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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCVII

January 28, 2011

I grew up Methodist. Or, actually, I grew up United Methodist. There's some very fine hairs that need splitting when discussing the various wings of the various Protestant religions. As a youth, I was very active within my church. I made a lot of friends, attended nearly every week, volunteered, spent time around the church, blahblahblah.

As with most people in the Protestant wings of the Christian Kingdom, the United Methodists like to look upon the Catholic church with a wary eye. Not an evil eye, of course, because that would just be inviting the devil in. However, the United Methodist church likes to intimate that the Catholic church is really just a thinly-veiled disguise for the Devil's minions.

This sure didn't stop them from rooting for Notre Dame on Saturdays, though, I would like to point out.

As the Catholic church had a long history of holding masses in Latin as well as writing and translating sacred texts into Latin, this meant that Latin was akin to the black tongue itself. This was not just merely insinuated; it was actually brought up at a Youth Group meeting once.

One night, we were discussing the merits of the various foreign languages offered at my high school: French, Spanish, German and (for many of the people in my backwards slice of the world), English. If enough people were interested, they offered Russian. There was no Latin, though one of the neighboring school systems offered it.

When the debate, which was about as lively as a debate centered upon foreign language courses could get, died down, my youth pastor, Chuck, offered a story about how we needed to be careful of foreign languages and why he was glad that my high school did not offer Latin. It seems as though one of his seminary friends was doing some research in order to get her degree, and was sitting in the library, alone, at night, flipping through a book of spells from the forbidden section text of some sort when she came across..."something in Latin". As Friend-of-Chuck wrote down the..."something in Latin"...for her research paper, she read the words out loud.

Suddenly, as she finished transliterating and speaking the words aloud, she got up from the desk and ran through a window! She doesn't remember anything until she woke up in the hospital much, much later (a week, a month, seventeen years...I don't remember the duration). It was a valuable lesson never to recite anything that we didn't understand or could translate when it comes to a foreign language.

Now, allow me to put my Mask of Disbelief on for just a second...

I'm not sure where to start with this one. How about...if she didn't understand what she was translating, how could she have pronounced the words correctly for the possession or the spell or whatever brush with evil she had just endured to have been fulfilled? If you can pronounce Latin correctly, chances are you're going to have a fairly decent grasp of the meaning of the words. Hell, you can surmise what most of the meanings of the words are based on familiar strings of letters that show up in modern English.

Second, just why the hell would it make any sense at all that Satan or Beelzebub or Lucifer or the Devil or Old Scratch or whatever the hell name he's going by this week would speak Latin? If I have my Biblical history correct, then Lucifer rose up against God thousands of years prior to the creation of the universe. Right? Because once God got to creatin', he didn't stop in order to stave off a usurper and his cronies, and the serpent was in the Garden by the time Adam and Eve began gallivanting around. Therefore, the language in Heaven (and Hell, if Lucifer took it with him after the fall) wouldn't be a language that wasn't developed until thousands of years after the creation of Man, right?

But, then again, this is religion, and logic doesn't always have a place in the sacred texts. So, apparently, Latin is spoken all over Hell, no matter how little sense that makes. With that in mind, here's a little phrase that is sure to come in handy:

Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem!

Pronounced: "Dee-ah-boh-loose feh-kit, oot id fah-kay-rehm!"

Diabolical translation in the hovertext

The word "devil" actually comes from Greek diabolos, which means "slanderer, accuser", ultimately coming from "one who throws something across". "Demon" also comes from Greek, daimon, which means "lesser deity", and picked up its negative connotation thanks to an old root "da-" meaning "divider". It gradually came to be known as anything that divided the believer's attention from God (it was used as a translation of the Hebrew word for idols).

"Lucifer" means "light carrier" and was used as the name for the Morning Star. Biblically, at least, Lucifer was actually a reference to a King of Babylon who fell from Grace, but Christians believed that any fall had to be a reference to the Devil, and so decided that Lucifer was his proper name. Finally, "Satan" comes to us from Hebrew--the Greeks adopted it, gave it to the Romans, and then it was passed off into English, all with very little change. It's actually a Hebrew word meaning "adversary" and was used as a reference for angels sent by God to block human activity.

So...with all this information...what is the Devil's real name, and what language does he speak?


Scope said...

David Gordon - And he has a Boston accent!

Wynn said...

I think it's JHVH! No wait, that's the asshole god from the old testament, that's right..

I should really not get involved in discussions about religion, the heathen that I am.

I think the devil spoke french. Yeah that sounds good.

MJenks said...

@ Scope: Ugh. Maybe the Protestants are right and the Catholic church is harboring the Devil. And he wears crimson and gold.

@ Wynn: That makes a lot of sense...what with the whole Avignon and false popes and such that lived in France.

Adam L. said...

Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones came on just now, unprompted.

So the devil is Mick Jagger?

SkylersDad said...

I am not quite certain what language the devil speaks, but I understand he lost his fiddle to Charlie Daniels.

Doo said...

Lol, quite some good points in this post! He might be!

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Hot Stuff....of course..

Gwen said...

Latin is the language used in Hell?

Great. I'm not going to understand anything when I get there.


DEZMOND said...

Off course Latin is the language used in hell, it gave us hell during High School when we had to learn it!

Roxanne and Lorraine said...

I'm pretty sure the Devil is a smart old bastard who's been around a long time. I bet he knows like every language by now. I bet he can even text speak. LOL.