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
, which could make them think that the sentence has some sort of dark, evil meaning.
Interestingly enough, nox
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).
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 ©.