Sunday, November 26, 2006

Latin Via Proverbs 123

This group continues to use third conjugation verbs (present active indicative), this time featuring second declension nouns and adjectives.

I hope these notes will help you tackle this group of proverbs in Latin Via Proverbs. Please note: to read the proverbs in Latin, you need to acquire a copy of the book from! What I am providing here in the blog are notes to help people who are making their way through the book either in a Latin class or on their own.

Group 123

1598. A little bit is enough. (This is one of many Latin proverbs warning against the dangers of excess.)

1599. The one with experience is afraid. (You can find this phrase used by the Roman poet Horace. The complete phrase is Dulcia inexpertis cultura potentis amici; expertus metuit., "Cultivating a powerful friend appeals to those who have not tried it; someone who has tried it is afraid." The Latin word expertus means someone with experience in something, someone who has tested or tried something. It is this practical experience which gives rise to "expertise.")

1600. The blind man requests a mirror. (The idea here is that this is an absurd situation, something like our proverb "a bull in a china shop." A variant form of this proverb - Quid caeco cum speculo?, "What does a blind person have to do with a mirror?" - made its way into Erasmus's Adagia, 3.7.54.)

1601. The blind is leading the blind. (As in the preceding proverb, this saying refers to a patently absurd situation. Compare the Gospel of Luke 6, “ Numquid potest caecus caecum ducere? Nonne ambo in foveam cadent?, "Can a blind person lead a blind person? Won't they both fall into the ditch?")

1602. A hard thing destroys a hard thing. (In other words, "fight fire with fire." If you are trying to break something hard, it's going to take something hard to do that.)

1603. Money makes money. (The Latin word nummus meant "coin." The phrase solidus nummus, a "solid coin," was generally shortened to solidus, which gives rise to the Italian word for money, "soldi.")

1604. Mule scratches mule. (A similar phrase makes its way into Erasmus's Adagia, 1.7.96, muli scabunt mutuum, "mules scratch one another.")

1605. Wedge drives out wedge. (The idea here is from wood-splitting where you use one wedge to drive out another wedge. If a wedge has gotten stuck while you are splitting wood, the only thing you can use to dislodge the wedge is another wedge. In other words, "like cures like." Compare also the proverb from yesterday's group, Fallacia alia aliam trudit.)

1606. He grows wise by his own mishap. (This is another one of those sayings about learning from mistakes. In general, it would be better to learn from other people's mistakes, of course, but some people are doomed to learn from their own mistakes, as this proverb tells us. The Latin verb sapere means both "to taste, have flavor" and also "to be wise." The idea is that the wise person is discerning, sensible, able to distinguish tastes and flavors.)

1607. A fool understands a fact. (The idea here is that after something has happened and become "fact," literally a "done thing" in Latin, a foolish person can see it for what it is. A foolish person may not understand things in theory, but he can recognizes something in fact. This saying made its way into Erasmus's Adagia, 1.1.30.)

1608. The style reveals the man. (The Latin word stilus referred to a sharp stick and also to the pointed iron stylus used for writing on wax tablets. As a result it came to stand for the manner of writing in general, including the tone and "style" of expression, as we use the word in English.)

1609. No lie grows old. (In other words, the truth will out, so a lie doesn't have time to grow old.)

This blog post is part of an evolving online guide for users of the book Latin Via Proverbs.

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