Sunday, 15 September 2013

More Latin

Blogging about Poul Anderson, I am free to dip in and out of his many works at any point. Exercising this freedom, I have just reread the 1957 short story, "For the Duration," immediately after the 1984 article, "The Discovery of the Past." In both, I found some Latin.

" Terence wrote in second-century Rome, 'Homo sum; humani nil a me alienum puto.' I am a man; nothing human is alien to me."
- "The Discovery of the Past" IN Anderson, Past Times, New York, 1984, pp. 182-206 AT p. 189.

Terence's exact wording means, "I think (puto) nothing human alien to me."

"'Primus inter pares.'"
- "For the Duration" IN Anderson, Strangers From Earth, London, 1965, pp. 69-90 AT p. 88.

"First among equals" - the motto of a school I worked in once.

I have mentioned Latin in Anderson before. The three examples that I remember are:

"Tene Mithra, etiam miles...";
"Es tu peregrinator temporis?";
an inscription on an Ysan boundary marker.

"For the Duration" is Andersonian political fiction. We recognize:

a post-nuclear world dictatorship called "the Protectorate";
a secret revolutionary Committee;
a force shield used as a weapon.

The title is also the punch line - always a neat touch. When one dictator, the self-proclaimed primus inter pares, replaces another, his parting shot is:

"'It's only for the duration of the emergency.'" (p. 90)

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