Saturday, December 02, 2006

Latin Via Proverbs 15

Note for the month of December: You can find Latin Christmas Carols, with a new one for each day, at my Latin Carols Blog. December 2: Angelus ad Virginem, "The Angel to the Virgin."

Like the last set of proverbs, Group 15 also contains third declension nouns in the nominative case, and your challenge is sorting out the subject and predicate portions of each saying.

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 15

192. The truth is bitter. (This phrase can be found in a sermon of Saint Augustine. The full form of this phrase is quamdiu blanditur iniquitas et dulcis est iniquitas, amara est veritas, "while iniquity is enticing and iniquity is sweet, the truth is bitter.")

193. Brevity is welcome. (In other words "short and sweet." A fuller form of this phrase is Grata brevitas, grata novitas, "Welcome is brevity, welcome is novelty.")

194. Crime is always fearful. (The phrase can be found in the Roman poet Statius.)

195. Prison is never pretty. (We get the English word "incarcerate" from the Latin carcer.)

196. Love is blind. (A more specific form of this proverb is caecus amor prolis, "love of one's offspring is blind," i.e., parents adore their children regardless of their faults.)

197. An old love is a crab. (The phrase is found in the Roman author Petronius. The idea seems to be that a long-standing love is like a crab because it doesn't go forward, as crabs were notorious for going sideways instead of straight, or else because an old love grabs hold like a crab and won't let go.)

198. Passion is a harsh mistress. (This saying is adapted from Cicero, and in its fuller form the saying says quam dura est domina, quam imperiosa, quam vehemens, "how harsh a mistress, how imperious, how overbearing.")

199. Necessity is a mighty force. (The Latin word vis is an irregular noun. There is not a genitive singular form that you can memorize, and instead you need to just memorize the forms that are found: vis, nominative singular; vi, dative and ablative singular; vim, accusative singular; vires, nominative and accusative plural; and virium, genitive plural.)

200. Pain is the greatest evil. (The Latin word dolor covers a wide range of meanings: pain, grief, suffering, etc. The phrase is adapted from Cicero.)

201. Extreme justice is extreme injustice. (Taken to extremes, law enforcement becomes a form of injustice. Notice the play on words in the Latin, as in the English: iniuria is the opposite (in-) or ius. The phrase is cited in Cicero.)

202. Rest is the best medicine. (Compare a similar saying in Latin Via Proverbs Group 2,, "The best medicine is moderation.")

203. A picture is a mute poem. (This is something like the English saying "a picture is worth a thousand words." You have to use the gender clues to sort out the subject and predicate here: mutum goes with poema because they are both neuter, while the noun pictura is feminine.)

204. Desire and anger are the worst advisors. (In other words, don't let your desires and your anger make your decisions for you!)

205. Fair virgin, pious, pure and immaculate. (This Latin phrase, amazingly, is a perfect anagram of the famous salution of the angel to Mary: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you." The two phrases contain exactly the same letters, rearranged.)

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

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