What's all this fuss about?

Latin lyrics in Heavy Metal music are a common phenomenon. The darker the music, the more evil the band wanna be. What's better than using an old, mysterious, hardly understandable, cryptic, medieval and therefore almost satanic language? Unfortunately bands seldom know how to use this language properly. So, instead of evoking the demons of the realm of evil, they just evoke a hop-frog. Clatu verata nicto! - The most of you know what happened after this wrongly spoken spell.

Normally, two questions are the result of the fact that you've just read a latin phrase:
- What does it mean? (almost everybody)
- Is it correct? (just a few latin aficionados)

This page doesn't want to make fun of mistakes in latin lyrics. I wanna answer the first question to everybody who is interested. The second question is just for myself or for the two or three weird guys out there or for bands which are thinking about using a latin phrase as well. You can contact me if you want.

Sonntag, 6. April 2008

Mayhem - De mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Mayhem - De mysteriis Dom Sathanas - De mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1993)

I bow my head in reverence to this ground-breaking band within the black metal scene. Musically, they are part of the Olymp. Lyrically, refering to their latin parts, they are... somewhere else.
On their legendary CD "De mysteriis Dom Sathanas" they use latin phrases in the last song, which has the same title the CD has. The song describes the situation of a black mass in which a priest evokes the prince of darkness.

De mysteriis Dom Sathanas - About the mystery of the Lord Satan
"Dom" is the abbrevation of "dominus - lord, master", here in the genitive form "domini - of the lord". "Sathanas" (correct: satanas) is the genitive form in ancient greek of the word "satan" (which actually is a hebrew word). I'm sure you know the translation of this word.

Now the latin lyrics:

heic noenum pax - here is no peace
("heic" is unknown to me, the correct form is "hic"; "noenum" is the archaic form of "non" which means "no")

de grandaevus antiquus malum tristis arcanus mysteria scriptum - about aged old the evil sad arcane mystery written
(my translation tries to imitate the grammatically wrong structure of the latin phrase, though it's quite complicate in english. In latin the endings of all the nouns, adjectives and participles are changing, depending in which case the word is used or to which other form the word refers. In the latin line there is no structure, the most words are in their "normal" form, as you find them in the dictionary.)

invoco cruentus domini de daemonium - covered with blood I invoke the lord of the demon
(the endings of "domini" and "daemonium" are wrong, as well as the use of the word "de - from".)

rex sacrificulus mortifer - king, victim priest, bringer of death

psychomant(i)um et precor exito annos major - oracle of the dead and I pray with the end the years bigger
(this phrase is totally wrong, none of these words is in the matching form.)

ferus netandus sacerdos magus - wild (animal), ???, priest, mage
("netandus" isn't an existing latin word. There is "nefarius - godless" which sounds similar to that.)

mortem animalium - the death of all animals/ creatures.


E. hat gesagt…


this is a nice idea! Although I'm not sure where it will lead to ... I don't remember many latin lyrics in heavy metal songs, but (from my average school Latin) I can say that there are LOADS of mistakes in latin lyrics, so you might end up very teacher-like, correcting every second phrase you find, which some will find a bit bitchy :)

Anyway, I really hope you get this weblog going and I wish you all the best.


Spedbarn hat gesagt…

Can you maybe add the correct translation to those phrases? =)
And thanks for doing what you've done so far, helped me a lot. :D

markheim hat gesagt…

@Speedbarn: For me it's hard to say what the sense of these lines should be.
1 - hic nulla pax
3 - invoco cruorem domini daimoniorum (I invoke the blood of the Lord of the Demons)
3 - cruentus invoco dominum daemoniorum (covered with blood I invoke the Lord of the Demons)

These two are quite clear...

Spedbarn hat gesagt…

Thank you for that. Appreciate it. :)

Anonym hat gesagt…

Heic is the archaic form of hic. ei was monophthongized to a long i. Similarly in quei > qui, servoi > servi and others.

95TheDeftOne hat gesagt…

Well, i reckon the "Invoco..." line actually means "I invoke the bloody lord of the Demons"
while, probably, rex sacrificulus mortem stays more for "King, sacrificer, bringer of death".
Netandus must be some form of "nefandus", which means "impious".

PS I think one song where latin is used properly might be "Black Mass" by Death SS.

Source: Italian - who... ROUGHLY studied latin - (me, and actually the band I mentioned, too).

Maybe you are more competent than I am, though.

Barč98 hat gesagt…

I would agree with 95TheDeftOne's interpretation of the line starting with "Invoco...". It is quite clear that the word "cruentus" must be referred to the Evil Lord in spite of its desinence. The absence of a coherent morphology proves that a traslation of the Latin parts of the song should be made ad sensum rather than grammatically.
Maybe the couple of words "rex sacrificulus" should be intended simply as "king of sacrifice". In Livy the couple of words is the equivalent of "rex sacrificus" (Liv. 40, 42, 8, "de rege sacrifico..."), and refers to a specific nomination with political and religious connotations. I suppose Mayhem didn't know this when they wrote the text; at the same time, it is unlikely that the denomination is here used by chance - and this would lead us to the translation above.

Anyway, I found your idea very interesting and stimulating. I suggest focusing on the text's artistic value rather than on its "mistakes" (we cannot forget that also ecclesiastical
- and post-classic - Latin is full of mistakes, and this makes me reconsidering the notion of mistake itself in a dead language)