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.

Donnerstag, 22. Oktober 2009

Gorgoroth - Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt

Gorgoroth are back! Haven't heard the album yet, but I'm not a critic of music... The new album has a Latin title again, and it's not the first one in their history. In 2000, "Satan begins" (Incipit Satan), and in 2006, everything was "for the higher glory of Satan" (Ad maiorem Sathanas Gloriam).

So, third time is a charm? Well,... not with Gorgoroth. Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem trahunt is horrible latin and I actually can just guess what it should mean: As many as possible they tear at Satanity. Instead of "Quantos possunt" "Quam maximos" would have been better... (By the way: satanitas - satanity is a nice creation of a new word, agreeable to latin grammar.)

So, let's hope that the music sounds better than the title.

edit: well, please check this Gorgoroth-entry.


James hat gesagt…

I think a closer translation of the Gorgoroth album title would be "how much will they be drawn to Satan?" or perhaps even "how greatly they are drawn to Satan!" - even allowing for bad Latin. I would also object to english translations that are as bad as the original bad Latin. Cheers - jmch

Wrathnar the Unreasonable hat gesagt…

'possunt' is 'possible', and 'trahunt' is 'drawn' (as in pulled), so I would transalte it as: 'How many could be drawn to satanism?'

markheim hat gesagt…

@Wrathnar: Litteraly, "possunt" means "they can", and "trahunt" "they pull". So, instead of saying: "as much they can", you can translate "as much as possible".
But your translation of "trahunt" is quite loose...

Matt Blanchard hat gesagt…

A correct translation is "How many are they able to pull to Satanity (Satanism)". The Latin is not horrible. Trahunt is the complementary infinitive of possunt, but it takes a 3rd person plural form - a common practice in Latin poetry. Assumedly, the title is referring to the whole purpose of the album, asking how many of its listeners will be turned toward the band's way of thinking.

Anonym hat gesagt…

I actually think, Gorgoroth's Latin is correct here. However, what Matt Blanchard said, is certainly incorrect. (Sorry about that.) Trahunt is not reigned by possunt and such a construction is in no way common – not even in poetry. (Maybe you're thinking of things like cave ignoscas)

They draw as many to satanity, as they can. As you wrote.
A correlative tantos in the main clause can easily be omitted. Quam maximos sounds strange to me, but I won't rule it out.

Casimiro Contarini hat gesagt…

A correct translation is "They draw (=trahunt, third-person plural, present indicative, verb traho-is-traxi-tractum-trahere) to satanity as many as they can". While this is not Classical Latin, it is perfectly correct in terms of grammar. That is because this sentence was not made from scratch by someone who is totally unfamiliar with this language (as often happens when rock musicians dabble in Latin without any preparation): it is just a sort of "rephrasing" of a passage excerpted from Adam of Bremen; actually, it is just the same passage except for the word "christianitatem" changed into "satanitatem" (a well-formed word). The passage in its entirety reads as follows (emphasis added):

Inter Nortmannos tamen et Sueones propter novellam plantationem christianitatis adhuc nulli episcopatus certo limite sunt designati, sed unusquisque episcoporum a rege vel populo assumptus communiter aedificant ecclesiam, et circuentes regionem, quantos possunt, ad christianitatem trahunt eosque gubernant sine invidia, quandiu vivunt.

[However, among the Normans and the Swedes, since Christianity is a young plantation, no bishopric was established with precise boundaries, but each bishop elected by the king and the people erects the Church together, and, while they travel the land, they draw to Christianity as many as they can and they govern them without hostility as long as they live.]