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A couple new bits of Latin and Greek in Final Fantasy have jumped out at me lately, so time for another geeky etymology post.

FFXIII - no spoilers in comments, please!

Hecatoncheir - I donno what this is in FFXIII, but in Greek mythology, hekatoncheires, "hundred-handed", are giants with a hundred arms and fifty heads who unleash the storms of Tartaros. They fought on the side of the gods of Olympus against the Titans. They appear in Hesiod's Theogony.

choreographing the Sin vs. Veganun battle in LHaD, I looked up Vegnagun boss battles and discovered all its attacks are Latin quotes.

Noli Me Tangere
(tail-swipe) -- "Don't touch me" Jesus to Mary Magdalene, John 20:17, vulgate edition
Dies Irae (rain of white energy) -- "Day of wrath" name of a Catholic hymn about Judgement Day.
Lacrimosa (blast of orange fire) -- "teary" in the sense of "deserving of tears" 
Mors Certa (red and black burning miasma) -- "Certain death"
Pallida Mors (sphere of white energy forms between tusks, gets lobbed like sling shot)  -- "Pale death" from:

pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
regumque turris.  -- Horace Odes 1.14-15  "Pale death knocks with equal foot [i.e. in the same way] on the hovels of poor men and the towers of kings"


praetor is "one who goes before" -- government officials in Roman Empire in charge of administrating law court system over a large area (Italy, the provinces, one praetor for Rome).

Auron  -  I can't tell if this is a Greek ending slapped onto Latin aurum, "gold", or if his name comes from Aaron, brother of Moses.
Tetra shows up on some magic items, from Greek prefix for "four". Items with four slots or particularly rare items are tetra. (Hence my using "tetra-grade" as Rikku's term for "really strong.")
maester looks like a Latinized version of master, or perhaps a mutation of magister, "teacher, professor, master, doctor".

One-winged Angel lyrics come from Carmina Burana. See my old post with lyrics.

Sephirot --Hebrew. the ten attributes/manifestations through which God reveals himself in the Kabbalah. Each sephirot was supposed to manifest at a different time from weakest to most potent, and they're connected with the powers of creating the world. (In-depth article on the ten sephirot)
Aeris - probably from Latin aer, "sky, air"
Mako - I'm assuming this is a slight variant on mahou, magic, a Japanese borrowing from English.
ETA: see comments below on aeris/th and mako; we've got someone who can read Japanese to untangle them for us!

The first two lines of Liberi Fatali (the opening theme)  are nonsense (Tagamet, Prilosec, or some such ;) ) but the rest of Liberi Fatali ("children of fate") is an original Latin song composed for the game. Lyrics and translation here

Final Fantasy Characters: Name Origins
suggests many more, including a reminder (duh, should've noticed) that Lucretia is the archetypal rape victim in Roman legend. Also of interest: Tifaret is another of the Sephirot in the Kabbalah, Reno could be from Latin leno, pimp (not sure on that, but it's amusing), cait sith = "fat cat," a figure in Irish folktales.




( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 14th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
Dies Irae and Lacrimosa are also both names of sections in a Requiem mass.
Mar. 14th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Ah, danke!

I wonder if Pallida mors is also a quote from some Catholic something-or-other. It's not exactly an uncommon phrase.

Edited at 2010-03-14 09:22 pm (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
Possibly. I'm pretty sure it's not in the classic mass or requiem though. (I only know the texts of those because I've sung so many of them!)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
Ah, right! The walkthrough video I was watching didn't show that one while I was taking notes. Yes, I'm so OCD that before writing a battle with Vegnagun I had to be able to describe the attacks it uses, even if I never use the names (which wouldn't come up).

Memento mori is a very common idiom -- literally, "remember to die".
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2010 05:12 am (UTC)
Yeah, "mori" is actually an infinitive, but it's such an unusual usage that most translations massage it to try and convey the idiom.

I miss Latin. It's a glorious language.

ETA: Heh. I glance down and discover I'm wearing one of my Latin T-shirts, which I had forgotten I put on this morning. "Quod nos non necat etiam maxime laedit."

Edited at 2010-03-17 05:13 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
"What does not kill us still hurts a lot." :)
Mar. 15th, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
I remember seeing the kanji for Mako written as 魔光, which could probably be translated as 'demonic light'.

Also, I think Aeris' name might refer to the Greek goddess Eris, who is coincidentally the Goddess of Strife. :D
Mar. 15th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
魔光 is the kanji for Mako. 魔 is a prefix for "magic", 光 is the kanji for light ("hikari"). So you could translate it as "demonic light", but probably just a more literal translation is "magical light," without a connotation of good or evil.

Aeris/Aerith is a romanization of the katakana エアリス, a stylized representation of "earth" in katakana. (if you were to katakana-ize "earth" literally, it would be アース). In this case, it's easy to see why Square decided to change the English spelling of Aeris back to Aerith, since the "th" more accurately represents the th in earth.
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Ah, I shouldn't try to guess on Mako, since I don't know Japanese.

As a Latin/Greek geek, I'm uneasy about saying Aeris = Eris.

Eris = Greek goddess of strife.
Aer, aeris = Latin for air, sky, heaven.

I don't think the meaning "strife" fits Aeris, unless they're equating her with Cloud's last name. More importantly, ae and e are very different vowels. Switching one for the other would be like spelling Cloud as Clod. :)

ETA: AHA. Trust the Japanese speakers!

darcenciel, that explains it, thank you! Mystery solved.

I would love to pick your brain on all the Japanese names. (Specifically, Sin. What IS that? I know it's a pun on the English "Sin", but I keep thinking it sounds like words I've heard in anime associated with death and spirits. I'm probably totally mis-hearing, though, since all the Japanese I know comes from watching Miyazaki films with English subtitles ;) ).

Edited at 2010-03-15 05:02 pm (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
How do you always manage to find these wonderful things that make me totally geek out? I had so much fun with this!

(And these translation people need to talk to me about the mystery behind Quistis' name. I think Quistis may come from the ancient Xulish, roughly translated as 'one hot chick'. Hee!)
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
I haven't played FFX-2 yet, so I don't know if it's an in-game typo, but that first one oughta be "noli me tangere." :)
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)

*wipes egg off face* Speaking of misspelling. Danke. That was probably my typo and not the game's, although you never know.

Gah, what conjugation is nolo? It's so irregular I can't remember.

I really need to sit down and go through my books again. I studied Latin for nearly 20 years, but it starts to slip if you don't use it for a while.

Edited at 2010-03-15 04:20 pm (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
I'm only just learning Latin myself (ah, the perils of dating a Latin teacher. I am reading Suetonius now...), but I was under the impression that volo, nolo and malo, being irregular, weren't part of any conjugation. Could be wrong, though.

[ETA: I see also that you seem to have recced my girlfriend's CLC fic. Hee. Fandom is a small place.]

Edited at 2010-03-15 04:39 pm (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
Ah, Suetonius. Oddly, that's one of the few Latin historians I haven't read, or at least, not in Latin!

I was up to a PhD in classics and taught freshman Latin for two years, but then I switched majors. I last taught/studied Latin about 10 years ago, and it's atrophied.

Hence your girlfriend's story being very *ahem* educational as a way to help me knock the rust off. Of course, I've only encountered some of the more earthy vocabulary in Colleen McCullough's historical novels on the seedy side of Roman politics. (Great books, by the way, starting with First Man in Rome).

Edited at 2010-03-15 05:07 pm (UTC)
Mar. 15th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
I will choose to believe pallida mors is deliberately referencing Horace.

I went to look myself at I found some other things (when I should probably be translating Lucretius):

Boris has an attack called Tempus Laxit, time extends.

Guardian Beast has Damocles Photon, which I think is kind of appropriate because it comes from above.

Vegnagun's leg has Vita Brevis.

Vegnagun's head has Acta Est Fabula, the story is done. (would have been cooler if it had been actanda est fabula, the story must be acted). Google tells me acta est fabula is attributed to Augustus but I think there must have been previous occurrences of it.

Same has Nemo Ante Mortem Beatus, No man is happy before death. Which is probably a reference to Ovid's Metamorphosis, though the idea goes back to Solon's fable: dicique beatus/ ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet. And noone ought to be called happy before death and the final funeral rites.

Same has Odi Et Amo, obvious reference to Catullus 85, I hate and I love.

The names of fiends in X and X-2 have many references to Greek/Latin, though I can't really understand some of them. For example: Archaeothyris, a lizard. Thyris means nothing related to a lizard at all. Thyra=door, and Thyrsus=pine cone.
Mar. 16th, 2010 02:34 am (UTC)
Mirabile dictu. Vegnagun really is very Latin literate, isn't it?

I notice the odd critter name too. Thrustaevis catches my eye: is that pseudo-Latin (avis) or random?
Mar. 16th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
The TH would indicate Greek roots if any, I think. However nothing is coming up with a thrys beginning in the dictionary. So maybe random?
Mar. 16th, 2010 01:00 am (UTC)
I love your little posts on these sorts of things! I wish I was more well read on some of these aspects of the old arts. :D
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
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