Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote in linguaphiles,

Ancient Greek - Invoking Poseidon

I'm writing some fanfic in which a character wants to end a storm that has been magically created by someone else invoking Poseidon. My character has a present-day classical scholar's working knowledge of ancient Greek, but isn't necessarily 100% accurate, and is making things up more or less as he goes along. Unfortunately my last exposure to ancient Greek was about fifty years ago and ended when it became apparent I have no gift for languages. As should be obvious, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I've written the English version of the spell as a modified version of an invocation of Poseidon (originally to help in casting a spell) I found on a Wicca web site, adding in the bit about horses since it's an important plot point. I have no idea how authentic the result is:

Poseidon, god of the sea, I pray to thee to aid me in ending this spell.
Almighty you are, yes indeed, with powers of the ocean at your command, you are the master of the sea. I pray the grace of your help to end this storm, and offer this gift of a horse, for you are their master.
So mote it be!
Long live Poseidon, the god of the sea!

I fed that into Google Translate - originally "mote" wasn't translated, so I changed it to "must", after which I got this:

“Ποσειδώνας, θεός της θάλασσας, προσεύχομαι για σένα για να με βοηθήσει στον τερματισμό το ξόρκι. Παντοδύναμος είσαι, ναι πράγματι, με τις δυνάμεις του ωκεανού στην εντολή σας, είστε ο πλοίαρχος της θάλασσας. Προσεύχομαι τη χάρη της τη βοήθειά σας για να τερματιστεί αυτή η καταιγίδα, και να προσφέρουν αυτό το δώρο της ένα άλογο, για εσάς είναι ο αφέντης τους.”
“Έτσι πρέπει να είναι!
Ζήτω ο Ποσειδώνας, ο θεός της θάλασσας!”

Does this look vaguely plausible, or is it nonsense? And is there something genuine that I could use instead, bearing in mind that the goal is to stop a storm via this sacrifice?

Later - the comments have convinced me to go with English text instead, the Greek won't add to the story. And I've found a suitable Homeric verse to quote/mangle here:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0138:hymn=22
Tags: ancient greek, translation request
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  • 10 comments

lysimache

July 20 2014, 23:29:11 UTC 3 months ago

That's not Ancient Greek. It's Modern Greek. Can't comment on its reliability.

ffutures

July 21 2014, 06:47:30 UTC 3 months ago

Ok, then I might as well ignore Google. Thanks!

pauamma

July 21 2014, 22:29:19 UTC 3 months ago

In addition to that, Ancient Greek isn't a single language.

elise_rasha

July 21 2014, 03:04:51 UTC 3 months ago

I don't speak Greek, either, so I can't speak to its reliability, either. I do have some concerns.

1 - I would like to ask this: why does the invocation need to be written in Greek? As one fellow writer to another, I don't see how writing the entire invocation in Greek could enrich your story. All it's going to do is have people scratching their heads on what it means. If you want it to sound like it's being spoken in Greek, write it in italics, make the scholar sound rusty in his pronunciations. You'll have a better story for it in the end.

2 - How is this a fanfic piece? People write original material based on myths on all the time. (If this was a Percy Jackson story, I'd be inclined to agree with you that it's fanfic, but that's not what I'm getting.)

Feel free to send me a private message. I'm working on getting myself published, and I'd like to help in anyway that I can. I just can't help with translating and linguistics.

ffutures

July 21 2014, 06:58:55 UTC 3 months ago

For point 1, it seemed like a good idea yesterday, but I have to admit it really doesn't add much - you're quite right, English will work with a couple of bits to show that the character is trying to think of a suitable Greek word.

For point 2, it's fanfic for a TV show that has magic of various sorts, some by invoking ancient gods - and thinking about this, on the show they usually use English for these spells because they know their audience won't want to see Greek etc. subtitles!

So putting these points together, I'll go with English instead.

elise_rasha

July 21 2014, 14:32:11 UTC 3 months ago

Okay. I'm glad I've been able to help. :)

whswhs

July 21 2014, 05:45:24 UTC 3 months ago

Have you looked at the Homeric Hymns for a sample of how ancient Greeks actually addressed their gods? There are English translations available, which will give you a feel for the meaning and, more importantly, for the protocol of how you address a god. My knowledge stops at

Sing of wrath, Goddess!

and

Sing to me, Muse, of the man

and

Deathless Aphrodite of the many-colored throne,
Daughter of God. . . .

(The first two are from Homer, the third from Sappho.)

ffutures

July 21 2014, 07:00:16 UTC 3 months ago

I'll google that - many thanks - but probably go with English text rather than Greek.

sharplet_ed

July 30 2014, 12:16:24 UTC 3 months ago

Since I am a native Greek speaker I can give a more accurate translation, if you decide to go with Greek:

Poseidon, god of the sea, I pray to thee to aid me in ending this spell.
Ποσειδώνα, γιε της θάλασσας, προσεύχομαι σε σένα για να σταματήσεις αυτό το ξόρκι

Almighty you are, yes indeed, with powers of the ocean at your command, you are the master of the sea. I pray the grace of your help to end this storm, and offer this gift of a horse, for you are their master.
Παντοδύναμος εισαι εσύ, πραγματικά, με τις δυνάμεις του ωκεανού στις διαταγές σου, είσαι ο αφέντης της θάλασσας. Προσεύχομαι στην ελεημοσύνη της βοήθειας σου για να σταματήσεις αυτήν την καταιγίδα και σου προσφέρω σαν δώρο αυτό το άλογο, γιατί εσύ είσαι ο αφέντης.

So mote it be!
Έτσι είθε να γίνει!

Long live Poseidon, the god of the sea!
Να ζήσει ο Ποσειδώνας, ο θεός της θάλασσας!

sharplet_ed

July 30 2014, 12:18:15 UTC 3 months ago

And if you want my opinion, I would say that this abstract is suitable for you and it depends on you if you would prefer the English or Greek version. Good Luck!