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.

Tempus fugit

Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 19:18 - Legal Phrases and Expressions, Popular Latin Phrases, Mottos, Slogans
Posted by Administrator
Tempus fugit
Translation: Time flies

I already knew that Latin mottos were very common on sundials. As it turns out, clocks at one time also featured Latin phrases. Obviously, you can still custom engrave a quality mantle clock. But this particular masterpiece replicates Wedgwood's original designs from the 1880s and is already ornamented with a Tempus Fugit inscription. As for the price, it is unapproachable, alas!

By the way, the origin of the phrase probably can be found in a line from Viril's Georgics:

Set fugit interea, fugit inreparabile tempus,
singula dum capti circumvectamur amore.

(G. 3.284-5)

Fairclough translates beautifully: "But time meanwhile is flying, flying beyond recall, while we, charmed with love of our theme, linger around each detail!"

Casanova's mottos

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 13:38 - Legal Phrases and Expressions
Posted by Administrator
Gallica has made Giacomo Casanova's manuscripts available online. Namely, "Histoire de ma vie" ("History of my life"). Nothing extraordinary, of course, unless you intend to gain more knowledge about the man's personality studying his handwriting. It was interesting, however, to look into his use of Latin mottos and even a brief discussion of them in the book. For instance, this motto is used as an epigraph to the memoirs:

Nequiquam sapit qui sibi non sapit.
He knows in vain who does not draw profit from what he knows

Casonova ascribes this quote to Cicero. He must be quoting from his memory, because the exact quote is a bit different:

Qui ipse sibi sapiens prodesse non quit, nequiquam sapit.

Also, Cicero himself is quoting from Ennius's Medea.

In the book, Casanova also mentioned these two mottos:

Excitat auditor studium, laudataque virtus
crescit, et immensum gloria calcar habet.

Having an audience makes one try harder, virtue grows by praise, and fame is a powerful spur

This one is from Ovid's "Epistulae ex Ponto." Another commonsense motto is also among Casanova's favorites, but he says that it would offend the vast number of thos who, whenever anything goes wrong for them, say: "It is not my fault":

Nemo leditur nisi a seipso
Nobody suffers except by his own doing

Latin Proverbs from the Middle Ages

I chose just a few Latin proverbs that go back to the Middle Ages and, I presume, no further than that, at least in the form given. That's because for the most part they rhyme, which usually automatically gives away Medieval Latin. They sort of roll off your tongue, and represent common wisdom of the bygone days. I don't know what they can be used for, but maybe some aspiring writer can employ a few phrases in a period mystery novel? My absolute favorit is: Nomina si nescis, perit et cognitio rerum.

Aedibus in propriis canis est mordacior omnis. – Every dog is more prone to bite when in its own house.
Amphora sub veste raro portatur honeste. – A jar is rarely hidden under the cloak with good intentions.
Ante Dei vultum nihil unquam restat inultum. – In God's sight nothing ever remains unavenged.
Arbor naturam dat fructibus atque figuram. – The kind of fruit and its form depend on the tree.
Artem natura superat sine vi, sine cura. – Nature surpasses art without effort or anxiety.
Audi doctrinam si vis vitare ruinam. – Be attentive to teaching if you wish to avoid disaster.
Capta avis est pluris quam mille in gramine ruris. – A captured bird is worth a thousand on the green.
Carius est carum, si praegustatur amarum. – The dear is all the dearer for tasting bitter at first.
Catus amat pisces, sed non vult tingere plan tarn. – The cat loves fish, but doesn't like to wet her feet.
Conjugium sine prole, dies veluti sine sole. – Marriage without children is like a day without sunshine.
Contra vim mortis non herbula crescit in hortis. – There is no herb in the gardens against the power of death.
Cui sunt multa bona, huic dantur plurima dona. – He who has much gets many a gift.
Dat bene, dat multum, qui dat cum munere vultum. – He is a good and bountiful giver who gives a smile with his gift.
Deficit ambobus qui vult servire duobus. – He who tries to serve two masters serves neither.
Dormit secure, cui non est functio curae. – Far from court, far from care.
Dum sis vir fortis, ne des tua robora scortis. – While you remain a strong man, do not give your strength away to harlots.
Ebibe vas totum, si vis cognoscere potum. – Drink up the whole draught if you want to know what it is.
Est facies testis, quales intrinsecus estis. – The face shows what you are inwardly.
Esto laborator, et erit Deus auxiliator. – Be a laborer and God will be your helper
Ex lingua stulta veniunt incommoda multa. – Many troubles have sprung from a foolish tongue.
Fac bene dum vivis, post mortem vivere si vis. – Act wisely as long as you live, if you want to live after death.
Illa mihi patria est, ubi pascor, non ubi nascor. – My home country is where I graze, not where I was born.
In vili veste nemo tractatur honeste. – No one in poor clothing is honourably entreated.
Mus salit in stratum, cum scit non adfore catum. – The mouse springs on the couch when it knows the cat's not there.
Nobilitas morum magis ornat quam genitorum. – Nobility of manners adorns better than that of birth.
Nomina si nescis, perit et cognitio rerum. – Knowledge of things is gone if you know not their names.
Non tenet anguillam, per caudam qui tenet illam. – He who holds a snake by the tail does not have it under control.
Occurrit cuicunque Deus, paucique salutant. – God meets every man, but few recognise Him.
Prodigus est natus de parco patre creatus. – From a thrifty father is born a spendthrift son.
Qui pingit florem non pingit floris odorem. – You may paint the flower, but you can't paint its scent.
Quisquis amat ranam, ranam putat esse Dianam. – If one is in love with a frog he thinks it a goddess.
Stare diu nescit, quod non aliquando quiescit. – That can't stand long which never takes rest.
Subtrahe ligna focis, flammam restinguere si vis. – If you would quench the fire take off the fuel.
Sus magis in coeno gaudet quam fonte sereno. – The sow delights more in mire than clear water.
Verba satis celant mores, eademque revelant. – Words serve to hide one's character as well as show it.
Vulpes vult fraudem, lupus agnum, foemina laudem. – The fox likes tricks, the wolf lamb, a woman praise.

Magna Carta - Latin text

David Rubenstein, the founder of the Carlyle Group, bought a copy of Magna Carta at Sotheby’s for $21m.

"He admitted that he could not actually read it because he had avoided learning Latin at school — a decision he now regrets.

The 2,500-word document, written in medieval Latin, was put up for sale by the Texan software billionaire and two-time independent presidential candidate Ross Perot." ... 070798.ece

Apparently, Ross Perot could not read the Latin document either... Now, would it not be logical for Mr. Rubenstein to invest some money in education, thus assuring that future generations of Americans will be able to read this "road map to freedom"?

Here is the paragraph that apparently is of great importance:

Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.

"No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go or send against him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

"Liber homo", of course, are the operative words here. If one is not lucky enough to be considered a free man - all bets are off, aren't they?

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