from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A presiding divinity or spirit of a place.
- n. A spirit believed by animists to inhabit certain natural phenomena or objects.
- n. Creative energy; genius.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. a divinity, especially a local or presiding god
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Divinity; deity; godhead.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a spirit believed to inhabit an object or preside over a place (especially in ancient Roman religion)
For it was an attempt to supersede the ancient religious life of that State by _externa superstitio, prava religio_ -- _prava_, because _deorum numen praetenditur sceleribus_; and hence, as Livy expresses it in the admirable speech put into the mouth of the consul, the Roman gods themselves felt their _numen_ to be contaminated. [
They supposed an art, a power, or a wisdom, which they called numen, in creatures the most destitute of understanding.
“numinous” from the Latin word numen, which denoted a supernatural nonpersonalized being.
Where events carry modalities of conviction or disposition — “must/must-not happen” or “should/should-not happen” — it may be more useful to treat this a strong/weak distinction, and take the flavour of the quirk as a product of its positive or negative loading: that which we revere may be termed a numen; that which we abhor may be termed a monstrum.
The translation has often given cause for dispute, as 'numen' is a word that may be translated as vague-sounding Providence, as a rather non-commital Deity or as the strict and fierce monotheistic God.
Where tremulum and staccatum are most applicable when it comes to character motivation, it should be noted, numen and monstrum may well be constructed entirely from the reader's disposition/conviction.
Ruptura numen: In The Bacchae by Euripedes, we have the monstrum dicta of Pentheus the tyrant, King of Tears, who has denied the god Dionysus his due.
“It begins with the awful …” — i.e. with the monstrum — “and then finds comfort” — i.e. in the numen.
The new ruptura monstrum, the new miasma that stains Orestes, renders him subject to the vengeance of the Furies, is set against our sympathy, against the affective warp that cries out for a numen, the solution that “should happen”.
Rather than just dewarping an alethic quirk -- a giant robot, for example -- by finding an answer to the "How could this happen?" question, the reader might more commonly be responding to it as a numen, parsing it as something that should happen -- cause giant robots are cooooool!