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Latin Spells Deciphered from TV Shows Part I Posted by on May 31, 2019 in Latin Language

Salvete Omnes,

Many people hear the “Latin” and think – well no one speaks Latin anymore. Beyond the classrooms and religious building, Latin is most commonly spoke in the land of Hollywood. However, Hollywood does not always do their homework when writing Latin. First of all, why magic must be Latin is never made sense to me. You would think magic of any kind would be in the oldest language – which is not Latin. Here is a timeline of language that gives several other languages precedence over Latin being used for spells and magic.

I am bit of a  CAOS fan, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and I hope you are too – but if not, explore this post as an examination of Hollywood and Latin and Magic. As I am a bit of a purist and will not watch any show with HORRIBLE Latin. I am finding that CAOS may not be perfect – but better than some other shows I have looked at. Here we go!

1. “Dominus, Pater. Respice ad mea. ego creo facem*.” – Used by Madam Satan/Lilith to become Mary Wardell (EP1)

LITERAL TRANSLATION: Master, Father. Look to Me. I create a torch.

TRANSLATION: Master, Father. Gaze upon me/Turn your attention to me. I create/endow/produce a light/torch that makes me conspicuous.

NOTES: The beauty of the word fax, facis which gives us facem – is that is means MANY things. It means light or torch, in particular, the torch a bride carries to her home, it can refer to the light heavenly bodies, comet fire, or even the light in one’s eyes, a light that makes one conspicuous, AND it can refer to the light/fire that can destroy or cause ruin.

ANALYSIS: Therefore, you could argue that Lilith is encapsulating all these ideas with the one word facem which makes this particular sentence much more loaded than at first glance. Facem is, in general, referring to her new form of Mrs. Wardell, her roles to the Dark Lord, etc.

*  I should note that the Netflix subtitles list facim instead of facem. This makes no sense, at least to me, so I change it in case the subtitles were based off pronunciation and not a script. However, I encourage conversation in the comments for exploration of the term facem.

2. “Ex spiritibus enim sie* te aeris. Qui Omnipotentiam Tuam parcendo clavem ad. Ostium ligate Diabolum hunc! Hoc captionem, et daemonium ab grandus** cincinno.” – Used by Spellmans as protection so the batibat demon can’t leave their house

LITERAL TRANSLATION: From spirits, namely so/she. you of air/vapor. QUI  for the purpose of refraining/stopping your all-powerful key/ I wish to fasten your omnipotent for the purpose of stopping (you). Oh door of the devils, having been bound, in this place. In this place, your deceitful power, and moreover, a demon of power by a lock of hair. [What does this even mean?!?!]

TRANSLATION: From the spirits, namely so, you of vapor. Which/Who I wish to fasten with nails for the purpose of stopping your all-powerfulness/omnipotent quality. Oh front door/entrance of the Devil(s), having been bound, here!  I wish to fasten for the purpose of stopping your deceitful power to this place, and (you as a) demon of power by a lock of hair.

NOTES: This is a very odd sentence in my opinion. There are lacks of verbs and missing cases and very difficult to make sense of it unless you are assuming certain phrases repeat. The first part is pretty self-explanatory beyond sie. Google Translate states it means “so;” while in fact it is closer to German for “she.” However, moving on, this next sentence wasn’t too bad if you take clavem as a subjunctive of wish and not the noun meaning “key” and you recognize ad parcendo as a gerund denoting purpose. The next sentence got weird – at first. The subject or rather thing the Spellmans are talking to in the vocative is the Front Door. Ostium and ligate are both in the vocative form. Diabolum is a bit out of place either being an accusative singular masculine or a plural genitive in a poetic sense. The fact that it is capitalized makes one think that it is referring to a singular entity…the Dark Lord. However, grammatically it does not fit this way as doors are neuter and vocative. Thus, I would argue that it is taking a plural poetic form since it is a spell BUT it is referring to the Dark Lord in a singular sense. However, I would argue it is the genitive as the Dark Lord is the “keeper” of their house in a religious sense.  This last sentence took me a while due to the lack of verb AND the awkwardness of grandus (which I correct to grandis and address below).  I took hoc as an adverb for “here/to this place,” and inserted the subjunctive and gerund from the second sentence into this sentence twice. Thus, I took both captionem and daemonium as accusatives.

ANALYSIS: The story of this spell is a sleep demon has been released. The only mention to her is a really as a “demon of power” and “spirit of vapor or air.” Perhaps, the spell is generic enough to be used for any sealing of the house due to this reason. While most of the translation is straight forward – addressing Batibat, her power, your purpose of the spell and the doors. The one sentence that is odd to me – due my translation or a lack of understanding- is the line in regards to “lock of hair.” When I first translated this, I thought was there hair involved in the spell? Or is it similar to the big bad wolf and the pigs “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin?” Or maybe it by Batibat’s hair? I do not recall anything from the episode with hair…does anyone else?

Another thought is the verb clavem, from clavo, meaning to fasten with nails- the particularness of this verb makes me concern that the noun is intended instead clavis meaning “key.” However, it seems quite graphic and vivid to be included in a spell. Perhaps, fasten with nails is a fancy way to say “lock” as the noun means key.

Lastly, Batibat is a Philippine spirit in lore – why would Latin work on this spirt? Perhaps any words of power have power? I understand that none of this real – I just get really bothered by Latin being used as magical works in Hollywood and it makes no sense to have it be Latin.

*sie from Google Translate or sie from German

**grandis instead of grandus for a gentive form or is it a typo for grandibus? It is quite unclear. However, I went with grandis.

3. “Redi ad periculum tuum.” Used by Sabrina to open the portal to Limbo (EP9)

LITERAL TRANSLATION: “Turn back to your danger/destruction/ruin” or “Attain/Proceed your sentence/risk” or “I have arrived or reach your trial”

TRANSLATION: “I have arrived/ attained/reached your (i.e. Limbo) trial/danger.” OR “Arrive at/to your destruction/risk/trial”

NOTES: The verb redeo is essentially made up of “red-eo” and involves the verb “to go.” Redeo with the preposition ad meaning “To come to, be brought or reduced to; to arrive at, reach, attain a thing; constructed usually with ad;” (Lewis and Short). However, there is also the translation of ire predominating to mean “come in, arrive or proceed.”

However, the form of redeo is an imperative (note, it could be perfect) but the placement at the beginning of the sentence and being a spell (i.e. commanding) make me believe that it is an imperative/command in this case. However, there is an argument for both so let us dive deeper. The noun periculum is pretty basic in its meanings such as “danger, risk, sentence, judgment, trial, hazard peril, etc.”

ANALYSISSo the question comes down to context…

Who Sabrina is talking to in order to open this portal is unclear – is it a portal guardian or Limbo itself?

Is she stating to Limbo “Arrive at/to your destruction/risk/trial” in order to open it? It seems like an awkward command to give Limbo. Or rather is she is stating aloud to summon Limbo “I have arrived/ attained/reached your (i.e. Limbo’s) trial/danger.”

One example that Lewis and Short gives in regards to the noun periculum is from Livy “periculum adire capitis”  meaning “to run the risk of one’s life.”  Now in our case, we have the same noun and adire is from ad-eo which is similar to red-eo as they are both forms of the verb eo. Furthermore, the concept of ad is involved in both sentences; Livy’s showcases it in the verb while Sabrina’s is as a preposition. One could argue while not a direct correspondence between the two sentences that the thought and reference may be ascertained. This sense of “risking one’s life” between the two ideas counting for context and omitting capitis.

Next week, we shall cover a few spells from Supernatural and then Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Please comment if there are particular ones you wish to see.

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About the Author: Brittany Britanniae

Hello There! Please feel free to ask me anything about Latin Grammar, Syntax, or the Ancient World.


Comments:

  1. Hardy Parkerson:

    “Latin Is a Language”

    Latin is a language
    As hard as it can be.
    You can speak it to your neighbor,
    You can speak it to a tree.

    Neither will understand you,
    No not in the least;
    That is, unless your neighbor
    Is a Roman Catholic priest.

    Then you can tell him “MEA CULPA, MEA
    CULPA, MEA MAXIMA CULPA!”:
    That Latin confessional sentence;
    And he’ll tell you “Go and sin no more
    And read some Latin as your penance!”

    -by hardy parkerson; lake charles, la; usa

  2. Magister Kutny:

    With regards to the “facem” (which was “facim” in the subtitles)… could it be a mistake that should have been “faciem” for “face”? I vaguely recall the scene and think I was wondering that when I first saw it.