Legal phrases and definitions

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


Carpe diem

 
Carpe diem
Seize the day


Once again, Macdonnel in "A dictionary of quotations, in most frequent use" gives us a preciously worded summation regarding the meaning of 'carpe diem' Carpe diem quam minime credula postero. Lat. Hor. "Enjoy the present day, as distrusting that which is to follow." -- This is one of the maxims of the Epicurean school, which recommended, but no doubt unwisely, the immediate enjoyment of sensual pleasures in preference to remote speculation.

It should be noted that the "Carpe diem" motto is occasionally found as a sundial motto. I somewhat disapprove of that, because in my opinion sundial mottos should be a little more somber in their mood, and they are better off reflecting on eternity, other than the pleasures of the fleeting moment.

Status quo - 'the state in which'

 
Status quo

The Wikipedia article begins as follows:

In 19th-century diplomatic Latin, the original sentence was in statu quo res erant ante bellum "the state things were before the war". This gave rise to the shorter form status quo ante bellum "the state that it was before the war", indicating the withdrawal of enemy troops and restoration of power to prewar leadership, as well as other variations, such as status quo itself.

The phrase actually appears in various sources prior to the 19th century, including this book: Macdonnel, David Evans. A dictionary of quotations, in most frequent use. Taken from the Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian languages; translated into English. London, 1797:

Status quo. Lat. -- "The state in which", or status quo ante bellum. -- The state in which both parties were before the war. This is used in speaking of belligerent powers when they agree, as a preliminary to peace, to restore their conquests, to return to that condition in which the parties respectively stood before the commencement of hostilities.


So, it appears that the phrase was well known before the 19th century. This makes sense, because in the 19th century French, not Latin, was the language of diplomacy. If I have to guess, it must have been early 18th century that gave birth to this phrase. Also, there is no reason to believe that the original phrase had the ablative, 'in statu', as Wiki suggests. I don't know if I will bother to make any changes on Wikipedia, however. For now, let the status quo remain. :)
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Quid pro quo

 
Literally, "what for what", often used to convey the idea of an equal exchange. Originally quid pro quo probably simply referred to replacing something with something, often not without negative connotations. To my surprise, I could not find any classical examples of this expression. Even medieval sources were pretty much silent. I was expecting at least to see quid pro quo as a literary term.

One interesting poem by Hermann de Werden (Hermannus Werdinensis), however, contains this expression. It is used to describe a medicine replaced with something totally different by a dishonest doctor:

Hic verus medicus, quia non vendit dyatruphis,
Nec tibi quid pro quo decipiendo terit,
Set veram nardum confectam pneumate sancto,
Per quam peccatrix uncta Maria fuit.


This is a true physician who does not sell [..](having some trouble translating 'dyatruphis'),
and does not deceivingly rub you with something instead of something else,
but with a true nard-oil, prepared by the Holy Spirit,
with which Mary the sinner was anointed.

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Discite iustitiam moniti et non temnere divos!

 
I forgot to mention in the previous post that someone referred to the "Quod nutrit" motto as being Virgilian... Well, this one is truly from Virgil - A 6.620.

Discite iustitiam moniti et non temnere divos! - Having been warned, study justice and learn not to despise the gods!

This line appears over the entrance to old Law Courts (Blue Boar Street, Oxford). Here is a great article about this line: http://www.studiolum.com/en/silva2.htm

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