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16.5.03

"Goddess" Translation In Motto Raises A Flag


It's all in how one translates the city's motto "Benigno Numine," which is written in the mother of all flexibly decipherable languages, Latin.

Three St. Mark Middle School students who created four designs for an official city flag have translated "Benigno Numine," the motto on the city seal, as "Under Protection of the Goddess."

... "It's strange that they picked goddess instead of God," [Latin teacher John] McCormick said. "A lot of state mottos are under the protection of God, having it masculine. So I thought it was strange that they chose [goddess], unless they have a specific deity in mind."

-- via WitchVox


One would assume those who translate it "God" have a specific deity in mind as well. All in all, while I don't know enough Latin (any at all, really) to say which is the most accurate translation, I'd prefer one of the suggested non-specific translations like McCormick's "By Divine Favor." Then again, I'd rather have an agnostic motto.

There are a few weird things about this story. One is that nobody is up in arms about it. Usually when you hear stories like this, it's because some evangelical Christian faction is denouncing the pagan practices. But McCormick's fairly mild comment -- which is more confusion resulting from his assumptions being challenged rather than condemnation -- is the most critical comment in the article. Second is the weird speculation of the author that "Goddess" is supposed to refer to the city's mayor (as well as the feeling on WitchVox that this was some pagan coup). As far as the story lets on, the "Goddess" translation was just a quirky version handed down between teachers, not a declaration of faith in a female deity.

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