Libera et impera / Acerbus et ingens / Augusta per angusta (Lyrics)

By Eadmund, in 'Latin to English Translation', Mar 8, 2014.

  1. Eadmund New Member

    This appears in the song "The Lion from the North" by Sabaton, and the full chorus is as follows:

    Gustavus Adolphus
    Libera et impera
    Acerbus et ingens
    Augusta per angusta

    I have a rough idea of what is trying to be said here, but I wondered for some time before discovering this forum whether the grammar is actually correct - considering the infamous use of incorrect Latin in music. Also, I'm assuming they're addressing the king directly, and it should actually be the vocative "Gustave Adolphe", right?

    Thanks!
  2. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Yes, it should be the vocative. The rest is correct.

    Free and command (both imperatives of the verbs "to free" and "to command")
    Harsh and great.
    Honors through difficulties.

    The more usual phrase is per angusta ad augusta, "through difficulties to honors".
    Last edited by Pacis puella, Mar 9, 2014
    Eadmund likes this.
  3. Eadmund New Member

    I see, I suppose -us is used for more of a "cool factor".
    Thanks once again for a fast response!
  4. Abbatiſſæ Scriptor Senex

    • Civis Illustris
    Confirming.
    There is at leaſt a ſlight degree of freedom about the uſe of the vocative, and one can imagine allowing the nominative to replace it for poetic effect -- although admittedly it would be eaſier to imagine were they not metrically equivalent. I have a feeling that the choice here may be about the nominative ſimply ſounding more Latin. There might also be a ſubtle ſhift between proclaiming the king in the third person, and then addreſſing him in the ſecond perſon.
  5. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Yes, in vulgar Latin there's no doubt that the nominative was at least sometimes used for the vocative. In Plautus himself you find examples. In the Vulgate too.
    That's probable. Either that of they didn't do it on purpose.
  6. Laurentius Pontifex Maximus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Antium
    Back in the day I used to wonder why they say "Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi..." instead of "Agne Dei".
  7. Abbatiſſæ Scriptor Senex

    • Civis Illustris
    I doubt if Guſtavus Adolphus were a ſimple mistake, as it has the feel of an author who knew more than the moſt baſic Latin.
    I have wonder'd myself about 'Agnus Dei', but it is within the context of a liturgical tradition that clearly demonstrates a general familiarity with the rules regarding the vocative. It may be influenced by 'Deus' not having a ſeparate vocative, or it may be an ancient uſage. In any caſe, whenever a Mass is at least partly ſaid in Latin, the 'Agnus Dei' almoſt always is, if only becauſe it is part of ſo many beloved muſical Maſs ſettings.
  8. Laurentius Pontifex Maximus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Antium
    I think it's just 'cause it is vulgar.
  9. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    I think it's just because it was made up by a rock band, who've done a better than average job, admittedly, but whose Latin is still not entirely beyond suspicion.
  10. Laurentius Pontifex Maximus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Antium
    What really?
  11. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    Sorry, I don't understand your question.
  12. Laurentius Pontifex Maximus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Antium
    I don't understand that thing about the rock band, what is it?
  13. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    If I understand correctly, Aurifex thought your comment "'cause it is vulgar" was referring to this, the lack of vocative in Gustavus Adolphus, while you were commenting on agnus dei.
    Laurentius likes this.
  14. Laurentius Pontifex Maximus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Antium
    Oh, I thought "Agnus Dei" was written by a rock band, for a second or two...

    P.S. : Maybe I do a thread for crappy latin songs later. :D
  15. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    :D
  16. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    Location:
    England
    More or less. There may be a few question marks over some of their other lyrics as well.
    My exchange with Laurentius illustrates the value of making carefully selective use of the reply button when responding to comments; making it clear exactly what you are commenting on minimizes the risk of such misunderstandings.
    Laurentius likes this.
  17. Laurentius Pontifex Maximus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Antium
    Yeah sorry about that. :D
  18. Matthaeus Vemortuicida strenuus

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Varsovia
    LOL that's what I thought too.
  19. S. Meleleus New Member


    I am sorry, but I just had to. :D
    Advena et Peregrinus likes this.
  20. Hugo Arvidsson New Member

    Gustavus Adolphus is the latinized name King Gustav II Adolf chose for himself. and to my knowledge from Swedish history the rest translate to: Free to reign. Merciless and great/mighty. Honor through hardship. the Libera et impera is supposedly something he said and was meant as Swedens destiny as a great power in Europe something that Gustav Adolf put a lot of work into and succeeding at until the falsely celebrated King Carl XII put an end to that with his endless warring and losses. Acerbus et ingens i think is meant for his victories against Denmark, Poland and Russia as well as later against the Holy Roman Empire. and the last part i think is from that he inherited the throne at the age of 16 while the country was at war and that it was very poor and lacking any proper army both things that he changed.

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