Romanes eunt domus
Latin has popped up a fair bit recently, with even the Guardian Higher Education chastising me for suggesting a Latin phrase they thought was Greek! But still the best example of Latin that has permeated mainstream culture is the following from Monty Python‘s Life of Brian:
[Brian is writing graffiti on the palace wall. The Centurion catches him in the act]
Centurion: What’s this, then? “Romanes eunt domus”? People called Romanes, they go, the house?
Brian: It says, “Romans go home. “
Centurion: No it doesn’t! What’s the Latin for “Roman”? Come on, come on!
Brian: Er, “Romanus”!
Centurion: Vocative plural of “Romanus” is?
Brian: Er, er, “Romani”!
Centurion: [Writes "Romani" over Brian's graffiti] “Eunt”? What is “eunt”? Conjugate the verb, “to go”!
Brian: Er, “Ire”. Er, “eo”, “is”, “it”, “imus”, “itis”, “eunt”.
Centurion: So, “eunt” is…?
Brian: Third person plural present indicative, “they go”.
Centurion: But, “Romans, go home” is an order. So you must use…?
[He twists Brian's ear]
Brian: Aaagh! The imperative!
Centurion: Which is…?
Brian: Aaaagh! Er, er, “i”!
Centurion: How many Romans?
Brian: Aaaaagh! Plural, plural, er, “ite”!
Centurion: [Writes "ite"] “Domus”? Nominative? “Go home” is motion towards, isn’t it?
[the Centurion holds a sword to his throat]
Brian: Aaagh! Not the dative, not the dative! Er, er, accusative, “Domum”!
Centurion: But “Domus” takes the locative, which is…?
Brian: Er, “Domum”!
Centurion: [Writes "Domum"] Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.
Brian: Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.
Centurion: Hail Caesar! And if it’s not done by sunrise, I’ll cut your balls off.
One of the best scenes in the film (and thanks to Mark Clarkson for reminding me); I still regret choosing German rather than Latin at school…