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Question
Dear Maria,
I wonder whether you could help me with the following:
(1)   Oderint dum metuant
I am not clear about the use of the mood and tense of oderint and metuant.

(2)   Is “Natale hilare et annum faustum” the correct/best Latin translation for “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
Thanks.

Robert

Answer
Dear Robert,

In “Oderint dum metuant” (Let them hate me, as long as they fear me),a line from the tragedy "Atreus" by Lucius Accius (170-86 BC), evidently spoken by the tyrannical Atreus himself,  and also quoted  in Seneca (De Ira/On Anger 1.20.4), in Cicero (De Officiis/ On Duties 1.97), and most famously in Suetonius’ Life of Caligula 30, where Suetonius says that it was a line that the bad emperor particularly liked to quote, we have a perfect subjunctive ODERINT (from ODI) -used  independently to express a Concessive Subjunctive- and a present subjunctive METUANT (from METUO) used in the restrictive clause introduced by the conjunction DUM (as long as/ if only), so that DUM METUANT means “as long as / if only they fear [me]”.

Note that the perfect subjunctive ODERINT(Let them hate [me]) stands for the present subjunctive, since ODI is a defective verb that has lost the Present system, and uses only tenses of the Perfect inflected regularly (see Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges,205.


As for  “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, I think that the best translation could be the following:

-”Die Christi Natali gaude ac fausto ineunte anno!”, if your wish is addressed to only one person.
-“Die Christi Natali gaudete ac fausto ineunte anno!”, if your wish is addressed to more than one person.

All the above-mentioned translations literally mean: “Enjoy a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” as GAUDE/GAUDETE (from GAUDEO)means "Enjoy"; CHRISTI (genitive) means "of Christ", DIE NATALI(from DIES NATALIS)literally meaning "birthday"  is in the ablative simply because GAUDEO takes the ablative case; FAUSTO INEUNTE ANNO in the ablative means " Happy New Year" where "NEW" is INEUNTE (present participle of INEO, I make a beginning/ I begin, just related to the year).

Anyway, you could also say:

1.1-“Festum Christi Natalem tibi precor ac faustum ineuntem annum!”, if your  wish is addressed to only one person .

1.2-“Festum Christi Natalem vobis precor ac faustum ineuntem annum!”,if your wish is addressed to more than one person.

Both the above-mentioned translations mean:”I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”, for “I wish” corresponds to PRECOR; “you” corresponds to TIBI/ VOBIS  in the dative required by PRECOR; FESTUM means "merry", CHRISTI  NATALEM means “Christmas”, AC FAUSTUM INEUNTEM ANNUM means "and Happy New Year".


2.1-“Festum Christi Natalem habe Diem ac faustum ineuntem annum!”, if your wish is addressed to only one person.

2.2-“Festum Christi Natalem  habete Diem ac faustum ineuntem annum!”, if your  wish is addressed to more than one person.

The above-mentioned translations literally mean:”Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”, as FESTUM means “merry”, CHRISTI(genitive) NATALEM (from the adjective NATALIS used as a noun with DIES omitted) and NATALEM DIEM mean “Christmas” (literally, “birthday of Christ”), AC FAUSTUM INEUNTEM ANNUM means "Happy New Year".

Hope this is clear enough.

Best regards and "Die Christi Natali gaude ac fausto ineunte anno!",
Maria

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Maria

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