Sunday, April 22, 2007

Latin Via Proverbs 68

I hope these notes will help you tackle this group of proverbs in Latin Via Proverbs. This is a group of proverbs featuring questions built with forms of the interrogative pronoun quis, quid.

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 68

906. What [is the point of saying] more? (The multa here means "more things, more words, etc. You can sometimes find it in the form Quid multa verba?. This is the Latin equivalent of the English expression "Need I say more?")

907. What need is there of words? (You can find this idiom in many classical authors, including Seneca.)

908. What's new out of Africa? (Notice the use of the partitive genitive, novi. Africa was the proverbial site of oddities and prodigies in the ancient world.)

909. What is a man? (This is both a philosophical and theological question. For a Biblical treatment, see Job: Quid est homo ut inmaculatus sit et ut iustus appareat natus de muliere, "What is man that he should be without spot? What is he, born of woman, that he should appear to be just?")

910. What is truth? (This question is famously asked by Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of John.)

911. What is there in common between a dolphin and a bull? (Compare the Aesop's fable about the dolphin and the lion that makes basically the same point: a sea creature and a land creature don't have anything to do with each other.)

912. What need has a blind man with a mirror? (You can find this saying in Erasmus's Adagia, 3.7.54.)

913. What has a jackdaw to do with a harp? (Note the Latin fidibus, plural of fides, "string," referring to a stringed instrument such as harp, lyre, etc.)

914. What does a lion have to do with a mouse? (The proverbial opposition between the lion and the mouse is a feature of many Aesop's fables, such as the famous story of the lion who thinks, wrongly, that he and a mouse have nothing to do with each other.)

915. What does light have to do with shadows? (You can find this saying in Tertullian: "quid luci cum tenebris? quid vitae et morti?, "What does light have to do with shadows? What does life have to do with death?")

916. For whose benefit? (This is a famous principle of Roman law, which asks the question cui bono? in order to identify the motive for a crime.)

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