Translations for The Name of the Rose
These are my translations of the non-English text found in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose [Il Nome della Rosa.] These are amateur translations and as such, there may still be mistakes in them. If you have any suggestions for improvements, do let me know!
The list may furthermore not be entirely complete; some parts I didn’t bother translating formally because the meaning was clear to me. I went back and added some of those bits to this list after I finished reading the book, but some are still bound to be missing. Again, if you find something lacking, don’t hesitate to send me a note.
In most cases I wrote down a fairly literal translation, without interpreting too much; this is just my personal preference. In some cases I added an interpretation in parentheses.
I owe some help with my translations from The Key to the Name of the Rose, insofar as that book was available online at Google Books.
“en me retraçant ces détails, j’en suis à me demander s’ils sont réels, ou bien si je les ai rêvés”
Trans.: in retracing these details, I ask myself whether they are real, or that I dreamt them.
“In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro.”
Trans.: I searched for quiet everywhere, and found it nowhere except in a corner with a book.
“unico homine regente”
Trans.: controlled by one man
“ad modum avis volantis”
Trans.: in the manner of a flying bird
First Day – Prime
“omnis mundi creatura
quasi liber et pictura
nobis est in speculum”
Trans.: every creature of the world is to us like a book, and a picture, and a mirror
[I think ‘in’ should actually be ‘et.’]
“siccum prope pelle ossibus adhaerente”
Trans.: with its skin adhering close to its bones
First Day – Terce
“Eris sacerdos in aeternum.”
Trans.: You will be a priest forever.
Trans.: in the presence of the monks
“Monasterium sine libris est sicut civitas sine opibus, castrum sine numeris, coquina sine suppellectili, mensa sine cibis, hortus sine herbis, pratum sine floribus, arbor sine foliis…”
Trans.: A monastery without books is like a city without resources, a fortress without numbers [i.e. troops], a kitchen without utensils, a table without food, a garden without plants, a meadow without flowers, a tree without leaves…
Trans.: The world grows old.
First Day – Sext
“Arbor vitae crucifixae”
Trans.: Tree of the crucified life
“fratres et pauperes heremitae domoni Celestini”
Trans.: brothers and poor hermits of Lord Celestine
“Exivi de paradiso”
Trans.: I departed from paradise
“Ad conditorem canonum”
Trans.: To the author of canon
“Quorum primus seraphico calculo purgatus ardore celico inflammatus totum incendere videbatur. Secundus vero verbo predicationis fecundus super mundi tenebras clarius radiavit,”
Trans.: The first of which, purged by seraphic reckoning and ignited by heavenly fire, was seen to set fire to the whole [world]. The second, fertile for the true word of preaching [or prophecy], shone more brightly above the darkness of the world.
“Mors est quiest viatoris – finis est omnis laboris.”
Trans.: Death is rest for the traveller – it is the end of all labor.
First Day – Towards Nones
Trans.: Theater of health
“De vertutibus herbarum” [in my edition this is misspelled “berbarum.”] Trans.: On the virtues of herbs
Trans.: On plants
Trans.: On vegetables
Trans.: On causes
Trans.: divine reading
[A monk’s practice of reading e.g. Scripture very intently as a spiritual endeavor.]
First Day – After Nones
“De pentagono Salomonis”
Trans.: On Salomon’s pentagon
“Ars loquendi et intelligendi in lingua hebraica” [misspelled “bebraica” in my edition.] Trans.: The art of speaking and comprehending in the Hebrew language
“De rebus metallicis”
Trans.: On metallic matter
Trans.: Punic, Carthaginian
Trans.: The deeds of the Franks
“De laudibus sanctae crucis”
Trans.: On the praises of the holy cross
“Flavii Claudii Giordani de aetate mundi et hominis reservatis singulis litteris per singulos libros ab A usque ad Z”
Trans.: Flavius Claudius Giordanus’s On the age of the world and specific letters [citations?] preserved by that man in specific books, from A all the way to Z
“in prima graecorum”
Trans.: in the first of the Greeks
“in tertia anglorum”
Trans.: in the third of the English
“Aller wunder si geswigen,
das erder himel hât überstigen,
daz sult ir vur ein wunder wigen.
Erd ob un himel unter,
das sult ir hân besunder
vür aller wunder ein wunder.”
Trans.: All miracles be kept quiet about,
the earth has risen above the sky,
this you should take for a miracle.
Earth above and sky below,
this especially you shall regard
as a miracle before all miracles.
[These lines of verse are in a medieval form of German, which I can only read very poorly. The translation was in part pieced together via this Italian translation which I in turn received generous help with from Sara Orpheu. My translation necessarily remains an approximation.
Update: I finally managed to track down the source of the verse, which turns out to be a thirteenth-century work called Leich by Reinmar von Zweter. As a side note, the topsy-turvy images described by Malachi right below these lines (arriving on a blue goose, etc.) are also taken from work by the same author. See Donald McGrady, “Poetry by Reinmar von Zweter in Eco’s Il nome della rosa,” The Italianist, 17(1), pp. 117–121.]
“Verba vana aut risui apta non loqui.”
Trans.: Do not speak words that are vain or give rise to laughter.
“Libellus de Antichristo”
Trans.: Little book on the Antichrist
First Day – Vespers
“Oculi de vitro cum capsula”
Trans.: Eyes of glass with a box
First Day – Compline
Trans.: Speak well
Trans.: The poor shall eat
“Tu autem Domine miserere nobis”
Trans.: But have mercy on us, Lord
“Adiutorum nostrum in nomine Domini, qui fecit coelum et terram.”
Trans.: Our help [is] in the name of the Lord, who created heaven and earth.
Second Day – Matins
Trans.: Let us praise the Lord
Trans.: God be thanked
“Domine labia mea aperies et os meum annuntiabis laudem tuam.”
Trans.: Lord, thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall speak thy praise.
Trans.: Let us rejoice
“Deus qui est sanctorum splendor mirabilis”
Trans.: God, who is the admirable brightness of the saints
“Iam lucis orto sidere”
Trans.: Now, with the risen star of light [i.e. now that the sun has risen]
“Credo in unum Deum”
Trans.: I believe in one God
Second Day – Prime
“Est domus in terris, clara quae voce resultat.
Ipsa domus resonat, tacitus sed non sonat hospes.
Ambo tamen currunt, hospes simul et domus una.”
Trans.: There is a home on earth which echoes with a clear voice.
The home itself resounds, but its silent guest does not make a sound.
Yet they run on together, guest and home as one.
Second Day – Terce
“fabulas poetae a fando nominaverunt, quia non sunt res factae sed tantum loquendo fictae…”
Trans.: The poets named fables after fando [the verb ‘to speak’] because they are not things done, but only created with words…
“Stultus in risu exaltat vocem suam.”
Trans.: The fool raises his voice in laughter.
“Scurrilitates vero vel verba otosia et risum moventia aeterna clausura in omnibus locis damnamus, et ad talia eloquia discipulum aperire os non permittitur.”
Trans.: We damn buffoonery or words that are idle or start laughter in all places with an eternal ban, and we do not permit the disciple to open his mouth for such discourse.
Trans.: spiritually witty
“De habitu et conversatione monachorum”
Trans.: On the habits and behavior of monks
“Admittenda tibi ioca sunt post seria quaedam, sed tamen et dignis et ipsa gerenda modis.”
Trans.: It is necessary for you to allow jokes after some serious [things], but still to carry also these in a dignified manner.
[I think the second ‘et’ is a mistake; it seems spurious.]
“Tu es petrus”
Trans.: You are my rock
Trans.: Mirror of fools
[A satirical 12th century book about a donkey who goes on a quest to have his tail lengthened.]
“Tum podex carmen extulit horridulum.”
Trans.: Then his butt let out a vulgar song.
Second Day – Compline
“Secretum finis Africae”
Trans.: The secret of the end of Africa
“Graecum est, non legitur”
Trans.: It is Greek, it cannot be read. [lit. ‘it is not read’]
Second Day – Night
“Apocalypsis Iesu Christi”
Trans.: Revelation of Jesus Christ
“Super thronos viginti quatuor”
Trans.: The twenty-four upon their thrones
“Nomen illi mors”
Trans.: His name is Death
“Obscuratus est sol et aer”
Trans.: The sun and air are obscured
“Facta est grando et ignis”
Trans.: Hail and fire are produced
“Gratia vobis et pax”
Trans.: Grace and peace to you
“Tertia pars terrae combusta est”
Trans.: A third part of the earth is burnt up
Trans.: On optics
Trans.: On eyes
“De radiis stellatis”
Trans.: On starry rays
“Liber monstrorum de diversis generibus”
Trans.: Book on monsters of diverse species
Third Day – Nones
“Quod enim laicale ruditate turgescit non habet effectum nisi fortuito. Sed opera sapientiae certa lege vallantur et in fine debitum efficaciter diriguntur.”
Trans.: For what rises from the ignorance of the laity does not have any effect except by chance. But the works of wisdom are bounded by certain law and are effectually directed to their necessary end.
[Note: the text says “fine” (abl.) instead of “finem” (acc.); I’m told that in medieval Latin it was common practice to drop the -m because it was barely pronounced.]
“Secretum finis Africae manus supra idolum age primum et septimum de quatuor.”
Trans.: The secret of the end of Africa; hand above image; do the first and seventh of the four.
[Note: I translated “age” as “do,” its most basic meaning. However, it can have many meanings (pushing, pulling, performing, guiding etc.) and this adds to the mystery at this point. It’s a clever choice of word!]
Third Day – Vespers
“Practica officii inquisitionis heretice pravitatis”
Trans.: The practices (?) of the task of the inquisition into heretical depravity
“hic lapis gerit in se similitudinem coeli”
Trans.: this stone carries within itself a semblance of the sky
“Abbonis est… Vide illuc, tertius equi.”
Trans.: It’s the abbot’s… See yonder, the third of the horse.
[Salvatore means “the third horse” but mistakenly uses the genitive “equi,” which is why Adso is laughing.]
Third Day – After Compline
“Penitentiam agite, appropinquabit enim regnum coelorum.”
Trans.: Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens will approach.
“De hoc satis.”
Trans.: Enough of that.
“Idcirco, dictum Johannem vocatum fratrem Micchalem hereticum et scismaticum quo ducatur ad locum iustitie consuetum, et ibidem igne et flammis igneis accensis conremetur et comburatur, ita quod penitus moriatur et anima a corpore separetur.”
Trans.: For this reason, it is decreed that John, called brother Michael, a heretic and a schismatic, be led to the accustomed place of justice, and in that same place be burned and consumed by fire and kindled, burning flames, so that he die thoroughly and his soul be separated from his body.
“De te fabula narratur”
Trans.: About you, the story is told
Trans.: Get back!
Trans.: Appetitive power [a term for someone’s desires, from an old theory on psychology]
Trans.: very good
“terribilis ut castorum acies ordinata”
Trans.: terrible as the ordered battle lines of military camps
[There seems to be a typo here in my edition; castorum (of the beavers) should be castrorum (of the military camps.)]
“Pulchra sunt ubera quae paululum supereminent et tument modice.”
Trans.: Beautiful are breasts that stand out little and swell moderately.
“O sidus clarum pellarum [typo: puellarum], o porta clausa, fons hortorum, cella custos unguentorum, cella pigmentaria!”
Trans.: O clear star of maidens, o closed gate, fountain of my gardens, guarded cell of unguents, cell of pigments!”
Trans.: Oh, I feel faint
“Causam languoris video nec caveo!”
Trans.: I see the cause of my faintness and I do not avoid it!
“cuncta erat bona”
Trans.: everything was good
“Omne animal triste post coitum.”
Trans.: Every animal is sad after coitus.
Fourth Day – Lauds
“nihi sequitur geminis ex particularibus unquam”
Trans.: nothing ever follows from two particulars
[i.e. from two statements that are not completely general, you cannot draw any conclusion. For example, ‘some men are bald’ and ‘Socrates is a man’ do not allow you to conclude that ‘Socrates is bald.’]
“aut semel aut iterum medium generaliter esto”
Trans.: either once or twice the middle must be general
[In the example above, ‘being a man’ is the ‘middle term’ and this needs to appear completely general to draw a conclusion. For example, the above conclusion would be valid if the first statement were ‘all men are bald.’]
“Darii” – a specific type of syllogism
Fourth Day – Terce
“amor est magis cognitivus quam cognitio”
Trans.: love is more cognitive than knowledge
“intus et in cute”
Trans.: inside and out [literally ‘on the skin’]
“motus in amatum”
Trans.: moved by having been loved
“agnus” – lamb
“agnoscit” – it recognises
“ovis” – sheep
“ab oblatione” – from the offering
“canes” – dog
“canor” – to sing
“vituli” – calves
“viriditas” – greenness, verdure
“virgo” – virgin
Fourth Day – Sext
“Corona regni de manu Dei”
Trans.: The crown of the kingdom, from the hand of God
“Diadema imperii de manu Petri”
Trans.: The diadem of the empire, from the hand of Peter
“taxae sacrae poenitentirae”
Trans.: holy taxes of the penitences
Fourth Day – Compline
“Cave basilischium! The rex of serpenti” etc. [Salvatore’s rambling]
Trans.: Beware the basilisk! The king of serpents, so full of poison that it all shines on the outside! What am I saying, the poison; even the stink comes out and kills you! Poisons you… And it has black spots on his back, and a head like a cock, and half goes upright over the earth, and half on the ground like the other serpents. And it kills the weasel…
Oc! A very small animal, just a bit longer than the rat, and also called the musk-rat. And so the snake and the turtle. And when they bite it, the weasel runs to the fennel or the cicerbita [herbs?] and chews it, and comes back to the battle. And they say it generates through the eyes, but most say they are wrong.
Fourth Day – After Compline
Trans.: Western… orations
[Note: The following two citations are not Latin, but a hybrid language called Hiberno-Latin or Hisperic Latin, invented by Irish monks. It incorporates many non-Latin words from e.g. Hebrew, Greek and Celtic languages and as such it is very difficult to translate. These translations are therefore not entirely my own, but are partially copied from other sources like Wikpedia and The Key to the Name of the Rose.]
“Hoc spumans mundanas obvallat Pelagus oras
terrestres amniosis fluctibus cudit margines.
Saxeas undosis molibus irruit avionas.
Infima bomboso vertice miscet glareas
asprifero spergit spumas sulco,
sonoreis frequenter quatitur flabris…”
Trans.: This foaming sea surrounds the worldy shores,
pounds the earthly margins with flowing waves.
It rushes into rocky coves with surging mass.
It churns the depths with its resounding crest,
scatters to the furrows of the stars gravel-filled waters,
frequently shaken by sonorous blasts.
“Primitus pantorum procerum poematorum pio potissimum paternoque presertim privilegio panegiricum poemataque passim prosatori sub polo promulgatas.”
Trans.: First, of all the lofty poems, [let us sing] to the Creator with most powerfully pious and particularly paternal privilege, a panegyric, and poems promulgated everywhere under the pole star.
“ignis, coquihaben (quia incocta coquendi habet dictionem), ardo, calax ex calore, fragon ex fragore flammae, rusin de rubore, fumaton, ustrax de urendo, vitius quia pene mortua membra suo vivificat, siluleus, quod de silice siliat, unde et silex non recte dicitur, nisi ex qua scintilla silit. And aeneon, de Aenea deo, qui in eo habitat, sive a quo dementis [typo: elementis] flatus fertur.”
Trans.: fire, coquihaben [some kind of contraction?] (because it is said to cook what must be cooked), ardo [ardor/heat], calax from heat, fragon from the roaring of the flame, rusin from redness, fumaton [smoking], ustrax from inflamed, vitius because it revives, on its own, nearly dead parts, siluleus, because it sparks from flint, whence also flint is not correctly named unless sparks do spark from it. And aeneon, from the god Aeneas, who lives in it [fire?] or from whom breath is carried to the elements.
[What does Aeneas have to do with fire?]
“ego” – I
One could question whether the vocative of “ego” is defined at all: can one address oneself?
“cantamen” – spell/charm
The rest of these words don’t seem to mean anything, they’re just sounds.
“in nomine patris et filiae”
Trans.: in name of the father and the daughter
Trans.: Adam’s Origin
Trans.: Mirror of love
Trans.: Comprehensive book [on medicine]
Fourth Day – Night
“catus” – wise
Trans.: On laws
“Super illus specula”
Trans.: Upon his watchtower
Fifth Day – Prime
[The following three phrases (and quite a few elsewhere) are just the first words of papal decrees, used as titles. They therefore don’t make a great deal of sense without context.]
Trans.: He drives out someone
“Cum inter nonnullos”
Trans.: When among several
Trans.: Because some
Trans.: enemy of peace
“in bonus nostris”
Trans.: in our goods
[Apparently a legal term describing some kind of right of property.]
Trans.: the right of the pole [?] [Legal term denoting “natural” rights or property, which a person has because it simply stands to reason that he should.]
Trans.: right of the forum
[Legal term denoting rights someone has because of an agreement.]
“Exiit qui seminat”
Trans.: He who sows has left
Fifth Day – Terce
“nomina sunt consequentia rerum”
Trans.: names are consequences of things
“nomen” – name
“nomos” = νόμος (Greek) – law
“nomina” – names
Trans.: at pleasure [i.e. such that it pleases; at will]
Fifth Day – Sext
“De plantis libri tres”
Trans.: Three books on plants
Trans.: Collection of herbs
Fifth Day – Nones
Trans.: Holy Roman
“Qui non habet caballum vadat cum pede…”
Trans.: He who does not have a horse, goes by foot…
“planta Dei pullulans in radice fidei”
Trans.: a plant of God frowing from the root of faith
“Abigor, pecca pro nobis…
Amon, miserere nobis…
Samael, libera nos a bono…
Focalor, in corruptionem meam intende…
Haborym, damnamus dominum…
Zaebos, anum meum apries…
Leonard, asperge me spermate et inquinabor…”
Trans.: Abigor, sin for us…
Amon, pity us…
Samael, free us from good…
Belial, have mercy…
Focalor, focus on my corruption…
Haborym, we damn the lord…
Zaelos, open my anus…
Leonard, splatter me with your seed and I shall be stained…
Trans.: devil’s girdle
Sixth Day – Matins
et adversus me
persecuti sunt me.
Adiuva me, Domine
Deus meus, salvum me
fac propter magnam misericordiam tuam.”
Trans.: Princes sat
and spoke against me,
unfairly prosecuted me.
Help me, Lord
my God, save me
through your great pity.
“vocalise” – singing using the same syllable (e.g. ‘la’) over and over
“melisma” – extending a single syllable over multiple notes
“neumae” – prolonged notes
“climacus” – three notes ascending
“porrectus” – sequence of notes going up-down-up
“torculus” – down-up-down
“salicus” – three ascending notes
Sixth Day – Prime
“niello” – a black substance used to fill in etchings
“aedicula” – a small shrine
“chryselephantine” – made of ivory and gold
Trans.: The abbot incapable of writing
[Note: I couldn’t find ‘agraphicus’ or ‘graphicus’ anywhere, but ‘γραφικός’ means ‘capable of drawing’ (or writing I suppose) so I guess this was borrowed from Greek.]
“minimas differentias odorum”
Trans.: the smallest differences of odours
[I know what this says, but what does it mean?]
Sixth Day – Terce
Trans.: Day of wrath
Trans.: they sat
“vitra ad legendum”
Trans.: glasses for reading
“nigra sed formosa”
Trans.: black but beautiful
Trans.: Pentagon of Salomon
“Ut cachinnis dissolvatur torqueatur rictibus!”
Trans.: That he may be dissolved in laughter, twisted into a wide-open mouth! [i.e. laughing?]
“Lacrimosa dies illa
qua resurget ex favilla
iudicando homo reus
huic ergo parce deus!
Pie Iesu domine
dona eis requiem.”
Trans.: Tearful is that day
when from the embers will rise again
the guilty man who must be judged:
therefore spare him, God!
Pious lord Jesus,
give them rest.
Sixth Day – After Terce
Trans.: Feast of Cyprian
Trans.: jokes of monks
Sixth Day – Sext
“ar. de dictis cuiusdam stulti”
Trans.: (arabic) on the words of someone foolish
“syr. libellus alchemicus aegypt.”
Trans.: (syriac) little Egyptian alchemical book
“Expositio Magistri Alcofribae de coena beati Cypriani Cartaginensis Episcopi”
Trans.: Exposition of Master Alcofriba on the feast of the happy Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage
“Liber acephalus de stupris virginum et meretricum amoribus”
Trans.: Headless [i.e. untitled?] book on the defilement of virgins and the loves of prostitutes
Trans.: Firm caution
Sixth Day – Nones
“vox, flatus, pulsus”
Trans.: voice, breath, pulse
[These define three classes of musical instrument: the human voice; instruments you blow into; and instruments you strike (percussion and strings.)]
Sixth Day – After Compline
Trans.: substitution of the material
[This term is used to signify the use of a word to describe itself, as for example in “ ‘horse’ is a five-letter word.”]
“de dicto… de re”
Trans.: of the word… of the thing
Seventh Day – Night
“de toto corpore fecerat linguam”
Trans.: made a speech from his entire body [i.e. expressed himself with animated gestures, etc.]
“hic sunt leones”
Trans.: here be lions
Seventh Day – Night (pt. 2)
“Er muoz gelîchesame die leiter abewerfen, sô er an ir ufgestigen.”
Trans.: He must, so to speak, cast off the ladder, as soon as he has ascended it.
“Non in commotione, non in commotione Dominus.”
Trans.: Not in chaos, the Lord is not in chaos.
Trans.: things belonging to no one
Trans.: scattered parts
“Tolle et lege”
Trans.: Take up and read
“Est ubi gloria nunc Babyloniae?”
Trans.: Where is the glory of Babylon now?
“O quam salubre, quam iucundum et suave est sedere in solitudine et tacere et loqui cum Deo!”
Trans.: O, how healthful, how pleasant and sweet it is to sit in solitude and to be silent and speak with god!
“Gott ist ein lauter Nichts, ihn rührt kein Nun noch Hier.”
Trans.: God is a pure nothing, neither Now nor Here touches Him.
“stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.”
Trans.: the original rose remains [only] in its name, we hold [only] bare names.