can’t see the forest

in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Posted in film, language, Latin, Literature, palindrome, riddle, Word Games by Curtis on 9/21/07

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in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

 

This phrase is a well known Latin riddle and palindrome. It is translated to English as “We go into the circle at night and are consumed by fire.” Backwards and forwards, it’s the same riddle describing an animal. Can you guess the answer?

Latin buffs will notice that some of the words are placed in grammatically awkward forms in order to form the palindrome. The symmetry of the palindrome is nice, though, in that the dividing point is between cause and effect: in girum imus nocte / et consumimur igni.

Fire at night

 

French filmmaker Guy Debord used this Roman riddle as the title of a 1978 political film. More information on the history and grammar of in girum imus nocte here.

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