Friday, 12 December 2014

"Requiescant In Pace"

Dominic Flandry, leaving four people asleep, intones:

"'Requiescant in pace...'"
-Poul Anderson, Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight Of Terra (New York, 2012), p. 327.

He even gets the plural form of the verb correct:

Requiescant: they sleep;
requiescat: he, she or it sleeps;
pax: peace;
in pace: in peace.

I have previously catalogued a few instances of Latin in Poul Anderson's works as well as my own on-going struggles with the language of SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) (see here).

Why does it matter that Flandry says, "Requiescant..."? First, it tells us that some Classical knowledge survives in the Terran Empire that bases itself on the Roman Empire. Secondly, these few phrases of Latin are the only times when we read the actual words spoken by Flandry. The rest of his dialogue has had to be translated from Anglic into English for our benefit.

Later in Anderson's History of Technic Civilization, Anglic joins Latin and English as an ancient language no longer spoken. That is how much time has passed by the end of this future history.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Your comments here does makes me wonder what the Anglic of Dominic Flandry's would look like compared to our current English. Would it be at least as different from our current English as is the language seen in Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES? I remember as well Flandry telling Aycharaych in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS how he had read a TRANSLATION of a poem by Elizabeth B. Browning. That was a nice touch by Anderson, slipping in the idea that texts from our times would need to be translated more than a thousand years from now.

And Aycharaych startled Flandry by QUOTING Browning's poem!