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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XLVI

October 30, 2009

So, here we are, on the eve of Halloween. That must make it All Hallows' Eve Eve, or something? That's a holiday, right? At this point in the week, we'll take any excuse to cut out of work a bit early.

But, it's Friday morning, and that means Latin time. But, Halloween is a Celtic holiday, right? There can't be any connection with Rome. Don't be so quick to believe everything you've heard on the History Channel. There is, in fact, a connection with ancient Roman holidays and Halloween.

Remember when I told you about how the Romans believed in ghosts? The ghosts in question were called lemures, which was a term applied to malignant or evil and restless spirits, usually indicating that their corporeal forms weren't interred properly. Either that, or someone pissed on their graves during a particularly drunken Saturnalia celebration.

Anyway, lemures typically roamed the night, possibly seeking vengeance on those who wronged them, looking to set right what once went wrong, and hoping that each time the next leap would be the leap home. Most likely, the idea of lemures came from Romulus, the ancient founder of Rome, needing to appease his twin brother, Remus, whom he slew by beating him in the head with a shovel. In case you're not up to date on your feral children-ocentric mythology, Romulus and Remus were twins who founded the city of Rome and decided they'd leave it up to the local deities as to who would get to name the new city. So, Romulus stood on one hill and Remus stood on another waiting for a sign. A flock of birds flew over Romulus, who subsequently grabbed his package and gave his brother the finger. Remus reportedly said "se te futuas, podex", which Romulus didn't take so well. Romulus, instead, decided to let his shovel do the talking and bashed in Remus' skull, which we can all probably be thankful for, because the "Reman Empire" doesn't sound nearly as awesome.

So, Romulus, suffering from Catholic guilt a good 800 years prior to its invention (Rome is, after all, the seat of the Catholic world), decided he needed to sate his brother, but rather than apologize, he started doing the Remuria festival (which later, through an etymological law whose name I forget, the /r/ became an /l/). The Lemuria, as it was celebrated--especially in the more rural parts of the empire--consisted of the head of the household rising at midnight on the third day of Lemuria and walking barefoot around outside the house, throwing black beans over his shoulder while looking at the ground. This was repeated nine times, and each time he tossed some beans over his shoulder, he would say, "With these beans, I redeem me and mine" (but, you know, in Latin). Now, if this didn't scare away all of the evil spirits lurking in the dark, someone inside the house also bashed together bronze pots, shouting "Ghosts of my fathers and ancestors, be gone!"

Lemuria was celebrated on May 9, 11, and 13th (the 13th being the night when the lemures were exorcised), and because of this, it was considered bad luck to get married in the month of May. So popular was the idea of Lemuria that it kept being celebrated even after the Empire fell, so in 610 (or maybe 609) AD, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the entirety of the Pantheon in the name of Mary and all the Saints on May 13, thus rendering the 13th of May "All Saints Day." This was a day to celebrate all the saints and martyrs recognized by the church as having been important to the foundation and spread of Christianity. Eventually, this new custom became popular and the traditional sense of Lemuria faded away. In the first half of the 8th century, All Saint's Day was moved to it's current position on the calendar--November 1--in order to offset the pagan harvest festival, Samhaim. Samhain was also a pagan celebration of the dead, which lead to the current form of Halloween, the name "Halloween" being derived from "All Hallow's Eve", a reference to the Christian holiday celebrating the saints and martyrs.

And, of course, for Halloween, we don't give out beans and bash pots together anymore. If you try that kind of bullshit, you'll be punished. In order to make sure you don't get stuck with a stinker in your hollow, plastic pumpkin tomorrow night, try firing this off in the face of that cheap old man trying to pass off that black and orange peanut butter shit as candy:

Aut da mihi dulcia, aut stercoris hunc saccum et deponam id tua porticu!

Pronounced: "Oat da mee-hee dool-key-ah, oat stair-core-eese hoonk sah-koom et day-pone-ahm too-ah id poar-tee-cue!"

Hovertext for the translation, and someone give her some damned candy!

I'll have you know, this was the most audacious attempt I've made at translating something from English to Latin, and I did it mostly on my own. My wife helped with a couple of noun endings and some word order, but other than that, it was all me, baby. And, quite frankly, I'm a little proud of that.

Now, this festival, Lemuria, is not to be confused with the mythological sunken continent that was supposedly located somewhere east of Southeast Asia and Australia. And, as an extra side note, "lemures", being night spirits, lent their name to lemurs, as they were seen primarily at night.

At this point, I would normally wish you all a good weekend and a Happy Halloween...but wait, there's more! Consider this a little bit of bonus Latin, in order to stave off the flaming bags of shit on my doorstep.

Do you know what today is? It's Tory Belleci's 39th birthday! And I know of at least one person who is quite the fan of Mr. Belleci's work. Myself, I'm a fan, as well. I mean, yeah, Kari's hot and all, but when it comes down to making the show entertaining, I think Tory's a lot better at it than any of the others. With that in mind, it's only appropriate that we learn a phrase that I he surely must utter every night as he turns away yet another fan.

Nimiast miseria nimis pulchrum esse hominum...

Pronounced: "Nee-mee-ahst mee-say-ree-uh nee-mees pool-chroom ess-ay home-een-oom..."

Still more hovertext. And I apologize, but the shirtless pictures I found of Tory weren't really all that great, at least for my Latin-lesson needs

I had a friend in college who married a guy named "Tory", and for a moment, I wondered if she married this Tory, but she lives in New Jersey now and her last name is "Bellace". Oh, and her husband's name is John, not Tory. But still, it made for a decent story. For a second or two.

You're right. It sucked. Now just take your candy and get out of here.


Moooooog35 said...

How do you say:

"Get the fuck off my porch you greedy little shits?"

Because it just sounds mean in English.

Joshua said...

I just found your blog yesterday and I want to say thank you. Your combination of intelligent writing, semi-useless trivia (for those of us with no currently-apparent use for the information), and interspersed vulgarity is much appreciated. And it's fucking hysterical.

Gratias tibi ago (one of two Latin phrases I remember from my girlfriend junior year of high school; the other was queso magno sum...which is just a bastardized phrase, really).


Scope said...

I'm going as a crazy one armed plant man. Give me some CAN-DEE.

Ed Adams said...

I actually stopped putting out lit pumpkins on Halloween.

I just light bags of shit on my porch instead.

It helps ward off the little shits.

Bev said...

What an informative post! I love the idea of making my husband circle our house barefoot 9x while sprinkling beans and speaking in tongues!

adrienzgirl said...

what's with all the teenagers trick or treating, ya know with out costumes? If you want candy from me, you better dress your happy ass up real good.

plastic mask + white tshirt does not constitute a costume!

Get a job if you want some candy!

snowelf said...

My chilis are off from school today, so I'm helping them with the pronunciation of this handy little phrase for educational purposes.

Thanks Mjenks!!! :D And good job on the translation.


red said...

Informative, as always.

That guy's not really my type. I totally prefer the ginger. What's his name? Not-Jamie?

BeckEye said...

Red is clearly insane. Adam? Really??

Could someone put Tory in my trick or treat bag? I didn't know that he was older than me! Or that today was his b-day, so thanks for that tidbit.

erin said...

Trick or Treat!

And after reading some of your comments, I've realized that I don't think any of the guys (or girls) from mythbusters are remotely hot.

I'm in the minority. Do I still get candy?

Eric said...

I've got some beans to buy...

Oh yeah, and beer.

Harlem's A Hatin said...

That little girl is sooo adorable, and she definitely looks like she could use some candy!

bellyshirts said...

Um just found your blog. and now I'm kind of obsessed because you write about latin too!. I wrote a post about Latin (I took it for 6 years) awhile back and everyone was like WTF? I cannot relate to your post and probably stopped reading my blog altogether.

Anyways, awesome post. And myth busters is awesome.

Soda and Candy said...

Hmm, Tory IS handsome. Just look at that hair! Also, I definitely did not think he was older than me.

Have a delightfully wicked Samhain!

Cool as Folk said...

I'm sure you get this a lot but by the end of your blog/the world/me/you/whatever, I'm going to be fluent in Latin.

And that's better than being fluent in English and Albanian and Spanish (kind of). Lame.

Elliott said...

I don't even have anything to say about the post itself, but I was taken aback by the trick-or-treat picture, taken in our fine home town of Oconomowoc, WI! How often do you think I expect to see that online!

Elliott said...

Forgot to stalk...

Nej said...

So, wait....what did I miss...where do the black beans come into play? I mean, I know you walk around the house throwing them over your shoulder and all....but why?