Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Latin Via Proverbs 76

As I point out in the introduction to the Latin Via Proverbs book, you do not need to work your way through the book from start to finish. Instead, you can use the grammatical organization of the book to find the specific types of nouns and verbs that you want to work on.

So, I thought that now since we had looked at some first and second declension nouns, I would move on to some proverbs using first conjugation verbs, along with first and second declension nouns. Today's set of proverbs includes just first declension nouns, along with first conjugation verbs.

First, though, a few words about verbs. The Latin verbal system is divided up into four conjugations. Like the noun declensions, the verb conjugations are ways to put endings on to the verbs. In the noun system, the endings indicate case and number, but in the verb system, the endings indicate number and person (1st person = I/we; 2nd person = you; 3rd person = she/he/it/they).

The most common form of Latin verb you will encounter is the present active indicative. Present is the tense of the verb; in addition to the present tense, there are also the past and future tenses, as well as the perfect tenses. Active is the voice of the verb; in addition to the active voice, there is also the passive voice. Finally, indicative refers to the mood of the verb; in addition to the indicative mood, there is also the subjunctive and the imperative.

You've already seen how word order is completely fluid in Latin. In English, you can almost always expect that the subject will come before the verb, but this is not true in Latin. In Latin the verb can come anywhere in the sentence at all, the subject can come before the verb or after it. The way you know something is the subject of the verb is because it is in the nominative case. The nominative case is your best friend of all the cases, because the one and only thing that the nominative case can do in a sentence is be the subject of the verb! The nominative case has not other purpose of any kind: it is used to indicate the subject of the verb.

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 lulu.com! 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 76

1001. Conscientious effort enriches. (This was a widely known Latin saying, commonly used as a family motto.)

1002. Knowledge makes ennobles. (The Latin noun scientia is from the Latin verb scire, "to know," and it is also the root of the English word "science.")

1003. Victory loves careful planning. (In other words, if you plan carefully, victory will be attracted to your cause.)

1004. Money alone rules. (This comes from a Latin phrase found in the Roman author Petronius: Quid faciunt leges ubi sola pecunia regnat?, "What can laws do when money alone rules?")

1005. Rumor flies. (The saying derives from the description of rumor in Vergil's Aeneid III. )

1006. Rumor does not always err. (Although you probably learned the Latin word non, the word haud is also a very common Latin word meaning "not." The saying is reported in Tacitus's Agricola.)

1007. A long journey makes girls change. (Note that this does not mean if the girls go on a long journey, it changes them. Rather, if a man goes on a long journey and is away from the girls, in his absence, they behave differently. Roman soldiers worried a great deal about what their women were up to back home! The saying is found in the Roman poet Propertius.)

1008. Caution is better than a cure. (In other words, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Notice the lovely rhyme in Latin.)

1009. Late is better than never. (This saying is also found in the form potius sero quam numquam, "rather late than never." )

1010. Ignorance does not excuse. (Much like we say in English, "ignorance of the law is no excuse.")

1011. Wrong does not excuse wrong. (In other words, two wrongs don't make a right.)

1012. An eagle does not capture flies. (In other words, the eagle does not sweat the small stuff.)

1013. An eagle does not give birth to a dove. (For the Romans, just as for us, the eagle was a symbol of might and power, while the dove was a symbol of peace.)

1014. A roast pigeon does not fly into your mouth. (In other words: money doesn't grow on trees. The Latin expression in buccas literally means "into your cheeks," in the sense of into your mouth and filling your cheeks. Notice the word order here: in buccas tuas is a single phrase, even though the words are separated from one another in the sentence. The word order is partly determined here by the metrical rhythm, since this saying is a Latin pentameter, the second line of an elegiac couplet.)

1015. A spark, even though it is small, shines in the shadows. (From the Latin word scintilla, "spark," we get the word "scintillating," in the sense of bright, sparkling, etc. I really like this proverb: the darkness may be large, but even a tiny spark still gives off its light - the shadows cannot put a stop to it.)

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

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