Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Latin Via Proverbs 30

I hope these notes will help you tackle this group of proverbs in Latin Via Proverbs. This group features third declension nouns, along with first and second declension nouns and adjectives. As with the last group of proverbs, each saying here contains a preposition, this time always with the accusative case.

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 30

402. The younger ones to the tasks. (This one loses all its charm in English, without the lovely rhyme of the Latin. There is no verb, so you can supply the verb of your choice: the younger ones need to get to work, should go to work, etc. A fuller form of the saying is Juniores ad labores, seniores ad honores, "The younger ones have jobs to do, the older ones have honors.")

403. Hannibal is at the gates. (Hannibal, of course, was the great Carthaginian general who fought against Rome in the second Punic War. This was a proverbial threat among the ancient Romans, something like us saying "it's the end of the world!")

404. Christians to the lions. (In other words: send the Christians to the lions! This is a phrase from the time of Christian persecutions before Christianity became the ruling religion of the Roman Empire in the year 313.)

405. The road to good character is never late. (In other words: it's never too late to change your ways and improve your character. This is another one of the many sayings you can find in the Roman writer Seneca. This time, however, it comes from one of his plays - the Agamemnon - rather than from his philosophical writings: nam sera numquam est ad bonos mores via: quem paenitet peccasse paene est innocens, " for the road to good character is never late; the person who is sorry for his mistake is practically innocent.")

406. The wolves as guardians among the sheep. (In other words: the sheep better watch out! The shepherd who makes the wolves guardians of his sheep is making a big mistake, as you can read in many Aesop's fables, such as this great story by Odo of Cheriton. You can find a similar saying in Plautus: lupos apud ovis linquere, "to leave wolves amidst the sheep." )

407. The lion skin upon the donkey. (You can read a detailed discussion of this saying, with examples from Aesop's fable, at the Latin Audio Proverbs blog.)

408. No one is above the laws. (A related saying is non est princeps supra leges, "the ruler is not above the laws.")

409. Caesar is not above the grammarians. (This assertion of the claims of grammar dates to a funny story about the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund (quotation from Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 1997, online source): "In his first address at the Council of Constance, so it is said, [King Sigismund] treated the Latin word schisma, schism, as if it were feminine: Date operam, the king said, ut ista, nefanda schisma eradicetur. When Priscian and other learned grammarians were quoted to him to show it was neuter, he replied, "Yes; but I am emperor and above them, and can make a new grammar." The fact that Sigismund was not yet emperor when the mistake is said to have been made—for he was not crowned till 1433—seems to prejudice the authenticity of the story, but it is quite likely that he made mistakes in Latin and that the bon-mot was humorously invented with reference to it.")

410. The turtle is safe in her shell. (There is a great Aesop's fable about how the poor eagle really was not able to get the turtle out of her shell, but with the help of the conniving crow, the poor turtle did not stand a chance! You can read the Aesop's fable online.)

411. Like a fish out of water. (A fuller form of this saying is Ut piscis extra aquam, sic monachus extra cellam, "A monk outside of his cell is like a fish out of water.")

412. No one happy before his death. (Here's a proverb that really needs a verb in English: "No man can be called happy before his death," nemo ante mortem beatus dici potest. In other words, disaster is always lurking around the corner. Even the most blessed man could be destined for tragedy.)

413. Calm after the storm. (You can find this idea used in praise of God here in the Book of Tobit: post tempestatem tranquillum facis et post lacrimationem et fletum exultationem infundis, "after the storm, you make a clam and after tears and weeping you pour forth joy.")

414. After darkness, light. (This saying became a motto of the Protestant Reformation, which regarding the history of the church as a kind of darkness which the light of the Gospel would be able to dispel. It is especially associated with the Reformation movement in Geneva, and you can see it on this lovely Swiss commemorative medallion from 1896, from the Virtual Museum for the Swiss National Exhibition.)

415. After three days of a guest, that's enough. (A fuller form of the saying is Post triduum mulieris, hospitis et pluviarum satietas est, "After three days of a woman, of a guest, and of rain, that's enough.")

416. Between the mouth and the morsel. (A fuller form of this saying is Inter os et offam multa intervenire possunt, "Between the mouth and the morsel, many things can intervene." The English equivalent is "There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip." In other words, until you've actually sunk your teeth into something, don't count on it! This shows up in Erasmus's Adagia, 1.5.2, and can be found in an interesting discussion in Aulus Gellius.)

417. Between the dog and the wolf. (This saying can have quite different meanings based on context. Sometimes the saying depends on the notion that there is not that much difference between a dog and a wolf, so this saying refers to something indeterminate, such as twilight. In other contexts, it can be something like "between Scylla and Charybdis," with danger lurking on both sides, as in this fuller form of the phrase: Inter lupos et canes nullam salutem esse, "They say that there is no safety between the wolves and the dogs.")

418. Between the anvil and the hammer. (Being between the anvil and the hammer is not a good place to be! As Erasmus explains in the Adagia, 1.1.16, de his, qui anxietatibus, et ingentibus malis premuntur, this is a saying "about those who are afflicted by enormous anxieties and problems.")

419. We are within six walls: up, down, behind, in front, right and left. (You can find this saying in the great medieval dialogue of Pippin and Albin.)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

>>>414. After darkness, light

Post Tenebras Lux

maybe it's more interesting to link to the page than to the image...


gruss aus bern, red:-)