Saturday, January 13, 2007

Latin Via Proverbs 25

This group features third declension nouns, along with first and second declension nouns and adjectives. In addition, each saying contains some expression using the ablative case.

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 25

337. Not by force but by tricks. (This phrase can be found in the Roman historian Sallust. Remember that 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.)

338. Not by might but by right. (Although the Latin saying does not rhyme, I took the liberty of providing some rhyme in the English this time, just as small compensation for all the times I've had to leave out the rhyme when translating a proverb from Latin into English.)

339. Not by force but by ingenuity and skill. (Notice the variety of ablative endings. All three nouns are in the same case, but each ends in a different vowel.)

340. Both by force and by valor. (There is nice sound repetition in the Latin: vi...virtute.)

341. By means of strength, not speech. (I've tried to reproduce the Latin alliteration in the English version. Remember that the Latin word virtus has a wide variety of possible English translations, so you have to choose the translation that best fits the context. Here, I've chosen based on a context of sound, in order to create the alliteration in the English.)

342. By means of the sword and the plow. (You can see this motto illustrated on the shield of Boufarik in Algeria.)

343. In soul and in body. (The Latin word animus has many possible English translations, and you need to choose the one that seems best suited to the context. Since in English there is a basic pairing of body-and-soul, I thought that would be the best choice here.)

344. With both sweat and blood. (English, alas, is not able to replicate the alliteration of the Latin. You can see this same motif in Seneca, Virtus sudore et sanguine colenda est, "Virtue is to be cultivated in both sweat and blood.")

345. Either by skill or by battle. (The god of war, Mars, stands for "war" itself, as in the English words "martial arts," "court martial," etc. Once again, the Latin phrase features a sound play which is impossible to replicate in English.)

346. Either by prayer or at a price. (At last, it is possible to replicate the sound play of the Latin in the English version! From the Latin pretium we get the English word "price," and from pretiosus, "pricey," we get the English word "precious.")

347. Neither by a request or by a fee or by threats. (In other words: something is not available at any price, or on request - not even by means of threats! The phrase shows up in Ovid's Fasti.)

348. A donkey doesn't need words: he needs a whipping. (This wonderful phrase is used in a speech by Cicero: Quid nunc te, asine, litteras doceam? Non opus est verbis sed fustibus, "What, you donkey, am I to teach you your letters? A donkey doesn't need words: he needs a whipping.")

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

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