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In looking at entertainments like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter, I’ve wondered: Why do magicians in pop culture use Latin in their spells?

The people best known for Latin, the ancient Romans, are famous for feats of engineering, architecture, and military conquest — activities as practical as a hammer, and not a bit mystical.

So does anyone know why Latin is often the language of magic?

Personally, I think magic’s association with Latin happened mostly after Rome fell. Latin became the language of an institution known for spiritual mysteries and candlelit rituals led by chanting men in robes: The Catholic Church.

Latin was also Europe’s international language for centuries after the fall of Rome. From government documents to the Gutenberg Bible, anything important was in Latin. So, as far as I can tell, Latin became the language of grimoires and other magic books.

Besides, Latin sounds somber and ancient, setting a perfect tone for occult activities.

But that’s just supposition. Does anyone have a better answer?

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