Thursday, March 29, 2007

Latin Via Proverbs 52

I hope these notes will help you tackle this group of proverbs in Latin Via Proverbs. This group features another set of proverbial sayings based on the comparative form of the adjective.

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 52

689. The fear of death is worse than death. (Notice the nice juxtposition of mortis / morte in the Latin, which is simply not possible in English word order.)

690. A living dog is better than a dead lion. (You can find this saying in the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes.)

691. Certain peace is better than uncertain victory. (Compare a similar saying, Melior est certa pax quam sperata victoria, "a certain peace is better than a hoped for victory," a saying you will find in Livy.)

692. Forethought is better than regret. (You will also frequently find the Latin word paenitentia spelled poenitentia in medieval texts.)

693. In times of danger, a friend is preferable to money. (You can find this in a long list of sayings about friendship in Boissard's emblem book of 1593.)

694. The smoke of the fatherland is brighter than a foreign fire. (This saying made its way into Erasmus's Adagia, 1.2.16.)

695. Your own little fireplace is more precious than lots of gold. (The word foculus is a diminutive of the word focus, meaning "fireplace, hearth," which used to be the "focus" of the house (via French, the Latin focus ultimately gives us the word "foyer.")

696. People's good reputation is more dependable than money. (This is a saying attributed to Publilius Syrus.)

697. A free man without resources is more fortunate than a rich servant. (Notice that this is the Latin adjective, liber, meaning "a free person," not to be confused with liber meaning book.)

698. Desire for money is more oppressive than any tyrant. (Notice the use of the subjective genitive with cupiditas, "desire for money," cupiditas pecuniarum.)

699. A wicked tongue is sharper than the point of a sword. (Compare a similar saying, Multo quam ferrum lingua atrocior ferit, "How much more savagely does the tongue wound than does the sword's steel!")

700. False witnesses are worse than thieves. (This is a saying from the Roman juridical tradition.)

701. Many students are more excellent than their teachers. (This is a saying found in Erasmus's Adagia 3.5.23, citing the letters of Cicero.)

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