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Friday, May 15, 2009

Translation of Greek Words on Jacob's Tapestry [Updated]

Last night on the live post-Season 5 finale podcast, Congested sought to be the first to discover the meaning of the words written on the tapestry in Jacob's dwelling place beneath the statue. Congested knew that the writing was in Greek letters, so he tracked down some folks who could read Greek and ultimately came up with the following translation:
"May heaven grant you in all things your heart's desire"
An alternate translation from Lostpedia reads:
"May the gods grant thee all that thy heart desires"
This is a line from Homer's Odyssey (Lostpedia) (Wikipedia) (Amazon).

So, now that we know what the tapestry says, what is its significance or meaning? Richard Alpert told John Locke (er, "John Locke") that Jacob had given him the power of immortality. We don't really know whether Richard can be killed, but at least we know that he seems to be able to live forever without showing any signs of aging. Either way, this was a gift or blessing that Jacob gave to Richard. Jacob himself seems to have the same ability since, like Richard, he never seems to age. When Richard was speaking to "Locke" about coming back from the dead—something Richard had never seen happen before—he assumed that it must have been a gift from Jacob as well. Thus, it seems that Richard is convinced that Jacob can grant "whatever one's heart desires."

Richard Alpert is not the only person whom Jacob has blessed. At Sun and Jin's wedding, Jacob offered them "his blessing" for their marriage, and because of Sun and Jin's experiences on the Island their marriage and love for one another were restored. Hurley is another person who has apparently been blessed by Jacob. While they were riding in the cab together, Jacob said to Hurley, "What if you were blessed? You get to talk to the people you've lost." Although this isn't a direct revelation that Jacob is responsible for blessing Hurley with his ability, it is implied by the conversation, especially when viewed in context of the other things we learned about Jacob in the episode.

Is the writing on this tapestry a reflection of Jacob's power to make dreams come true? Or does the tapestry magically give Jacob power to grant wishes? My guess is the former: that Jacob already had this power. After all, Jacob himself created the tapestry:

Here's yet another puzzler to ponder: Why did Jacob create a tapestry with Greek writing when virtually everything else that's manmade on the Island (pre-DHARMA Initiative, that is) seems to be of ancient Egyptian origin? While it makes sense for a quote from The Odyssey to be written in its original language, a tapestry with Greek words on it seems rather out of place inside the base of a giant Egyptian statue.

Thanks again to Congested from Audibly Lost for passing along the Greek translation.

UPDATE: This high-quality image from DarkUFO shows more writing than has been translated so far, including hieroglyphics (see below). Lostpedia now has a translation of the Greek text in the middle of the tapestry: "May the gods grant thee happiness."

UPDATE 2: I've continued the discussion of Jacob's tapestry in this post.

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Anonymous Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom said...

Niiiiiice -- thanks for the scoop!

Friday, May 15, 2009 6:54:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Greek fits if you work the timeline a little.
Ancient Egypt is the oldest culture to discuss. Then you have the Greeks around 1100 BC. Then Carthage in Tunisia around 900 BC. Lastly you have Latin, which arose sometime around 400 BC. So it would seem that the people who built the statue, probably arrived on the island via the Tunisian "bridge." Also, I'm sure English would have felt just out of place... but it is Jacob's tapestry. Also, Jacob spoke modern American English in the flashback with the Black Rock. If he were from this time, or before, they could have used the creative license to have him use a different language (like he does in the rest of the ep). His language in the old scene seems to dictate that of all things related to Jacob, Egyptian would be last on my list, not first.

Friday, May 15, 2009 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger Josh Long said...

Good thoughts, Clayton. Keep the ideas and theories coming, LOST fans!

Friday, May 15, 2009 5:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Liz Bayer Chiono said...

Wow, thanks for the translation. The crocodile god has me a little mystified, how to combine the two. I graduated with a double major in classical civilization/anthropology in 1988, have forgotten how to make connections

Friday, May 15, 2009 9:36:00 PM  
Anonymous briguyx said...

Does the number of figures the divine touch in the tapestry equal the number of 815'ers Jacob touches in the flashbacks?

Saturday, May 16, 2009 9:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may want to consider the Atlantis and Island of Mu stories. The former is originally a story told to Solon when he visited the priests in ancient Egypt. The latter is a mythical place where the ancient Egyptians came from. It is interesting to note that the little trick you can do with Wordpad and the Lost numbers leaves you with the Greek symbols for Mu. It is likely that the writers are playing with these ideas, but that the last 5 or so episodes have had ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics or images implies something more substantial. Also, one might note that the sun rays/hands emanating from the Ra eye/falcon wings was widely connected to Akenaten, the pharaoh known for monotheism (which is a wrong conclusion) and royally screwing up the Amun priesthood. He and the pharaohs that followed, Tut, Smenkhare, and Aye, were all (almost) erased by Horemheb, the pharaoh after them who wanted to erase the Amarna period from Egypt's history. Just some thoughts.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 9:04:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love all the historical theories and references made in these Lost episodes..it really makes people think. I can't wait to see if the bomb is going to explode or not! Al Trautwig doesn't seem to think so: Al's Season Finale Thoughts

Monday, May 18, 2009 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The egyptian crocodile god Sobek was the eater of karma. Could it be that everyone who is brought to the island by Jacob is there for the opportunity to redeem their past karma?

Monday, May 18, 2009 2:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Greek fits well in the tapestry. The Odyssey speaks of islands with magical beings, mythical monsters, and interferring gods. Who isn't to say it is based upon a visit to this island. Did Jacob meet Homer? The symbolism of entertwining fate and destiny are not lost as Jacob even spins his own thread. Jacob speaks dozens of languages and pulls from each of them. Latin and Egyptian are some of the oldest and carry more weight. I love the duality of two rulers watching the proceedings from either side of the tapestry. Also, the harvest of wheat has huge biblical conotations, separating the wheat from the chaff. The island is weeding out those who will be useful and those who will not.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 7:24:00 AM  

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