4

Is it correct that “Finit hic, deo” translates into “God ends here” like they say in the movie “The Nun”?

(The scene in the movie where the phrase is seen and the translation is given can be viewed here.)

6

No, that is not a correct translation, but the root problem is probably not a mistranslation from Latin to English, but rather from English to Latin. The Latin sentence was very likely created specifically for the motion picture – as far as I can see, it does not appear anywhere else – and, as they say, mistakes were made.

There are a few problems here:

  • deo should be deus, because, as the subject of the sentence, God must be in the nominative case. Deo is dative or ablative.
  • finit should be finitur, because the verb finire means “to end,” but in the sense of “put an end to something, stop something” when used in the active voice. In the passive voice it means “to cease, stop, die.” However, there are historical examples where finire is used actively to mean “to stop talking, to finish, to die.” It's not classical usage, but “The Nun” isn't exactly a movie about Cicero, so strictly speaking, the form finit is defensible.
  • The comma makes no sense.

As C Monsour has pointed out in the comments, it the word order is infelicitous, because it suggests the reading “This god ends.” It is be better to draw the hic to the front.

In conclusion, the correct form would be: Hic finit(ur) deus.

What would the sentence mean as it appears in the movie? It is not ungrammatical, but the subject is missing. The deo could be interpreted as a dativus (in)commodi, indicating that God is affected by the action. In that case the meaning would be:

He (or she or it) ends (something) here for God (i.e., to his advantage or disadvantage).

For example (since it is my understanding that the sentence is inscribed on a door in the movie), the sentence could mean that the door ends the passage here for God.

It could also be interpreted as an ablativus instrumentalis:

He (or she or it) ends (something) here using God.

I see no way to read the sentence that would excuse the comma, though. The comma does suggest that the sentence is directed at God, in which case we would expect the vocative case. The classical vocative of deus is one of the great mysteries of the Latin language, but in the Christian context it is deus. It is definitely not deo.

| improve this answer | |
  • Wow thanks for the big and great answer! – Mads Vestergaard Sep 1 at 20:49
  • In the movie it means something like, when they pass the door, god doesn't exist anymore, like the absence of him I think It could be expressed like that. But when I google deo it comes up as god but I have no understanding of latin so maeby iam getting something wrong – Mads Vestergaard Sep 1 at 20:51
  • @MadsVestergaard Latin nouns have many forms, and deus has more than most (see them all here). They all mean “god” in a sense, but which one you have to use depends on context. Understanding how exactly that works is a big part of learning Latin, and explaining it would go a little far here. – Sebastian Koppehel Sep 1 at 21:35
  • 2
    The word order does matter here. hic as an adverb shouldn't usually stand next to a noun that it might modify as an adjective. Finitur hic deus means "this god is ended" or "this god is dead". If you want "God ends here" you want Hic finitur deus. – C Monsour Sep 1 at 22:41
  • 1
    Probably not, since hic doesn't agree with deo. – C Monsour Sep 1 at 23:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.