Saturday, December 09, 2006

Latin Via Proverbs 22

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 9: Gaudium Mundo, a Latin translation of "Joy to the World."

This set of proverbs using third declension nouns has this basic pattern in Latin: "Z's Y is X."

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 22

289. The way of life is virtue. (Notice the lovely alliteration in the Latin.)

290. Friendship is the salt of life. (Although we are used to having an endlessl supply of salt to season our food, this was not the case in the past, when salt was often in limited supply. The English word "salary," derived from the Latin salarium, "soldier's allowance for purchase of salt," shows that salt was once a precious commodity indeed.)

291. Love is the salt of the soul. (You can see an illustrated emblem with this motto in Otto Vaenius's Amoris divini emblemata, published in 1615.)

292. Love is the root of virtue. (You can see an illustrated emblem with this motto in Otto Vaenius's Amorum emblemata, published in 1608.)

293. Jealousy is love's shadow. (You can see an illustrated emblem with this motto in Otto Vaenius's Amorum emblemata, published in 1608, and alter in his Amoris divini emblemata, published in 1615. The later version has the more sinister shadows, it seems to me!)

294. The love of God is the sun of the mind. (You can see an illustrated emblem with this motto in Otto Vaenius's Amoris divini emblemata, published in 1615.)

295. Hunger for gold is overwhelming. (Notice that in English we say "hunger for," but the corresponding Latin expression uses the genitive, not the dative.)

296. The way of virtue is steep. (There is an Aesop's fable about the choice between the two ways: the arduous and difficult pass that eventually leads to freedom and repose, as opposed to the smooth and pleasant road that leads only to slavery and suffering.)

297. Agreement among brothers is rare. (A fuller form of this saying is Fratrum concordia rara, discrepatio crebra, "Agreement among brothers is rare, their quarreling is frequent." There is a delightful Aesop's fable about the father who used a bundle of sticks to teach his quarreling sons about the importance of concord: when bundled, the sticks could not be broken, but taken individually, each stick was easily broken.)

298. The enemies gifts are not gifts. (In other words: beware of the Trojan horse, a gift from an enemy that may contain the seeds of your own destruction.)

299. The rage of princes is war. (The idea is that the personal passions of those in power erupts into war which involves entire nations. Be careful with the Latin word principum, which is the genitive plural form of princeps, meaning "prince" or "rulers," as opposed to the neuter noun principium, "beginning." This phrase is included in the proverbs of Publilius Syrus, and it is also cited by Seneca, who says: Quantulum enim nocet privata crudelitas! principum saevitia bellum est, "How little damage is done by individual cruelty! The rage of princes is war.")

300. Even the order of the words is a mystery. (This is a comment made by Jerome regarding the difficulty of translating the Bible from one language into another, although it could also stand as a motto for the Latin student baffled by the mysteries of Latin word order. The Latin word mysterium is adopted from Greek, as you can tell by the letter "y," and it referred to religious worship.)

301. Hunger is the seasoning of food, and thirst the seasoning of drink. (Notice the parallel structure in the Latin, which allows the word condimentum to be omitted in the second part of the proverb: cibi condimentum est fames, potionis [condimentum est] sitis. The phrase is cited by Cicero.)

302. The mother of cruelty is greed, and its father is anger. (Notice that because avaritia is a feminine noun, she is the "mother" of cruelty while the masculine furor is its "father." The phrase is cited as an example by the grammarian Publius Rutilius Lupus.)

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

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