Latin Palindromes


Staff member
Do you know any Latin palindromes?

Let's post the ones we know (with a translation for the benefit of those in earlier stages of learning) :)

I'll start:)
I am guessing that word "esse" won't make anyone too happy :)

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni
We go wandering at night and are consumed by fire

Wikipedia dixit:
In girum ire is translated as "go wandering" instead of the literal "go in a circle", cf. Italian andare in giro, "go strolling or wandering around"), was said to describe the behavior of moths. It is likely from medieval rather than ancient times.

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Si bene te tua laus taxat, sua laute tenebis.

If your praise rates you well, you'll maintain its affairs splendidly.
Re: Sator Square

The Sator Square should not be forgotten.

Sator arepo tenet opera rotas
"The farmer Arepo has [as] works wheels [a plough]"

The words are written in a square so that they may be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, and right-to-left.

The earliest example of this palindrome is supposed to be in Pompeii.


Staff member
Is this the origin of the term "Latin square?"

Iohannes Aurum

Technicus Auxiliarius
The Sator square and the Latin square are quite different.

The Sator square:


The Latin square:


The Sudoku puzzle is based on a Latin square.


Staff member

You missed my point slightly. I was wondering if the Sator square was the inspiration for the Latin square. Online Etymology Dictionary didn't have anything.

I can see an early statistician setting up which treatment a subject should receive based on two factors, and that there be an equal number of treatments among subjects. So he writes out numbers 1-n in an n x n box, in k different ways.

"Hey, this is kind of like a Sator square," he says to himself. "Let's call it a Latin square."

Or there could be another scenario...

Iohannes Aurum

Technicus Auxiliarius


Staff member
Neither one of those articles spoke to the origin of the term "Latin square."

I see the Sator and the Latin squares being similar -- if you regard the first and second e's of tenet as distinct, as well as the first and second t's, then each row and each column have one of n elements. Yes, the elements are different, while in the Latin square they ostensibly the same elements.

Euler did write the paper in Latin. It does appear he brought in Greek letters to add a new wrinkle. So that may be the only inspiration.


Staff member
There is also the Sidonius palindrome:

Sole medere, pede ede perede melos
Heal with the sun, get appetite by walking/hiking and publish your works.
Heile mit der Sonne, mach dir durch Wandern Appetit und veroeffentliche dann deine Werke.


Iohannes Aurum

Technicus Auxiliarius
Obama amabo also works


New Member
I don't speak Latin, but I am something of an expert on palindromes and have researched the Latin ones fairly extensively. Akela, I'm interested to find out the source of your translation of the Sidonius palindrome. I might like to quote it. Looks like you found it in German and translated to English?

Ron Sipherd, translated it directly for me as "Heal your foot, eat, devour a tune."

I'm intrigued by the possible meaning of foot as metrical foot. Does that make sense? I've also seen this verse ascribed to Ausonius but I can't find that; might just be a mistake.

Sidonius also has this:
"Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor." (Rome, love will come to you suddenly, with violence -- Sipherd.)
Sidonius listed both as very old (illud antiq.) at that time; has anyone seen older references to them?


Mark Saltveit
Editor, The Palindromist

Glenn Westmore

New Member
One of the oldest known Latin Squares is the Sator Square. This Square was supposedly found amongst the ruins of Pompeii in the volcanic ashes resulting Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, pressed in clay or carved in stone. Read more about it on my blog.