Harry Potter: Ecce Romanus verissmus

Link: Ecce Romanus verissmus – Books – Times Online.

The Latin edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (book 2 in the series) is now out. It is reviewed in this Saturday’s Times book review supplement, which I haven’t read yet. This supplement is  my favourite newspaper read of the weekend, so I always save it up till last, which means that I usually read it on Sunday evening (tonight, as I write). However, the ever-vigilant Dave Lull has already sent me the Times review from the distant heights of Wisconsin. Here it is, by Philip Howard:

Harrius Potter Et Camera Secretorium
by J.K. Rowling
translated by Peter Needham

Haud Dubito Quin Harrius Potter Romanus sit puer. nam fecundissimi linguae Latinae, divites morum Romanorum sunt libri eius. quis sit Scholae Harrii Hogvardensis sententia propria quaerisne? quippe “Draco Dormiens Numquam Titillandus” — consilium melius de republica praeclara atque egregia sentiendi non potuit Quintus Horatius Flaccus dare: veri simile est in Arte Poetica sic dedit. Quid nomen habet Harrii inimicus maleficus Schola? Draco Malfoy, scilicet, id est, Draco malae fidei. Quidditch Ludus ritu gladiatorum nostrorum cum manubriis scoparum loco gladiorum tridentumque exercitur. num opus plus dicendi est?

novus puer Romanus est Harrius, sic ut verba nova reperiat: mystax fruticosus; perspecilla rotunda; autocineta; ludus Caledonicus; caligae aqua impenetralibes. felicitatem verborum curiosam novorum proponit. siquid inexpertum codicis committit et audet personam formare novam, servitur ad imum, qualis ab incepto processerit, et sibi constat. optimus est narrator qui historiam suam narrando animos liberorum legentum et docet, et delectat, et permovet. Docere, debitum est; delectare honorarium; permovere necessarium. et docet, et delectat, et permovet Harrius Potter. age vero, quid esse potest in otio aut jucundius, aut magis proprium humantitatis, quam historias facetas, ac nulla in res rudes scribere.

historiam Harrii edidisse dicunt Petrum Needham, Scholae Etonensis magistrum emeritum. Rex Henricus, conditor collegii illius, semper est amicus nobis in angustia, cuius prece nos a taedio inepto salvemur perpetue. genus scribendi Marci Tullii imitatur lucidum Petrus, non Publii Cornelii Taciti abruptum sermonis genus ac difficile. opus adgreditur ille opimum casibus, atrox terroribus, discors nodis ambiguis, lascivum cacchinis, ipsa etiam Schola mirabile ac magicum. magi, scilicet, veri et primigeni sunt Romani ac Graeci. Aspicite origines antiquas Abracadabrae atque Hocorum Pocorum: Hocus Pocus, toutous talontus, vade celerita jubes, ut animos Mugglum dubios faciatis. praestantissimi ingenii est ille Needham, capax persaepe leporis et facetiarum sine fuco et fallaciis. historiam Harrii Potter eius praestat in lingua Latina legere quam ex Latino in Anglicum verba translata. felicissima J. K. Rowling, quae talem fontem et originem rerum magicarum et puerilum repperit. Felicissimi nos qui nunc possumus et legere in lingua primigenia et praeclariore, et gaudere, et maxime ridere.

(I’ll post the English translation in the comments 😉 )

1 thought on “Harry Potter: Ecce Romanus verissmus

  1. Behold, the most genuine of Romans
    Philip Howard
    HARRIUS POTTER ET CAMERA SECRETORUM
    by J.K. Rowling
    translated by Peter Needham
    I have no doubt that Harry Potter is a Roman boy. For his books are full of Latin and rich in Roman attitudes. Guess the motto of Harry’s school, Hogwarts. Never Tease a Sleeping Dragon. The Poet Horace could not have invented a more noble Roman sentiment. He probably did in Ars Poetica.
    What’s the name of Harry’s wicked enemy at school? Draco Malfoy, of course. In Latin that means the “treacherous dragon”. What is Harry’s game of Quidditch other than our gladiatorial contests in the arena, with broomsticks instead of swords and tridents? Need I say more?
    Harry is a modern boy, and so he is good at coining modern words: a fruity moustache, round gig-lamps, motor cars, golf, gumboots. He has an extraordinary knack of inventing new words. If he makes up something new in his books, and dares to create a novel character, he fleshes it out from beginning to end. The best storyteller is one who informs, and delights and excites his juvenile readers. He must inform. Delight is a bonus. He must excite. Harry Potter informs, delights and excites. For what could be a more pleasant and more humane recreation than writing and reading witty and intelligent mystery books.
    They say that the author of Harry’s books is Peter Needham, an emeritus Classics beak from Eton College. King Henry VI, founder of that college, has always been our friend in tight spots. May we always be saved from coarse boredom by his foundation. Peter Needham writes in the clear style of Cicero, not the difficult text-message abbrevs of Publius Cornelius Tacitus. His subject is rich in excitement, frightening with alarms, teasing with puzzles, playful with guffaws. Even School is a marvellous and magical place. For, of course, the truly original wizards were Greek and Roman. Consider the ancient origin of Abracadabra and Hocus Pocus: Hocus Pocus, Toutous Talontus, vade celerita jubes [which are meaningless Latin gibberish]. So you will confuse silly Muggles. This Needham is without doubt a genius. His original version of Harry Potter is a far better read in Latin than in its English translation. Lucky J. K. Rowling to have discovered such an original source of childhood magic to translate. Lucky us who can now read it in the original language, beautifully written, and enjoy ourselves. And laugh and laugh and laugh.
    Source article is at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,923-2528281,00,00.html

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