Latin to amuse

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Latin to amuse

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mar 23, 2009, 6:58 pm

It's fun for a change to look at the lighter side of Latin and here's a poem to start the ball rolling - more contributions most welcome!


by: A.D. Godley

WHAT is this that roareth thus?
Can it be a Motor Bus?
Yes, the smell and hideous hum
Indicat Motorem Bum!
Implet in the Corn and High
Terror me Motoris Bi:
Bo Motori clamitabo
Ne Motore caedar a Bo--
Dative be or Ablative
So thou only let us live:
Whither shall thy victims flee?
Spare us, spare us, Motor Be!
Thus I sang; and still anigh
Came in hordes Motores Bi,
Et complebat omne forum
Copia Motorum Borum.
How shall wretches live like us
Cincti Bis Motoribus?
Domine, defende nos
Contra hos Motores Bos!

mar 23, 2009, 10:33 pm

What about the books chock full of modern day insults translated into Latin by Henry Beard?

Here's my favourite from his "X-Treme Latin":

"Mater tua tam obesa est ut cum Romae est, urbs habet octo colles!"

i.e. "Yo momma's so fat, when she's in town Rome has EIGHT hills!"

Nothing says "Ancient Rome" like "Yo Momma" jokes :-D

mar 23, 2009, 10:42 pm

The first thing my 8th grade Latin teacher taught the class was semper ubi sub ubi.

mar 24, 2009, 3:43 pm

#2: Not to be a picky Latinist (well, ok, I'm being a picky Latinist), but Beard's Latin isn't correct - the ut clause should be a result clause, which means it's verbs should be in the subjunctive. This is why I don't cotton to such books - they're notorious for their incorrect Latin.

*climbs off Latin soapbox*

mar 24, 2009, 3:51 pm

I actually noticed the same thing, but alas, given the paucity of "yo momma" jokes surviving from antiquity, you take what you can get :-D

mar 24, 2009, 4:10 pm

How about some of the ones that do survive from antiquity - this one is so good somebody made a formal stone inscription of it:
"Copo, computemus".
"Habes vini sextarium I. Panem: assem I. Pulmentarium: asses II".
"Puellam: asses VIII".
"Et hoc convenit".
"Faenum mulo: asses II".
"Iste mulus me ad factum dabit".

"Innkeeper, let's reckon up."
"You have 1 sextarium of wine. Bread, 1 as. Food, 2 asses."
"That's right."
"Girl, 8 asses."
"That's right too."
"Hay for the mule, 2 asses."
"That mule is going to bankrupt me."

mar 27, 2009, 6:33 am

Very nice.

I rather like some of the deliberately bad mock-Latin efforts, like "Non carborundum illegitimi" (Don't let the bastards grind you down). And for those who remember British political scandals of the 1960s, there's Michael Flanders's splendid quip: "There's no smoke without fire: nil combustibus profumo!"

mar 31, 2009, 8:25 pm

Here's one to decode from "Goodbye Mr Chips":

Obile heres ago fortibus es in aro

apr 1, 2009, 5:16 pm

Well, if we're going for real vintage:

Caesar adsum jam forte, Pompey aderat.
Caesar sic in omnibus, Pompey sic in at.

apr 12, 2013, 4:42 pm

There's a tombstone somewhere in Italy that says it all: " Quod Sum Eris"

apr 12, 2013, 5:38 pm

"Fui quod es, eris quod sum" and variations, a fairly popular epitaph. No idea what's the oldest extant example (some are known only from codices), but there are many scattered all over Italy. (And, I presume, elsewhere too, as the sentiment is common enough.)

apr 14, 2013, 3:35 am

Et quod fui phooey

apr 19, 2013, 9:23 pm

I came across this gem in Suetonius the other day:

urbani, seruate uxores: moechum caluom adducimus.
aurum in Gallia effutuisti, hic sumpsisti mutuum.

According to Suetonius, this is one of the songs Caesar's soldiers were accustomed to sing while marching in his triumphs. I had to look up effutuo, simply because I thought there was no way it could possibly mean what I thought it meant.

apr 19, 2013, 9:36 pm

Well, don't leave those of us who can't read it in suspense....

Redigeret: apr 20, 2013, 5:48 am

Well it's pretty vulgar (soldier songs, after all). The grammar (and... diction) makes it hard to render perfectly into English, but basically it says:

"Oh city-folk, guard your wives! We're leading (back) the bald man-slut (to the city).

You fucked away the borrowed gold in Gaul (which) you obtained here."

Doesn't have quite the same ring to it in Engrish, but you get the idea :-D

apr 20, 2013, 5:57 pm

". . .You get the idea"

Yes, and in 15, you've translated it better than
some of the translations I used to see.
Except that I don't think
these Romans (if they suddenly became magically fluent in American English
would call Caesar a "man-slut" (moechu(s)). The word in this context doesn't have to be either an insult or a commendation; it's pretty open-ended. I hadn't previously thought of there
being an omitted relative pronoun ("which") in the phrase "hic sumpsisti mutuum." Probably did happen, but I can't think
of another example of it.
In Latin, insults having anything to do with sex are rare, though there are some in Catullus and Juvenal. "F__ __ K you!" would probably seem like a strange thing to wish for an enemy. They would be more inclined to tell lhim to go and get himself crucified "I in crucem!") Even Catullus and Juvenal were more inclined to the scatological than to
the sex-related.

apr 20, 2013, 7:35 pm

>16 rolandperkins:: One of my favorite things of the earliest Loeb edition of Catullus are the various circumlocutions they came up with to translate the really vulgar stuff.

apr 20, 2013, 9:44 pm

>16 rolandperkins:: Roland, I think you're exactly right about "moechus;" it's just that I've only ever seen it as "moecha," and in contexts where it most certainly meant "slut." I suppose "stud" might be closer to what the soldiers may have meant, but 1) my off-the-cuff way sounds funnier, and 2) at the time I wasn't sure if the (unfortunate) male/female dichotomy in our word would necessarily hold up in Latin.

Oh and as for the "missing relative": it just sounded better that way in my head. I usually try to stay as literal as possible with this stuff, but as you know, sometimes you have to play musical chairs with it (even ignoring the editor's punctuation at times, like I did in my version.)

But yeah, I'm sure there are some delightfully circumlocutory translations of this passage from the Victorian era...

apr 20, 2013, 10:50 pm

I think 'slut' in relation to Caesar is probably exactly what the troops meant. He was throughout his life dogged by rumours of having had an affair with the King of Bythinia, Nicomedes, when sent on a diplomatic mission to Bythinia as a young man. It is said that his troops did not hesitate to make merry about him on this account.

apr 21, 2013, 1:03 am

>17 nathanielcampbell:

I thought they lapse into Italian?

Redigeret: apr 21, 2013, 6:30 am

" (editors/translators)...lapse into Italian" 17>20

Yes, I've seen that in a Loeb Classical Library edition of some decades ago. I think it was
Martial whom they honored (?) by using Italian instead of
the more usual (at that time) euphemisms (see #18)--or just leaving it in Latin, untranslated.

Redigeret: apr 21, 2013, 1:16 am

Ah. Maybe you're right.

Your "Loeb" touchstone is going to a book about Batman. :)

Redigeret: apr 22, 2013, 12:12 am

Gyrations like:
Loeb > "a book about Batman" (by Touchstones no longer surprise me, (and I've seen some that
are even more of a non sequitur than that).
My nodding acquaintance with Computer Science (and it's about of 1990 vintage) leads me to believe that whatever produces the "Batman" link is somewhere in the field. I'm only surprised, Tim, that YOU were surprised (If that was the meaning of your post.)

Addendum: I see now, in Touchstones, that
it's an author named Jeph Loeb that is the link

Redigeret: apr 22, 2013, 5:11 am

I was amused to discover that Darwin's purely scientific Descent of Man resorts to French when discussing indelicate matters.

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