Archive for the ‘Latin’ Category

Peccatum Originale

Friday, November 28th, 2008

The Original Sin.

It was not something explicitly mentioned in the Bible. First pointed out by Irenaeus, the idea of the Original Sin was further developed by St Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century. Because Adam had eaten the famous apple, he had sinned and all humanity carried this sin. Augustine explained that the consequence was lust and guilt for all men. At the beginning of the 11th century St Anselm would disagree with this view and suppress the guilt part.

More on Wikipedia

St Augustine + Anselm here and here

More Danico

Friday, November 21st, 2008

The Danish Way.

This legal expression which designates a type of marriage was mainly used in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages. It was opposed by the Christian church who promoted the More Christiano type of wedding. Several Norman Dukes married More Danico which supposedly involved a handfasting ceremony. Among them, William the Conqueror’s parents, Robert the Magnificent¬† and Herleva, were married this way.

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Unius Uxoris Vir

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Husband of one wife.

Expression found in the New Testament that opponents to clergy celibacy have been using for centuries in order to have a family. These words are found among others in the first Letter of St Paul to Thimothy (3:2):

“oportet ergo episcopum inreprehensibilem esse unius uxoris virum sobrium prudentem ornatum hospitalem doctorem”

“Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher”

At the end of the 4th century pope Siricius gave a clear answer to its meaning, saying that before being ordained , having had only one wife was a sign of faithfulness. The newly ordained priest was thus more trusted to carry on his vows of perpetual abstinence.

Now, here is the official (and lengthy) answer from the Vatican.

Ara Victoriae

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Altar of Victory

It was a gold statue of the goddess Victory worshipped in Rome and located in the Roman senate. The Altar was seized from the Greek general Pyrrhus by the Romans in 272 BC and removed from the senate in 382 AD by Roman emperor Gratian.

More on Wikipedia.

Ludi Olympici

Monday, November 10th, 2008

The Olympic Games.

Created by the ancient Greeks in 776 BC, they were celebrated every 4 years until 393 AD when Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great decided to stop them because of their too pagan flavor in a freshly christianized empire. Their name is not related to Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods but to the city of Olympia where they were held.

The original Greek name is Olympiakoi Agones. Agones means ‘contest’ in Greek and not ‘game’ like in Latin or English. We can also find it in the words protagonist or antagonism.

More on Wikipedia.

Jesus – Iesu

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

The name of Jesus as we know it today comes from the old French Iesu. It was itself derived from the Latin Iosus and earlier from the Greek Iesous. The Greeks borrowed it from the late Hebrew and Aramaic Yoshua (Joshua).

The abbreviation IHS (or JHS) to represent Jesus’ name comes from the 3 first letters of the Greek Iesous. It was made popular in the 13th century.

More on Wikipedia.

Summus Pontifex

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Supreme pontiff.

One of the non official names of the pope. It was used in medieval era not only for popes but also for bishops. It has a similar story as Pontifex Maximus (greatest Pontiff) used today to call the pope. The origin of the word pontiff or pontifex comes from Roman pagan times where the highest priest was considered a ‘bridge builder’ between men and gods. It also had a significance anchored in reality since ancient Rome needed bridges over the Tiber which was itself a deity. The priest might have also been involved in bridge building.

More on Wikipedia.

Requiescat In Pace

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

May he rest in peace. (R.I.P.)

Also used and carved on funeral stones: Hic Requiescit In Pace (Here rests in peace). Ealier versions used Hic Iacet (here lies).

Terra Sancta

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

The Holy Land.

That was the most common name used by medieval Christians to name the land around Jerusalem. There was no Canaan, Palestine or Israel. The latter was used by Jewish communities.

Crux Ansata

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Cross with a handle.

Latin name of the Egyptian Ankh cross.