Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Idea Emporium #2: Selected Fragments from the Necronomicon

Selected Translations

A selection of lines from Wormius’ Latin text, with translations by Dr. Shawn Daniels. Some notes also by the same. The observant reader will notice some discrepancies in these literal translations from some traditional renderings given by Warren Rice.

Antiqui illi erant; Antiqui illi sunt; Antiqui illi erunt.

“Those Ancients were; Those Ancients are; Those Ancients will be.”

Rendered by Warren Rice as “The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be.”

Letum fio quod mundos deleo

“I am become Death, that destroys worlds.”

It does not appear that the Necronomicon borrowed from the Gita, and it is quite impossible for the Gita to have borrowed from the Necronomicon. Rather, based on other evidence it appears that this and other lines have been drawn from a third text predating them both.

Nevertheless, the particulars of the Necronomicon’s version presents interesting differences.

Letum, meaning “destroy,” refers to oblivion or forgetting.

Mundos deleo “refers to the whole cosmic order, including the universe, Earth, celestial bodies, etc.”

Nos, ubi omnia sane fiunt, compositi sunt; minima spectacula sumus in loco illo qui omnia mira dignaque edit et primum dominum terrarum vidit.

“In the place where all things are made well, were we made; we are the least marvels in that place that produces all things marvelous and worthy, and first saw the lord of the earth.”

Fiunt, here translated as “made,” can also be translated as “become.”

Vae temeritati mortalis arcana nefanda petentis, robur superans temptantis.

“Alas! for the rashness of the mortal seeking unspeakable secrets, testing a superior strength.”

Robur “literally refers to a hard oak” or that “someone or something is as strong or resilient as oak.” Superans means “surpass, overcome; be superior.” The second part of the passage thus refers to the tempting of a strength that is superior because it is strong like an oak tree (and as old, we might suppose). 

Tute, qui chartae leges rupisti, reici decet; pro socio tuo autem ut ἆθλον ob acta recipias, Eblis in huius ianuam inire sivit.

“You, who broke the terms of my paper, it is fitting to be cast back; for your ally, however, that you may receive payment because of your deeds, Eblis allowed you to enter the gate to this (place).”

Reici, here translated as “to be cast back,” has a connotation of banishment, with “a tone of scorn and contempt.”

Yog-Sothoth portam scit; quidem, Yog-Sothoth porta est. Yog-Sothoth portae clavis et custos est. Praeteritum et praesens et futurum, omnia in Yog-Sothth iunguntur.

“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate; indeed, Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and the guard of the gate. Past and present and future, all things are joined in Yog-Sothoth.”

Ubi Illi regebant, regunt homines; ubi homines regunt, regent Illi mox.

“Where Those Ones used to rule, men rule; where men rule, Those Ones will soon rule.”

Post aestatem hiems; post hiemem aestas.

“After summer, winter; after winter, summer.”

Illi, patientes fortesque, expectant; hic enim rursus regent.

“Those Ones, patient and powerful, wait; for here they shall rule again.”

Fortesque means refers to strength and powerful “most often in a mental / spiritual sense.” This might tie their power to their patience, then.

Expectant literally means “look out for.” Therefore, “Those Ones, patient and powerful, look out for it [the time when the stars are right].”

Rursus, literally meaning “backwards,” refers to a regression or return to an old order of things.

Summa culmina orbis terrarum di habitant, qui dicere hominem se numina spectare non patiuntur.

“The gods dwell on the highest peaks of the world, they who do not endure a man to say that he looked upon them.”

Cthulhu mortuum apud R’lyeh expectat somniatque.

“Cthulhu, dead, waits and dreams at R’lyeh.”

Interestingly, mortuum is the neuter form of the masculine mortuus. As shown elsewhere, either Olaus Wormius or one of his predecessors did not wish to assign gender to Cthulhu. The idea that Cthulhu is a masculine being may be an accident of history, or there may be some other reason for the oddity.

Non mortuum est quicuid in perpetuum iacere potest,
Et inter aeva mira mors ipsa moriatur.

“It is not dead, whatever can lie forever,
And amid strange ages, death itself may die.”

Again the neuter mortuum.

Aeva may refer to either a person’s age or eternity. In context it appears to be the latter.

Ita licentiae et nefandorum supplicium erat et esse decebat. Ita poena erit studii isti caeci quod finem scientiae mortalis per Genitoris sapientiam constitutum transgrediatur; ita sollicitae frustratio ambitionis dira, quae, inventiones divas tendens, superbia praecipiti, hominum terrenorum statum ignorat— nam humiles et inscii sunt.

“Such was the punishment of wantonness and of unspeakable acts, and it was fitting to be. Such will be the punishment of that blind zeal which may surpass the bounds of mortal knowledge established by the wisdom of the Sire; such was the terrible disappointment of anxious ambition, which, striving for divine discoveries, in its heedless arrogance, does not know the state of earthly men—for they are base and ignorant.”

Supplicium specifically means “torment” and not just any punishment at all. 

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