Your Latin expertise is needed once again

Hi SD,

I’ve been wondering for a while what the correct translation of “eternal darkness” would be in Latin.

I know a couple of Latin words for darkness (obscura and tenebrae), and the word for eternal (aeternae), but I’d like to hear from someone who actually knows about the subject :smiley:

obscura is an adjective. I would use the noun tenebrae. tenebrae aeternae

Oh hey, while we’re on the subject (can’t I modify the earlier message?), could I get a correct translation on “night eternal”?

Thanks for the reply to PSXer.

nox aeterna

As with any Latin translation of a noun, we must ask how the noun is to be used in context. Is the eternal darkness doing something (“Eternal darkness will devour you!”), or is something being done to it (“Beware the eternal darkness!”)? Or maybe we’re talking about something pertaining to it (“The chill of eternal darkness”), or perhaps it’s the recipient of something (“You shall be delivered unto eternal darkness”). Or possibly prepositions might be involved (“He shall deliver you from eternal darkness”).

Tenebrae means shadows, not darkness. Nox aeterna is a good match.

Ne cadant in obscurum from the Requiem Mass means “let them not fall into darkness”, so obscurum looks perfectly cromulent to me.

Obscurum is an adjective; “let them not fall into that (place) which is dark” would be a more literal translation; “let them not fall into Hell” is what it actually means. Please don’t assume that because a word in a sentence occupies more or less the same place/has a similar meaning as another word in another language’s equivalent sentence, that the two words are either the same grammatically or have exactly the same meaning.

Obscurum is an adjective that can be used metonymically as a noun, just as we might say “let them not fall into the dark”. Malacandra’s translation “let them not fall into darkness” is appropriate and in fact standard for this liturgical phrase.

However, I agree that obscurum is not necessarily the best translation of “darkness” for a phrase like “eternal darkness”. Tenebrae “the shadows, darkness” is better if you want to avoid the night-specific connotations of nox. Obscuritas is perhaps the closest to “darkness” in the literal sense, but it sounds more technical than poetic or dramatic.

Tenebrae is often translated as “shadows” because it is plural in Latin, unlike “darkness” in English, but it does in fact mean “darkness.” “Shadows” would be umbrae. In the note on tenebrae in Lewis & Short, they say it’s stronger than obscuritas but weaker than caligo. I’m not familiar with the last but “gloom” seems to be a better translation.

Caligo is really fog – gloom works metaphorically but I don’t think caligo is a good choice here. Tenebrae or nominal obscurum are better.

My underline

Do you mean “nominative”?

I think Daphne meant “obscurum as a noun, ‘obscurity, darkness’ rather than obscurum as an adjective, ‘obscure, dark’”. Nominal vs. adjectival, in other words.
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Kimstu correctly surmised my meaning.

From [Döderlein’s Hand-book of Latin Synonymes](file:///I:/Latin/Dictionaries/Latin%20Synonyms.htm):

Would perpetua go well?

A morte perpetua, Domine, libera nos.

I think aeternus is a better choice than perpetuus. The English derivatives in this case are good guides: aeternus is “eternal,” and perpertuus “perpetual” is continuous and uninterrupted but the focus is on the unbrokenness rather than being neverending.

I don’t think we’ll hear from the OP again, though. Perhaps (s)he has already gone in noctis aeternae tenebras.

[Re: syntax: is that right, or is it better to say in tenebras noctis aeternae? I know prep. + gen. + noun is fine, but I’m not sure what typically happens when the genitive modifier in a prepositional phrase has its own adjective.]

I am looking for a word that could be used as the opposite of ‘illuminati’. In a fantasy setting, what sort of enemy would fight against the illuminate, with an antonym cognate. I can get the words such as tenebrae and obscuro, etc, but the joining together to produce, say, ‘endarkened ones’ is beyond my linguistic abilities. Thanks in advance.

Working link to actually download the book.

Working link to the relevant page.

The Döderlein is fascinating, but perhaps misleading, due to its classical sources. A concordance to the Vulgate, and the usage and context of early Church Latin would more likely capture the reflected nuance OP is searching for.

I’ve always loved “thick darkness” (see sample concordance (English search, or course),