hae pulcherrimae effigies et mansurae

Let it Go from Disney’s Frozen

 

 

Today (23rd December) is Saturnaaaaaliaaaa! And this year’s Saturnalia song is appropriately cold-themed. Read on for a demonstration of the imaginative power of Latin (I hope) and the continued relevance of Classics, and something like a love letter to history. felicia Saturnalia, everyone :)

Edit March ’14: I’ve been stunned by the response to this song! Thank you so much to everyone who has watched and commented! This translation is very dear to me so I’m so pleased that you like it.

 

This is LONG, because this song has become iconic. Elsa is one of Disney’s most complex heroines, and and accordingly, her theme song was very difficult to translate. Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa) described it as ‘bigger than the character’, which is true, but it is difficult to do that in Latin without sounding trite. And while English is good at obscuring stylistic inconsistencies (‘my soul is spiralling in frozen fractals all around’ is very poetic, while ‘the cold never bothered me anyway’ is colloquial and flippant), Latin is not: whether they’re reproduced or standardised, it doesn’t have the same effect. In this song I chose to standardise them. One result is that the words are more specific to Elsa, and can’t be made into slogans so easily. In short, the song is very… Latin. It has a (hopefully) consistent style, a consistent tone, and a consistent Roman context.

On that note, my third thought when I heard this for the first time (after ‘this is amazing’ and ‘how will I sing this?!’) was, ‘This reminds me of Tiberius.’ This may be because I am obsessed with Tiberius to the point that I know his favourite fruit, and my friends call him ‘Him Who Must Not Be Named’. So, although my instinct was to use Tiberius as a Roman model for the song, initially I tried to talk myself out of it. However, the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a genuinely good idea. The parallels are numerous, and if I’m prone to get a little emotional about the subject… well, the song is called ‘let it go’!

The emperor Tiberius possessed that unfortunate combination of profound insecurity and a superiority complex. A soldier by trade and temperament, he disliked being emperor, and wanted the senate to regulate itself as it did under the Republic. The senators, however, petrified of civil war, preferred a single arbitrator whose favour they might court through sycophancy and backstabbing. None of this worked on Tiberius, who was austere, modest and socially awkward. He tried to hide his increasing disdain for his servile subjects, but occasionally lost his temper and scared everyone witless. When he’d sarcastically rejected every form of flattery, people gave in and started hating him. Exhausted and embittered, he retired to an island with his books, hoping that the senate would recover some dignity in his absence. This didn’t happen. The backstabbing increased, and the legend arose that Tiberius was a monster engaged in any nefarious pursuit you can imagine (since disliking the limelight was unheard of). To what extent this is true, we can’t say; but Tiberius prided himself on not being hurt by this sort of thing, and his tragedy is that it obviously hurt him very deeply. When he was told that his closest advisor, whom he’d left in charge at Rome, had poisoned his son, he lost it, and ordered his first executions (after seventeen years of moderate, prosperous rule). He only had a further six, miserable years to live; he died unmourned, and was succeeded by his adopted grandson Caligula. That’s another story.

Almost a century later, the fascinating historian Tacitus tried to put Tiberius in a wider context in his monumental work The Annals: Why Monarchy is Evil (my subtitle). Tacitus was a shrewd analyst who crafted his history with as much compositional patterns as the most ornately wrought poem, and he constructed his characters on the basis that they had an underlying nature which revealed itself over time. As such, in order to understand the increasing tension throughout Tiberius’ reign, he presented Tiberius as a cruel, licentious tyrant who hid his vices for most of his life but eventually ‘let it go’. Napoleon dismissed this as a ‘pamphleteer’s calumnies’ [i.e. resentful slander], but by ancient standards, it was an impressive attempt at psychology, combined with a masterful exploitation of evidence to suit a wider narrative; and despite everything, Tacitus’ Tiberius – even at face value – comes across as a capable and dutiful but conflicted ruler, who hated himself for devoting most of his life to an institution he despised, and for failing to fix its problems – as, it so happens, did Tacitus. Ironically enough, Tiberius himself recognised that emotional trauma could drive people out of their minds. This is not to say that Tiberius was driven out of his mind. He loathed the idea of monarchy, but consented to become princeps (‘first citizen’, i.e. what we call ‘emperor’) out of a misguided notion that he could use the position to backpedal and restore the original Republican system. He was naively or wilfully blind to the paradox of this, and became increasingly disillusioned when it didn’t work, until eventually he washed his hands of it and retired. Tacitus conflates ‘the concept of emperor’ with individual emperors, and not entirely fairly but understandably he saw the mayhem that ensued in Tiberius’ absence as a direct result of Tiberius’ own wishes. This was certainly not the case; but Tiberius was a stubborn mule who could neither put up with the culture of sycophancy in the senate, nor bring himself to resign the principate entirely and let the senate run completely wild, which led to something of a stalemate. If he is to blame, it is because he took on too much responsibility.

The broad outline of Tiberius’ story – misunderstood ruler who flees in an attempt to help the city, which backfires – and, more importantly, the language used to describe it, seemed perfect for Elsa. I chose words that could be easily interpreted negatively as well, to demonstrate that the people of Arendelle misunderstand her, and also to allow for less favourable analyses of Tiberius – I haven’t simply turned the song into an unbridled historical apologia! Moreover, the words are appropriate to Elsa even without the Roman context. (See Tolkien’s response to suggestions that he based The Lord of the Rings on World War Two.) I might not have chosen a particular phrase if I were translating without references, but it still works perfectly well; as a result, the song can be read as one, two or three stories as you so choose. As with For the First Time in Forever, this song is a study in application, and my main point is: ‘The history book on the shelf is always repeating itself.’

I also enjoyed referencing a variety of authors. I haven’t only used the Annals, because one work won’t provide for the stylistic capitulations of the English version. That said, if any author exploits several literary influences successfully, it’s Tacitus, so this is a tribute to him in more than one way! It’s testament to Tacitus’ powers as a writer that Tiberius emerges as a cruel despot; to his integrity as an historian that it’s possible to see past that image (not that he was perfect – he was certainly a fixer upper; wait, what?). But I have also used phrases from Cicero (Republican prose writer par excellence), some quips from Suetonius (imperial biographer of Tacitus’ era), some reminiscences of Catullus from For the First Time in Forever, and Lucretius (Republican epic poet/philosopher) as a non-Vergilian style guide. I used them because they’re outside the ‘Golden Age’ of Augustan literature. Tiberius (along with his younger brother Drusus, to whom he was devoted) was a staunch Republican in sympathies. Republican writing is generally (I find) a lot more striking, self-absorbed and persuasive than Augustan; Tacitus’ style is very unusual, but he, too, was politically a Republican. Suetonius gets few marks for style, but he quotes the emperors a lot, which is useful.

August 2014 marks the death of Augustus, and therefore it marks Tiberius’ accession to sole power (he had been co-regent before that), so this is the perfect time to present a vision of ‘the empire after Augustus’. It was a joy to do this with such a hit of a song (now Oscar-winning!) and I’m glad that my vision of it – as much as it differs from practically everyone else’s in style and tone – seems to have gone down well. On to the annotations…

This is the code for references:

– All references to Cicero give the work’s entire title; the numbers following (#.#.#) represent volume, chapter, line

– All references regarding Lucretius are to De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), #.# representing book, chapter

– All references to Catullus are #.#, representing poem, line

– Tac. Ann. #.# – Tacitus, Annals, book and chapter

– Suet. Tib. # – Suetonius, Life of Tiberius, chapter

 

Here goes! I’ll put the original lyrics, the Latin translation and a colour-coded translation back into English (which is different to the translation I’ve put on the subtitles).

 

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight; not a footprint to be seen.
summi montis solitudine, nullas voces audio
In the solitude of the mountain at its highest point, I hear no voices.

I chose to say ‘no voices’, rather than something about ‘footsteps’, to echo Anna’s words in For the First Time in Forever, where I translated ‘I won’t be alone’ as voces audio (I hear voices). summi montis (literally ‘of the highest mountain’) is the standard way to say ‘at the top of the mountain’.

 

A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen.
patria sepulta dominari videor
I seem to be lording it over [my] homeland, [which I have] buried

This is very difficult to translate back into English, because the literal translation above makes it sound like the ‘buried’ is Elsa’s perception, which is different to the English, where it is ‘a kingdom of isolation’. However, this sentiment is present in the Latin because of the word order, and the construction of the sentence. patria sepulta is in the ablative, which could relate it to the verb dominari (‘to lord it over my homeland, buried’) or it could stand alone (‘My homeland is buried and I seem to be lording it about’). In addition, the Latin word ‘buried’ doesn’t work solely as an adjective, like the English: it’s a subordination, which means she could be saying ‘lord it over my buried homeland’ or ‘lord it over my homeland, which I’ve buried’.

The phrase patria sepulta echoes Cicero, Oration Against Catiline 4.6.11. How did I get here? Well, the idea of monarchy was very unwelcome to Romans. They had had kings, and were determined never to have them again, and while the emperors were like kings, they avoided the word at all costs. So I wanted to get across the idea that Elsa seems tyrannical – but the negative connotations of ‘kingdom’ in Latin would be wasted, since Elsa is a queen. I settled on the verb dominari (‘to lord it over’) because being called dominus (master) was also a terrible insult to Romans. I decided to use sepulta for the adjective, inspired by ‘buried in the snow’ in the pop version, but I couldn’t find a word for ‘city’ or ‘state’ that fit the rhythm… I got patria after an extensive, exasperated search in the dictionary, and only then did I find out that patria sepulta was actually a phrase! Score!

 

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
venti furentes meo erumpunt animo
Raging winds break out of my soul

furor (related to furentes) means uncontrollable passion, and for these to be breaking out of her soul is… well, a bit of an event. It echoes such phrases as, ‘indomitos in corde gerens … furores’ (‘nursing untamed passionate anger in her heart’ – Catullus 64.54, of Ariadne, on seeing that Theseus had ditched her; see the previous instalment).

erumpere is the word that Tacitus repeatedly uses to describe Tiberius showing his ‘true colours’. Metaphors were stronger in Latin than in English (even though this isn’t quite a metaphor).

 

Couldn’t keep it in; heaven knows I tried.
sortis contra vim nihil valeo
Against the force of fate, I have no strength

Promoting a word out of a prepositional clause (normal word order would be contra vim sortis) is a poetical mannerism of which I am particularly fond. Catullus does it a lot.

 

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see,
comprimere, recondere
[You must] hold [it] in, hide [it]

Be the good girl you always have to be!
maioribus semper digna esse
[You must] always be worthy of [your] ancestors

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know! … Well, now they know!
fieri populo odionon paveo
I am not afraid of becoming an object of hatred for the people

The first bridge is a repetition of Elsa’s lines in For the First Time in Forever (q.v.) – see at the very bottom of this post. In that song, Elsa was afraid to incur hatred; this part marks the crucial change. Grammatically it exploits Latin word order. All the verbs are in the infinitive. For the first three, ‘Hold it in, hide it, always be worthy of your ancestors,’ you must supply something like debes (‘you must’). But then Elsa says ‘fieri populo odio‘ which with debes means, ‘You must become an object of hatred for the people,’ which doesn’t make sense… But then you hear the next part, non paveo (I’m not afraid) and see that fieri populo odio non paveo altogether means, ‘I’m not afraid to incur the people’s hatred.’. odio is a predicative dative.

 

Let it go, let it go!
fugio, fugio
I flee, I flee

Let it go: the single most difficult phrase I have ever had the pleasure of translating. (This gets technical.)

The repetition of this phrase throughout the song is a soundbite. Latin doesn’t have soundbites. I initially translated it as libera (free) which worked really well – but was impossible to sing. The rhythm of libera is — u u (one stressed long syllable and 2 short), and the rhythm of ‘let it go’ is u u — (2 short syllables and a long, stress on the last). No matter how much emphasis I tried to put on the first syllable, there was still an unwanted stress on the last, which made it sound like the imperative of the verb (‘[I order you to] free’), or the ablative form of the noun (not ‘I, free’ but ‘with me, free’). Inflected language: it has its ups and downs! So I had to come up with other words.

New problems: Latin has very few verbs that are used on their own (e.g. Latin doesn’t say ‘I turn [around]’ but ‘I turn myself [around]’), and u u — isn’t a very common rhythm AT ALL. Most of the verbs I could think of just weren’t suitable for the meaning. There’s also a limited bank of 3-syllable adjectives with a short syllable in the middle. Part of me wanted to give in and use libera but it just wouldn’t sound right. So I settled on a general pattern of [adjective] [verb] for ‘let it go’. All of the words I used fit the rhythm u u — or — u —, with the exception of pectora (heart) which is — u u, but I made an exception here because it’s a neuter plural 3rd declension noun, which in this form and context can only be accusative. It’s just ‘cheating’, not ‘fuzzing up the meaning’ XD. Catullus did it.

fugio means ‘I flee’, ‘I escape’ and ‘I go into exile’.

 

Can’t hold it back anymore!
nihil iam dissimulo
From now on I disguise nothing

dissimulo (‘disguise/hide’) is Tacitus’ buzzword for Tiberius. I think it’s the perfect word for what Elsa was doing with her powers: trying to pretend she didn’t have them.

 

Let it go, let it go! Turn away and slam the door!
pectora resero / at dolores exclaudo
I’m opening [my] heart but I’m shutting out pain(s)

I chose the verb resero for ‘open’ (rather than the obvious aperio) because Lucretius uses it to describe the air. (And it fit the rhythm.)

dolores exclaudo is obvious – Elsa is slamming the door on her pain and previous life. However, I was also thinking of a scene where Tiberius is attempting to remain impartial and is seen as obstinatus et clausus (‘intractable and closed-off’) (Ann. 3.15).

 

I don’t care what they’re going to say!
oderint quin capiant
Let them hate [me] if they don’t understand

Of all the lines in this song, this is the one which would most quickly conjure up the image of ‘Roman Emperor’ (and which most illustrates Latin’s brevity). It is based on Tiberius’ motto, oderint dum probent (Suet. Tib. 59), which means ‘let them hate me, as long as they respect my conduct’. He took this from a line in a tragedy by the early Republican poet Accius, oderint dum metuant (‘Let them hate me, as long as they fear me’). The emperor Gaius (Caligula) returned to the original line, most likely in a thunderous speech to the senate in which he lambasted the senators for blaming Tiberius for all their own misdemeanours (Gaius had found evidence of this in Tiberius’ private papers; Tiberius, magnanimous as ever, had simply let the populace blame him rather than disgrace the senate, which he revered as an institution) and told them that he held them in such contempt that he wasn’t even going to bother trying to please them.

oderint quin capiant is supposed to mean, ‘Let them hate me if they don’t understand me,’ but ‘understand’ (though it is the meaning of the Italian capire) is a secondary meaning of the Latin verb capio which in the first place means ‘capture’, so it could also mean, ‘Let them hate me as long as they don’t catch me,’ which is probably how the people in Arendelle would take it. With ‘fugio’, this implies that Elsa is on the run – one way in which the Latin is less of a universal ‘anthem’ than the original English, and one way in which the Latin can be read in various ways where the English cannot (the English can be interpreted in different ways, but syntactically the words only mean one thing).

 

Let the storm rage on… The cold never bothered me anyway.
tenet tempestas animi requiem meritam
The storm holds the peace of mind that I deserve

‘The cold never bothered me anyway’ is another soundbite that I have translated differently both times (although in the pop version I’ve translated it consistently). animi requiem meritam echoes Tiberius’ request that the senate let him retire when he got old (Suet. Tib. 24). I translated these two lines as one entire sense unit in Latin, because Latin likes longer sentences. But I tried to make the word order as unexpected as possible. I think this is appropriate to Elsa, but again, I’ve looked at her entire story rather than just translated the song, so it’s less of an anthem, but I think that’s a good thing. Applicability. Initiative. Ahem.

 

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seems small,
modis levat miris absentia curas
Distance/absence relieves [my] worries in strange ways

modis [word] miris (‘[…] in strange ways’) is a common construction in Latin (Lucretius uses it, e.g. 1.123), which can reasonably be compared to ‘it’s funny how…’. I chose the words absentia (absence/distance) and pertinax (unrelenting) because Claudius used them, together, to condemn ‘my uncle’s [sc. Tiberius’] constant absence’. This is a very Latinate word order that can’t be reproduced in English but you can see it from the colour combinations in the translation above!

 

and the fears that once controlled me / can’t get to me at all
et a metu pertinaci me tandem liberat
and finally frees me from constant fear

This line preserves the sense order of the English – the idea of fear comes first, only it is possible to make absentia the subject without sounding odd (‘and from constant fear, it finally frees me’) because Latin verbs usually come last.

 

It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through.
nunc ostendam placida maiestatem ingenitam
Now, peaceful, I shall show [my] inborn royal power

maiestatem ingenitam is my favourite part. Firstly, I used the word ingenita (innate) because Tacitus uses it to describe the noble bearing of Tiberius’ son Drusus (Ann. 1.29). maiestas is a very complicated word. It originally meant ‘the sovereign dignity of the Roman people’. Then, under Augustus, this dignity was extended to the emperor. People could be tried for treason against Rome, but when the emperor had maiestas too, it essentially meant that people reported each other for insulting the emperor. Tacitus wishes to create the impression that Tiberius facilitated these trials. Whether this is justified is an essay in itself, which I’ll spare you. The point is that this line uses the word maiestas independent of all these connotations, but in view of the earlier references, the echo is clear. I was trying to suggest how easily someone might be misunderstood. It also sets the stage for Elsa not realising what’s happening in her absence.

 

No right, no wrong, no rules for me – I’m free!
depono tandem vincula rupta
Finally I lay down forever [my] chains, broken

‘No right or wrong, no rules’ – there are few things that I’d conscientiously refuse to translate, but this is one. Besides, I found this line confusing and abrupt even in the English. When exactly had Elsa resented being told that her power was wrong – moreover, when was she told that it was wrong? When had she expressed discontent at the position of princess/queen in principle? Grand Pabbie (Ciaran Hinds! <3 He played Julius Caesar in Rome) said that her powers held beauty and danger, but neither is said to be right or wrong. Nor is it suggested in the film that Elsa has decided to live by her own moral code – rather the opposite, since she flees to keep everyone safe! To me it’s clear that the song was written before the story. More importantly though, I don’t think ‘reject right and wrong’ is a constructive message to associate with ‘be yourself’. It can easily be twisted to mean ‘do what you think is right’, instead of ‘do what is right regardless of what others think’, and thence appropriated to justify anything. depono vincula rupta sidesteps this problem. depono means ‘I lay down for good’ and vincula rumpere (‘break chains’) is a standard way to say ‘regain freedom’. My favourite official translations are Danish (‘goodbye to the tyranny of duty’) and Hebrew (I’m awake now and finally free’).

 

Let it go, let it go! I’m one with the wind and sky!
supera salio / ut caelo despiciam
I leap above to look down from the sky

I originally translated this as libera, naturae socia (‘free, one with nature’), a deliberate nod to Lucretius, but I had to change it because libera didn’t fit. I didn’t want to use fugio again, and whatever verb I used, I wanted it to have a consequential relationship in Latin, i.e. making one sense unit from ‘let it go’ to ‘sky’. As ever, I was limited by the words that would fit. The resulting line is very literal and slightly dissonant, but I was determined to stay close to the English (many versions don’t). ut caelo despiciam (‘…so that I might look down from the sky’) is a response to the Latin version of Touch the Sky (an extended allusion to Augustus), and it comes across as very haughty (which Tiberius was XD), since despicio means ‘look down’ in a figurative sense as well.

Since writing this I have determined that if I were to redo this line (which has bothered me from the beginning) I would change this and the next line to: superas moliar concordiam caeli in auras,
asperas ideo supprimam lacrimas.

‘I’ll build the harmony of the sky high up to the heavens, which will help me keep back my harsh tears.’

The first line is a reference to Tiberius’ rebuilding of the temple of Concordia (harmony) in his own name and that of his brother. Concordia was a goddess associated with Republican stability so it was a massive political statement. The language is very like that of Lucretius.

The second is taken from the Lament for Drusus the Elder (i.e. a poem written on the death of Tiberius’ younger brother) which exhorts Livia, their mother, supprime lacrimas (hold back your tears).

 

Let it go, let it go! You’ll never see me cry!
posteram renuo immota gloriam
Unmoved, I reject future glory

This is a bold statement in Latin since gloria was the ideal of ideals (which is why I left it to the end, for suspense). In the original version I had translated ‘that perfect girl is gone’ as recuso gloriam (‘I refuse glory’), a topsy-turvification of a standard concept in the imperial age, gloria recusandi, ‘the glory of refusing’, i.e. getting credit for saying, ‘Oh, no, I can’t accept this…’ and letting oneself be cajoled into it. This was standard for later emperors – Tiberius refused honours sincerely, but got tarred with the same brush. When I changed the lyrics, I decided to move this sentiment to the line ‘you’ll never see me cry’, which I thought fell a bit flat. (You can see I’ve managed it above, but it needed to be linked into the previous line.) I couldn’t use the word recuso because its rhythm is ‘u — —’ so I used renuo which Tacitus uses to describe Tiberius rejecting a proposal in the senate, and which is also used when the gods deny something. I used posteram because it fit, but immota is what I used to translate ‘frozen’ in the pop version. It means ‘motionless’. Tacitus uses it of Tiberius’ demeanour several times, and he also describes Tiberius’ reign – in a most disgruntled tone – as one of immota pax (stagnant peace). Surely peace would be a good thing…? Not for a Republican Roman (and politically, Tacitus was a Republican) – subjecting other nations to Rome’s power was THE way for Romans to distinguish themselves. The idea of important men commanding armies was obviously incompatible with the idea of a royal family. So it suggests that the people back home are stuck, unable to do anything, which is what happens in Arendelle.

I really like this line so it was rather distressing to have to remove it when I ‘redrafted’ it (though I haven’t recorded the redrafted version) and I thought of putting it where I originally meant to put it (‘Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone’) but then I’d have to lose the wordplay on candore and considering the reception of Let it Go I decided to retain the more positive message.

 

Here I stand, and here I’ll stay
haec constat sententia
This decision stands

Latin brevity again! sententia was the Roman word for judgement, opinion or sentence (in a court). This literally means, ‘This sentence stands.’ constat impersonally means ‘it is agreed’; the adjective constans means ‘firm’, which Tiberius used of himself (Tac. Ann. 4.38).

 

Let the storm rage on…
tenet tempestas
The storm holds

 

My power flurries through the air into the ground
nivis imperium tendo terras in omnes
I extend the snow’s domain into all lands

My soul is spiralling in frozen fractals all around
anima frigido aere frangitur in glaciem
In the cold air, [my] soul breaks into ice

And one thought crystallises like an icy blast
mens reclusa spirat auras lucidas
[My] mind, laid bare, breathes crystal-clear gusts

I’m never going back! The past is in the past!
inania somnia deurit veritas
Like frost, the truth destroys [my] empty dreams!

Most of this is not references but simply my attempt to reproduce the power of the words (the strongest part of the song, in my opinion). The best way to gauge the intended effect is to sing it. A few notes, however:

– I chose the word imperium (area of control) for ‘power’, rather than the less specific potestas, because it is the word used in Latin for the Roman Empire (a misleading translation), and ‘extending the empire’ was a Roman ideal – but Elsa isn’t extending Arendelle’s empire but the snow’s.

– Alliteration in Roman poetry was a very early technique which gave a decidedly old-fashioned air. It was used by Lucretius, who was not in fact an archaic poet but was consciously trying to give the impression of being one to make his poetry seem more convincing. Tiberius also used it a lot in his speeches which made them sound even stuffier than they already were (since he was very self-restrained and esoteric; the Latin language is not the best suited to clarity in the first space). The alliteration of t and f in particular created a harsh sound, so I have both reproduced ‘frozen fractals’ (in ‘frigido … frangitur‘) and made the Latin sound badass in itself.

mens reclusa (my mind, laid bare) is a reference to Tacitus Annals 6.6: ‘If the minds of tyrants could be laid bare, you would see scars and slashes.’ This is based on a misunderstanding of a letter of Tiberius to the senate, in which he writes words to the effect of, ‘May the gods strike me down if I know what to write to you.’ Ancient authors interpreted it as meaning that he knew how wretched he was; but modern historians have analysed the language and noticed that it is very self-consciously composed (i.e. he knew exactly what he was writing, hardly indicative of a mind in turmoil) and contains very esoteric reminiscences of comedy, so he was saying: ‘For GOD’S SAKE, will you all GET A GRIP?!’ Unfortunately, he said it so subtly that no one got it.

lucidas means ‘illuminating’ in the sense of light and also in the sense of clarity, a double meaning also present in the word ‘crystallise’.

inania somnia deurit veritas is Elsa’s counterpart to Anna’s lyrics in For the First Time in Forever - ‘hodie tandem nostrae aetatis fiunt somnia veritas’ (‘Today, our generation’s dreams are finally coming true’). Elsa’s line here was hard to translate back into English, because it depends on Latin word order… Altogether it literally means, ‘The truth destroys empty dreams!’ but the word deurit means ‘destroy’ in the sense that an icy gust of wind destroys a plant in winter.

 

Let it go, let it go! And I’ll rise like the break of dawn!
orior, orior renovata prima aurora
I rise, I rise renewed at the break of dawn

orior is used of the sun rising, as in English. The ‘aura’ of this line is supposed to suggest Lucretius.

 

Let it go, let it go! That perfect girl is gone!
vivido maneo candore splendida
I remain, resplendent in [the] lifelike snow*

I think this is one of the poorest lines in the English, especially because the lyrics are mostly poetic from ‘my power flurries’ onwards. It was also one of the hardest to translate and I spent a long time finding suitable words.

vivido is quite a strong use of the adjective, which is relatively rare – it means ‘true to life’. splendida echoes Anna’s emphasis on light, which is a theme in Catullus’ poetry.

*Elsa is resplendent in candor, which can mean ‘shining whiteness’, ‘snow’ or ‘honesty’ – so she’s equating the snow with her true self.

 

Here I stand in the light of day!
solvitur obscuritas
The darkness is dissolving!

obscuritas does, obviously, mean ‘darkness’ but it is the word for ‘darkness’ that is most suited to a figurative context (the others are tenebrae, ‘shadows’, and caligo, ‘fog’). It is used, for example, when Cicero says that literature brings important lessons from history out into the light. More importantly (XD), it is used to describe Tiberius’ general manner, and the way he spoke (to hide his feelings). So here it is used both literally and figuratively – Elsa is stepping out into the light but she is also able to stop hiding her feelings.

 

Let the storm rage on! The cold never bothered me anyway.
tenet tempestas ut velim vivendi potentiam
The storm holds the power [for me] to live as I wish

This references Cicero’s definition of freedom: ‘quid enim est libertas? potestas vivendi, ut velis’ (‘What is freedom? It is the power to live as you wish.’ Stoic Paradoxes 5). I changed potestas to potentia so it would fit – they’re almost the same, although potentia has more connotations of force (I read a book somewhere that described it as a ‘sinister’ word). So Elsa says, ‘The storm holds my freedom,’ and she accidentally defines freedom as ‘the unleashing of my power’. The lingering impression that the storm controls Elsa is intentional. The Latin word order suggests that she’s focusing on the benefits of this, as in the excellent French translation of the last line, ‘The cold is the price I have to pay for my freedom.’

 

NB. I would say that the overall style of this song is ‘emotive prose’, expositional, rather than rhetorical. (QED: she’s singing to herself.) But from nivis imperium tendo to solvitur obscuritas, the language is increasingly poetic – only to shift abruptly back to prosaic with ut velim vivendi potentiam. The tone, however, doesn’t really change. I think this acknowledges the changes in register in the English, but saves the jolt back to earth for the abrupt drop in the music. The English is increasingly poetic from ‘my power flurries’ to ‘like the break of dawn’, and ‘here I stand in the light of day’ is neither here nor there, but ‘that perfect girl is gone’, in between, is prosaic. The Latin is poetic poetic poetic… WHAM after the unearthly shriek high note in the music.

 

 

Right, that is it. That was a veritable commentary. I’ve sung and re-listened to this song so many times that I can no longer decide what I think of it, but I certainly enjoyed composing it (even though it took me three weeks) and I gave it my best shot, so I hope you enjoyed it too!

As for the singing: for better or for worse, I think I managed to sound my age (I’m twenty), so I can save the cutesy quality for Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?. My voice is still awful, but sounding my age is a massive improvement, and this is a power ballad, so it could have been a LOT worse. In theory I have the required range, although you can hear me shifting to choir voice for the high notes (I can physically belt them, but I’m not that cruel). At least I stayed in tune, and I hope I managed to convey the changes in the emotions I think she’s feeling. Sorry about the avalanche inflicted on your ears (and the consequent pun) but I did record it about twenty times to get it as close to bearable as possible.

Lastly, a big HELLOOO to my remarkably patient, hilariously astute and generally wonderful magistri linguarum antiquarum, who may well read this and, if so, likely shake their heads in amused exasperation; and to my friends, who had to listen to me screeching this for three weeks while I was composing it (and who put up with all the Tiberius references).

May you all have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year. GREEK NEXT. Yikes.

I leave you with Tiberius’ sentiments on posterity: a speech he gave to the senate when a province asked if it could build a temple to him, partly, but probably not much, edited by Tacitus. I’m not sure he had a Disney song in mind, but stet.

 

ego me, patres conscripti, mortalem esse et hominum officia fungi satisque habere si locum principem impleam et vos testor et meminisse posteros volo; qui satis superque memoriae meae tribuent, ut maioribus meis dignum, rerum vestrarum providum, constantem in periculis, offensionum pro utilitate publica non pavidum credant. haec mihi in animis vestris templa, hae pulcherrimae effigies et mansurae. nam quae saxo struuntur, si iudicium posterorum in odium vertit, pro sepulchris spernuntur. proinde socios civis et deos ipsos precor, hos ut mihi ad finem usque vitae quietam et intellegentem humani divinique iuris mentem duint, illos ut, quandoque concessero, cum laude et bonis recordationibus facta atque famam nominis mei prosequantur.

Senators, I bear witness to you that I am mortal, and that the position of emperor, which I consider a fulfilment of my earthly duties, is quite enough for me – and I would like future men to remember this also. For their part, they will sufficiently honour my memory, if they believe that I was worthy of my ancestors, attentive in providing for your needs, firm in the face of danger, and unafraid to act in the public interest, even with the possibility of incurring dislike. These will be my temples – in your hearts; these are the most beautiful memorials, these the ones that last. For those that are erected in stone are scorned as mere tombs if the judgement of posterity turns them into monuments of hatred. Accordingly, I address this prayer to my fellow citizens and to the gods themselves: may the gods give me peace of mind and understanding of human and divine affairs until the end of my days, and may my fellow citizens, when I have gone, speak of my actions and my name with praise and with pleasant recollections.

 

Edit: I was asked to put the full lyrics on, so here they are if you’d like to sing along :P

summi montis solitudine, nullas voces audio
patria sepulta dominari videor
venti furentes meo erumpunt animo
sortis contra vim nihil valeo

comprimere, recondere
maioribus semper digna esse
fieri populo odio non paveo

fugio, fugio, nihil iam dissimulo
pectora resero, at dolores exclaudo
oderint quin capiant
tenet tempestas animi requiem meritam

modis levat miris absentia curas
et a metu pertinaci me tandem liberat

nunc ostendam placida maiestatem ingenitam
depono tandem vincula rupta

supera salio ut caelo despiciam
posteram renuo immota gloriam
haec constat sententia
tenet tempestas

nivis imperium tendo terras in omnes
anima frigido aere frangitur in glaciem
mens reclusa spirat auras lucidas
inania somnia deurit veritas

orior, orior renovata prima aurora
vivido maneo candore splendida
solvitur obscuritas
tenet tempestas ut velim vivendi potentiam

38 Responses to "hae pulcherrimae effigies et mansurae"

  1. Since no one commented here yet, I am obliged to stop to say how awesome this is. I found about the video a week or two ago (via the CONLANG mailing list, if you care to know), and I found it amazing, but I managed to miss the link to the blog post until a friend pointed it out. So it was only now that I could fully appreciate how much work and thought you have put into this translation. And your extensive commentary is as great as the translation itself. Extra points for the color-coded interlinears. :)

    To sum it up: Good job! Congratulations! :)

    • livia

      Thank you so much!! It really means a lot that you’ve actually bothered to read all that and then comment. (And thank you for that; I do care to know – I am always fascinated to know where people find my videos since I can’t imagine that many people search ‘Disney in Latin’, and I didn’t even know the CONLANG mailing list existed.) I’m delighted that you liked the translation since I definitely saw it as my pièce de résistance, and it’s so reassuring to know that the commentary is actually interesting.
      Thank you again! There’s a Classical Greek one on the way… XD

  2. Here is my translation of the song that I made after first hearing your video, on January the 23rd. This is in the Khlìjha language, a language that has been growing with me for many years now, and the song has been transposed into the language of those who speak it. For instance, this enchanted maiden, it is implied, is the daughter or granddaughter of the ruling Emperor, and she has been secreted away to some barbarian kingdom to protect her from ruthless relations who may be seeking the Crystalline Throne. The maiden has found herself exiled from her family (or possibly foster family), but at this point she does not care whether she manifests any of the powers of her heritage. “Let the war storms come,” she says to herself, as if daring any half-siblings or cousins to find her here in the wintry wastes, far from the splendor of holy Eilasaîyanor.

    Here’s the song transleated in Khlìjha.

    1. Khmùtselo qir xhthótàjhwu xhwonikoyèlwil xhlir xhwètis.
    “The snow swirls in the silvern isolation, without footprints.”

    2. Qíriniîle tlhotlho’ elilènti Qájienàxhmikh pú.
    “It seems I’m the exiled Viceroy Queen of the Northron Waste.”

    3. Fhìsta fhwùyo thwulúlo thewàrqha poe fhìme.
    “My thoughts are howling whirlwinds, thundrous floods.”

    4. Íse jakhna xhmir ojujhéroi’ Áteri.
    “The Ancestors are eye witnesses unto my suffering.”

    5. Khyojúxeîratser khlieluyétyai khlòpet pfhe yoakhes teirsa!
    “Obediently listen, in the way you’ve always been obedient!”

    6. Jhwiiyàthwar xhnèyong xhnejelíngeyèxhyeu pútlhi.
    “I must wear a revered mask in order to be hidden.”

    7. Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei! Khnìrli qluntàntim pú!
    “I’m enchanted! I’m enchanted! I am the ensorcelled maiden.”

    8. Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei! Xhràthe xhnir aîkhe khlèjha!
    “I’m enchanted! I’m enchanted! My heart is icy glamoury!”

    9. Kòmla xhyákheîtlho jhèpa si pútlhi.
    “I don’t care about the words of others.”

    10. Fhantayáxeus fhùlya! Khnèsqa xhrùkhoko xhnijhèyuqei pú.
    “Let the war storms come! I am the icy snow Virgin.”

    11. Xàxhmi’ ei khnìkaso’ ur qoe khórt xhrèkhmao.
    “’Tis funny that distance causes all things to contract.”

    12. Qìr pé tokhlùyaxúng púxhrejor tèrpe tyòpi ser.
    “Haunting fears do not hinder me now.”

    13. Ás wtheî khlìxhmi janakhmájiyàxhmikh wthiqòsuqei jinan!
    “Be it that I test the limits of my snowy magic!”

    14. Swíyoîla Pwérejikh sókaqtènokor kae pú!
    “I’m the Daughter of the icy gold Emperor!”

    15. Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei! Xhweqakhòntet xhmùkhta púqisa!
    “I’m enchanted! I’m enchanted! I have the snow in the winds and the welkin!”

    16. Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei! Qìfhis pùntu pikhótsa.
    “I’m enchanted! I’m enchanted! My heart will never be hurt.”

    17. Twúyàthying tèlkhoi talamutqulòjhwa púyan.
    “Before my eyelashes I create harmonious worlds.”

    18. Twí tqèma si tìnie so poe khnalyutqatàrtuqe.
    “My snow flurries dance from ground to sky.”

    19. Tlhewìyatlhies fhamluyèthya xhnir twiêt wthèpta.
    “My soul spirals like frozen snow fractals.”

    20. Tyùnya pìrsuqe pakhwayèthya tènurt púxhmi.
    “The thoughts that I have crystallise like snowflake blizzards.”

    21. Qyaê khmepaxùxhwi púxhli tyempàyejet qláta.
    “I forget all memories, for the ice waits.”

    22. Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei! Jhyoeyàmpeit khaorórayèthya pú!
    “I’m enchanted! I’m enchanted! I shall rise like the dawn!”

    23. Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei! Khniîkhe jhentàswoe sae!
    “I’m enchanted! I’m enchanted! All my memories are forgotten!”

    24. Swamlìyipoa Sòlra sènto se púsa.
    “Here I stand near the holy Suns.”

    25. Fhamfhenáxeus fhúl! Sanínxho xhnir sìqo síta pexhing.
    “Let the war storms come! I am the Virgin of snowy ice.”

    • livia

      Wow, this is really impressive! This is even more closely rooted in the context than my Latin version. I can’t believe you were inspired to write this after hearing that XD. The language reminds me of Asian languages. I can’t hope to pronounce it. (In some places it seems it has too many syllables to fit the rhythm – are you trying to fit the rhythm or just translate the words?) May I ask why you’ve got ‘Xhàkhnei pú pus xhàkhnei’ instead of just ‘Xhàkhnei pú’ twice? And what is the difference? Does ‘pú’ take a consonant before certain sounds?

  3. I am astounded by the amount of thought and work put into this translation, and I thank you for taking the time to explain all your thought processes. I shall be following your channel with much delight and anticipation!

    • livia

      Thank you very much! :D I’m glad you find the process interesting ^^ I’m currently working on the Greek version of this :)

  4. Christianus Liuiae a Germania salutem dicit!

    Tua carmina, quae heri inueni, me amatorem linguarum antiquarum scilicet ualde iuvant. Mihi in dies (duos ad hoc tempus) magis animus admiratione accenditur, cum considero, quanto cum ingenio laboreque composita sint. Est autem unum dolendum: Nonnulla operorum multo magis minuuntur propterea, quod microphono cares, quam quod ingenio canendi careas. Itaque tibi libenter microphonum idoneum donare uolo. Dic mihi quaeso, ubi habeas, ut id tibi mittere possim.
    Ignosce mihi pro Latino barbaro, nondum tam diu eo versatus sum, ut tu fecisti.

    Vale!

    • livia

      salve! gratias tibi ago pro nuntio latine scripto; magnopere me paenitet quod pauci lingua latina ut viva utantur, cum maxime aptata sit in adiuvandos sermones inter homines terris diversis natos. immo nos ipsi linguae latinae gratia colloqui possumus – mihi saltem lingua germanica incognita est. quae quidem scripsisti de carminibus meis me valde laetavit; pro quibus verbis humanissimis iterum tibi gratias ago! attamen te sinere mihi microphonum offerre, cum tua benignitate mota sim, nequeo – tale enim beneficium certe non meritata sum! praeterea pro certo habeo vocem meam acute stridere, neque ullum microphonum eam corrigere posse! nihilominus tibi gratias ago et valde laetor meas pelliculas tibi placere :)

      • Christianus Liviae s.p.d.!

        Gratias tibi pro come responsis ago. Dubito autem verba mea humana fuisse, cum mihi sensus linguae Latinae desit, ut multa requirere debeam neque naturalia sint.
        Quidem lingua Anglica quoque colloqui possent, sed aequo modo de lingua Latina cogito. Plures eo modo utantur, ut rursus viviorem faciant. Praeterea Latine loquere alsum sentio, cum in his diebus usus Anglicae mea sententia nimius sit.
        Dolendum est te microphonum, quod scilicet merita es, non accipere velle. Sunt res ut tua carmina, docta, Iupiter, et laboriosa, quae linguis antiquis animam rursus inspirare. Donare tibi microphonum leve modo est, quod valde libenter autem faciam, ut te et hoc eas adiuvarem. Explicationes iucundae auxilaresque in hoc libello opinionem adhuc te donum parvum meritam esse confirmant. Ceterum minime puto vocem acute stridere, ut microphonum idoneum nullo usui sit, immo! Mihi igitur est te iterum petendum mihi dicere, ubi habites. Simplicter epelam ad liviaemicrophonumdonem@web.de mitte.

        Valeas!

        • livia

          scilicet lingua anglica nimis laudatur, immo nimio usu contaminatur. ego puto linguam latinam optime servire eis qui trans fines nuntia proclamare velint.
          quod scribis de microphono – hoc ne male feras – paenitet me nequere accipere; cum tuam benignitatem agnoscam, te tamen haudquaquam cognosco nec possum te sinere mihi dona offerre! spero meas futuras pelliculas tibi placituras esse; me memores non pro voce laudem petere.

          • Christianus Liviae s. p. d.!

            Nescio, num detrectaveris magis modestiae causa vel magis, quod inscriptionem cursualem non exponere velis. In hac causa de ea interrogavisse mihi stultissimum nunc videtur. Oblitus sum, quantum purgamenti ab impudico ad parricidam hac in regione vagentur. Ipse alieno non loquerem, ubi habitem. Ignosce autem mihi simplicitatem iuventutis causa (sedecim annos natus sum). Nequaquam te aggravare in animo habui, sed modo admiratione gratum tibi facere. Si igitur in eo loco est, ut propterea detrectaveris, licet mihi per hoc officium: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=ox_shipaddress_adp_more_info?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200742950&pop-up=1
            tibi microphonum mittere, ut tibi solum est loquendum locum depositorii Amazonis apud te situm neque incriptionem cursualem exactam. Si autem modestia praegravat, mihi videtur me nequiquam tibi persuadere conari et posthac id non iam faciam.

            Vale!

  5. Question-how did you begin to do this? You’ve given me a moment of insanity, and now I’ve been trying to get it into Sanskrit; usually, it’s fairly easy to use one “archaic” Indo-European language to inspire another. Linguistically, problems arise because Sanskrit managed to keep all eight cases from Proto-Indo-European, but Latin had lost the instrumental case.

    Funny story-I actually don’t speak Sanskrit; I just gave myself the crashiest crash course into Sanskrit grammar. Did you begin with a literal translation and go from there or did you convey the poetic meanings first? If it is the latter, I think I could try to mimic what you did, but the rich historical context for the Latin does not quite match up in Sanskrit.

    • livia

      Oh wow, you’ve beaten me to it there – I’ve actually been contemplating giving myself a crash course in Sanskrit for precisely that purpose! I haven’t even done the Greek one yet though – I always have lofty ideas about what to do next when I haven’t yet finished what I’m doing at the moment XD. I’m very pleased to hear that it’s inspired you to try one though! That to me is a greater compliment than hearing that my own version is well written :D

      You’ve asked me a more complicated question than perhaps you thought :’) In the case of this particular song, I didn’t begin with a literal translation, because I was trying to adapt words from a specific text (Tacitus’ Annals) to fit this context. I’ve got to the stage where I sort of flash through a load of possible meanings of the *English* in my head until I alight upon something which can be rendered into Latin in a ‘Latin’ sort of way. When I first started making these, however, I did write out a literal translation and then fiddle about with it until it fit the rhythm – and I didn’t even have the Latin rhythm right back then. My first translations were bloody awful! It’s taken me three years to write something that sounds like genuine Latin – and I think people can *tell* it sounds better, even if they don’t speak Latin – and the only way I’ve done that is by reading and reading and reading more texts. No Roman author used entirely his own words. I think the first one where it occurred to me to use Latin authors’ wording was ‘I Won’t Say I’m In Love’, and gradually I’ve improved so that rather than simply quoting, I can alter established phrases so that the *style* is clearly inspired by someone but the exact wording is my own, which was the technique of Roman poets ^^ Ironically, it is by imitating others that I have managed to write things in my own words that sound natural (e.g. ‘When You Believe’ was in my own words and style). So for Sanskrit I would say yes, if you don’t read & write the language fluently, write a literal translation first. It won’t sound like a Sanskrit text at first but practice makes perfect! As for the rich historical context, there are many Hindu religious texts written in Sanskrit. This particular song has an historical parallel more than a literary one but the language of ‘For the First Time in Forever’ is based on a myth. Besides, you can evoke a particular genre without referencing a specific person or story. But I wouldn’t worry about that at this stage. Translating into a written language is a very valuable exercise full stop.

      I intend to write a detailed post explaining how I do these at some point, but I hope that helps in the meantime :)

  6. Hi Olivia – you commented on my comment on your version. Send an email (I couldn’t get you contact) and I can get you in touch with a voice professor at a big name music conservatory who may have students or links who could do this.

  7. Instead of “fugio fugio” you could use “ego me libero”, i think it could sound well and has a nearest meaning to the original.

    • livia

      That’s a good idea, but ‘ego’ is short-long, with the emphasis on ‘o’, which doesn’t fit the rhythm of ‘let (short) it (short) GO (long)’.

  8. Ave Livia!
    I love your song, so nice! Here just some notes.
    Instead of “fugio fugio” you could use “ego me libero”, i think it could sound well and has a nearest meaning to the original.
    I don’t like “tenet tempestas”. You won’t underline the verb, want you? So why put it in the first position? I’d like you find out something as “etiam tempestas animi requiem meritat”, with the verb in the end, or anything but this way. I really don’t like it, sorry :(
    But I LOVELOVELOVE “orior orior renovata prima aurora” <3 ahhhh <3 *______* best verse ever read!
    Then, why you assembled "vivido maneo candore splendida" and not "maneo vivido candore splendida"?
    Anyway those verses are beautiful, from "orior" to the end: very poetic and meaningful!
    Well done! Opus splendidum :D

    • livia

      Hey!

      Don’t worry, I don’t mind if you don’t like it! It’s fine to put the verb first in this case though – it doesn’t underline the verb, it underlines ‘tempestas’. She says ‘tenet’ which suggests ‘something holds / something is in charge…’ and then the revelation that this is the STORM is unexpected. Similarly, Augustus in his Res Gestae writes: ‘cum … esset parta victoriis pax’ (‘when … there had been achieved through victories peace’ i.e. when peace had been achieved through victories). The ‘pax’ at the end is emphasised, but it’s a military phrase, and quite threatening. The word order ‘tenet tempestas animi requiem meritam’ makes the rather disturbing claim that the storm controls Elsa’s peace of mind, which is exactly what I intended. As for ‘etiam tempestas animi requiem meritat’, that suggests that the peace of mind is the storm’s – the storm has earned the peace of mind, which is a bit far from what I meant; whereas in ‘animi requiem meritam’ it isn’t clear who has earned it. I’m glad you brought it up though, it’s always great to hear from people who understand the Latin to see how they read it :)

      I put ‘vivido maneo candore splendida’ because: a) I didn’t want to put the verb first in a long sentence unless I was making a point (as in ‘tenet tempestas’); b) separating a noun and its adjective (vivido candore) is a poetic mannerism which I like to use XD

      Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to comment on the song! I’m glad you like it :D

  9. NB: the right translation for your “sorry box” to italian people is:
    A tutti gli utenti italiani vorrei far sapere che sono INGLESE, non so cantare e qualche vocale europea non mi viene, ma ho fatto del mio meglio.
    “Utenti”=users, just because “spettatori” is more formal and not usually use on the internet.
    “So”=know how to do it, “posso”=be able to do it now. You can also write “non sono una cantante”=I’m not a singer.
    “Migliore”=better than, the best in a group, “meglio”=the best, better. When you compare with another term use “migliore”, when you don’t compare with a specific term use “meglio”. (e.g. A is better than B=”A è migliore di B”, A is the best of my friends=”A è il migliore tra i miei amici”, I made my best=”Ho fatto del mio meglio”, It is better to do it=”E’ meglio farlo”)
    Vale ;)

    • livia

      Ah, thank you so much! I haven’t spent much time in Italy so I do tend to write quite stilted Italian sometimes. I did mean to write ‘non posso cantare’ though, because I can sing in theory (I can hit the notes etc), I just sound awful :P so I think ‘non sono una cantante’ works better. And darn it, I always confuse ‘meglio’ and ‘migliore’! Thank you for the explanation, that was really helpful :)

  10. Ariadne Liviae spd

    Livia – hoc maximopere placet. Latinene loqui vel lingua ipsa viva uti soles?

    Animo est mihi ut hoc cras discipulis meis sim demonstratura. Hoc facienti gratias tibi ago.

    Ariadne

    • livia

      Livia Ariannae s.p.d.

      nuntium tuum mihi gratissimum est. maxime laetor discipulos haec carmina audire, quae studio componere coepi, nec putans ullum putaturum esse ea aliquid esse! equidem Latine ut lingua hodierna loqui soleo. me tamen iudice viva permanet.

      vicissim tibi gratias ago, et spero carmen discipulis tuis placuisse! :)

  11. Really loved your commentary on “No right, no wrong, no rules for me – I’m free!”

    From what I know from creator interviews, Let it Go was written early on when Elsa was supposed to be a villain. But that changed when the producers/directors thought it was too uplifting, having a positive message. So they changed it, so that line might be some kind of ‘vestigial’ line which never got properly analyzed in context of plot and characterization which was fleshed out later on in the production process.

    As for the Latin, what can I say? You’re a poet and a scholar!

  12. Your lyrics are just awesome!! I´ve found Libera by accident on youtube and showed it my latin teacher and he was stunned. I think that´s a great way to “reanimate” this beautiful language. Keep it up! You impressed me so much that I even tried to translate Do you wanna build a snowman? into latin:
    Nos ludamus foris nive
    nonne aperis hanc portam?
    cur soror mea non venit,
    cum hic adsit
    non id intelegam
    amicae nos fuimus
    non iam sumus
    dic, quare me fugias!
    nos ludamus foris nive
    an ludamus etiam intus
    abi, Anna!
    tum vale…
    nos ludamus foris nive
    aut in aulis vehamur
    odi silentium solitudine
    animo fingere
    me voces arbitror
    mane, Johanna!
    semper sola fui
    regis filia
    tempus non iam colligo
    Elsa, hic te esse scio
    cur mihi non affuisti?
    cuncti dicunt “ne desperaveris!”
    non me valere scis
    non sine te
    adhuc sumus sorores
    pars familiae
    quid faciemus nunc?
    nos ludamus foris nive

    My first try :) Are you planning to make Do you wanna build a snowman?
    Best wishes
    Antonia

    • livia

      Wow, thank you so much for your comment, I’m incredibly touched that you were inspired to translate into Latin too! That’s my ultimate aim so you’ve really made my day :D I’m really glad that you think Disney is a good way to learn Latin. And it’s a fantastic translation!! It’s incredible that this is your first try, because it’s entirely coherent, it rhymes, the Latin is impeccable, you’ve dealt really well with un-Latin phrases (the title especially) and you’ve got some great phrases – ‘animo fingere me voces arbitror’ is just amazing. Consider me impressed :) I do intend to make ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?’ – it has been requested quite a few times, so watch this space :) I hope you’ll write your own versions of other songs, too, even ones I’ve already done, as there are infinite ways to do it!
      Best wishes,
      Olivia

    • I tried to translate “Love Is An Open Door” into Latin. I don’t think I did very well, though, because I only have one Latin text (Henle Latin, year one) and it has a very incomplete dictionary. Thus, I had to use Google Translate for the words I didn’t know.

      Google translate is horrible.

  13. Salve Livia

    your work is amazing, I´ve watched nearly all of your latin videos and I´m really impressed by the way you mix such an “ancient” language with Disneysongs. That´s really something you can be proud of!!! Is there going to be a latin version of frozen heart?

    Vale
    Lydiaa :)

    • livia

      Salve!
      Thank you so much, I’m delighted that you like them! I am certainly proud of my translations, but prouder that they’re getting people hearing Latin :D I wasn’t planning on doing ‘Frozen Heart’ because I don’t usually do chorus songs, but I’ll have a go!
      Vale,
      Olivia :)

  14. Hey! It´s me, the one of the vocaloid cover! I just wanted to tell you that I made some small ajustments to the lyrics and hoping that you will like them andgive your permission to make those.

    First, I changed “Orior, orior, renovata prima aurora.” to “Libera! Orior, renovata prima aurora.” My justifications for this are:

    1.- According to what i understood in the blog entry above, “Libera” stressed this way sounds like the imperative form of the verb; so for me seemed that in this particular part of sequence would be fitting for Elsa to be ordering herself to be free, due to the triumphant way that these three notes are sang.

    2.- Related to above, the imperative form is actually used in some versions of the song, like the Castillian Spanish “¡Suéltalo!” (Let it go!/Release it!).

    3.- This way echoes the German version, that at this moment says the line “Ich bin frei” (I am free); which kind of gives it an ironic echo as germans are traditionally seen as enemies of Rome and returns the song a little to its original intent as a mild villian song.

    The second change was less thought, since my knowledge of Latin is very basic; so i did it following a suggestion of a commenter above, so i changed “Fugio, fugio, nihil iam dissimulo.” to “Ego me libero, nihil iam dissimulo.” and I liked the way it was sang by the vocaloid, but I’m not quite sure that it is grammatically correct or correctelly pronouced; though regarding about this last one, is not unknown to forgo inflections when singing for many languages, i had heard examples about it in Spanish, Japanese and Korean, to name some.

    Also, in another news; I adapted “Let it go”, “For the first time in forever” , “For the first time forever (reprise)” and “Let it go (ending credits version)” to a conlang of my creation, following the inspiration after watching the videos of your Latin adaptation of the first three!

    I hope you like the ajustments and sorry about any grammar mistake I’m not a native englishspeaker. =P

    • livia

      Hey! I’m really pleased that you’re tweaking the lyrics – I know that sounds odd, but I didn’t make the video so that people just stuck to my lyrics’ I want people to get involved with the Latin. And it’s great that you translated them into your own constructed language too! That’s such a lovely thing to hear :)
      Both of the changes you’ve made make sense grammatically, but for me, they don’t work stylistically. I see what you mean about ‘libera’, and if you were happy to use the imperative, then it would work almost anywhere else in the song, but it won’t work in front of ‘orior’ because ‘orior’ begins with a vowel while ‘libera’ ends with one. Latin cuts the last vowel of the previous word when that happens, so ‘libera orior’ in that place in the song would be pronounced ‘li-ber-or-i-or’. So for me, if you put ‘libera orior’ it would sound a bit odd. If you want to make that part more forceful then I suggest ‘me timore exuo renovata prima aurora’ which would be pronounced ‘mÄ“ tim-ōr-ex-u-ō re-nov-ā-ta prim-au-rō-rā’ and means, ‘I cast away my fear, renewed at the break of dawn’.
      I explained to the user above that ‘ego me libero’ doesn’t fit the rhythm. However, ‘ipsa me libero’ does fit, and it means the same thing, so you can put that if you like :) ‘ipsa me libero renovata prima aurora’ would also make sense. If you want to put it in all three choruses, change the second to: ‘ipsa me libero concordem cael[o] et aura’ (pronounced ‘ip-sa mÄ“ lÄ«-be-rō con-cord-em ca-el-et au-rā’) which means ‘I free myself, one with the sky and air’.
      You can keep the changes as you had them if you prefer, that’s just my view, since you asked :P and your English is excellent!! I had no idea you weren’t a native speaker.

      • Decide to take all recomedations! Currently testing them, because syncing with the music causes some oddities, like “pertinaci” sounding like it has a “th” instead of a “k” and “miris”‘ “r” becoming labialized, sounding similar to a “w”. In the meantime, I leave here the lyrics to “Elefién”, “Let it go” in the conlag called “Olken”, of my own creation.

        1. Sä jöný lentaini aikë, galoríne ninaí.
        • (“Now, the snow glows on the mountain, persons aren’t [here].”)
        2. Iesekoý vasáraínno, vasámeo mï íe.
        • (“Of an isolated kingdom, I am the queen.”)
        3. Hura mïno érenni abykenë.
        • (“The storm screams inside my heart/mind.”)
        4. Mïno érenni hurae elefën.
        • (“The storm in my heart freed [itself].”)
        5. Mys exádani fengínaí; ëgyoý aílao ién.
        • (“They outside cannot see; a good* girl you must be.”)
        6. Mystikién! Imïlgínaí! Imïlës yo!
        • (“Hide it! [They] can’t know! They know!”)
        7. Elefién! Elefién! Mïe mystikénaí.
        • (“Free it! Free it!° I will not hide [anymore].”)
        8. Elefién! Elefién! Díöni tórÿo jinaíe.
        • (“Free it! Free it!° I close the door behind me.”)
        9. Gyazonaí; mys ikengíe!
        • (“Doesn’t matter; [what] they can say.”)
        10. Hurae rëkhygí, sýno shóhaio gyazonaí.
        • (“The storm can roar, the cold never mattered [anyway].”)
        11. Shóhaini fenien, soféli ýkö íe.
        • (“Watching from infinity, everything is small”)
        12. Mïno fóbyoe vasánën, kitonaí keintaë.
        • (“My fears that ruled me, nothing they became.”)
        13. Ol mákhýa xorogí ká? Mï kejïo imïlgíe.
        • (“What my powers can make? Here I can know.”)
        14. Ëgyo, kakyú; gyazonaí! Elefíe!
        • (“Good*, bad*; I don’t care! I’m free!”)
        15. Elefién! Elefién! Íha o viryanóso íe!
        • (“Free it! Free it!° I’m the wind and sky!”)
        16. Elefién! Elefién! Mïe fenílanaí!
        • (“Free it! Free it!° I won’t cry!”)
        17. Kejïni sitaíe! Hurae rëkhygí…
        • (“Here I stand! The storm can roar…”)
        18. Mïno mákhýa íhaga ínao rívae.
        • (“My power flows from the air to the earth.”)
        19. Mïno fyke gélsý abufónälo yalóë.
        • (“My spirit/soul shoots an icy blast.®”)
        20. Mïno éren gélsyno airýs xoroë.
        • (“My mind makes flowers made of ice.”)
        21. Mïe díönaí, víböe víböën.
        • (“I´m not behind, the past has past.”)
        22. Elefién! Elefién! Enioníge sitaíe.
        • (“Free it! Free it!° I rise like the Sun.”)
        23. Elefién! Elefién! Kémigý aílae naí.
        • (“Free it! Free it!° The perfectⁱ girl is no more.”)
        24. Aikéni mï sitaíe!
        • (“In the light I stand!”)
        25. Hurae rëkhygí, sýno shóhaio gyazonaí.
        • (“The storm can roar, the cold never mattered [anyway].”)

        Notes:
        1. * “Good” and “bad” aren’t exactly correct translations of “ëgyo” and “kakyú”. “Ëgyo” is one of the virtues valued by the culture for which this language was created, “kakyú” being its opposite. “Ëgyo” can be loosely defined as “honor and all other desirable traits associated with it”, “good” being the english word that more closely follows that definition.
        2. ° “Elefién!” can also be translated as “Let it go!”.
        3. ® “abufónäl” (lit. “big flame”) means “explosion”, but “blast” is a more awesome alternate translation.
        4. ⁱ “Kémigý” (adjetival case of “kémige”, “perfection”; which in turn is derived from “kémi”, “god”.) can also mean “godly look, god-like quality” as this culture has the belief that only the gods are perfect, therefore anything perfect has to be from, or like, the gods.

  15. Hello there! I just wanted to say that I absolutely LOVE your videos–My teacher recommended them to me, and now you’ve inspired me to do my own Latin Disney (and other songs too!) I’ve only had two years of Latin (high-school level) so my translations are awkward at the best of times, but it’s fun to practice.

    • livia

      Hello! Apologies for the lateness of this reply, I’ve been rather bogged down in work – thank you very much! I’m delighted you like the videos and it is beyond humbling to hear that I’ve inspired you to do your own :D Don’t worry, they’re probably better than you think, and my early efforts were terrible! I’ve been doing Latin for 10 years, I’ve been doing these videos for 4 years, and I still make mistakes and I still write things and later wish I’d done something else. That’s why we keep doing it :D May I ask where you’re from?

      • I live in Wyoming, and I’m an 11th grader at Wyoming Connections Academy. I’m currently in Latin 3, and am severely upset that my school doesn’t offer an AP Latin course. I’m definitely going to take it in college, however, along with Ancient Greek, because I’ve always wanted to learn ancient greek. Hehe.

  16. Salve,
    A link to your music was sent to me via a professor of classics at the University of Vermont. I teach Latin at a local high school; my students will enjoy the familiar music with your beautiful voice and lyrics.
    gratias maximas,
    John C.

    • livia

      Salve! Ooh, that’s exciting!! It’s good to know that they’re getting around. I don’t know about my voice being beautiful, but hopefully your students will drown it out by singing along XD. I hope they do enjoy them; thank you for taking the time to comment!

  17. I’m a Spanish latin teacher. I have recently found your work adn it’s very interesting. I’ll use it in my classes. Thank you.

    • livia

      Thank you very much! I hope your students enjoy it :D I don’t have Spanish translations on all the videos (since it takes me a while to write them), but if there is one for which you would particularly like me to add Spanish subtitles, please ask :)

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