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In a movie (Event Horizon, spoilers ahead), you have this Latin phrase they think they heard and what it ends up being :

Liberate me...
Libera te tutemet (ex inferis).

There's always the possibility of some poetic license in such works but the topic has been discussed elsewhere and someone thought (on latindiscussion.com) that:

Libera temet [ipsum] ab inferis.

was more idiomatic but that the original was not ungrammatical per se. Of note is also the selection of a different preposition (ab) to introduce inferis.


  • For a reflexive sort of construction such as save/free yourself with a verb like libero, do you need anything else than temet (2); what difference does an emphatic form or something like ipsum make here in terms of meaning or style; isn't it overly redundant?
  • Is the thing you're saving yourself from mostly introduced with ex or ab in such a construction; I see examples like a Venere se et a quartana liberatus as well as ex incommodis pecunia se liberare, so what type of prepositional logic does libero trigger: is it about escaping vs. climbing out?
  • What is a classic example of the imperative of libero with a reflexive pronoun and a complement as in save/free yourself from something?
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    Looking at L&S entry for libero I found this, missing the imperative but including reflexive+compl. with the meaning you ask for: Cic. Q. fr. 3.I.iii.9: "teque item ab eo vindico et libero" (as you see, it uses ab)
    – Rafael
    Oct 4, 2016 at 12:14
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    FWIW, the temet ipsum phrasing sounds more idiomatic to me too.
    – TKR
    Oct 4, 2016 at 15:58
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    @Rafael Thank you! But the same entry you propose has with ex too, including the example I presented, multos ex incommodis pecuniā,” Cic. Verr. 2, 5, 9, § 23. I fail to see why one should take precedence over the other, which is why I would like an explanation. In further questions I may also provide a Lewis cross-reference to make sure we're all on the same page with examples...
    – user425
    Oct 4, 2016 at 19:40
  • @TKR Why though? What difference does ipsum make; is it required to make a reflexive verbal meaning? Without ipsum do you prefer temet or tutemet or te tutemet; and again, why? Thanks.
    – user425
    Oct 4, 2016 at 19:46
  • Ipsum isn't required (and is strictly speaking redundant), but is commonly used to emphasize a reflexive meaning. I'm not sure what would be the most idiomatic phrasing without ipsum, because temet ipsum or te ipsum sound most natural to me. Libera te tutemet is slightly different in that the added emphatic is nominative rather than accusative, so it might imply something more like "liberate yourself by yourself/by your own means" (rather than relying on someone else).
    – TKR
    Oct 4, 2016 at 20:41

2 Answers 2

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I have not seen the movie, so I am not sure that I fully understand the question, but it seems obvious that this is a variation on a phrase in the requiem liturgy: "Libera me, domine, de morte aeterna". Only with the difference that it is asking not God, but you yourself, to save you. "Libera te tutemet" is acceptable, but neither "de" nor "ex" sounds like particularly good Latin. The classical construction would be with "ab" or with a bare ablative.

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    Thank you! Knowledge of the movie is irrelevant but suffice it to say it's one of those rare sci-fi/horror movie and the crew finds a recording from another crew's captain and the doctor tries the guess the Latin he's hearing and comes up with save me, thinking it's a call for help, until he realizes it's rather a warning... So Latin might make a difference! Why do you say that ex wouldn't sound particularly good in such a context? How do you perceive the difference between libera: te tutemet/tutemet/temet/te ?
    – user425
    Oct 4, 2016 at 19:32
  • @user425 The litany has ab omni malo libera not Domine, from every evil free us O Lord. Then later, ab omni peccato..., from every sin; A corde perverso..., from a perverse heart. The litany uses ab and a a lot, not so much ex.
    – Figulus
    Sep 8, 2023 at 2:56
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Yes, the most grammatically correct version of the phrase would probably be "Libera temet ab inferis."

There are two reasons I suggest this:

  1. As already explained, the preposition ab makes more sense in this context than ex. Both can mean "from", but in different senses. In these sentences the latter means "out from", whereas the former means "away from." You'd use the latter if the listener is currently in Hell, whereas you'd use the former if they're not. I.e. implying "save yourself (by escaping) from Hell" versus "save yourself from (entering) Hell."

  2. The construction "Libera temet" is easier to mishear as "Liberate me" than "Liberate tutemet", which is ungrammatical at any rate. The syllables in the first and second are the same aside from the -t at the end of the first. See here and here for details.

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