Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Scala 5 (201-250)

<== Go back to Scala 4 (151-200)

201. Quid est veritas?

This is the question famously asked by Pilate in the Gospel of John. There is an anagram answer in Latin, too: "Est vir qui adest!" (it uses exactly the same letters as Pilate's question, rearranged).

202. Dura veritas, sed veritas.

Compare the similar saying about the law above: Dura lex, sed lex.

203. In vino veritas.

Find out more in the Wikipedia article dedicated to this saying.

204. Via, veritas, vita.

[via: way, road] You can also find the saying in this form: Veritas est via vitae. For more information, see the Wikipedia article dedicated to this motto.

205. Fata viam invenient.

[invenio: come upon, find, invent] Note the future tense: invenient. Here is the line from Vergil's Aeneid III where you can find this saying: Fata viam invenient aderitque vocatus Apollo.

206. Aut inveniam viam, aut faciam.

[aut: or; aut...aut... either...or...] For more about this saying, see the Wikipedia article dedicated to it.

207. Aut est, aut non est; tertium non datur.

[tertius: third] You can read more about the "law of the excluded middle" in this Wikipedia article.

208. Aut Caesar aut nihil.

[Caesar: Caesar, emperor] This motto was famously attributed to Cesare Borgia.

209. Date Caesari quae sunt Caesaris.

This refers to the famous testing of Jesus in the Temple, which you can read about in the Wikipedia article entitled "Render unto Caesar."

210. Aut Caesar aut nullus.

In this variation on the saying "Aut Caesar aut nihil," instead of nihil, you now find nullus: nobody.

211. Rex, aut asinus.

[asinus: donkey, ass] This is one of the sayings collected by Erasmus in his Adages, 3.41.

212. Asinus asino pulcher est.

There is a biting sarcasm in this proverb since we do not find the donkeys as lovely as they find one another.

213. Asinus asino pulcherrimus.

This takes the preceding proverb and makes it superlative! This independent use of the superlative in Latin can be translated into English as "extremely lovely," "completely lovely," "perfectly lovely, etc."

214. Asino pigrior.

[piger: lazy, slow, dull] The donkey was proverbially slow-moving and dull-witted in Latin, just as in English. Compare this line from an epigram by Thomas More, referring to two horses, one fast and one slow: "Alter sed pigro pigrior est asino."

215. Vult et non vult piger.

This saying comes from the Biblical Book of Proverbs, 13.

216. Dicit piger: leo est in via.

[leo: lion] This saying also comes from the Book of Proverbs, 26, as the lazy man invents excuses for himself, such as imagining that there are lions roaming the streets!

217. Unum, sed leonem.

This is the famous riposte of the lioness who, when mocked for having only one cub, replied, "One - but he is a lion." The story is found in Aesop's fables. Note the accusative; the idea is that the lioness is talking about having a cub - the Latin statement omits the verb but keeps the accusative case.

218. Unum quidem, sed leonem.

[quidem: indeed, in fact, even] This is a stylistic variation on the preceding proverb which shows very nicely the use of the emphatic particle "quidem," which adds emphasize to the word preceding word.

219. Vir quidem unus, nullus est.

Compare the proverb cited earlier: Unus vir non omnia videt.

220. Ipsa quidem virtus pretium sibi.

[pretium: value, price, reward] Compare the English saying, "Virtue is its own reward." (The English saying, however, does not have the nice emphatic "quidem" that the Latin does!)

221. Omnia cum pretio Romae.

[Roma: Rome] Note here the locative Romae, meaning "at Rome" or "in Rome." This saying is found in Juvenal's Satire 3 - and for a commentary on its applicability to modern-day Washington, take a look at this blog post at Laudator Temporis Acti.

222. Omnes viae ad Romam ferunt.

[fero: carry, bear, produce, yield] Notice that roads carry you in Latin, ferunt. Compare the English saying, "All roads lead to Rome."

223. Omnia fert tempus.

This is fert in the sense not just of "carry" but "carry off" or "carry away." Time as it marches on takes all things away with it.

224. Ferendo feram.

This is our first example of the wonderful Latin gerund, a noun that is formed from the verbal stem and which is most often used in the ablative case, as here: By bearing (i.e. enduring, bearing up under difficulties), I will bear.

225. Ferendum ut vincas.

The impersonal neuter gerundive expresses the idea of a command: You must bear up, you must bear it - ferendum.

226. Ferendum et sperandum.

Both ferendum and sperandum are gerundives, used impersonally (hence the neuter singular) to express necessity: We must endure and we must hope - Ferendum et sperandum.

227. Sors est sua cuique ferenda.

[sors: lot, fate, luck] Here is the gerundive being used with an actual subject: sors. Since sors is a feminine noun, that is why you have the feminine form of the gerundive: ferenda. The dative case, cuique, conveys the sense of agency: Each person must bear their own lots in life, much endure their own fate.

228. Non sorte, sed virtute.

You can see this motto inscribed on an 18th-century military medallion here: image.

229. Varia sors rerum.

[varius: different, changing, diverse] This saying is a good way to remember the gender of sors: feminine, hence the adjective varia. The saying itself can be found in Tacitus, Histories 2.

230. Varia vita est.

You can find this sentiment in Plautus's play Truculentus.

231. Eventus belli varii.

[eventus: outcome] Note that while the form "eventus" is ambiguous (the fourth declension nouns are often ambiguous!), the adjective varii gives you the clue you need: the eventus (plural) of war are varii.

232. Varius eventus est proelii.

[proelium: battle, fight, conflict] Compare to the previous proverb; eventus here is singular, not plural, as you can tell from the adjective varius and from the verb est.

233. Post proelium praemium.

[praemium: prize, reward, gift] This is one of those proverbs which depends for its charm on the word play - the closest I can get is "fight" and "prize" in English, but that sound play is not nearly as good as "proelium" and "praemium" is in the Latin.

234. Virtus sibi praemium.

Compare the previous proverb: Ipsa quidem virtus pretium sibi.

235. Virtutis praemium felicitas.

[felicitas: happiness, good fortune] This is a motto associated with the Jones family.

236. Nulla longi temporis felicitas.

[longus: long, long-lasting, tall] The initial adjectives "nulla" and "longi" obviously do not agree with one another - but as you get the rest of the proverb, it all sorts itself out: nulla felicitas and longi temporis. So, no happiness is of long duration. Alas!

237. Longae regum manus.

[manus: hand, band, gang] Here is another one of those ambiguous fourth-declension noun forms: manus - but the adjective gives you the clue you need: longae, "long are the hands of kings," metaphorically speaking.

238. Legis manus longa.

Compare the previous proverb - now you have longa manus, singular.

239. Ex propriis manibus vivo.

[proprius: one's own, personal, individual] In Engish we might say "I live by my own hands" (i.e. independently), while Latin instead says ex propriis manibus. You can also find the phrase "ex propriis manibus" used in legal Latin, and also in the variant form "ex propriis suis (manibus)."

240. Domus propria, domus optima.

This is a variation on the "cuique suum" theme, this time using the adjective proprius to express that idea of "one's own."

241. Propria domus omnium optima.

This version of the same proverb spells out the superlative comparison explicitly: one's own home is the best (optima) of all (omnium).

242. Propria cures.

[curo: take care of, worry about, arrange, heal] Note the subjunctive, cures, which has basically the same effect as an imperative: you should worry about your own things (and not about the things of other people!).

243. Non nimium curo.

[nimius: excessive, too great, too much] You can find this sentiment expressed in Martial's Epigrams, 9.81. Note that nimium is being used here adverbially (as often happens with neuter forms in Latin: just as multum is often used adverbially, so too with nimium).

244. Nulli nimium credite.

Note the sneaky dative form of nullus: nulli, with the verb credite, which takes a dative complement. Nimium, as in the previous proverb, is adverbial: trust no one overmuch.

245. Omne nimium non bonum.

Here nimium is being used substantively, meaning "something excessive, something in excess."

246. Ne nimium.

Here you see "ne" used without a verb - because the idea is that you should not do anything to excess: don't talk too much, don't say too late, don't eat too much, don't eat too little - ne (WHATEVER) nimium!

247. Nil nimium.

[nil: nothing] Here you see a contracted form of nihil: nil. Latin not only could drop the "h" breathing at the beginning of a word (for example, you can find the words "harena" and "arena"), it was also possible for an "h" to get gobbled up inside a word, as here.

248. Nil magnum nisi bonum.

In other words, if something is less than good, it is less than great! This is the motto of St. Catherine's School in Australia.

249. Nil nimium cupias.

[cupio: desire, want, wish for] Note here the subjunctive, cupias, which has the force of a command: you should desire nothing overmuch.

250. Non omnia omnibus cupienda sunt.

Here you have a gerundive expressing the idea of necessity. Omnia is the subject of the sentence, neuter plural, and the gerundive agrees with it in case, number and gender, as an adjective must: cupienda. The dative omnibus expresses the idea of agency. Since we don't really have a construction like this in English, we would have to say something like "Not all things are desirable for everybody."

Scala 6 (251-300)

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