Harry Potter in Latin

I have received a tip that Peter Needham has translated another Harry Potter book into Latin. Here is the book review. The first was called Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis. I am not sure about that "Harrius" for "Harry". When I am in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the Archbishop is named "Harry" (that is his baptismal name) we use Latin "Henricus".

Ecce Romanus verissmus
Reviewed 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.

In English.

By coinsidence, I mentioned in another entry that I am reading Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross. In the introduction, I read this comment by Sean P. Dailey, editor in chief of Glibert Magazine:

The harm caused by divorcing faith from reason manifests itself in practically every aspect of modern thought and popular culture. For example, we see it in the ongoing debate between Darwinists and Creationists, and in the argument over whether Harry Potter is healthy literature or diabolical occultism. In the debate over Darwinism, neither side stops to consider one radical possibility: that evolution has nothing whatsoever to say regarding the validity of Christianity. Similarly, the possibility that Harry Potter may actually be rooted in Christian theology occures to neither side.

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21 Responses to Harry Potter in Latin

  1. Iosephus says:

    But I suppose that “Harrius” is some attempt to render “Harry” which comes from “Henry”, of course, but is something different, with a different feel than “Henry”. If “Henricus” was assigned by a Vatican latinist to “Harry” (as a full and proper baptismal name) – well, someone decided not to be creative that day and to go with the nearest best thing, something already established, no? But when writing in contemporary Latin, I’m sure that “Harrius” isn’t the only word the author makes his own (and perhaps unique) translation stab at.

  2. Mcac says:

    Father, wheather in Latin or not, i’m not sure we should be promoting Harry Potter. Since it’s too long to post, here is a link to the SSPX education page. They deal specifically with this issue and lay out a very good arguement against children reading this series of books: http://www.edocere.org/articles/harry_potter.htm

  3. RBrown says:

    They deal specifically with this issue and lay out a very good arguement against children reading this series of books:

    You’ve unwittingly put your finger on it: The SSPX is adept at laying out very good arguments against almost anything. Their tendency is toward criticism–Iago in a cassock.

  4. Mcac: “i’m not sure we should be promoting Harry Potter.”

    Then by all means don’t promote it. I didn’t!

  5. Ben Trovato says:

    My kids read Harry Potter – and so do I. We then discuss the books in the light of Catholic Truth, and also literary standards – thus the kids can enjoy the stories, but also learn far more from them than JK Rowling ever imagined! Far better to engage with these things than make them forbidden fruits, I think, if they are not actively harmful (eg pornographic)

    Ben Trovato – A Counter Cultural Father

  6. RBrown says:

    If I might add a comment: The SSPX is a French association, and their outlook works with the French mentality. The French are Cartesians (idealistic) and come from a culture with heavily Catholic traditions that always respects the contemplative center of the faith.

    But once that outlook is translated to Anglo-Saxon or American culture, both of which are pragmatic, it seems to lose its contemplative foundation and morph into a kind of morose moralism that is too much a criticism of secular culture.

  7. dcs says:

    Yay! Just what this blog needs — a Harry Potter fight!

    On a personal note, while our kids are young, we try to keep enough reading material in the house that they won’t ever want for something to read. And the Harry Potter books are not in our library.

  8. RBrown says:

    I don’t think Harry Potter needs to be discussed in light of Catholic Truth. Any attempt to read literature by trying to find Christian symbols (or Jungian elements) utterly destroys the experience.

    It is entirely normal for the child to imagine that there is something magical about the world–dogs talk, a frog becomes a prince, another world exists in a mirror (or in the back of a wardrobe), etc. Suppressing that imagination creates not a believer but rather someone who is incapable of enjoying the goodness of life–and thus, in light of moral theology, with tendencies toward the sin of insensitivity. The foundation of Christian life is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty–not Weltschmerz.

    John XXIII wrote in Veterum Sapientia that the wisdom of the ancient Greek and Latin literature serves “as a herald of the dawn of the Gospel”.

    Why? Because in that literature are found themes common to both natural and supernatural life. The same must be said for any extraordinary work of art.

    And so children need to read about King Arthur, who is known to be heir to the throne because he is able to draw a magic sword from a stone? And about Merlin the Wise Man, who was a sorcerer?

    And everyone should see the Nutcracker, in which Sugar Plum Fairies dance and a young girl is harassed by rats with human characteristics. Finally, she is saved by a wooden nutcracker becoming a prince. It’s all magic.

    If it’s magic, why wouldn’t it be anti-Christian? Simply because the theme of the Nutcracker is one of transformation, the transforming power of love, the truth of which is found both in grace and in nature.

  9. Dan Hunter says:

    Why don’t we have our children read The Tolkien fantasy work’s,if they are going to read fantasy?
    At least,or at most,Tolkien was a devout Catholic,and his faith came through in a beautiful manner in his trlogy and Silmarillon.
    These books are so transporting and soothing in thier nature.
    They also teach a wonderful use of the English language,and are easy to comprehend.
    Also Tolkien was a talented artist and his illustrations are very warm,almost a folk art.
    God bless you.

  10. RBrown says:

    Why don’t we have our children read The Tolkien fantasy work’s,if they are going to read fantasy?
    At least,or at most,Tolkien was a devout Catholic,and his faith came through in a beautiful manner in his trlogy and Silmarillon. These books are so transporting and soothing in thier nature. They also teach a wonderful use of the English language,and are easy to comprehend. Also Tolkien was a talented artist and his illustrations are very warm,almost a folk art.
    God bless you.

    If you want them to read Tolkien, fine–personally, I have never been able to get beyond a few pages.

  11. RBrown says:

    At least,or at most,Tolkien was a devout Catholic,and his faith came through in a beautiful manner in his trlogy and Silmarillon.

    I know Tolkien was a serious Catholic, but what in his works do you find that is a manifestation of his faith?

    One of the reasons I ask is that I know there are many who loved Tolkien’s books who are non believers.

  12. AC says:

    English-speaking writers join in pleas for 1962 Missal

    Jan. 8, 2007 (CWNews.com) – A group of English-speaking writers and intellectuals has joined similar groups in France, Italy, and Poland in a statement of support for Pope Benedict’s plans to broaden use of the pre-conciliar liturgy.

    In a short 6-paragraph document released on January 6, and entitled “the Epiphany Declaration,” about 40 English-speaking intellectuals indicated their support to the widely expected papal document allowing wider use of the 1962 Missal. The signatories “express our enthusiastic support for any papal initiative” backing the traditional liturgy.

    The Epiphany Declaration was organized and circulated by administrators of the New Liturgical Movement web site. The signers include professors, journalists, and authors from the US, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. The full text can be found on that site.

    The document notes that a generation ago, in 1971, another group of prominent intellectuals urged Pope Paul VI to preserve the traditional Latin liturgy, recognizing it as “a spiritual and cultural treasure of inestimable value.”

    The Epiphany Declaration observes that a papal initiative allowing greater use of the 1962 Missal would satisfy the “rightful aspirations” of many Catholics, and could also enrich the post-conciliar liturgy. The signatories indicate their belief that the expected document “will positively contribute to the ongoing efforts to implement the liturgical reforms promulgated by the Second Vatican Council.”

    [Phil Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News, is one of the signers of the Epiphany Declaration.
    Readers who wish to add their name to the document can do so on the New Liturgical Movement web site.]

  13. Jordan Potter says:

    No relation to Harry Potter.

    Anyway, not only should “Harry” be “Henricus,” but I think “Potter” should be “Figulus” or something like that.

  14. RBrown-
    How about the elves as “the angelic race?” Or lembas (their food) as the life-giving and life-sustaining bread, one bite of which will sustain a traveler for a day or more? Or the ringbearer task (wich will bring about Middle Earth’s salvation from the reign of evil) being given to the humblest and seemingly most unworthy character? Or the corruption of pride and greed which Sauron (Satan?) spreads over the world through those he can twist to his will?

    Such themes from The Lord of the Rings become clearer when read in light of his larger “mythology” of Middle Earth, which can be found in The Silmarillion and in some of his lesser known works. In them, the reader becomes acquainted with the supreme God Who creates all, the rebellion of some of the higher spirits (Maia; in the story, it is obvious that these are angels), and the subsequent struggle between those spirits and races who remain faithful to God and those who are tempted into rebellion by the leader of the fallen angels.

    The manifestation of Tolkien’s faith can certainly be found in his work; however, he valued storytelling and what he termed “faery” enough not to create a mere allegory. Rather, he interwove eternal truths into the world which he created and told anew the very old story of good and evil. :)

  15. Dan Hunter says:

    Well put by Q.M.,
    To follow up on this,RBrown,Tolkein stated,”myth’s,far from being lies are the best way,sometimes the only way of conveying truths that would otherwise remain inexpressable.”We have come from God”,Tolkien argued,”and inevitably the myth’s woven by us,though they contain error,reflect a splintered fragment of the true light,the eternal truth that is with God.Myth’s may be misguided,but they steer,however shakily toward the true harbor,whereas materialistic,”progress”,leads only to the abyss and the power of Satan”
    We see an specific example of this when Boromir lust’s after the one ring and tries to forcibly take it from Frodo. Boromir is duped by Satans controlling eye,and refuses to use his God given free will which would have spoken to his intellect as opposed to his desire for worldly gain.
    I see more than anything else,in the trilogy, an acceptance on the part of the protagonists,a knowledge and therefore a moving forward of the the will of God in the sacrifice they offer in giving thier wills up to the will of the Father or Eru in the Silmarillion.
    The theme of sacrifice is redolent throughout the Ring trilogy.
    God bless you.

  16. RBrown says:


    How about the elves as “the angelic race?” Or lembas (their food) as the life-giving and life-sustaining bread, one bite of which will sustain a traveler for a day or more? Or the ringbearer task (wich will bring about Middle Earth’s salvation from the reign of evil) being given to the humblest and seemingly most unworthy character? Or the corruption of pride and greed which Sauron (Satan?) spreads over the world through those he can twist to his will?

    But angel-like creatures are found outside the Christian faith, as are battles between good and evil.

    BTW, my understanding is that Tolkien was a bit of a Luddite (not surprising for a literateur, and the Ring is a symbol of industrialism/technology.

  17. CDB says:

    Tolkien was clear that his works were firstly entertainment, and certainly not allegory and therefore many of the characters or elements are open to various interpretations (if you go in for that sort of thing). Moreover he stated that they took place in a pre-Christian setting. Nevertheless they would have been inconceivable without a Catholic worldview informing them, according to him. His views about the Church, Our Lady, etc. are readily found in his collected letters edited by Humphrey Carpenter. Describing him as a Luddite would be a gross exaggeration, though his views toward modern society coincided with the likes of Chesterton and Belloc.

  18. Ben Trovato says:

    RBrown wrote (in response to my post) “I don’t think Harry Potter needs to be discussed in light of Catholic Truth. Any attempt to read literature by trying to find Christian symbols (or Jungian elements) utterly destroys the experience.”

    That makes a false assumption about what we do. We do not try to find Christian Symbols etc and deconstruct the story in that way. Nor do we disallow the magic or fantasy. That would indeed risk destroying the experience. Rather we talk about the moral choices and values exemplified: doing evil that good may come (passim), or approval of gratuitous violence (Hermione hitting Draco). It is at this level that Rowling is most different from Tolkien, who created (or sub-created) a world that was governed by a Catholic understanding of reality. My kids like Tolkien too – and the Star Wars movies come to that!

    Ben Trovato – A Counter Cultural Father

  19. RBrown says:

    That makes a false assumption about what we do. We do not try to find Christian Symbols etc and deconstruct the story in that way. Nor do we disallow the magic or fantasy. That would indeed risk destroying the experience. Rather we talk about the moral choices and values exemplified: doing evil that good may come (passim), or approval of gratuitous violence (Hermione hitting Draco). It is at this level that Rowling is most different from Tolkien, who created (or sub-created) a world that was governed by a Catholic understanding of reality. My kids like Tolkien too – and the Star Wars movies come to that!

    I never compared Tolkien to the Potter books. I have little objection to anyone reading either.

    My point is that the themes found in Tolkien are also found outside the Christian faith.

  20. dcs says:

    My point is that the themes found in Tolkien are also found outside the Christian faith.

    Well, obviously. Many Christian themes are also found pagan religions. That does not make them less Christian or less true because of it, in fact it gives witness to their universality.

  21. RBrown says:

    My point is that the themes found in Tolkien are also found outside the Christian faith.

    Well, obviously. Many Christian themes are also found pagan religions. That does not make them less Christian or less true because of it, in fact it gives witness to their universality.

    It means they are catholic, but it doesn’t mean they are speciificly Catholic.