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Dinosaur55
05-20-2013, 02:57 PM
My story involves a secret society that dates back to a very long time but it has a coat of arms that was made in around the 1300s. I've seen a lot of conflicting information on this, so I thought it might be better to check.

First of all, do all coat of arms have the same features? I was thinking of having the main symbol a tree with the motto beneath it, would that be normal?

Second, I tried using a translator to get the society's motto in Latin, but whenever I tried to translate it back to English, I would just end up getting some meaningless jumble. I know that online translators aren't very reliable, but after some trying I got this phrase:

Quid claudicate humani generi?

What I wanted to say was 'What halts mankind?' According to the translator, the above translates to 'What stop the human race?' which I think is close. But are there any Latin students who think something else might be a bit more accurate?

The phrase in English refers to 'halt' in the sense of stopping, like saying 'What is it that prevents mankind from advancing?'

Buffysquirrel
05-20-2013, 03:11 PM
This is your best source: http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/

RichardGarfinkle
05-20-2013, 03:17 PM
Heraldry can be pretty complicated stuff. Do look at what the college of arms says, but understand that heraldry varied from country to country and time period to time period.

Also there's a kind of paradox in a secret society having arms. The primary purpose of arms is to publically mark out who someone is on a battlefield (so you know who that you're attacking an enemy not a friend and also how much ransom they are worth).

The secondary purpose is to have livery for servants so people will know who someone serves.

So what does a secret society have arms for?

Alessandra Kelley
05-20-2013, 04:54 PM
You might wish to drop a question in the Latin thread in the International District:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=186554

Torgo
05-20-2013, 05:17 PM
Heraldry can be pretty complicated stuff. Do look at what the college of arms says, but understand that heraldry varied from country to country and time period to time period.

Also there's a kind of paradox in a secret society having arms. The primary purpose of arms is to publically mark out who someone is on a battlefield (so you know who that you're attacking an enemy not a friend and also how much ransom they are worth).

The secondary purpose is to have livery for servants so people will know who someone serves.

So what does a secret society have arms for?

This is a very good question.

Secret societies do often have insignia, though, and probably mottoes too, if only so that it eases the process of recognition between members who don't know each other.

Buffysquirrel
05-20-2013, 06:18 PM
I suppose it depends if they're secret (ie nobody outside the membership has a clue to their existence) or secretive (eg, the Freemasons).

RichardGarfinkle
05-20-2013, 07:02 PM
This is a very good question.

Secret societies do often have insignia, though, and probably mottoes too, if only so that it eases the process of recognition between members who don't know each other.

On the whole sign and counter-sign signals (how to recognize each other) should not be obvious elements of a conspiracy.

Good:
Sign: The falcons have been busy this year.
Counter-Sign: Not as busy as the crows.

Bad:
Sign: Down with the King!
Counter-Sign: And the Pope too!

Dinosaur55
05-20-2013, 07:51 PM
I guess there's some confusion here mainly because I guess I wasn't a bit specific enough.

It really isn't a coat of arms, it is more like a signal. You see, the society in question has a few members at the top, and they generally give orders to the lower members through letters. The members usually never come face-to-face with each other.

So the seal mainly serves as a sign to say 'Yes. This isn't from some random person.' And they don't go around parading it in broad daylight.

But yes, I think my question has been answered and I probably will be dropping off at the Latin board. Thanks.

ULTRAGOTHA
05-20-2013, 08:06 PM
My story involves a secret society that dates back to a very long time but it has a coat of arms that was made in around the 1300s. I've seen a lot of conflicting information on this, so I thought it might be better to check.

First of all, do all coat of arms have the same features? I was thinking of having the main symbol a tree with the motto beneath it, would that be normal?

Would the King or Queen back in the 1300s in your country have granted arms to this secret society? It can’t have been that secret, then, because arms are created by and registered with the College of Arms. Though maybe not back in the 1300s as the British College of Arms became more organized in 1420 and were granted a charter of incorporation in 1484. So your society might have a sort of “grandfathered” (my term) heraldry that isn’t registered.

No, not all coats of arms have the same features. A motto is not technically part of the coat of arms. The coat of arms is just the part on the actual shield (or diamond or can be other shape as well). The motto is called a motto ;). The part on top of the helmet on top of the shield is called the crest and the bits on each side supporting the shield are called … supporters. The whole thing is called an achievement. This paragraph is mostly speaking of English heraldry which is the heraldry I know the most about. Conventions in other countries can vary widely.

Which country’s heraldry do you want to use?

Having a background color with a contrasting color tree on it is completely fine with heraldry in most countries. The colors need to contrast or they’re not visible at a distance. So white on green or red on yellow or yellow on black, for example.

If you want, once you decide on your colors and design, I can translate that into herald-speak. For example, “Argent an oak tree eradicated sable”. (On a white background, a black oak tree with its roots showing.)

Also consider a badge. That’s a device that can be, for example, cast in pewter and worn on clothes. Richard III’s badge was a boar. Napoleon I’s was a bee. That might work better for a secret society than a coat of arms. Though folks in Britain were heraldry-mad in the Victorian era and may have just made up a coat of arms for your society and a fake history to go with it. Witness the coats of arms for the Kingdoms of Wessex and Sussex.

ETA: you posted whilst I was typing. Definitely a badge. A badge of a tree would be fine. You could have just a tree, or a tree cast in relief against a background. What kind of tree?

ECathers
05-21-2013, 08:21 PM
This is a very good question.

Secret societies do often have insignia, though, and probably mottoes too, if only so that it eases the process of recognition between members who don't know each other.

Precisely. As a member of a "secret" society (at least it was once a lot more secret than it is presently--and no it's not the one you're thinking of) we don't have coats of arms. (Coats of arms must be registered, and thus there goes the secret. Oops!)

On the other hand having a logo or insignia is potentially a good one. For instance ours "allows" higher level members to tattoo a particular symbol on our forearm. We'll also sometimes use that symbol in various other ways. But then again, it could just be someone with no particular affiliation to our group who just happened to like that particular (rather common) design.

We also do have particular greeting phrases, and ritual responses. Since those are not in a "known" language and exacting phrases not in common use, even in translation, it does make identifying someone as ours rather simple.

ETA: Often when addressing members of my order via mail/email, I use our "greeting" catchphrase as either a greeting or as an ending, instead of "sincerely." Even without a logo, and even when I say that greeting in English, that makes it pretty easy for the recipient to know I am part of "all that."

So having someone write to another "blah blah letter contents" then "what halts mankind?" (in any language) and their sig, would probably give members a clue. Even if you can't get the exact translation.

Diomedes
05-21-2013, 09:52 PM
High Latin would say for what you want translated:

Quae homines resistit?

The online translations won't give you the correct word order. Quae - literally what as an interrogative. I've used homines - plural of man as it grasps more at the meaning of mankind as it can mean man in a moral sense, as a general body and tends to include the conception of human beings in an abstract sense. Resisto - what our word resist comes from but doesn't mean that in Latin. It has more the idea of a grinding to a stop; the Lewis & Short lexicon has it as halt.

I hope that's some help.

Rufus Coppertop
05-22-2013, 12:30 AM
I'd use quid instead of quae.

A singular neuter interrogative pronoun is called for rather than a feminine singular or plural neuter which you get with quae.

Resisto definitely takes an object in the dative case rather than the accusative. So instead of homines, you need hominibus.

quid hominibus resistit?

Another way of saying it is quid potest hominibus resistere? = What is able to resist humankind?

Another possibility is prohibeo, meaning, resist, prohibit, stop, prevent, inhibit.

quid homines prohibet? quid potest homines prohibere? What stops mankind? What is able to stop mankind?

Diomedes
05-22-2013, 02:30 PM
I disagree in you objections to mine. Quae as plural neuter as the question is open-ended.

Restatus takes the dative, resistit is fine with nominative - as far as I'm aware.

Rufus Coppertop
05-22-2013, 04:24 PM
I disagree in you objections to mine. Quae as plural neuter as the question is open-ended.

The open-endedness of the question does not necessarily require a plural interrogative but a plural interrogative, being the subject would surely require a plural form of the verb.

resistunt instead of resistit.

If you can provide examples from classical and medieval Latin to show that I'm wrong, I'll be grateful to you. I'd prefer to be disabused of mistaken notions than not be.


Restatus takes the dative,Restatus looks like a perfect passive participle but none of the dictionaries I have, including the Oxford show it. resto. restare. restiti is listed as in intransitive verb which takes the dative so you're right in a way, and it can have a similar meaning to resisto but it seems that there is no perfect passive participle for this verb. If you can point out a source showings a PPP for this verb other than what may be a hypothetical one in Whittaker's Words, I'll be interested to see it.


resistit is fine with nominative - as far as I'm aware.Nominative case as an object of a verb? That's a new one on me if you're talking about active voice.

My understanding is that active verb forms are not fine with the nominative case.

The subject goes in the nominative case and the subject performs the action of the verb. Mostly, the direct object is in the accusative although some verbs take a dative or an ablative object.

The subject can be the recipient of the action of a verb in passive constructions however. Using the verb resisto we could have the question, quid ab hominibus resistitur (?) meaning, what by/from mankind (as an agent) can be resisted? The subjunctive might be even better. resistatur instead of resistitur.

Diomedes
05-22-2013, 05:00 PM
Example that springs to mind: collaria, quae vocantur maelium - from Varro.

Restatus is perfect and pluperfect passive and is the only form of the verb I know which is obliged to take the dative.

The subject can be either nominative or accusative. I placed in nominative as there is no need for the accusative due to the simplicity of the sentence. Latin copies Greek in this manner.

Rufus Coppertop
05-22-2013, 10:28 PM
Example that springs to mind: collaria, quae vocantur maelium - from Varro. Which illustrates what I was suggesting. vocantur is plural.


Restatus is perfect and pluperfect passive and is the only form of the verb I know which is obliged to take the dative.I'd love to know what dictionary you're using.


The subject can be either nominative or accusative.I've recently studied Latin at university and this is the first I've ever heard of a subject being in the accusative. None of the books I have on Latin grammar or syntax say anything about this. Is it a quirk of medieval Latin by any chance?