A few people have been asking for explanations and/or pictures, so here goes. Sorry if it’s a little long-winded. It’s a bit of a long story. If you don’t care about why I have it or how I got it, scroll down to the end to see close-ups of the ring itself. And if you got here because you were hoping to find pictures of hot redheads or fancy watches, get better at using Google.
The Distant-ish Past
About nine months ago, The Dave left this planet. It was only to be expected that this would cut a wide swath in the emotional landscape of his community.
I badly wanted to do something in memoriam. I started by soliciting contributions to a book – as usual, biting off far more than I could chew during the school year. (If you’re reading this, contributors, I still have all the stuff and am occasionally poking it with a stick. Must find time to sleep, first, and then time to make books.)
I knew that some people were investigating memorial tattoos. I knew that wasn’t really an option I wanted for myself. Besides, what tattoo do you get? What tattoo would memorialize not only the man, but his effect on my life?
Last summer, I realized what I wanted. I wanted a ring or bracelet inscribed with his most famous quote: May your god bless, give ‘em hell! I began investigating and quickly discovered that most options were far out of my (very minimal) budget. After some searching, I finally came up with a solution: Walmart. They have a small line of engrave-able jewelry, and there was a ring that caught my eye: plain, solid, hefty. I filled out the order form and sent off for my ring.
I was like a kid on Christmas Eve for the 6-8 weeks that it took to process my order. They called and said that it had come in; I hurried to the store and discovered that my ring said, May your god bless, give em’ hell. Now, maybe that wouldn’t bother some people (freaks) but it bothered the heck out of me. I pointed out the error, and the clerk wrote up a “we screwed up” form and sent it back to be fixed at top speed.
I, however, felt deflated. It didn’t feel fun or right anymore, having seen it all wrong like that. Funny how a misplaced apostrophe can ruin an English teacher’s day, right? I began to second-guess myself. And when the new ring showed up, and it read, May your god bless, give ^em hell, I was disgusted and just DONE. I asked for, and received, my money back.
Then I pouted for about six months.
The Recent Past
In the meantime, Meredith decided that she wanted a ring like this, and found a website called Eve’s Addiction. She ordered herself a ring (adding the final phrase, “Let’s go!” to the end) and then ordered one for Aaron, too. I was impressed with how nicely they turned out, how inexpensive they were, and how quick turn-around was. The only problem was that they couldn’t do apostrophes at all (much less stupidly random caret symbols). I knew that this wasn’t going to work out for me. I’m just waaaaaay too OCD about some things.
About the same time, I started reading a blog called Tales of a Wayward Classicist. The author is a graduate student who teaches classics (y’know, stuff like Latin and Greek). One of the author’s “hobbies,” I suppose you could say, is helping people translate phrases into Latin so that they get their tattoos done correctly – and making fun of people who didn’t bother to consult an expert before getting really screwed-up pseudo-Latin inked into their skin.
I know a wee bit of Latin, after studying it for a year in high school (picked up a lot because I had an awesome teacher – he looked like Matthew McConnaughey and got hired to teach Latin and Greek at Oxford the following year) and I’ve always been a fan of the classics. An idea occurred to me. What if I translated the phrase into Latin? Not only would that circumvent the apostrophe catastrophe, but it would eliminate awkward questions about why I had the word “hell” engraved on a ring that I wore around highly conservative fifteen-year-olds.
I wasn’t sure if my wayward classicist would help, but I contacted him anyway.
Hey… would you be willing to translate a phrase for me? My high school Latin doesn’t measure up to colloquialisms. I’m wanting to get "Give ’em hell" or possibly "May your God bless; give ’em hell" on a ring to memorialize my college mentor. I feel like a dork randomly asking on your blog, but I had read your translations for tattoo-seekers and thought it was worth a shot. Thanks, regardless!
I can give it a shot, sure. "Deus sit propitius: Acheronta move." It’s a blend of ecclesiastical and classical Latin, but it captures both thoughts.
I loved it. I loved the sound of it (yes, I still remember how to pronounce Latin correctly, thanks Mr. Cooper!) and the look of it. I loved that he used Acheron as the hell reference, and if that’s because I think the thus-named character in Kenyon’s book is sexy, well, sue me. I loved the spirit of the translation. “Deus sit propitius” is pretty straightforward; deus is a god or deity, propitius is gracious or favor, and sit is a form of “to be” (won’t get into the grammar of that right now, it’s boring unless you’re me). Acheron is specifically the River of Woe and Pain, the primary river of the Underworld – the one that Charon ferries dead souls across. Move has several translations, including “set in motion,” “stir,” “arouse,” and “to cause a result.”
I went back to Eve’s Addiction and picked out an 8mm sterling silver band. I wanted something with heft to it – something with gravity. I chose 8mm over 7mm or 9mm because it turned out the exact width of my wedding band and engagement ring together. Hooray, symmetry!
The ring showed up in my mailbox less than a week after I ordered it.
I put “ACHERONTA MOVE” on the outside as a reminder to myself to keep my chin up and to keep fighting for what needs fighting for. I think that’s an important reminder for me; it’s easy to get comfortable, easy to decide that there’s nothing to be done. I put “DEUS SIT PROPITIUS” on the inside, quietly reminding me that I am blessed and loved, reminding me not to give up my faith. Through no design of my own, that part of the engraving sits right over the vein that legendarily leads directly to the heart.
And yes, it’s very shiny and very silver, and my immediate reaction upon seeing it was that it looked like a tuba. What I meant was that the silver finish looked like the silver finish on Blue Thunder’s sousaphones. It made sense in my mind, but not in anyone else’s; that’s okay. I’m used to that.
In conclusion: if you want engraved jewelry, don’t go to Walmart. Because, really, who goes to Walmart for engraved jewelry? Go to Eve’s Addiction.