Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

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.


Fratricide - did it start with Cicero?

 
Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 19:15 - Latin Derivatives, Roots, Word Origins, Latin Words - Meanings and Definitions
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No, Cicero did not kill his brother, which, of course, is implied by the meaning of the word fratricide (Latin fratricida actually means the person who committed the crime rather than the crime itself). However, we may owe it largely to Cicero that words such as 'fratricide', 'matricide' and 'sororicide' (ever heard of this one?) actually exist. The word 'paricida' was often used in Classical Latin indiscriminately to denote someone who murdered a close relative - it must have been a rare crime. Cicero in "De Domo Sua" uses all three words 'matricida,' 'fratricida,' 'sororicida' in once sentence, thus ensuring that countless generations of future Latinists are aware of this fine distinction:

quid? de me quod tulisse te dicis, patricida, fratricida, sororicida, nonne extra ordinem tulisti?

What! what sort of law is it that you say that you passed about me, you parricide, you fratricide, you murderer of your sister; did you not pass that out of the regular course?

Tutela Valui and "Adjectives in Past Tense"

 
Another example of an odd Latin tattoo. A certain Ashley Dupre, Governor Spitzer's acquaintance, bears it on her belly:

Tutela Valui

An article in NY Daily News quotes several translations, including what I think is the most fair and grammatically meaningful:

Daniel Nodes, a classics professor at Ave Maria University in Florida, translated it as "I've been well and remain that way because I have protection."

An odd saying, if you ask me. Maybe the happy owner of the belly that features this tattoo could elaborate on its meaning? The world is holding its breath. It has been my observation that is such cases things can be clarified very easily once you know the English phrase people were trying to translate and the exact Latin dictionary that they used in their failed attempt to produce a meaningful phrase in Latin. On the whole, this is a worthy enterprise. Just don't use these translations for tattoos and engravings!

What's more interesting, Helen Kennedy, a staff writer at Daily News gave her readers a taste of how erudite modern journalism can be:

Tutela, which is related to tutor, has to do with a protector or guardian. Valui appears to be a past form of the word strong.

I admit, there may be languages somewhere that conjugate adjectives in the past sense. You would use one form to say 'strong' in a present tense statement, and an altogether different form to say 'strong' in a past tense sentence. It is more likely, however, that the Daily News journalist has a very poor understanding of some basic principles of grammar. And that's ok, folks. As long as she does not tattoo statements like that on her belly.

For the curious. Valui is Perfect active of the verb valeo 'to be strong.' Tutela means care, support, protection, and also guardian and keeper. The key to understanding this phrase (as long as it was translated by someone who has at least some knowledge of Latin) is to take Tutela as an Ablative.

A word of advice to people who are visible in the world of politics and entertainment. Before you commit to a specific tattoo, why not try a fake one first? Have the media pick it up. If no expressions of utter bewilderment follow, go ahead and make it permanent.


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A list of Latin derivatives

 
Tuesday, April 22, 2008, 16:40 - Latin Derivatives, Roots, Word Origins, Learn Latin Language
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Created a new page: a list of Latin derivatives in English. The Latin part of the list consists of the most common words, the English one has some pretty obscure modes of locution.

Latin Derivatives

Zodiac signs meanings

 
There is a little bit of Latin to be learned from the names of the Zodiac signs. More importantly, one should not always rely upon these names as a source of meaning for the corresponding words. This goes especially for Sagittarius, Capricord and Aquarius. The traditional translations of these names is more relevant to the depictions of these constellations, rather than to the Latin words and their meanings.

1. Aries (The Ram) - a ram, a battering ram
2. Taurus (The Bull) - a bull, ox
3. Gemini (The Twins) - plural of 'geminus' 'born at the same time', twin, double, similar
4. Cancer (The Crab) -a crab, the South (because this sign of the Zodiac is found at the time of the summer solstice), cancer
5. Leo (The Lion) - a lion
6. Virgo (The Virgin) - a maid, a virgin, a young woman or girl, something pure
7. Libra (The Scale) - a pair of scales, a measure, the Roman pound, balance
8. Scorpio (The Scorpion) - a scorpion
9. Sagittarius (The Centaur) - an archer, a bowman
10. Capricorn (The Sea-goat) - caper-cornu; cf. in Gr. aigokereus, having goat's horns
11. Aquarius (The Pitcher) - relating to water, a water carrier
12. Pisces (The Fish) - plural of 'piscis' 'fish'


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