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The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

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The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby DWBrumbley » Tue May 21, 2013 9:44 pm

I’ve wanted to do this particular bit of translation ever since I started working with Latin, and I hope I’ve come somewhere close to being correct. This exists in a number of tiny pieces scattered across the internet, but I wanted to do the whole thing in one place and make sure it’s done well. For that, obviously, I need this wonderful place.

The passage is known as the Litany Against Fear, from Frank Herbert’s Dune series. For those unfamiliar, I’ll post the English first and then my attempt at the Latin. Please rip it apart as necessary.

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing......Only I will remain."



Litania Contra Timorem

Non debeo timere.
Timor animicida est.
Timor mortem parvam est quia excidium totum perficit.
Timor meus spectabo.
Ego id praeterire me et transire me permittam.
Et cum discesserat, vertam oculum interiorem viam eius video.
Ubi timor fuit, nihil erit.
Ego unus remanebo.


As always, any and all feedback welcome.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby GJCaesar » Tue May 21, 2013 11:34 pm

All right, let me first of all inform you: I am not a native speaker of English, so please pardon me in advance for any brutal or unnecessary mistakes from my part.

But, I have studied Latin and Greek for quite a while now and I think I might be able to help here. Even though anyone will give you a different translation - for Latin is known for its diversity - I think mine will come close to what is generally thought of as a ''good translation''. But also I are wide open to any kind of advice or change.

Meo non timendum est
Timor animicida est
Timor mors parva est quae excidium totum fert
Timorem meum spectabo
Eum me praeterire et transire permittam
Et cum discesserat/cesserat, oculum interiorissimum vertam ut vestigium eius videam
Ubicumque timor iit, nihil erit


A couple of things from my translation:
-non timendum est --> gerund, and meo is therefore the person who should not fear
-mors parva --> since esse is a copula verb, mortem parvam is wrong. Before and after the verb essere, there should be nominatives, not an accusative
-timorem meum --> object with spectabo, therefore it should be an accusative :)
-eum me ... --> you wrote id, but id refers to a neutrum form. Since timor remains the topic, and timor is masculine, eum is the right form. Note that this is NOT an AcI, but an infinitive as a complement with permittere.
-interiorissimum: gives more emphasis
-vestigium --> viam, the word you wrote, is more like a ''road, pathway'' in the sence of the real world. Vestigium gives a bit more of a poetic message. But viam is definitely not wrong.
-ut videam --> a subclause with the function of a goal goes with ut + subjunctive.
-ubicumque --> ''whereever'' , because I think that that is what you mean

Hope this helped, and feel free to give any suggestions ;)
vincatur oportet aut vincat
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby GJCaesar » Wed May 22, 2013 12:11 am

Oh, it's late here, and I see I did something stupid. Meo should of course be mihi.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby whsiv » Wed May 22, 2013 3:06 am

Hey there,

Cool idea! Just a couple suggestions.

"Fear is the little-death" - both fear and little-death should be nominative, one the subject and the other the predicate nominative.

"I will face my fear" - my fear is the thing that you are facing, so it should be accusative.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby DWBrumbley » Wed May 22, 2013 3:27 am

Awesome feedback! Thank you so much.

The correction of the relevant lines -

Timor mors parva est quia excidium totum perficit

. . . .

Timorem meum spectabo.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby whsiv » Wed May 22, 2013 12:46 pm

Those changes look good, but I think I spotted something else you can fix up.

"...I will turn the inner eye to see its path" - to see its path to me sounds like a purpose clause, i.e., I will turn the inner eye in order to see/so that I may see its path. To get this effect in Latin, you'll need to use the conjunction ut and the 1st person singular present subjunctive of vidēre.The ut-clause should follow your main clause (vertam oculam interiorem).
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby GJCaesar » Wed May 22, 2013 6:40 pm

Oh and btw: meo should of course be mihi (dative of agent)
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby DWBrumbley » Thu May 23, 2013 12:19 am

Thank you both for leaving feedback and helping correct some of the things I've done less than right so far. Here's with the corrections.

Litania Contra Timorem

Non debeo timere.
Timor animicida est.
Timor mors parva est
quia excidium totum perficit.
Timorem meum spectabo.
Eum praeterire me et transire me permittam.
Et cum discesserat,
vertam oculum interiorem
ut vestigium eius videam.
Ubicumque timor fuit, nihil erit.
Ego unus remanebo.

I kept the "Non debeo" in the first line because I feel like it maintains the prohibitive feeling of the line. Rather than saying "I should not fear," I think it's an important part of the phrase to actually have the self-imposed injunction against it, "I must not fear." Everything else, though, excellent feedback and it makes the rest of the litany more clearly reflect the intention of the English.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby GJCaesar » Thu May 23, 2013 6:14 am

Excellent. But be sure to change quia to quae, since quia means 'because' and you want to start a relative clause with mors parva as antecedent, so quae (femminine) is the right one here.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby radagasty » Thu May 23, 2013 11:21 am

Et cum discesserat, vertam oculum interiorem ut vestigium eius videam.

First, there is a problem with the sequence of tenses in this sentence: the cum clause is in a historic tense, whilst the main clause is in a primary tense. I would suggest instead:

Et cum discesserit, vertam oculum interiorem...

Second, regardless of the sequence of tenses, I am unhappy with cum discesserat. It just sounds a little odd to me to have the pluperfect there, although I can't quite put my finger on why that might be. If you insist on the pluperfect, I would much rather have cum discessisset.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby DWBrumbley » Fri May 24, 2013 12:46 am

With regard to discesserit vs. discesserat vs. discessisset, I'm not sure I understand the implications of the changes being made. The pluperfect seems more accurate to me when set in the clause with "et cum", but if there are examples in Latin prose with the same general construction (which I'm sure there are, I'm just not well-read enough to know about them) then I'd love to see how that construction is handled.

Also, when dealing with the sequence of tenses, if anyone knows of a website or other resource that gives a thorough explanation of this concept, please share it, since I've not had much luck finding one that's helpful in understanding. My primary focus is getting things right and getting things to sound as natural as possible, so thank you, one and all, once again, for the help and feedback.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby DWBrumbley » Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:04 pm

Alright, I did the best I could studying up on how the sequence of tenses is supposed to work, hopefully I got things correct this go-round. Thank you again to everyone who's commented and helped me with this, and please don't hesitate to correct/suggest further enhancements.

Litania Contra Timorem

Non debeo timere.
Timor animicida est.
Timor mors parva est
quae excidium totum perficit.
Timorem meum spectabo.
Eum praeterire me et transire me permittam.
Cum discessisset,
verterem oculum interiorem
ut vestigium eius videre.
Ubicumque timor fuit, nihil erit.
Ego unus remanebo.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby radagasty » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:46 am

DWBrumbley wrote:With regard to discesserit vs. discesserat vs. discessisset, I'm not sure I understand the implications of the changes being made.

Disregarding the sequence of tenses for the moment, it sounds somewhat archaic to use the pluperfect indicative in a cum clause. In classical Latin, the historic tenses are typically cast into the subjunctive mood, although the indicative is possible (only when cum has a strictly temporal force). Cum discissesset thus sounds much less unusual than cum discesserat.

However, the main clause vertam oculum interiorem is in a primary tense, the sequence of tenses accordingly requires the cum clause to be likewise in a primary tense; the pluperfect is disallowed. As the action takes place in the future, the two options for the subordinate clause are future and future perfect, depending on whether the action of the cum clause is simultaneous with or anterior to that of the main clause respectively. Either could be used here, but I would suggest that the future perfect discesserit makes more sense.

Cum discessisset, verterem oculum interiorem ut vestigium eius videre.

The 'sequence of tenses' is so called because the tense of the subordinate clause 'follows' that of the main clause, but you have put the cart before the horse here. Vertam oculum interiorem is the correct translation for 'I shall turn my inner eye', whereas cum discessisset, verterem ... might mean 'when it had left, I would turn...' (or, better, 'would that I turned when it had left', etc.) which is not what you intend.

A second error has also been introduced. A final clause introduced by ut must have a finite verb in the subjunctive mood, as you had before; the infinitive videre cannot stand.

Thus: Et cum discesserit, vertam oculum interiorem ut vestigium ejus videam.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby DWBrumbley » Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:26 pm

Thank you, Radagasty, for walking me through that. Part of my error was in parsing the grammar of the sentence in the first place, but part of it was not understanding whatsoever the sequence of tenses, which now I feel like I have at least the beginnings of a grasp on. I appreciate your help and thank you for your corrections.
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Re: The Litany Against Fear // Litania Contra Timorem

Postby 4sak3n » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:24 pm

Hi, I was delighted to come across your thread when consulting the great Oracle Google because translating the litany has been a pet project of mine for a while now too.

I get pretty obsessive about my words and you guys have given me some things to think about regarding my own translation so I won't post it right away. Besides, I'm not sure about the board etiquette posting your work right away as a newbie.

I would, however, like to suggest you consider the deponent verb "patior" for "I will permit it to pass over me and through me." I favour "patiar" over "permittam" because it has multiple meanings which are relevant here and so the line becomes deliciously and quite effectively (in a literary sense) ambiguous.

"patiar" could translate as "I shall permit", "I shall suffer" as well as "I shall endure". I feel that the line, even in English, expresses the sense of all three of these sentiments.
ave rana rex, salturi te salutant.
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