Tuesday, January 8, 2019

It’s All Latin to Me: John Webster Edition

I just finished reading John Webster’s The White Devil. There’s a lot of scheming and killing in the play, and as to the question, Who precisely is the white devil? several characters provide compelling cases for themselves. According to Webster’s own preface, the play didn’t go over so well at its premiere. The problem may be due to the lack of any appealing characters whatsoever, but also perhaps to the drama’s generous use of Latin. Here’s a little quiz for you today on several classical Latin phrases found in The White Devil.

Latin phrases
1. "Casta est quam nemo rogavit."
2. "Flectere se nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo."
3. "Haec hodie porcis comedenda relinques."
4. "Haec fuerint nobis praemia, si placui."
5. "Inopem me copia fecit."
6. "Manet alta mente repostum."
7. "Nec rhoncos metues maligniorum, nec scombris tunicas dabis molestas."
8. "Nemo me impune lacessit."
9. "Non norunt, haec monumenta mori."
10. "Non potes in nugas dicera plura meas, ipse ego quam dixi."
11. "Nos haec novimus esse nihil."
12. "O dura messorum ilia."
13. "Quae negata grata."

a. Anything you leave behind is just going to be eaten by the pigs.
b. Chaste is she whom no one asks.
c. If I can't bend the heavens, I will move Hell.
d. It remains deep in my mind.
e. My work will be my reward, if you have enjoyed it.
f. No one provokes me without punishment.
g. These reminders did not know how to die.
h. We know these things are nothing.
i. Wealth has made me poor.
j. What is denied is pleasant.
k. What strong stomachs these farmers have!
l. You can't say more about my trifles than I have said myself.
m. You shall not fear the snoring of the wicked nor become stinky wrappings for mackerals.



1: b. This one is from Ovid. It’s part observation and part advice, I suppose.
2: c. The Acheron is one of the rivers in mythological Hades.
3: a. Don’t cast your pearls before swine; don’t even leave them where the swine can find them!
4: e. Many of these quotations came from Martial, writing about his own writing.
5: i. So many examples come to mind.
6: d. This one is from Virgil. I didn’t look up what exactly was deep in his mind.
7: m. Again Martial, this time speaking to the papyrus he has written upon.
8: f. Oh, tough guy, eh?
9: g. I knew we should have burned the evidence!
10: l. Martial was a humble self-critic.
11: h. And yet they are things . . . .
12: k. Horace could praise anything!
13: j. Didn’t know I wanted it until you took it away!

Hoping you enjoyed today’s quiz. The next post will be about a more pleasant piece of reading, so I’ll have more to say about the work itself.

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