Latin Humor

Below are some humorous pieces of Latin and not quite Latin that I've picked up over the years, mostly from the latinteach mailing list.  Spoiler warning: on some browsers, if you place your cursor above the colored text, you'll get a translation or commentary.

Real Latin

A Latin tongue-twister: in mari meri miri mori muri placet.

An example of alliteration (Ennius, Annales, fragment 109): O Tite tute Tati tibi tanta tyranne tulisti

One word, four meanings: malo malo malo malo.

The T-shirt: Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

Another T-shirt: Patre Troiae X annos proeliato, nihil mihi datum nisi haec tunicula pediculosa

Two valid translations (macrons would be helpful here):
mea mater mala est sus

A Howl of Protest

Latin is a dead, dead language
As dead as dead can be.
It killed off all the Romans
And now it's killing me.

Dead are all who wrote it;
Dead are all who spoke it;
Dead are all who learned it;
Blessed death! They earned it!

Not Quite Latin

The principal parts of the verb “to spit”:
spito, spitere, hoctui, splatum

And then there is that famous vase from Herculaneum, whose puzzling Latin seems to indicate some connection with the rituals of Apis:


Found, so I am told, as the inscription on a public bench on some land belonging to Merton in Oxford:
Ore stabit fortis arare placet ore stat.

In a similar vein:  ventosa viri, restabit.

A mother's advice: Semper ubi sub ubi ubique.

In auta spes
Nomen cantari
Tu staerata scena
Fabulus buti

Latin Without Tears

Puer ex Jersey,
Iens ad school,
Vidit in meadow
Infestum mule.
Id appropinquat —
Oh, magnum sorrow!
Puer it skyward.
Funus tomorrow.


Qui videt a thing
Non ei well known,
Est bene for him
Id relinqui alone.

'Twas the Nox Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Chrismas and all through the domus
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mus.
Liberi were tucked away in their lecta,
Some in their pallia and some in tunica.
While mater worked late in her little culina
Pater was down at the corner taberna.
The stockings were hung magna cum cura
In hope that St. Nicholas would feel obligatus
To bring all the children, bonique malique,
A nice batch of dulcia and other nice nugae.
Then out in the yard there arose such tumultus
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened legatus.
I ran to the window and looked extra, foris
And who in the world do you think quis erat?
St. Nicholas in a sleigh and a big red petasus
Came dashing along like a crazy pirata.
And pulling his sleigh instead of renones
Were eight cute asini flying like aves.
I watched as they came and this quaint little senis
Shouted and whistled and called nominatim:
"Come Cursor, Come Sultator, Exsultor Vulpesque
On Cometes, Cupido, Tonitrus Fulmenque!"
Then standing erect with hand on stomachum
He flew to the top of our very own tectum.
His round little belly shook like a bowl of gelatum
As he stuggled to squeeze down our old compluvium
Then huffing and puffing at last in our atrium
With soot smeared all over his bright red toga
He filled all the stockings with lovely ornata
For none of the liberi had been very pessimi.
Then chuckling out loud, seeming very contentus,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the ventus.
And I heard him exclaim as he drove through the caelum

"Felix Natalis Christi to all and to all Bona Nox!"

Learning Vocabulary

AT FIRST I did not know PRIMO
and ALMOST despaired of PAENE;
BUT I knew SED;
and WHILE I was studying DUM,
and IMMEDIATELY STATIM became familiar.
AT THAT TIME TUM seemed hard
and I wrestled IN VAIN with FRUSTRA,
but I ALREADY knew IAM
and I SOON acquired MOX.
and FORMERLY I found QUONDAM difficult
while FOR A LONG TIME DIU puzzled me,
but I have ALWAYS known SEMPER
and NOW I am sure of NUNC;
I can, THEREFORE, conquer IGITUR.
I am NOT YET familiar with NONDUM;
MOREOVER AUTEM is an old friend,
while TAM is SO simple
THAT UT will be easy.
I hope to learn SIMUL at THE SAME TIME
FOR I do know NAM
and have OFTEN met SAEPE.
THUS I was learning SIC
and had SCARCELY made sure of VIX,
when ONCE UPON A TIME I found I knew OLIM;
THEN I learned INDE,
and FINALLY I shall master DENIQUE.
MEANWHILE I am struggling with INTEREA,
I shall AT LENGTH know TANDEM,
AFTERWARDS I mean to learn POSTEA,
and when I have met ITERUM a SECOND TIME
I hope to know QUOQUE ALSO.

Tea Time

Caesar adsum jam forte — Antonius sed passus sum.

Caesar aderat forte
Pompey adsum jam
Caesar sic in omnibus
Pompey sic intram

Cows and Ducks

O, si vile, si ergo,
Fortibus es inero!
O nobile, demis trux.
Vadis indem? Causem dux.

Isabili, heres ago
fortibus in ero
noces mari Thebi trux
vatis enim pax a dux?

O sibile, si ergo.
Fortibus es in ero.
O nobili, deis trux!
Vates enim? causa an dux!

Ave Caesar!

Caesar cari dona militari orgi versus Belgae,
Helvetii, Germani, Venetii, Britanni — iunemit.
"Romis glorius," sed Caesar. "Nomen me impunit."
Meni tridit — Vercingetorix, forin stans —
Caesar noctim sili fors ticinis nec aut.
Ab ludi, nervi felo, Gaius Iulius, iubet.