Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scala 20 (951-1000)

<== Go back to Scala 19 (901-950)

951. Alia terra alios mores postulat.

[terra: earth, land, country] The "alia terra" here is like the "cuique genti" of the proverb cited above - the land stands by metonymy for the people who live in that land.

952. Nihil in terra sine causa fit.

You can find these words in the Biblical book of Job, 5.

953. Omnes terra sumus.

Again, omnes (masculine plural) agrees with the implied subject of the verb: Omnes (nos) terra sumus. Here the word terra does not stand by metonymy for different human cultures, but instead for the dust of the earth from which we were made and to which we shall return.

954. Qui de terra est, de terra loquitur.

You can find these words in the Gospel of John, 3.

955. Quaevis terra patria.

[quivis: whatever, any, any at all] This compound pronoun, quivis, is made up of the familiar qui pronoun plus "vis" - "you want," from the verb volo, so the pronoun means "whatever you want, anything you like," etc. So the idea here is that any country at all can be your homeland - not just the country you were born in.

956. Sapientis quaevis terra patria.

This takes the previous proverb and makes it more specific: any land at all can be the homeland of the wise man. Already in the ancient Mediterranean world, the wisdom traditions were enthusiastically cosmopolitan!

957. Ne cuivis credas, neque nulli.

Note the negative command with a subjunctive: ne credas. You can't believe just anybody (cuivis) - but it is also a mistake to believe no one at all (nulli, dative).

958. Non cuivis omnia conveniunt.

Unlike cuique, which means "anybody, each person," the dative cuivis has the sense of "anybody at all, just anybody" - so: Not all things are suitable for just anybody!

959. Etiam si omnes, ego non.

[etiam: and, even, also] Notice that the verb is unstated here, and can be supplied from context - for example, in my case, we could say, "Even if everybody (is using Facebook), I don't." :-)

960. Omnia mea mecum porto.

[porto: carry] Compare the self-sufficient proverb above: Mecum mea sunt cuncta.

961. Si portari vis, porta et alium.

Note the adverbial "et" here - rather than connecting two things as a conjuction, et here is an adverb, equivalent to English "too," "also," "even," etc.

962. Alter alterius onera portate.

[onus: load, burden] The alter...alter works like the alius...alius you have seen in previous proverbs: Carry one another's (alter alterius) burdens.

963. Paupertas durum onus.

[paupertas: poverty, need] This proverb is a good way to remember that the noun onus is third-declension neuter (durum onus), even though it has that suspiciously masculine -us ending.

964. Paupertas mordet.

[mordeo: bite] The modern slang "bites" actually fits this Latin usage very nicely!

965. Lupus lupum non mordet.

This "lupus lupum" phrase in Latin might be rendered in English as "One wolf does not bite another."

966. Mortui non mordent.

[mortuus: dead] You can also find a fuller version of this saying: Cum mortui non mordent, iniquum est ut mordeantur, "Since the dead do not bite, it is wrong for them to be bitten," - which is to say: Speak not ill of the dead (see the next proverb).

967. De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

The verb is implied here, but not stated: De mortuis nil nisi bonum (dicamus... dicere oportet... etc.).

968. Medicina mortuorum sera est.

[medicina: medicine, medical treatment] The word "sera" here means not just "late," but "too late" - there's no good administering medicine to the dead.

969. Post mortem, medicina.

This is a more succinct version of the previous proverb.

970. Optima medicina nulla uti medicina.

The infinitive uti, "to use," is being used like a noun here, taking an ablative complement, nulla medicina: The best medicine is to use no medicine. (Notice how the phrase nulla medicina wraps nicely around the infinitive.)

971. Tempus optima medicina.

You can see where to divide the subject and predicate, thanks to the adjective optima - it can agree only with medicina, you have "Tempus (est) optima medicina," "Time is the best medicine."

972. Liber medicina animi.

[liber-book: book] The Latin word animus is notoriously difficult to translate into English, but with the word "book" involved, perhaps mind is the best choice: A book is medicine for the mind.

973. Bonus liber amicus optimus.

Notice the nice play on the adjective bonus and its superlative form, optimus: A good book is a most excellent friend. (The Latin superlative is often used to mean "very" or "most," rather than an explicit comparison.)

974. Doctus cum libro.

This is a sarcastic proverb referring to someone is who is learned, doctus, but only when he can reference a book - or, in the modern age, when he can look everything up with Google! Compare the dismissive phrase in English, "book learning."

975. Faciendi plures libros nullus est finis.

Here you see the gerund, faciendum ("making"), in the genitive case, with finis: There is no end of the making of books. (The accusative plures libros is the object of the gerund; just as participles can take direct objects, the same is true of gerunds.)

976. Optimus magister bonus liber.

Compare the earlier saying: Bonus liber amicus optimus.

977. Libri muti magistri sunt.

[mutus: silent, mute] The adjective "muti" can go either with libri or with magistri, but the meaning of the saying gives the solution: Books (libri) are silent teachers (muti magistri). Books speak with words - but silently!

978. Magis mutus pisce.

[piscis: fish] Note the use of the ablative, pisce, to express the comparison: More silent than a fish.

979. Magis mutus quam piscis.

Compare to the previous saying; this saying shows that it is also possible to use quam to express the comparison.

980. Magis mutus ipsis piscibus.

This offers a more emphatic version of the same idea: More silent than the fish themselves!

981. Pisces natare oportet.

[nato: swim] The impersonal verb oportet takes an accusative (pisces) and an infinitive (natare) complement; in English we would say "Fish gotta swim!"

982. Piscem natare doces.

This is an ironic proverb, describing a fool's errand: You are teaching a fish to swim - which is, of course, a waste of time! For the proverbial swimming fish, see the previous saying.

983. Ferrum natare doces.

[ferrum: iron, sword] This is a different kind of fool's errand - one that is impossible, since you cannot teach iron to swim.

984. Ferro via facienda est.

Here you see the gerundive, facienda, with via as the subject, hence the feminine singular form: A way must be made with iron, i.e. by means of the sword.

985. Ferro nocentius aurum.

[aurum: gold] The ablative, ferro, expresses the comparison; nocentius is the comparative form of the adjective (participle) nocens: Gold does more harm than iron (i.e. the sword).

986. Aurum vincit omnia.

This is a more cynical perspective compared to the saying cited earlier: Amor vincit omnia.

987. Aurum lex sequitur.

You can find this and other sayings about bribery in this Wikipedia article.

988. Aurum quid valet!

The exclamation comes from Plautus's Aulularia: Di immortales, obsecro, aurum quid valet! - "By the immortal gods, I swear, what power there is in gold!"

989. Nihil potentius auro.

[potens: powerful, strong, capable] The word potentius is the neuter comparative form of potens, and auro expresses the comparison: Nothing is more powerful than gold.

990. Virtus potentior auro.

This is a more optimistic perspective on the world than the one in the previous power: Personal worth is more powerful than gold.

991. Bonum est potentior malo.

Note the substantive use of the adjective, bonum - it means "the good," as an abstract idea ("that which is good").

992. Bonus potentior malo.

Here the word bonus is being used substantively to mean a good man (masculine singular), a good person.

993. Facta sunt potentiora verbis.

This contrast between words and deeds is one you have seen in previous sayings, e.g. "Factis, non verbis."

994. Potentis est facere quod velit.

This construction in Latin - genitive (potentis) with an infinitive (facere) - is usually best rendered in English by taking the genitive as the subject of your English sentence: The powerful man (potentis) can do (facere) what he wants (quod velit). The idea is that the infinitive is something, a capacity, a power, that is in the possession of the person - hence the use of the genitive.

995. Libens, volens, potens.

[libens: willing, glad; adv. libenter] This is a great personal motto - compare the English saying, "Ready, willing, and able."

996. Ea facile facimus, quae libenter facimus.

This proverb shows the etymological relationship between the verb, facere, and the adjective, facilis, "easy (to do)." Note the two different kinds of adverbs here: facile (neuter adjective used as an adverb) and libenter (-ter suffix on the adjectival stem).

997. Ea credimus libenter quae cupimus.

This proverb plays with a nice sound play between credimus and cupimus. For a less euphonic version of this same idea, compare this saying: Homines libenter credunt quod volunt.

998. Libenter amorem ferto.

Ferto is the future imperative of fero; libenter is the adverbial form of the participle, libens, "willingly, gladly" (you can see there is a bit of "libido" there in "libens").

999. Nusquam melius morimur homines, quam ubi libenter viximus.

[nusquam: nowhere, never] This is another one of the sayings collected by Publilius Syrus. Note the perfect form of vivo: viximus.

1000. Ab amicis libenter moneamur.

[moneo: remind, warn, admonish] Note the subjunctive, moneamur: "Let us be admonished by our friends..."

Scala 21 (1001-1050)

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