For the First Time in Forever – RepriseÂ from Disney’sÂ Frozen
Read on for an explanation of the translation!
I mentioned in the annotations to the main version of this song that it represents a twist in the plot, which it does. In the main song we got Anna â€˜asâ€™ Ariadne, imagining falling in love at first sight and longing to leave with a handsome prince, etc, etc. In the reprise, instead of a romantic account of Ariadne helping Theseus leave the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur (Ariadneâ€™s half-brother), or Ariadne railing at Theseus for deserting her, we have both Anna and Elsa as Ariadne: Anna offers to help her sister out of a â€˜whirlwindâ€™ (a word which can also mean â€˜labyrinthâ€™) and Elsa begs Anna to desert her. The plot of a romantic love story twists round to become a story of familial love – just like the film does, only unlike the English, the Latin version does that in the very words used. On that note: I have indeed borrowed a few more lines of Catullus, but mostly I have just revisited, echoed or revised my own lyrics for the first part, which Catullus does to link together the various plot strands in poem 64.
Annaâ€™s â€˜historical personaâ€™ here (although I cannot stress enough that itâ€™s not an allegory) is the prince Germanicus, Tiberiusâ€™ heir, who in many ways was the replica of his father Drusus (Tiberiusâ€™ brother, who tragically died young after falling off his horse). Tiberius and Germanicus had a strained relationship, for Tiberius was hyper-cautious and Germanicus tended to put his foot in it. To give Germanicus a chance to prove himself, Tiberius sent him to govern the eastern provinces. Germanicus made a series of diplomatic errors, aggravating Piso, the governor whom Tiberius had sent as his advisor, but before a real storm could brew up, he suddenly fell ill and died (aged thirty-three). On his deathbed he melodramatically claimed that Piso had poisoned him. When this got back to Rome there was uproar in the streets. The people loved Germanicus, and expected Tiberius to execute Piso summarily and to join in their ostentatious waterworks. Tiberius, however, was extremely fair and extremely private, so he ordered a proper trial, and kept his grief to himself. The people naturally concluded that he had ordered the poisoning. (â€˜Naturallyâ€™ = sarcasm. It is highly unlikely that Germanicus was even poisoned, let alone that Tiberius would have ordered it.)
I say this because I like talking about the Annals and some might find it of slight interest XD - the historical parallel is very much in the background in this song. It is more an exercise in wordplay than anything else; the focus is on the two sistersâ€™ relationship, and the plot of Frozen starts to assert itself over the sources, as Catullusâ€™ poem paves its own way, departing from all expectations. Iâ€™m no Roman poet, but Iâ€™ve done my best to write like one!
Anna: non me debes arcere, non te timeo!
You donâ€™t have to keep me away, Iâ€™m not afraid of you!
noli iam me exclaudere! siste, te precor!
Donâ€™t shut me out anymore! Stop, I beg you!
absentiae nulla manet ratio!
There is no more reason for keeping your distance!
namque nuper intellexi quare semper fugeres,
For indeed, recently I understood why you were always fleeing,
et nuper intellexi quo modo te iuvem!
and recently I understood in what way I might help you!
regrediemur in lucem! mittendus est timor!
Weâ€™ll go back into the light! [You] should cast away [your] fear!
mittendus est timor is a repetition of a line in the first part of the song.
namque tandem te sororem comitor ego
For indeed, finally, Iâ€™m at the side of you, [my] sister
Elissa: redi domum salva ut possis gaudere sole et urbem pandere!
Elsa: Go back home, so that you might rejoice in the sun and open up the city, safe and sound!
urbem pandere echoes portae pandere claustrum (â€˜open the lock on the gateâ€™) from the first part. But urbem pandere could also imply â€˜open it to enemiesâ€™, which Elsa obviously doesnâ€™t mean, but which Anna has unwittingly done (by leaving Hans in charge).
(Anna: re vera -) Elissa: scio te bene velle,
(Anna: In the truth of the matter -) Elsa: I know that you mean well,
sed me linquas, scilicet desertam sed metu liberam!
but please leave me – yes, [youâ€™d be leaving me] alone (lit. deserted) but free from fear!
metu liberam repeats metu liberat in Let it Go. scilicet, which I have translated as â€˜yesâ€™, means â€˜even thoughâ€™ in a sort of sarcastic way: licet alone means â€˜let it stand thatâ€™ and scilicet means â€˜of course, let it stand thatâ€¦â€™. Thatâ€™s a bit overcomplicated, so I think a simple, curt â€˜yesâ€™ is the best way to put it XD
discedens enim vitam conservas
For [by] leaving, you preserve [your] life
Anna: licet miseram! / Elissa: quare miseram?
Anna: Miserable as it is! / Elsa: In what way [is it]Â miserable?
To understand this you have to take licet miseram with vitam in the previous sentence: vitam conservo licet miseram, â€˜I am preserving my life, although [it is] miserable.â€™ Here we have the licet construction again, but Anna is less sarcastic. The echoes in their wording are conscious: I am trying to show that they are sisters, and thus similar as well as different.
Anna: ignaram te reor! / Elissa: ignaram cuius rei?
Anna: I suspect [that] you [are]Â unaware! / Elsa: Unaware of what matter?
I was rather pleased with this: reor and rei are not from the same word, but here, because of the positioning of the words, there is a verbal echo that reproduces the repetition in the English.
Anna: Arendellem obtegit totamâ€¦ nix.
Anna: Snow covers all of Arendelle.
I have translated this in the subtitles as â€˜Arendelle is entirely buried in snow,â€™ even though the Latin is not passive (and the words are different), because otherwise the effect is ruined. The word â€˜snowâ€™ is last in the sentence, so she says, â€˜Arendelle [object] – it covers – entirely – snow [subject]â€™. Itâ€™s a crescendo of meaning, up to the big revelation. Three cheers for inflected languages!
Elissa: quid? / Anna: erupisti hiemem perennemâ€¦ usque ad urbem.
Elsa: What? / Anna: You have madeÂ [an] eternal winter break outâ€¦ right up to the city.
The word erupisti is from erumpere, the closest Latin word to â€˜let goâ€™ (as in â€˜let it goâ€™) but which wouldnâ€™t fit in the title of that song. The verb can either be transitive (â€˜make break outâ€™) or intransitive (â€˜break outâ€™). In Let it Go Elsa says, â€˜venti furentes meo erumpunt animoâ€™ (raging winds break out of my soul). Here it is presented as Elsaâ€™s fault.
perennis (eternal) as a nod to the Italian version (hai portato un inverno perenne), and usque ad urbem (â€˜up to the cityâ€™) instead of in omnes partes (â€˜everywhereâ€™) because for Romans, the city was the most important thing.
Elissa: usque ad urbem?! / Anna: nihil refert! dissolvere potes!
Elsa: Up to the city?! / Anna: It doesnâ€™t matter at all! You can melt [it]!
Elissa: minime! nescio quo modo! / Anna: certe potes! scio te posse!)
Elsa: No! I donâ€™t know how! / Anna: Of course you can! I know that you can!)
Anna: namque tandem nostro corde viam aperit veritas
Anna: For indeed, at last, the truth opens a way in our heart[s]
Here Anna revisits the idea of veritas. Her first line in the last verse of the main song was fiunt somnia veritas (â€˜my dreams are becoming realityâ€™). Here she uses the word veritas as â€˜truthâ€™, not â€˜realityâ€™, but sheâ€™s got her priorities straight this time. It also contrasts with Elsaâ€™s use of the word: inania somnia deurit veritas (literally â€˜the truth destroys empty dreams, like the frostâ€™ but better rendered in English as, â€˜Dreaming got me nowhere – I prefer cold, hard reality!â€™)
The use of the phrase viam aperit (â€˜it opens a wayâ€™) is another example of Anna getting her priorities straight: I have translated the title Love is an Open Door as â€˜viam aperit amorâ€™ (â€˜Love opens a wayâ€™).
Elissa: me eludit semper libertas! indomita saevit tempestas!
Elsa: Freedom still mocks me! The storm rages unconquered!
Here Elsa strongly echoes wording relating to Ariadne. eludit echoes â€˜fluctus salis alludebantâ€™ (the waves teased her, Catullus 64.67). indomita again references â€˜indomitos in corde gerens â€¦ furoresâ€™ (â€˜nursing untamed passionate anger in her heartâ€™, 64.54).
saevit (rages) is a very strong word that implies bestial ferocity. saevitia (â€˜wild crueltyâ€™) is one of the main accusations levelled at Tiberius – realistically it probably refers to his haughtiness and the times he lost his temper. It is by no means the first thing anyone else would think of when seeing that word. But the more you know.
Anna: te salvam saevo e turbine amore eripiam
Anna: Through [my] love, Iâ€™ll pull you out of [this] savage whirlwind, safe and sound
This line revisits oblita solitudinis amorem inveniam (â€˜Iâ€™ll forget my loneliness and find loveâ€™) in the first part. As (I hope) you can see, the structure of the Latin is the same, amorem inveniam / amore eripiam, but the two lines are translated differently in the English. It depends on the ending changing (the first is accusative, the second ablative).
Anna uses the word salvam to repeat what Elsa said (salva ut possis, above) – they both want to save the other, and her saevo e turbine echoes Elsaâ€™s saevit tempestas, as in the English, Elsa sings â€˜no escape from the stormâ€™ and Anna sings â€˜weâ€™ll reverse the stormâ€™.
Ariadne claims that she pulled Theseus out (eripuit) of the Labyrinth (turbine - itâ€™s a versatile word).
Elissa: devota moriar! irritas ventis preces das!
Elsa: Iâ€™ll die accursed! Youâ€™re sending useless prayers to the winds! (i.e. your prayers are in vain)
The monosyllabic ending das makes this line very abrupt and harsh. The idea of something being sent empty away into the wind is a common one in Latin poetry – it appears in Lucretiusâ€™ philosophical epic as well as in Catullusâ€™ poetry about his mistress; in poem 64, Ariadne shouts after Theseus (who canâ€™t hear her): â€˜blanda promissa â€¦ cuncta. â€¦ discerpunt irrita ventiâ€™ (â€˜the winds seize and carry away into the air all the sweet promises you made me, leaving them emptyâ€™, 139-42). I chose the word preces in reference to the prayers addressed to Tiberius when it looked as though he was about to refuse to become emperor. (Not that this is evident in this context – but inspiration is inspiration.)
Anna: tranquillo vincemus animo
Anna: Weâ€™ll conquer with a calm mind!
I chose this wording because I liked the Italian version, which goes: tranquilla, vedrai, funzionerÃ ! (â€˜Calm down, youâ€™ll see, itâ€™ll work out!â€™)
Elissa: est nulla spes! te quoque perdes!
Elsa: Thereâ€™s no hope! Youâ€™ll destroy yourself as well [as me]!
est nulla spes again references 64. te quoque perdes is a very obscure reference to a letter Tiberius wrote to the senate, saying, â€˜If I know what to write to youâ€¦ may the gods destroy me more utterly than I feel myself daily being destroyed.â€™ Tiberius viewed power as a form of servitude and a curse, and he asked his stepdaughter, â€˜If you are not queen, do you think Iâ€™ve done you wrong?â€™ I think this fits well with Elsaâ€™s desire to ensure that she is the only victim of her â€˜curseâ€™.
Anna: et glacie dissoluta, vita nobis diu promissa fulgebit sole clarior!
Anna: And, with the ice dissolved, the lifeÂ [that has] long [been] promised to us will shine brighter than the sun!
Ah, the nimis optatam ablative absolute! This is a very common construction in Latin but somehow I have difficulty in finding a place for it in my translations – but here it is (glacie dissoluta). As (I hope) you can see, this line is very similar to the last line of the main song: nostrae aetati fulget vita diu sperata sole clarior (The life Iâ€™ve long hoped for shines on our generation, brighter than the sun!â€™) – but this reprise of it is less pretentious and more personal. When Anna said nostrae aetati she meant herself, but was equating herself to every girl of her age; when she said diu sperata (â€˜long hoped forâ€™) she didnâ€™t explicitly say, in the Latin, who had hoped for this life, even though itâ€™s obvious – it has to be included in the English translation, but its omission is highlighted by the fact that she is very clear here: â€˜the life long promised to usâ€™. And the word â€˜promisedâ€™, of course, is stronger and, ironically, more hopeful than â€˜hoped forâ€™.
Elissa: me â€¦ ANGIT!
Elsa: Itâ€™s hurting me!
Iâ€™m pleased with this because I struggled for some time to think of something that would work. The English goes: â€˜No â€¦ aaaahhhâ€¦ I canâ€™t!â€™ The only negative, monosyllabic Latin word is non, which means â€˜notâ€™. It does not mean â€˜noâ€™ on its own. So if I were to use non for â€˜noâ€™, â€˜I canâ€™tâ€™ would have to be a positive verb, because â€˜non â€¦ nequeoâ€™ would mean â€˜I canâ€™. However, â€˜non â€¦ possumâ€™ (I canâ€™t) just sounded rubbish. I thought of using a simple a (ah!) for â€˜noâ€™ and then went through several possibilities for â€˜I canâ€™tâ€™ including nolo (I wonâ€™t!), cessa (stop), satis (enough) and tace (quiet). But then I thought of Latinâ€™s plethora of impersonal verbs and settled on the above, which made Elsaâ€™s pain explicit, which I thought was a nice touch.