I think there’s something to the idea of maximizing a little niche. Not the thing that you can do best, but the thing you can do best relative to others, which often boils down to the things that other people wouldn’t do for whatever reason, wouldn’t think to do.

Maybe this even holds within a small nichey group.

I am not cosplay-tier.

I cannot make a funny animatic.

But I do have a niche to offer, maybe.

Maya patchworks the Ninth House’s prayer into Latin by taking you on a whirlwind tour of Catholic citation

Right, so, I began this eleven months ago and have touched it up since. Let’s begin.

I pray the Tomb is shut forever.
I pray the rock is never rolled away.
I pray that which was buried remains buried, insensate, in perpetual rest with closed eye and stilled brain.

I’m going to be using mostly New Testament references where possible, since that’s where we get rocks being rolled away from tombs, don’t you know. Also, while I do want to correct this toward the right feel, I’m thinking this should properly be a kind of medieval Latin more than a classical Latin1. This lets us pull from the Vulgate and gives us a good deal more wiggle room with my unlearned piecing together of grammar.

I pray the tomb is shut forever

I pray

This is a little tricky. In Catholic prayers we’re forever going on with “oremus”, “let us pray”, but the Latin in prayers typically just conjugates the verbs in a prayery way. “Oro” for “I pray” just sounds weird. If you search for it, it’s in the Vulgate mostly in the Old Testament. There’s one in Acts:

Ne diutius autem te protraham, oro, breviter audias nos pro tua clementia.

Which, flipping over to good old Douay-Rheims…

But that I be no further tedious to thee, I desire thee of thy clemency to hear us in few words.

Not even praying to God!

Then in Philippians we get:

Et hoc oro, ut caritas vestra magis ac magis abundet in scientia, et in omni sensu: ut probetis potiora, ut sitis sinceri, et sine offensa in diem Christi, repleti fructu justitiae per Jesum Christum, in gloriam et laudem Dei.

which is

And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge, and in all understanding: That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Matthew 24:20 gives us an “ut” construction, at least:

Orate autem ut non fiat fuga vestra in hieme, vel sabbato:

is

But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath.

The second letter to the Thessalonians has

Wherefore also we pray always for you; that our God would make you worthy of his vocation,

as

In quo etiam oramus semper pro vobis: ut dignetur vos vocatione sua Deus noster

and Corinthians one similar… this is hard just because no one in the New Testament prays solo that something be the case.

Tobias goes on and on with “peto”, which seems to be rendered “beseech” a lot.

“Rogo” is pretty good?

John 17:15:

Non rogo ut tollas eos de mundo, sed ut serves eos a malo.

is

I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from evil.

and we definitely know we need that “ut” construction.

But I think we’re going to go with “oro” until I figure out something better. Note that we have “oro ut ".

the Tomb

So there are two tombs that come to mind for us to go look to find the right words. One is Lazarus, John 11:

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? They took therefore the stone away. And Jesus lifting up his eyes said: Father, I give thee thanks that thou hast heard me.

In Latin:

Jesus ergo rursum fremens in semetipso, venit ad monumentum. Erat autem spelunca, et lapis superpositus erat ei. Ait Jesus: Tollite lapidem. Dicit ei Martha, soror ejus qui mortuus fuerat: Domine, jam foetet, quatriduanus est enim. Dicit ei Jesus: Nonne dixi tibi quoniam si credideris, videbis gloriam Dei? Tulerunt ergo lapidem: Jesus autem, elevatis sursum oculis, dixit: Pater, gratias ago tibi quoniam audisti me.

So for the tomb we get “monumentum” and “spelunca” for it as a cave. Rolling the rock away is done with “tollo” and the rock as “lapis”.

Then there’s the tomb in which Jesus lay.

Matthew:

And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.

Vespere autem sabbati, quae lucescit in prima sabbati, venit Maria Magdalene, et altera Maria, videre sepulchrum. Et ecce terraemotus factus est magnus. Angelus enim Domini descendit de caelo: et accedens revolvit lapidem, et sedebat super eum:

Sepulchre becomes “sepulcrum”, unshockingly. It’s from “sepelio”, which is to inter, to burn as on a funeral pyre, or metaphorically to destroy/ruin. Much more fun tonally than “monumentum”. Here we’ve got another “lapis” for the rock, but our verb is “revolvo”.

Sepulcrum it is.

is shut

So one thing about Latin and some other languages is that there’s no wibbling between an indicative and a subjunctive. Properly if you’re using the subjunctive in English, you’d say “I pray that the Tomb be shut forever.” However, “I pray the Tomb is shut forever” also sort of carries with it the implication “you know, like it is currently shut.” One is tempted to use “maneo”, itself with the subjunctive, but then of course you’d probably have “remain” in there in the English: “I pray that the Tomb remain shut forever”. So! I think we’re just going to use the subjunctive and revisit if I come up with a better construction. One is always praying “ut ", after all.

“Shut” might seem easy. In Matthew the tomb is properly “sealed”, but that in context really does seem to mean, you know, made so they’d be able to tell if the stone were moved.

Revelation:

And the nations shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates thereof shall not be shut by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.

and in English

Et ambulabunt gentes in lumine ejus: et reges terrae afferent gloriam suam et honorem in illam. Et portae ejus non claudentur per diem: nox enim non erit illic. Et afferent gloriam et honorem gentium in illam.

claudentur” is the passive indicative of “claudo” so I think the right thing here is to get wild and use the passive subjunctive.

forever

Douay-Rheims doesn’t actually use “forever” more than a couple times; we are therefore going to resort to King James.

If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

becomes

Si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane, vivet in aeternum: et panis quem ego dabo, caro mea est pro mundi vita.

and

The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

becomes

Respondit ei turba: Nos audivimus ex lege, quia Christus manet in aeternum: et quomodo tu dicis: Oportet exaltari Filium hominis? quis est iste Filius hominis?

Hmm! This is pretty convincing… one more?

And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.

becomes

Servus autem non manet in domo in aeternum: filius autem manet in aeternum.

All right! “in aeternum” it is.

Now, word order… I don’t think I’m ready to pick how that should go yet. So what we have for “I pray the Tomb is shut forever” is “oro ut” “sepulcrum” “claudatur” “in aeternum”.

I pray the rock is never rolled away.

I pray

The repetition of the verb doesn’t feel super Latinate to me. I’m not sure exactly how much one would elide, though. We’re going to leave the “ut” in for now.

the rock

“Lapis”, from our earlier stones and tombs. That’s easy.

never

And Peter answering, said to him: Although all shall be scandalized in thee, I will never be scandalized.

is

Respondens autem Petrus, ait illi: Et si omnes scandalizati fuerint in te, ego numquam scandalizabor.

But I cheated there, looking for “numquam”, the word I already knew, in a future construction. There are a lot of “ne + umquam” constructions, a bit like English might do “not ever go” instead of “never go”. We’ll go with “numquam” since I don’t remember “umquam” in a prayer.

rolled away

Luke’s

And they found the stone rolled back from the sepulchre.

is

et invenerunt lapidem revolutum a monumento.

Another win for “revolvo”.

Mark:

And they said one to another: Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And looking, they saw the stone rolled back. For it was very great.

is

Et dicebant ad invicem: Quis revolvet nobis lapidem ab ostio monumenti? Et respicientes viderunt revolutum lapidem. Erat quippe magnus valde.

The significance of this latter one is that in the second sentence there’s no “from the door” or anything, and the same word is used as though that’s enough, so we don’t have to have anything else either.

Word order still being unsure, then, we’ve got

“ut” + “lapis” + “numquam” + “revolvatur”.

I pray that which was buried remains buried, insensate, in perpetual rest with closed eye and stilled brain

that which was buried remains buried

Hmm. First let’s get our “buried”.

Matthew’s

And his disciples came and took the body, and buried it, and came and told Jesus.

becomes

Et accedentes discipuli ejus, tulerunt corpus ejus, et sepelierunt illud: et venientes nuntiaverunt Jesu.

“Sepelio” again.

Acts’

Ye men, brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David; that he died, and was buried; and his sepulchre is with us to this present day.

becomes

Viri fratres, liceat audenter dicere ad vos de patriarcha David, quoniam defunctus est, et sepultus: et sepulchrum ejus est apud nos usque in hodiernum diem.

One thing there is that you could construct this as “that he is dead, and buried” instead of “that he died, and was buried”.

I wasn’t even going to get an appropriate quote for “maneo”, just going to use it for “remains”, but

Vatican Latin:

Omnia enim Ecclesiae tempora materna Dei Genetricis praesentia fruita sunt ac fruentur, cum ipsa semper indissolubili vinculo coniuncta maneat cum Mystici Corporis mysterio

which is

In truth, all periods of the Church’s history have benefited and will benefit from the maternal presence of the Mother of God because she will remain always indissolubly joined to the mystery of the Mystical Body

which I excerpt for you just in case you didn’t realize that all of the tiny little details in these books, even the ones you didn’t even realize were allusive at all, live up to a hypostatic union of 100% Catholicism and 100% queerness. The Body!

But how to get our conjugations distinct here?

In English I read this as “that which someone buried at a specific point in time remains in the state of being buried”. Not exactly confident I can get this succinctly with my Latin. My instinct is “that which had been buried (passive pluperfect) remains buried (perfect passive participle)”… but hang on. It’s not pluperfect, is it?

What my Spanish instincts are telling me is to go with the double perfectum, perfect indicative. Bam, buried in a point in time. But it says right there in that Wiki that that was uncommon in the Vulgate.

And yet.

We can’t do the simple perfect because that’s just going to read as the equivalent of the English “is buried”, and the “was buried” was so much more ominous even in the first book before we knew anything!

Double perfectum it is.

The Latin might necessarily imply more about the gender/animacy of the “that” than did the English, but we’re going to keep the prayer real ignorant of spoilers.

To figure out our relative pronoun, we go to a ninth century writer, naturally, thanks to Rob Alspaugh.

Iam nunc secundae quaestionis propositum est inspiciendum, et videndum utrum ipsum corpus quod de Maria natum est, et passum, et mortuum, et sepultum, quodque ad dexteram Patris consideat, sit quod ore fidelium per sacramentorum mysterium in Ecclesia quotidie sumitur.

in English:

Now at last the proposition of the second question is to be inspected, and it is to be seen whether that body which was of Mary born, and suffered, and died, and buried, and which sits at the right hand of the Father, [whether that body] be what in the mouth of the faithful through the mystery of the sacraments in the Church daily is consumed.

This comforts me that I can go with the neuter and “quod” and “sepultum” and have it sound right. This is mildly affirmative also.

So:

“quod” “fuit sepultum” “sepultum maneat”

insensate

You would think, “insensatus” is a word, that must work, right? Not today. “Sensilis” might be the right antonym, but “insensilis” googled brings up only this fly, and I think some examples are using it as if it were “sensibilis”. There’s “sentiens”, but I can’t find “insentiens” as a thing anywhere. “non sentiens” may have to do, via this comfortingly old looking example.

But you’re not here for my Latin skills. What about religious reference? Well, folks:

thnetopsychism!

That is: “the belief that the soul is uncomprehending immediately after bodily death”. (It also behooves a Locked Tomb fan searching in Catholic Wikipedia for clues to ponder particular judgment vs. the last)

Notably, in a little citation I can’t find a proper link for, Luther:

…so the soul after death enters its chamber and peace, and sleeping does not feel its sleep

is

…sic anima post mortem intrat suum cubiculum et pacem et dormiens non sentit suum somnum

You can believe in coincidences, but I certainly don’t here.

in perpetual rest

requiem aeternam”, no question, even though we’re repeating that root. Well, the only question is declension. In that form it’s meant to be the accusative; the root is the same as “requiescat in pace” We could do “requiescens aeterno” to match “non sentiens”?

with closed eye

We’ve got “et oculos suos clauserunt” in Matthew, and “et oculos suos compresserunt” in Acts, and both I think are supposed to be quoting Isaiah’s “Excaeca cor populi hujus, et aures ejus aggrava, et oculos ejus claude”. So “clausus” for closed again.

I’m seeing some evidence of “cum nudo oculo” for “with the naked eye” but it’s later even than Renaissance Latin. Still, we’ll stick to the close wording for now.

and stilled brain

We still need the ablative from “cum”. “cerebrum” can be the anatomical brain or metonymically the understanding, anger, choler – it’ll work? I think there are probably more imagey-imagey terms to use, but I don’t really want to stray too far from the anatomical, not in the necromancy book. “sedatus” is what we want for “stilled”, I’m pretty sure. Note that it’s “stilled”, not “still” – like someone stilled it. Our translation preserves that fine.

“cerebro sedato” is fine – I’m wondering if we can use the “-que” here?

So…

Oro ut sepulcrum in aeternam claudatur,
ut lapis numquam revolvatur,
ut quod sepultum fuit sepultum maneat,
non sentiens, requiescens aeterno,
cum oculo clauso,
cerebroque sedato

That’s something we can work with!

The repeated “ut” doesn’t look right. Latin prayers are all about parallel constructions, so I matched up the order of the first two lines – hopefully that’ll make it scan well enough without the “ut”. Also, I want those present participles to line up better, so we’ll make it “aeterno requiescens”.

Oro ut sepulcrum in aeternam claudatur,
lapis numquam revolvatur,
quod sepultum fuit sepultum maneat,
non sentiens, aeterno requiescens,
cum oculo clauso,
cerebroque sedato.

Things I’m not quite pleased with:

  • “Oro” just isn’t right, no one ever says that
  • The repeated “noun time-adverbial verb” in the first couple lines isn’t doing it for me
  • I kind of wonder if it wouldn’t be more Latinate to have some kind of “eo” or “ita” or some kind of “thus” in there instead of the repeated “sepultum”? It’s a little harsh to have that twice after the same-rooted “sepulcrum”
  • “cum oculo” doesn’t sound right
  • repeated “aeternam” root isn’t great
  • repeated “claudo” root isn’t right

Things that are very good:

  • that “maneat”. Better than the English at getting at the Thing Of It.
  • the enclitic “que”
  • getting to use the subjunctive passive

Questions I would ask Tamsyn Muir if she had time for this kind of bullshit

  • Which, out of “shut” and “closed”, should get the “claudo”? (What synonyms cluster around the right sense?)
  • “Perpetual rest” should be “Requiem aeternam”, right? So is “semper” better for the first bit?
  • Would the vibe be better matched to Psalms in the Vulgate than to the New Testament? (If it is, I can go back, adjust the wording, and then pick a psalm tone and you don’t know how hype I am)
  • Is the “I pray” meant to reference or match something that I’m missing?
  • Could this get an antiphon tacked on?

Questions I would ask someone with better Latin than me

  • Is the present participle weird there?
  • Do we need more “quod” tacked on, or is the one enough with the parallelism?
  • Is this the kind of thing I need to figure out how to do in meter?

I pray it lives, I pray it sleeps… I pray for the needs of the Emperor All-Giving, the Undying King, his Virtues and his men. I pray for the Second House, the Third, the Fourth, the Fifth; the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth. I pray for the Ninth House, and I pray for it to be fruitful. I pray for the soldiers and adepts far from home, and all those parts of the Empire that live in unrest and disquiet. Let it be so.

Should I keep going?

“I pray it lives” is a little odd. If it were really the subjunctive you would have “I pray it live”. At the same time, I can’t wrap my head around this clause without it being the subjunctive, so we have to assume it.

Again, “Oro ut” I would think – so “Oro ut vivat, oro ut dormiat.”

  1. I have read that it was really after experience with plague that medieval Europe got very into a very embodied Christianity, with a goriness to the flesh and blood and organs in imagery that feels very Locked Tomb. It isn’t as though they weren’t scrambling to save bone fragments from the start, though.