Due to the unusually high interest to this maxim, I will provide a little extra explanation from E.H. Jackson's "Law Latin":

Lex non favet delicatorum votis

An action does not lie because of a trifling inconvenience, which would only be regarded as such by the dainty.
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Harvard's motto and the limits of knowledge

 
This is the Harvard shield with the Veritas motto, as it is used today. The word VERITAS (Latin for 'truth') is broken up so it appears on the pages of three books. The third book has to accommodate three letters (TAS), which produces what is known in typography as a two-page spread -- one of the ugliest things to be observed in a publication, because the gutter goes straight through the illustration, in our case the capital A of TAS. Truly a sore sight. How did this even become possible?

The truth (don't know what to say about the status of the pun here) lies in the fact that originally the third book was actually facing the other way. The A in TAS therefore appeared on the spine of the book. This design was supposed to represent the belief that truth is never known to us in its entirety. To complement this, the Harvard shield also had another motto (sometimes seen as forming a single sentence with "Veritas"): "Christo et Ecclesiae" (For Christ and the Church).

This design can still be seen on many buildings at Harvard, including the Widener library. At some point in the early XXth century it was decided that the third book should be turned the other way, to reflect the modernist belief in attainability of truth through progress. It is quite ironic that the resulting design was not exactly easy on the eye. The religious part of the motto was also dropped.

It remains to be seen, however, how soon the word Veritas would disappear from the shield. 'Truth' is simply not a concept favored by our postmodernist society.

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Witchcraft and Latin

 
Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 10:22 - Latin Language, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern
Posted by Administrator
And here is that time of the year again... Halloween, witchery and all sorts of scary things are at hand. So, I give you a very amusing Latin-related anecdote about the time directly preceding the Salem Witchcraft trials of 1692. In 1688 Cotton Mather dealt with a case of alleged witchcraft in Boston. Among the afflicted was a girl whose condition became particularly severe. Charles Wentworth Upham relates this story in "Salem Witchcraft: With an Account of Salem Village and a History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects":

"After some time, Cotton Mather took her into his own family, to see whether he could not exorcise her. His account of her conduct, while there, is highly amusing for its credulous simplicity. The canning and ingenious child seems to have taken great delight in perplexing and playing off her tricks upon the learned man. Once he wished to say something in her presence, to a third person, which he did not intend she should understand. He accordingly spoke in Latin. But she had penetration enough to conjecture what he had said: he was amazed. He then tried Greek: she was equally successful. He next spoke in Hebrew: she instantly detected the meaning. At last he resorted to the Indian language, and that she pretended not to know. He drew the conclusion that the evil being with whom she was in compact was acquainted familiarly with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, but not with the Indian tongue."

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