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How can I translate following sentences to Latin:

  • Stand upon the heavens and
  • Surpass the gods,

both having somewhat close and similiar meanings in English. I am looking for something that reflects it the best in Latin.

Would really appriciate the help.

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    Welcome to the site! Do you have any other context on where these would be used? Sometimes that can have an impact on the best translation.
    – Adam
    Feb 10, 2021 at 3:34
  • Context "letters that appear on amulet/charm, as a self-reminder or a self-challenge". I think i would lean towards more literal translation, but honestly not completely sure, i guess it more depends which end result sounds/reads better, preserving the core meaning.
    – LtFrg3
    Feb 10, 2021 at 8:57
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    @LtFrg3 I would suggest you add the above to your original question. Also, if you have no knowledge of Latin, adding that to the question is beneficial, as this explains why you have not posted any suggested translations.
    – Canned Man
    Feb 10, 2021 at 12:40
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    Welcome to the site! White translation requests are allowed on this site, we require that the asker provides as much context as possible, and posts what he has tried himself. So it would be great if you could add that the next time you ask a translation question (there is no such requirement for other types of questions).
    – Cerberus
    Feb 11, 2021 at 6:07

1 Answer 1

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"Superare divos" is a literal quotation from the Roman poet Catullus,

Ille mi par esse deo videtur,
ille, si fas est, superare divos,
qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit

"That man seems to me to be equal to a god; he seems even to surpass the gods, if that is permissible, who sitting opposite looks at you and hears you again and again."

I cannot think of an exact equivalent for “stand upon the heavens”, but the idea is close to that of the saying ascribed to the Greek mathematician Archimedes, in his Doric Greek: δῶς μοι πᾶ στῶ καὶ τὰν γᾶν κινάσω, “Give me a place to stand and I shall move the Earth”.

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  • And a very famous quotation from Catullus at that. Feb 10, 2021 at 18:15
  • Worth noting here that there is some dispute and obscurity about how to understand the relationship between deus (in the 1st line, "par esse deo videtur") and divus (in the 2nd, "si fas est, superare divos. Some poets use them interchangeably, others not, and some grammarians (e.g. Servius) distinguished them. Feb 11, 2022 at 8:06
  • In some contexts, superare deos would suggest surpassing the di immortales, ie. surpassing perpetual gods like Iuppiter, Mars, Venus, etc. superare divos could suggest the same in some contexts; in others it would mean only the lesser (or less nefas!) status of surpassing divinized humans, i.e. folks like Romulus or Caesar who once were mortal, now worshipped and held to have ascended to the heavens to become lesser gods (or godlike?) only after they died or vanished. The translator can pick one or other depending on how blasphemous they want the suggestion of surpassing to be. Feb 11, 2022 at 8:16

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