Faustian Latin II – The Friars

When Faustus and Mephistophilis disrupt the Pope’s dinner in Act III, the monks who curse them have two bits of Latin, the first repeated half a dozen times:

III.1.831:

Màledícat Dóminus.

This is basically three and a half trochees: Mah-leh-DEE-caht DOM-i-Nuss. Dominus is ‘Lord’ or ‘the Lord’ – there’s no definite or indefinite article in Latin, so it can be either. Maledicat is 3rd person singular present subjunctive active of male-dicere, ‘to speak badly (of someone), to curse’, so the whole phrase means ‘May the Lord curse (object unspecified)’. It’s an inversion of the usual prayer Benedicat Dominus, ‘(May) God bless (x)’. The phrase should sound something like this. I would be very tempted to make it sound like a Gregorian chant, something like this. I think I’ve heard it done that way in other productions.

III.1.838:

Et Ómnes Sáncti.

This is basically two and a half iambs: et OM-nayce SAHNK-tee. Et is ‘and’, omnes ‘all’, sancti ‘saints’ (of both sexes), so ‘And all the saints’. It’s not a complete sentence, but the previous curse is implied: ‘(May the Lord curse him) and (may) all the saints (curse him, too)’. Here’s the plain prose reading. And here’s the Gregorian chant reading. I trust trained actors can make that sound a lot better.

This entry was posted in Blackfriars, English Literature and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>