I have a "Escape from New York" movie poster over my desk.

It reads:

New York City is a walled maximum security prison.
Breaking out is impossible.
Breaking in is insane.


The Latin translation I made, just for the kicks:

MCMXCVII (or maybe) MMDCCL (Ab urbe condita)
Civitas Novus Eboracus muratus maxima securitas carcer est.
Erumpere est impossibile.
Irrumppere est insanum.


Is that correct? I'm not sure about the second line (Civitas Novus Eboracus...) and if the use of the ablative case in the title is pertinent.

Also, there may be a better translation for "breaking in / out".

  • 1
    Something seems off to me about maxima securitas. I feel like it should be in a case other than nominative, perhaps the ablative, but I am not sure.
    – Sam K
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 19:04
  • 1
    Just something? That whole phrase triggers all my dog Latin alarms.
    – Rodia
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 19:12
  • Well, I mean, muratus agrees with both Novus Eboracus and carcer so that's a bit confusing, and Civitas doesn't agree gender-wise with Novus Eboracus, so I can see what you mean.
    – Sam K
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 21:26

2 Answers 2


Here is my offer for a translation:

Urbs Novum Eboracum carcer penitus munitus at maximae securitatis est.
Fugere nequibis.
Introrumpens insanies.

Fuga Novo Eboraco

In modern context it is clear that the year means the typical modern years, not ab urbe condita; counting years a.u.c. would be confusing and hard to put in context, whereas 1997 immediately means something to most. The abbreviation for Anno Domini is not absolutely necessary, but clears ambiguity — if there ever was any.

I am not sure if it is necessary to emphasize that it is the city instead of the state of New York. If you want to make the distinction, I suggest urbs. My first interpretation of civitas was that it meant state, but this is probably not what you wanted to say.

I wrote that the prison is "thoroughly fortified" (penitus munitus, where penitus is an adverb) and "of maximum security" (maximae securitatis). The ablative of quality is a possible alternative for the genitive I chose, but I find the genitive somehow more natural here.

I took more liberty with the last two lines. They say "You will not be able to escape" and "Breaking in, you will be insane". I think these capture the spirit. I could not find a neat impersonal way to phrase it as in English, so I put it in the second person singular.

The structure "infinitive est adjective" is possible, but I did not find an adjective for "impossible" that I would like. If you want something with this structure, I recommend:

Fugere est inane.
Introrumpere est insanum.

While erumpere and irrumpere are possible, I think the message is clearer (but the comparison weaker) with fugere and introrumpere. These seem to be less prone to misinterpretation, which is often an issue with prefixed verbs in Latin; also evadere can be misread all too easily. Introrumpere means pretty narrowly "to break in" and fugere is "to escape".

For the title I chose the noun fuga for "escape". At least I read the first word of "escape from New York" as a noun, not a verb. If you want it to be a verb, an infinitive doesn't sound assertive enough for a title. I would expect an imperative instead, but I find the noun most appropriate. The plain ablative of separation without prepositions is what I expect for a city.


I would probably say civitas carcer maximus securitate, using the ablative of respect. Using the nominative securitas is wrong. In English, the phrase “maximum security” is functioning as an adjective and properly should be hyphenated (“maximum-security prison”).

Don’t translate it word-for-word, but try to capture the meaning of the words.

Just saying.

  • Using the nominative maximus is wrong. Just saying.
    – Sam K
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 1:31
  • @SamK : Nope. It modifies carcer, so it is correct as written. The ablative qualifies the adjective (“a prison greatest with respect to security”). Just saying.
    – MPW
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 11:37
  • If you gonna keep saying "just saying", at least have the decency to say it in Latin. Just kidding (and saying).
    – Rodia
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 12:38
  • @MPW Hmmm. I just totally missed the "ablative of respect" part. I was thinking more along the lines of carcer maxima securitate otherwise. Your answer is also missing the "New York" part, which seems a bit integral to the translation of the poster. My comment was also about the tone of your answer, which is a bit off-putting. Just saying.
    – Sam K
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 16:53
  • 1
    @JoonasIlmavirta : The ablative is specification does not: maior natu (older); hence my maximus securitate
    – MPW
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 22:19

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