The Secret History

FAQ About The Secret History

What is the meaning behind the various Latin phrases and quotations that appear throughout the book? The Secret History
9 months ago | gizem

What is the meaning behind the various Latin phrases and quotations that appear throughout the book?

" The Secret History" by Donna Tartt is rich in Latin phrases and quotations, which serve to enhance the novel's themes and add depth to the narrative. Here are some of the Latin phrases and their meanings, along with explanations of their significance:

  • "Cui bono?" - This phrase translates to "To whose benefit?" or "For whose advantage?" In the context of the novel, it reflects the characters' pursuit of personal gain and their willingness to act in their own interests, even at the expense of others. It emphasizes the theme of moral ambiguity and self-interest.
  • "Corpus delicti" - This legal term means "the body of the crime." It refers to the physical evidence that proves a crime has been committed. In the novel, it underscores the characters' attempts to hide the evidence of their crime and their fear of being discovered.
  • "Mens sana in corpore sano" - Translating to "A healthy mind in a healthy body," this phrase is a famous Latin motto that highlights the importance of both mental and physical well-being. In the context of the novel, it reflects the characters' pursuit of intellectual and moral excellence while neglecting their mental and emotional health, leading to their moral deterioration.
  • "Fiat justitia, ruat caelum" - This phrase means "Let justice be done, though the heavens fall." It underscores the characters' belief in the pursuit of justice and the importance of their own moral code, even if it means defying conventional morality.
  • "Exegi monumentum aere perennius" - Translating to "I have built a monument more lasting than bronze," this phrase reflects the characters' desire for lasting greatness and their pursuit of an idealized life that will be remembered throughout history.
  • "Tempus edax rerum" - This phrase means "Time, the devourer of all things." It reflects the novel's exploration of the passage of time and the characters' inability to escape the consequences of their actions.
  • "Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo" - This quotation from Virgil's "Aeneid" translates to "If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell." It symbolizes the characters' determination to challenge the status quo and to pursue their own desires, even if it means causing chaos and upheaval.
  • "Nihil humanum a me alienum puto" - This phrase means "I am human, and nothing that is human is alien to me." It reflects the characters' desire to explore the depths of human experience and to understand the darker aspects of human nature.