Latin Maxims and Proverbs

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Maybe we need a thread for maxims and proverbs, likeDe mortuis nil nisi bonum, Vae victis, Entia non sunt muliplicanda, or De gustibus non est disputandum. There are many others. Any you would care to contribute?
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Thanks for the link, Decimus. Perhaps people could look at the list and each choose a few favorites. So far, being of Spanish heritage, I'll say this one is my favorite:

Beati hispani, quibus vivere bibere est. "Happy are the Spaniards, for whom to live is to drink."

Unfortunately, this is a bit of a sarcastic observation, since it stems from the fact that when many Spaniards pronounce Latin, as when we speak Spanish, there is no distinction between the sounds of "b" an"v." ;)

By the bye, the French also favor us with a charming expression: Tu parles français comme une vache espagnole; that is, "You speak French like a Spanish cow," referring to the difficulty many Spaniards have in pronouncing French, which is phonemically very different from Spanish. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Frenchman who coined the Latin aphorism I chose! Speaking of which, have you ever heard the French pronunciation of Latin?

French people are always surprised when I tell them of my Spanish origins, because they find it remarkable that I, being a person whose first language was Spanish, have almost no accent in speaking French; of course, this is because I learned it quite young, while my phonemic habits were still "flexible."
 

Akela

sum
Staff member
This is a good thread!

One of my favourites would be Temet Nosce.


Here is another (short) Latin saying list.
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Here's another:

Semper flamma fumo est proxima

"The flame is always near the smoke," or Englished, "Where there's smoke, there's fire."
 
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JaimeB

Civis Illustris
I use this as part of my sig on another board:

Qui nihil potest sperare, desperet nihil.

It's from Seneca: "Let him who can hope for nothing despair of nothing." Smacks a bit of Stoicism, don't you guys think?
 
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Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus
well ... Seneca the Younger's philosophy was Stoicism
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

Civis Illustris
One thing I've noticed is that if a quotation hasn't got a known origin, there is little or no attempt made by any of the sources available on the internet to determine when it first appeared. Perhaps there are actual printed books that list such things; otherwise trying to get anywhere with this sounds like a long hard slog involving physical libraries.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum is a phrase commonly used. Once someone asked me why the verb was omitted. I said it was a feature of sayings in Latin, and then realised that I couldn't think of any examples that were genuinely parallel. All the ones that sprang to mind were sentences in which the copula was dropped. This is not the case here, and furthermore it's an imperative that's understood. Can anyone help out?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Christianos ad leones (sc. mittite).

By the way, de mortuis nil nisi bonum would also make sense to me with an indicative implied. In fact that's how I took it before I read you saying it was a command. But both make sense. I guess that's just the sort of ambiguity that results from being too elliptical.
 

Terry S.

scurra
Staff member
Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis
 

Terry S.

scurra
Staff member
That's just the copula, isn't it? [They are] more Irish than the Irish.
That's it. Said of the Normans, who came saw, partially conquered and stayed on.

It could equally well be applied to Plastic Paddies of any Anglophone country outside of Ireland.
 

Dantius

Homo Sapiens
Staff member
Christianos ad leones (sc. mittite).
If you're citing that as an example of a command being implied in a phrase, there's also Tiberium in Tiberim that the Romans shouted upon Tiberius's death.
 

JaimeB

Civis Illustris
Nemo judex in causa sua.

Literally, “No one a judge in his own cause/case.”

But isn’t there a suggestion that no one “may be” or “should be” in such a position? Is this mere economy of style? Or are there other examples of prescriptive statements like this?


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