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Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol LXXVIII

July 23, 2010

Do you know what today is? It's Harry Potter's Birthday! Actually, no, Harry's birthday is July 31st, so NEXT Saturday. Today is Daniel Radcliffe's birthday. Radcliffe is, of course, the cat who plays Harry Potter in the movies. He is 21 today.

21?!?!? Woot! Butterbeer for everyone!!!

This is, of course, significant because Ol' Danny Boy (the pipes, the pipes are calling) has had himself quite an acting career...revolving around Latin. In addition to all those Latin spells he's throwing around in the movie adaptations of the Harry Potter books, he's also rather famous for appearing nude (and quite nude, from what I hear) on the stage performance Equus, which is, of course, Latin for "horse".

If you want to get technical, equus, equi is a horse (or horses) that is a fine, noble steed. A rundown bitch of a horse destined for the inside of an Elmer's glue bottle is termed caballus, caballi. Think of it as a "nag", or a "Lohan" if you must.

Should the word equus look somewhat like something else, there might be a reason for that. According to one legend I read, the word equus was linked with our word "equal" because a team of horses pulls a plowshare or a carriage or a wagon equally. The Greek word for horse, which cognates (read: has a familiar origin) with equus is hippos.

In case you've ever taken a paleontology class, or you're just a fossil nerd like me, you'll recognize all the various forms of the horse as it was evolving as having the root word "hippos" in it--except for Hyracotherium, which should be called Eohippus, but, you know, c'est la vie--or, I guess c'etais la vie since they're all dead now.

And, yes, hippos is where we get the word "hippopotamus", which means "river horse" (potamos being Greek for "river"). However, you'd have to be drunk to either think a hippopotamus looks like a horse or to ride one. Although, riding a hippopotamus into battle would be full-frontal awesome.

The word poto, potare in Latin means "to drink liquor"...which brings us right back to Daniel Radcliffe's 21st birthday. I am nothing if not full-circle in my reporting of things thousands of years old.

Of course, while we're on the subject of Greek horses, I can only think of one Greek horse famous enough to survive through history: Secretariatus The Trojan Horse.

And the Trojan that fit on that horse must have been fucking massive!


Perhaps we had better just get on with the Latin lesson:

Equo ne credite! Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!

Pronounced: "Aye-kwoh nay cray-dee-tay! Tee-may-oh Dah-nah-ose ate doh-nah fay-rain-taise!"

Translation in the hovertext!

What? Sororities are Greek, right?

I believe the "horse" comes in with the one on the left...though I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers. Or baklava. Or sugar cubes.

The above phrase is taken from Virgil's Aeneid, the great epic which surrounds the founding of Rome by Aeneas, one of the few Trojans to escape Troy as it was being burnt to the ground. He sailed around the Mediterranean for a few years, fucked whatever didn't get away fast enough, and then made it up to the Italian peninsula where he was met by Evander, who told him he had prepared a place for the Trojan refugees and, badda-bing, badda-bang, Rome is founded. You know, where Romulus and Remus founded it. And where Evander founded it. And, you know, some Etruscan settlers.

But, fuck those other guys, hooray Aeneas!

The question you should be asking, though, is why the Trojans were speaking Latin. But that's probably a question left for another day.

And, one final note, you'll notice that the word for "Greeks" is Danaos (I think Danaus would be the singular...I think it's a second Declension noun, but I can't find any if anyone knows for certain, drop a comment for me). We would translate that as "Danaans", which is a sort of catch-all name for the Greeks. Remember, at the time when these epics were written, nations didn't exist so much as did city-states (like, for instance, Rome), so to avoid listing all the Greeks' cities of origin, something like "Danaans" was used.

This becomes imperative when trying to warn someone to stay away from the big wooden horse filled with enemy soldiers and their pointy, pointy swords.

I can imagine it went something like: "Beware the Athenians, and the Spartans, and the Laconians, and the Myceneans, and the Argosians, and the Ithacans, and the Myrmidons, and the--you know what? Fuck it! Beware those filthy gods-damned Danaans!"

Anyway, the term Danaos comes from the name Danae, who was Perseus' mother (his father, of course, was Master Thunderhead himself, Zeus). Perseus was kind of the first Greek demigod hero, and so all the Greeks wanted to trace their ancestry back to him. Thus, if all the Greek tribes came from Danae, then they were Danaans.

The Greeks' name for themselves? Hellenes.

With that, Happy Birthday Daniel Radcliffe! And you all have a Hellene of a good weekend!


Adam L. said...

All of that discussion just brought me back to college (studied ancient Greek for my minor!).

Except for the Harry Potter stuff...

Ed said...

Guess that means I'm hung like an equi.

Bev said...

Ha ha, you made a Lohan funny. Mama like.

I'm disappointed that you didn't post Potter peen, but I'll get over it. Don't make me google that shit!

Heather said...

I see Daniel Radcliff and immediatly think fagtard.

All this latin makes my head hurt. The only latin phrase I need to know is vice versa because that means the other way around and if you wanna get slutty with it you can. mens rea is also a pretty good one as I have a very guilty mind...

Eric said...

That Virgil guy was partial to Latin. I'm plodding through Eclogues now.

kate said...

You know Harry Potter's birthday? NERD!!

Says the girl who (*ahem*) reads "Twilight".

By the way, the next time I need to battle someone, I'm totally riding in on a hippopotamus. It'll be epic.

Scope said...

While it didn't work so well in "The 300", I would rather rhide a rhino into battle.

(Unlike most of the female Cub-nation, who just want to ride a different "Ryno" horn.)

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I always picture Daniel Radcliffe with a lighting bolt scar on his taint.

That is graphic, but is also true.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Ok, so this is completely childish, but what the hell...

What does a gay horse eat?


simple minds.

red said...

Mmmm...Daniel Radcliffe.

Wynn said...

I LOVE fossils! I just had to say that. I've have spent two years of my life dedicated to old stuff in all their glory, including poor people that we disturbed in their 8000 year old graves.

And, gifts? From sororities? Are we giving pretty names to VD's now?

Wynn said...

Okay so I lied, the graves were about 6000 years old. Don't judge me!

Lisa-tastrophies said...

This is just too rich! As I was reading the blog, I got to the picture of the sorority girls....and they are members of a sorority at the university I attended that MY particular sorority did not "play well" with. Being the fine alumni that I am, I have forwarded this link to EVERY SINGLE ALUM in the south!
Reap the whirlwind b*tches!!!
Thanks Mjenks!!