Monday, June 20, 2011

Scala 3 (101-150)

<== Go back to Scala 2 (51-100)

101. Bonum habe animum.

[bonus: good] This good advice shows up in Plautus's play, Captivi.

102. Quod bonum est, bonos facit.

This is a Stoic principle you can find expressed in the writings of Seneca, where he is making the argument that virtue must be a good thing, because the practice of virtue makes people good.

103. Bono animo esto.

Here you see the future imperative esto used with an ablative predicate, the so-called "ablative of description" or "ablative of quality." In English we might say: Keep a positive attitude!

104. Cui bono?

This famous double-dative proverb expresses the idea that if you want to know who did something (in particular, if you want to know who committed a crime), then you should ask who benefited from it. For an example from Roman oratory, see Cicero's speech Pro Roscio.

105. Omnia bona mecum sunt.

[ego: I, me] Here the word bona is being used substantively to refer to possessions, much as we also use the plural "goods" in English. Note also the special form mecum here, which is equivalent to "cum me," "with me."

106. Omnia mea mecum sunt.

[meus: my, mine] The idea expressed here is that of spiritual self-reliance, where the things that are really yours are the things that are part of your inner character, the qualities that go with you wherever you go.

107. Meum mihi placet, illi suum.

This is a variation on the "cuique suum" type of proverb. Here the opposition is between what I like (mihi) and what someone else (illi) might like: we each like our own!

108. Meum mihi, suum cuique carum.

This is another way of personalizing the "cuique suum" type of proverb. Each person values what is there, and I value what is mine: meum mihi.

109. Faciam meo modo.

[modus: way, measure, limit; diminutive: modulus] You could call this the Frank Sinatra proverb: "My Way" (the lyrics are by Paul Anka, though).

110. Alii alio modo.

The "alii...alio" expression allows the Latin to be extremely succinct! We would have to say in English, "Some people do things one way; other people do things another way."

111. Est modus in rebus.

The word "modus" here expresses the idea of a limit or a measure, as in the English word "moderation." The idea is that there is a limit to things, a measure that is proper to each thing.

112. Omnis in modo est virtus.

This builds on the idea of moderation, arguing that the whole notion of virtue itself consists of recognizing and staying within the limits of things. The word "omnis" here is an adjective modifying the subject, virtus, but you might best translate it with an adverb in English: Virtue consists entirely of moderation. Latin often prefers to use an adjective to modify the subject of a sentence where in English we might use an adverb instead.

113. Nescit amor habere modum.

[nescio: do not know, be ignorant] Virtue may consist entirely in moderation, but love is something that knows no bounds! That is what makes love so dangerous: it tends to excess.

114. Amor ordinem nescit.

[ordo: row, rank, order] This sentiment is expressed in one of the letters of Saint Jerome, 7.

115. Nescit servire virtus.

[servio: be a slave, serve] Here you see the verb "nescire" used with an infinitive complement. In English, we would say "know (how) to" - Virtue does not know how to be a slave. There is a nice paradox between the sound similarity of "servire" and "virtus," while at the same time the proverb tells us that they are actually opposites.

116. Serviendum est tempori.

Here is the Latin gerundive again, being used in the impersonal neuter singular, to express the idea of a general necessity: you must be a slave, you have to be a slave, we are all slaves, etc. In English you might say, "We are all slaves of time" to express the same idea with a more idiomatic English construction.

117. Temporibus servire decet.

[decet: it is right, proper, appropriate] Here is another impersonal construction: decet. This word conveys the idea of what is appropriate or fitting. In this saying, the idea is that it is appropriate to change with the times - the times change, and we need to obey the changing commands of the times.

118. Aliud alios decet.

Here is another one of those incredibly succinct Latin expressions with "aliud...alios." In English, we would have to say: "One thing is suitable for some people, and something else is suitable for other people." Latin manages all that with just three words!

119. Magnum magna decent.

[magnus: big, large, great] The word decet can be used impersonally, with an infinitive complement, as in the previous proverb, but it can also be used with an actual subject, as here, where magna (neuter plural) is the subject of the verb, decent, and magnum (masculine singular) is the object: Great things befit a great man.

120. Fuge magna.

This is more good advice from Horace, in his Epistles 1.10.

121. Res est magna tacere.

[taceo: be silent, keep quiet, shut up] Be careful here separating the subject and predicate here, since "res...magna" is wrapped around the verb: It is a great thing (res magna) to keep quiet (tacere). You can find this observation in Martial's Epigrams, 4.80.

122. Audio, sed taceo.

[audio: hear, listen] You can see this motto used in a coat of arms here: image.

123. Cum dixeris quod vis, audies quod non vis.

Note the nice parallel structure: dixeris/audies and vis/non-vis.

124. Audies male, si male dicas.

[malus: bad, evil; adv. male] Note that this is the adverbial form of the adjective malus: male. Note also the combination of subjunctive (dicas) and future indicative (audies) to express a condition.

125. Malum bono vince.

This is the Hay family motto.

126. Qui sibi malus, cui bonus?

You will find an answer to this question in the next proverb!

127. Qui sibi malus, nulli bonus.

Note that the unambiguously dative sibi gives you a nice little reminder that the form nulli is also dative. (Nullus is one of those sneaky adjectives that takes mostly first-second declension endings, but which has -ius in the genitive and -i in the dative.)

128. Bonus esse non potest aliis malus sibi.

Note the parallel structure: bonus/aliis and malus/sibi. The adjectival phrase "bonus...aliis" wraps around the verb phrase, "esse non potest," while "malus sibi" is the subject.

129. Non bonus est ulli qui malus ipse sibi.

[ullus: any] This expresses the same ideas as the previous saying, but with a different choice of words: bonus/ulli and malus/sibi.

130. Lex mala, lex nulla.

[lex: law, rule, principle] This saying supposes that there is a higher law, a perfect natural justice - and flawed human laws that fall short of that standard are no law at all. This particular formulation of the notion is attributed to the medieval theologian and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas.

131. Dura lex, sed lex.

While the previous proverb was about bad laws, this is something different: a law can be harsh or difficult without necessarily being consider a bad law. However harsh, it is still the law.

132. Amor legem non habet.

Compare the earlier saying about love not knowing how to stay within bounds: Nescit amor habere modum.

133. Mos regit legem.

This legal principle was used, for example, to justify the practice of slavery in the American South, where slavery was a long-standing social practice, making a "mos" in Latin, even if the laws of the colonies had not formally legalized the various institutions that made slavery possible.

134. Leges moribus serviunt.

This expresses the same idea as in the previous proverb, but vice-versa. You can say that the custom rules the law, or, as here, that the laws obey the customs. Note the use of the dative complement with the verb servire.

135. Legem non habentes, ipsi sibi sunt lex.

The words are from Paul's letter to the Romans, 2.

136. A Deo rex, a rege lex.

[rex: king] This proverb plays upon the sound similarities between "rex" and "lex" to assert a natural relationship between them, based on the principle of absolute monarchy.

137. Rex est lex vivens.

Like the previous proverb, this one plays on the words "rex" and "lex" (making it hard to render the proverb successfully into English!).

138. Omnis est rex in domo sua.

[domus: home, house] Compare the English saying, "A man's home is his castle."

139. Dulce domum.

[dulcis: sweet, pleasant] Notice the use of the neuter adjective here: the proverb does not say that a home is sweet, but that home is a sweet thing, a pleasant thing. This is also the title of the school song of the Winchester College, a boys' school in Winchester, England.

140. Non omne dulce bonum.

Here you see the neuter singular dulce again: Not every sweet thing is good. For example: CANDY. It is good to eat, but not good for you, alas!

141. Dulce et utile.

[utilis: useful, helpful, profitable] This is a principle of literary composition advanced by Horace in his Ars Poetica, where he argues that poets should mix what is useful with what is sweet: Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci, lectorem delectando pariterque monendo.

142. Nihil pulchrum, nisi utile.

[nisi: if not, unless, except for] This is a more extreme utilitarian aesthetic, rejected the idea of beauty for its own sake. It is the motto inscribed on the Manchester Art Gallery in Manchester, England.

143. Nisi Dominus, frustra.

[frustra: in vain, for nothing, uselessly] The verb is implied but not expressed here: Unless the Lord (guides, approves, supports what you are doing), it is in vain. This motto forms part of the crest of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.

144. Frustra habet qui non utitur.

[utor: use, make use of, enjoy] In other words: if something is to be useful, you need to use it - not just possess it. This is one of the proverbs you can find in Erasmus's Adagia, 3.9.20.

145. Virtute utere.

Watch out for the imperative forms of deponent verbs like utor - they can look suspiciously like something other than an imperative! Also, the verb utor takes an ablative complement as you can see here: virtute.

146. Tempus fugit: utere!

In other words: tempore utere!

147. Vita data est utenda.

[vita: life] Here is a fuller form of the saying: "Vita data est utenda; data est sine faenore nobis / Mutua, nec certa persolvenda die" - "Life is given to use to be used; it is given to use without interest, as a loan, to be repaid on a day not known to us" (a fragment of Albinovanus Pedo preserved by Seneca the Elder.)

148. Tempus est vitae magister.

[magister: teacher, master; fem. magistra] You need to know where to separate subject and predicate here: tempus (time) is the vitae magister (life's teacher). Or, as we say in English, "Live and learn."

149. Tempus magistrorum optimus est.

[optimus: best] Note the genitive plural here: magistrorum. So, in English it would be: Time is the best of teachers (i.e. the best of all teachers).

150. Amor magister est optimus.

I guess in a competition between time and love for the title of best teacher, I would probably be tempted to pick time as truly the best teacher... but they are both serious contenders, of course.

Scala 4 (151-200)

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