Pēdīcābō ego vōs et irrumābō ("I will sodomize and face-fuck you") is the first line, sometimes used as a title, of Carmen 16 in the collected poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. 84 BC – c. 54 BC). The poem, written in a hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) meter, was considered so explicit that a full English translation was not published until the late twentieth century. The first line has been called "one of the filthiest expressions ever written in Latin—or in any other language, for that matter."
Carmen 16 is significant in literary history as an artistic work censored for its obscenity, but also because the poem raises questions about the proper relation of the poet, or his life, to the work. Later Latin poets referenced the poem not for its invective, but as a justification for subject matter that challenged the prevailing decorum or moral orthodoxy. Ovid, Pliny the Younger, Martial, and Apuleius all invoked the authority of Catullus in asserting that while the poet should be a respectable person, his work should not be constrained or restricted.
- "Catullus 16" | 2018-10-25 | 22 Upvotes 5 Comments
The Sator Square (or Rotas Square) is a word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome. The earliest form has ROTAS as the top line, but in time the version with SATOR on the top line became dominant. It is a 5X5 square made up of five 5-letter words, thus consisting of 25 letters in total. These 25 letters are all derived from 8 Latin letters: 5 consonants (S, T, R, P, N) and 3 vowels (A, E, O).
In particular, this is a square 2D palindrome, which is when a square text admits four symmetries: identity, two diagonal reflections, and 180 degree rotation. As can be seen, the text may be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, or right-to-left; and it may be rotated 180 degrees and still be read in all those ways.
The Sator Square is the earliest dateable 2D palindrome. It was found in the ruins of Pompeii, at Herculaneum, a city buried in the ash of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It consists of a sentence written in Latin: "Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas." Its translation has been the subject of speculation with no clear consensus; see below for details.
Other 2D Palindrome examples may be found carved on stone tablets or pressed into clay before being fired.
Terra nullius (, plural terrae nullius) is a Latin expression meaning "nobody's land". It was a principle sometimes used in international law to justify claims that territory may be acquired by a state's occupation of it. It denotes land that has never been a part of a sovereign nation-state, such as Bir Tawil, or for which all claim to sovereign ownership has been relinquished, such as the territory east of the Oder–Neisse line that used to belong to Germany under Prussia.
- "Terra Nullius" | 2019-10-22 | 60 Upvotes 21 Comments
The Duenos inscription is one of the earliest known Old Latin texts, variously dated from the 7th to the 5th century BC. It is inscribed on the sides of a kernos, in this case a trio of small globular vases adjoined by three clay struts. It was found by Heinrich Dressel in 1880 on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. The kernos is part of the collection of the Staatliche Museen in Berlin (inventory no. 30894,3).
The inscription is written right to left in three units, without spaces to separate words. It is difficult to translate, as some letters are hard to distinguish, particularly since they cannot always be deduced by context. The absence of spaces causes additional difficulty in assigning the letters to the respective words.
- "Duenos Inscription" | 2021-06-27 | 30 Upvotes 3 Comments
Memento mori (Latin for 'remember that you [have to] die') is an artistic or symbolic trope acting as a reminder of the inevitability of death. The concept has its roots in the philosophers of classical antiquity and Christianity, and appeared in funerary art and architecture from the medieval period onwards.
The most common motif is a skull, often accompanied by one or more bones. Often this alone is enough to evoke the trope, but other motifs such as a coffin, hourglass and wilting flowers signified the impermanence of human life. Often these function within a work whose main subject is something else, such as a portrait, but the vanitas is an artistic genre where the theme of death is the main subject. The Danse Macabre and Death personified with a scythe as the Grim Reaper are even more direct evocations of the trope.
- "Memento Mori" | 2022-11-16 | 226 Upvotes 154 Comments