XOXO, Candyman: a Creative Latin Composition Inspired by Clive Barker’s “The Forbidden” – Heather Hambley

Cuppediatoris1 voce coloribusque bomboque corporis cum Helena paene defigebatur2, exsultationi tamen repugnabat. Monstrum erat sub ostentatione venustā, cuius nidus novacularum cruore madefactus in pedibus Helenae iacebat. Dubitet fauces eius incidere, si manum ei iniecit3?

Duobus Helenae hunc horrorem spectantis cordis palpitationibus4, Cuppediator lodicem exuit.
Cum fugere ex sinibus nitebatur, iacca diloricabatur atque illa vidit — sensibus recusantibus — quae insunt pectoris putuisse et compleri iam alveo apium cavum5. Apes in trunco examinabant et circumdederunt reliquias carnis haerentis, aestuans turba6. Iste7 manifestae illius aversationi arrisit. ‘Dulcia dulcibus,’ susurrabat8 et manum hamatam ad faciem tetendit.

Cuppediator illam aggressus est. Murmurabat ea minationem ineptam quam iste neglexit. Magnitudo bombi in corpore crescebat. Horribile erat cogitatum hominis tangendi9 propinquitatisque insectorum. Illa sursum arma10 graviora plumbo impellebat, ut istum sustineret11. Os horrendum in pariete imaginem12 obscuravit. Ut istum tangeret, illa animum inducere non poterat, regressa est autem. Stridor apium magis magis13 fiebat; aliquae excitae fauces ascenderant atque ex ore erumpebant14; circa labra capillosque repebant.

Helena identidem istum orabat ut eam omitteret15, sed iste non placabatur. Denique nihil latebrarum16 ei superfuit; paries fuit a tergo. Obdurescens contra aculeos ponensque in trunco aestuanti palmas, ea trusit. Simul manus istius circum cervicem evolavit atque uncus rubicundam faucium cutem perstrinxit. Illa sanguinem rorantem sensit; persensit istum ictu terribili iugulaturum esse. Fidem vero iste dederat atque praestetit. Apes suscitatae in omnia miscebantur17. Illa sensit eas moventes et quaerentes in auribus frustula cerae saccharumque in labris. Alapam dare eis non omnino conata est. Uncus fuit in cervicem. Si illa se ex loco moveat, vulneretur18.

Illaqueata est, sicut in pueritiae somniis, omni effugii spe elusā. Cum somnus eam ad talem desperationem tulerat — daemonibus undique discindere exspectantibus — ultimus dolus ei suberat. Dimittere19; deponere omnem vitae cupiditatem relinquereque corpus tenebris. Ut Cuppediatoris facies in faciem Helenae premebat et bombus apium spiritum delebat, illa manum occultam lusit20. Sicut in somniis, cella nefariusque erasi sunt atque evanuerunt.

Special thanks to Allie Pohler.

1 For the name of Candyman, I formed my own noun from cuppediae, ‘candy’ by adding the -tor suffix to denote an agent. I wanted Cuppediator to sound friendly and innocent on its face, similar to Candyman.
2 cum…defigebatur: cum is delayed in this concessive cum-clause; cf. Apuleius, Metamorphoses 3.22, where the protagonist Lucius becomes transfixed as he witnesses the magical transformation of the witch Pamphile into an owl. I used the same verb defigere, which can be translated literally as, ‘to fix, root to the spot,’ and more figuratively, ‘to bewitch, enchant,’ to reflect both the physical and figurative power that the sight of Candyman has over Helen.
3 mixed conditional, with a past simple protasis and future less vivid apodosis
4 I placed Helen taking in the horror (hunc horrorem) of Candyman within the ablative of time (duobus…cordis palpitationibus) to reflect both the quickness of her reaction, as well as a certain suspension of time.
5 quae insunt…putuisse et compleri…cavum: indirect statements; note the chiasmus and relative time of the perfect infinitive putuisse and present infinitive compleri.
6 aestuans turba: in apposition to apes; I wanted to contrast the static nature of Candyman’s clinging flesh (carnis haerentis) with the dynamic life of the bees’ seething mass (aestuans turba). This also highlights Candyman’s isolation compared to the collective consciousness of bees.
7 “[Iste] especially refers to one’s opponent (in court, etc.), and frequently implies antagonism or contempt” (Allen & Greenough 297c). I felt conflicted using forms of iste for Candyman because I think of him as an exceptionally sympathetic character given how his backstory and character have been developed in both the Candyman (1992; 2021) movies. I ultimately opted to use iste to represent him as Helen’s adversary, though, as he’s depicted in Clive Barker’s original short story, which is focalized through Helen.
8 I incorporated onomatopoeic language throughout the composition to mimic the buzz of the bees that Helen hears from the very beginning of her encounter with Candyman (e.g., bombo, susurrabat, murmurabat).
9 genitive gerundive with hominis
10 a little wordplay here to reflect the battle between Helen and Candyman; see also the military language throughout (e.g., compleri, circumdederunt, regressa est, effugii).
11 ut…sustineret: purpose clause
12 Imagines can also refer to death masks worn in Roman public funerals to honor the dead and reanimate their ancestors with their likenesses depicted in wax. Compare to how the graffiti of Candyman keeps him alive in present memory and leads to his appearance in the story.
13 cf. Verg., Georg. 4.311
14 cf. Verg., Georg. 4.313. In Georg. 4.281-314, Vergil describes the fabled ritual of bugonia, by which a new beehive is spontaneously brought to life from a young ox carcass, beaten to death for this purpose. I wanted to play around with the relationship between life and death here. The beehives in both stories are a result of great violence. In the Georgics, the eruption of bees from the dead bullock is a sign of new life; whereas, when the bees burst out of Candyman’s mouth (erumpebant), they bring death and destruction for Helen…or perhaps of the new life Candyman promises in her demise.
15 ut…omitteret: indirect command
16 partitive genitive with nihil
17 cf. Verg., Georg. 4.311
18 future less vivid conditional
19 Dimittere, deponere, relinquere are all infinitive subjects.
20 I preserved the idiom manum occultam lusit, ‘she played that hidden hand,’ even though it doesn’t have a Latin counterpart, because each word connects to the larger story and signals a role-reversal for Candyman and Helen. Up to this point, we’ve been focused on Candyman’s literal hands, but here I used manum figuratively to describe Helen’s ultimus dolus. Although she can’t fight Candyman in physical combat, she can parry his attack psychologically. I chose occultam here because Candyman’s torso of bees was originally concealed by his jacket and then revealed, to Helen’s horror; now the focus moves to Helen’s hidden knowledge. As for lusit, I like that it transplants childlike language into horror, as with Candyman’s name. Candyman has been toying with Helen throughout the story, but with Helen as the subject of lusit, the verb signals a shift in power.

, -i, m. sting
aestuo (1), to seethe, surge; to be excited, be in heat
alapam dare (c. dat), to slap
alveus, -i, m. beehive
animum inducere ut (c. subj), to bring oneself to, convince oneself, make up one’s mind
apis, -is, f. bee
arma, -orum, n. pl. arms, weapons
arrideo, -ēre, -risi, -risus (c. dat), to smile at
a tergo, at one’s back
aversatio, -onis, f. repugnance
bombus, -i, m. buzzing, humming
capillus, -i, m. hair
caro, carnis, f. flesh
cavum, -i, n. hollow
cella, -ae, f. small room
cera, -ae, f. wax
cervix, -icis, f. neck
circumdo, -are, -dedi, -datus, to enclose, surround; (in war) to encompass, besiege
compleo, -ēre, -evi, -etus, to fill, impregnate; (in war) to bring (a legion) to full strength
conor, -ari, -atus, to try
cresco, -ere, crevi, cretus, to grow, increase; to swell
Cuppediator, -oris, m. Candyman
cutis, -is, f. skin
deleo, -ēre, -evi, -etus, to blot out, extinguish
depono, -ere, -posui, -positus, to lay down; to resign, give up
dilorico, -are, —, -atus, to unbutton, tear open
dimitto, -ere, -misi, -missus, to let go, relinquish
discindo, -ere, -cidi, -cissus, to tear apart, cleave, rend
dolus, -i, m. trick, deceit
dubito (1), to hesitate
dulcis, -e, sweet
effugium, -i, n. flight, escape
eludo, -ere, -si, -sus, to foil, to outmaneuver
erado, -ere, -si, -sus, to scratch out, erase, obliterate
erumpo, -ere, -rupi, -ruptus, to burst forth, break out
evanesco, -ere, -nui, to vanish, die away
evolo (1), to fly out, fly up
examino (1), to swarm
exsultatio, -onis, f. rapture
exuo, -ere, -ui, -utus, to throw off (clothes)
facies, -ei, f. face
fauces, -ium, f. pl. throat
fidem dare, to give one’s word; fidem praestare, to keep one’s word
frustulum, -i, n. morsel, mouthful
haereo, -ēre, haesi, haesurus, to hang, stick, cling
hamatus, -a, -um, hooked, furnished with a hook
ictus, -us, m. blow, stab, cut, thrust
illaqueo, -are, —, atus, to entrap, ensnare
impello, -ere, -puli, -pulsus, to push, wield; to urge, incite
iugulo (1), to cut the throat of
labrum, -i, n. lip
latebrae, -arum, f. pl. retreat, a lurking-place
lodix, -icis, f. blanket
ludo, -ere, -si, -sus, to play, deceive
madefacio, -ere, -feci, -factus, to drench, soak
manus, -us, f. hand
manum inicere (c. dat), to lay hands on
minatio, -onis, f. threat
misceo, -ēre, miscui, mixtus (pass), to swarm
nidus, -i, m. nest
nitor, niti, nixus sum (c. inf), to try to, struggle to
non omnino, adv. not at all
novacula, -ae, f. razor
obdurescere contra (c. acc), to steel oneself against
occultus, -a, -um, hidden, concealed, secret
omitto, -ere, -isi, -issus (c. acc), to leave alone
os, oris, n. the face, countenance, features
paries, -etis, m. wall
persentio, -ire, -si, -sus, to feel deeply, perceive clearly
perstringo, -ere, -inxi, -ictus, to graze
plumbum, -i, n. lead
premo, -ere, -essi, -essus, to press; (of sleep, death) to overcome, overpower
propinquitas, -atis, f. proximity, nearness
pueritia, -ae, f. childhood
putesco, -ere, putui, to become rotten
quaero, -ere, -sivi, -situs, to seek, look for
quod inest (s.), quae insunt (pl.), contents
recuso (1), to object, refuse, protest
regredior, regredi, regressus sum, to step back; (in war) to retreat
reliquiae, -arum, f. pl. remnants
repugno (1) (c. dat), to fight against, struggle with
roro (1), to drip, trickle, drop dew
rubicundus, -a, -um, flushed
se ex loco movere, to budge from the spot
sentio, -ire, sensi, sensus, to feel, perceive
sinus, -us, m. fold
somnium, -i, n. a dream; vision
somnus, -i, m. sleep
spes, -ei, f. hope, chance
stridor, -oris, m. shrill or high-pitched sound; whirring (of wings)
subsum, -esse, to be near, to be at hand; to be concealed
supersum, -esse, -fui, to be left, remain
sursum, adv. up, upwards
suscito (1), to rouse (from inactivity)
sustineo, -ēre, -tinui, -tentus, to hold back, restrain, keep back
susurro (1), to whisper, buzz
tango, -ere, tetigi, tactus, to touch
tendo, -ere, tetendi, tentus, to stretch out, shoot (an arrow or weapon)
tenebrae, -arum, f. pl. darkness, night; haunts
trudo, -ere, -si, -sus, to push, shove
truncus, -i, m. body, trunk (of a tree or human)
ultimus, -a, -um, final, last, extreme
uncus, -i, m. hook
venustus, -a, -um, enchanting, charming

Heather loves horror and Latin, so this project was a dream. She studied Latin at Reed, taught for 4 years, and now writes Latin compositions for fun. Her all-time favorite scary movies are The Wicker Man and Jennifer’s Body. She currently lives in Central Oregon with her husband Andy and their 15yo doggo Mo. Heather’s website is latinklub.wordpress.com.

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