Apologies, but could anyone translate the following to Latin, in the style of a family motto?

"God loves those whom the fiend pursues"

I tried Google translate, but, judging by the reverse translations, it doesn't do a very good job.

Edit to add:
For fun, I ran the various suggestions through google... the results were, well, not good...

Deus a lemures agitatos amat (God loves those who are pursued by ghosts) = God loves a dormant ghosts

Deus quos malis avibus insectantur amat (God loves those who are pursued, with malicious intent, by bad birds (evil spirits)) = God calls whom He loves to persecute the good the bad the birds (presumably starring Clint Eastwoodpigeon?)

illos a Furiis vexatos Deus amat (Those by Furies harassed God loves) = God loves those afflicted by these crimes


3 Answers 3


You are correct in your assessment that Google Translate is unreliable with Latin.

For me the hardest choice in this translation is to choose a good verb for "pursue". Here are some options; see more details in any online Latin dictionary:

  • agitare: "hunt", "chase", "set in violent motion", or "pursue", but also "move", "urge", and others
  • contendere: "press", "pursue", "prosecute", "hasten", but also "aim", "stretch", "seek", and others
  • petere: "attack", "assault", "demand", or "sue", but also "ask" and others

I want a verb with a past participle so I ignored options without one. I will go with agitare as I find its tone most appropriate, but it is certainly not the only reasonable choice.

I would phrase "pursued by fiends" using a passive participle and an agent, as ab inimicis agitati. This is best translated to English as a relative clause. I translated a "fiend" as inimicus, an "enemy" or more literally "non-friend". This leads me to the suggestion:

Deus ab inimicis agitatos amat.
God loves those who are pursued by enemies.

I think this concise style works well in a motto.

If you want your fiends to be more like ghosts than enemies, then perhaps idola, larvae or lemures would work. I seem to like the third one of these best. You need the plural ablative with the preposition a(b), so you can change ab inimicis to a lemuribus. The word daemon means "spirit" and does not have the negative connotations I assume you to want. With it the correct form would be a daemonibus. (I would argue that even if these spirits are not human, they still get to keep the preposition.)

  • Many, many thanks. For inimicis, I think I need something more unnatural (it's for a ghost story) - can I swap "daemones" in there? (I'm assuming that google got that one right :) )
    – Tom Melly
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 13:37
  • @TomMelly See the expanded answer.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 14:48
  • Wonderful! Thanks again.
    – Tom Melly
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 15:25
  • My immediate thought was "comprimo." Does anybody else have intuitions about this translation of seeking?
    – Nickimite
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 15:53
  • @Joonas llmavirta: In "Deus quos avis malibus insectantur amat" (God loves those who are pursued, with malicious intent, by bad birds [evil spirits]) does "quos" cover both "those" and "whom" in "God loves those whom...."
    – tony
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 16:07

The Foul Fiend in Latin becomes feminine plural, probably influenced by the Greeks--

Furiae agitant et insectantur impios Cicero
(Les furies tourmentent et persécutent les impies.)
[[Recueil ou Collection de tous les verbes latins, avec des locutions (Google e-book free) By Jacques Hubert Van Peene]]

There are two frequentative verbs associated with the Furies, of veho drag; and ango bend: these are vexo, vexatus harassed, and anxo, anxus tormented, tortured, vexed, troubled;

vexatos ab atris furiis. anxos a furiis.
compare: Aquila alias aves vexat Cicero Lewis and Short

"illos a Furiis vexatos Deus amat."
Those by Furies harassed God loves.

  • I like the idea of using Furiae for 'fiend' (+1). For a family crest, I could also easily imagine something like vexati [or agitati] a Furiis, amati a Deo.
    – cnread
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 5:37
  • @cnread That's a great way to structure it. Can you post a separate answer about the idea?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 6:07
  • I guess my only reservation is that the furies traditionally pursue people who have done something truly horrible (for example, the impios in your first quotation). So a family that used this motto, or the alternative that I offered in my previous comment, would seem to be admitting to certain atrocities. I'd want to do some research to see whether furiae is ever used in cases of persecution that is seen as unfair/undeserved.
    – cnread
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 20:45

In the Roman World "(sub) malis avibus" = "under bad birds" was to be under the influence of evil. This expression has always amused me, for some reason, therefore it is worthy of inclusion.

Verb, "insecto" = "to pursue with malicious intent" has a deponent version "insector"--written passively, but used in an active sense, only. The former, insecto, is required here in a passive sense.

Thanks to Joonas for advice on the mandatory use of (at least one) accusative-plural pronoun. Giving:

"Deus (eos) quos malis avibus insectantur amat."

"God loves those who are pursued, with malicious intent, by bad birds (evil spirits)."

This may not be exactly what yourself has asked for; but, it adds interest & amusement.

  • This is all wonderful - many, many thanks again to all who contributed.
    – Tom Melly
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 10:59
  • @TomMelly If you've found the answer you were looking for, please mark an answer as accepted by clicking the little mark below the score. You can now also vote up any content you like, not only answers to this question. I'm glad you're glad!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 6:35

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