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Submitted on
January 29, 2005
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108 (who?)
In girum... by Mehrunnisa In girum... by Mehrunnisa

For those of you who had latin, you might recall this sentence from classes, this sure was a tricky one.

This sentence is a riddle in the form of a palindrome - literally a puzzle inside a puzzle. This particular sentence is called "the devil's verse".

The sentence is difficult to translate because the anonymous Roman author had to use words in uncommon senses in order to make a palindrome. Yet, given that the palindrome is a riddle, it is easy to pick out bad translations.

The answer is a kind of animal. The animal in question has feet but walking is not its best known mode of transportation. Thus, any translation containing the word "walk" is immediately wrong.

People who haven't studied Latin should still be able to pick out the words night, consume and fire, which could make them think that the sentence has some sort of dark, evil meaning.

Interestingly enough, nox and ignis are both third declension i­stem nouns. Nocte is ablative, and igni is dative, which I think are both the correct cases for their usages. Ablative case marks a location while dative case marks an indirect object (or the agent of a passive construction).

In means "in", and et means "and" (as we can so easily understand also by French), Imus means "we go", it is the first­person plural present indicative form of the verb ire (very similar to ir in Portuguese that has the same meaning) "to go". Girum is hard to translate, actually. It can be taken as the accusative singular form of the noun girus, but the catch is that girus was not a commonly used word in classic Latin. Girus is a second declension masculine noun meaning "circle", "cycle", "ring", "orbit" or "course". The derived giro in Italian means "tour", "turn" or "circle". Spanish and Portuguese split the meanings into gira for "tour" and giro for "turn". ("Sunflower" in Spanish is girasol and in Portuguese is girassol.) Since in followed by the accusative means "into", the desired meaning of girum is probably "circle".

Putting it together so far, in girum imus nocte means "we go into the circle by night". Consumimur is a first­person plural present passive form, so consumimur igni means "we are consumed by fire".

We go into the circle by night and are consumed by fire.


I'm sorry for the ©.
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Villenueve Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Superb image and wonderful explanation!
DarkMoonFantasy Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2007
I have featured this piece in my journal.
If you don´t want to be featured please only note me.
Great work!!
Mehrunnisa Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2007
Thank you so very much for that, it is a true honour :)
DarkMoonFantasy Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2007
You are welcomed :hug:
peterdzign Featured By Owner May 15, 2007  Professional Interface Designer
:wow: bonita foto :clap:
Mehrunnisa Featured By Owner May 15, 2007

BassTeT Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2007
yeah, vampire!!
forever!!.. :blowkiss:
Mehrunnisa Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2007
kierrathorn Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2007  Professional Photographer
My boyfriend has that same pendant, its not purple though. I love it to pieces.
Mehrunnisa Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2007
Thank you, dear :)
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