Westworld: What Does ‘Flectere si nequeo superos Acheronta movebo’ Mean?

HBO A scene from Season 1 of Westworld

If you’ve been playing a new Westworld ARG, then you likely reached a point where the Messenger conversation assigned you to a specific zone and then gave you a quote. It turns out that everyone received the same quote, no matter what zone they were in. The quote is: “Flectere si nequeo superos Acheronta movebo.” Here’s what it means.

The quote is actually well known and seems to fit perfectly with Westworld.  It’s  quote from Virgil’s poetry (more specifically Virgil’s Aeneid, book VII.312.) There are several different translations for the Latin quote. Here are a few:

“If I cannot deflect the will of superior powers, then I shall move the River Acheron.”

“If I cannot deflect the will of heaven, then I shall move hell.”

G.K. Rickard translates it as: “Hell will I raise, if Heaven my suit denies.”

John Dryden’s translation is: “If Jove and Heav’n my just desires deny, Hell shall the pow’r of Heav’n and Jove supply.”

According to Gregory Scheckler, Freud used this quote in the beginning of his book The Interpretation of Dreams. He used it to go with his idea that the unconscious mind can well up and flood our conscious mind through our dreams.

However, Scheckler points out that these translations miss the context within which the quote was said. It’s said by an enraged goddess Juno, defending her right to do whatever she wants and love humanity in her way, whether or not the other gods approve. She said this in a moment of rebellion, Scheckler said. She won’t sit by and do nothing, but she also knows that she likely can’t win. But she will try anyway.

So that’s really has an interesting overlap with Westworld. The hosts are currently actively rebelling. They aren’t going to sit idly by and do nothing, even though their chance of success is slim. They are seeking to be independent and creative all on their own. You could also think of this as describing Ford or Arnold and the reactions they had once they realized their creations were sentient and could possibly think for themselves. They could no longer sit idly by and let them be misused.

By the way, here’s another fun tidbit. If you finish the chat with Tes and say “Virgil” in response to the quote, Tes responds: “True poets inspire action. Virgil’s masterpiece does this even today.”

This is a developing story.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

Pixie

I responded “Virgil?” to the quote, and got this response: “He sang of the arms and the man. What else can be said of such a great man”

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