Best Quotes, Words of Wisdom and Sayings in Latin

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Semper fidelis and beyond. Latin phrases that contain the word "semper"

 
A classic 20th century Russian novel by Ilf and Petrov entitled "The Twelve Chairs" contains a verbal exchange, highly humorous, in my opinion, between a con artist trying to raise money, supposedly for the needs of the anti-Bolshevik underground, and a small town fellow, sympathetic to the cause:

"What's your political credo?"
"Always!" repliied Polesov delightedly.

I do not remember if this scene is present in Mel Brooks 1970 adaptation of the novel. Regardless, the point is that the word "always" (semper in Latin) possesses a very high level of appeal when it comes to indicating one's allegiance to something.

Acceptissima semper // munera sunt, auctor quae pretiosa facit - Those gifts are always the most acceptable which our love for the donor makes precious (Ovid)

Conlige suspectos semper habitos - Round up the usual suspects

Cotidie damnatur qui semper timet - The man who is constantly in fear is every day condemned. (Syrus)

Credula vitam spes fovet et melius cras fore semper dicit - Credulous hope supports our life, and always says that tomorrow will be better. (Tibullus)

Crudelius est quam mori semper timere mortem - It is more cruel to always fear death than to die. (Seneca)

De duobus malis, minus est semper eligendum - Of two evils, the lesser must always be chosen (Thomas a Kempis)

Fama semper vivat - May his/her fame last forever

Hoc natura est insitum, ut quem timueris, hunc semper oderis - It's an innate thing to always hate the one we've learnt to fear

Non semper erit aestas - It will not always be summer (be prepared for hard times)

Rosa rubicundior, lilio candidior, omnibus formosior, semper in te glorior - Redder than the rose, whiter than the lilies, fairer than everything, I will always have glory in thee

Semper fidelis - Always faithful

Semper idem - Always the same thing. (Cicero)

Semper inops quicumque cupit - Whoever desires is always poor. (Claudian)

Semper letteris mandate - Always get it in writing!

Semper paratus - Always prepared

Semper superne nitens - Always striving upwards


Deus ex machina

 
Thursday, July 31, 2008, 17:16 - Best Latin Quotes, Words of Wisdom, Proverbs and Sayings
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Deus ex machina
God from a machine


"A Literary Manual of Foreign Quotations, Ancient and Modern" by John Devoe Belton interprets the phrase in this fashion: "A god out of a machine. This expression indicates the intervention of a person who solves a difficulty or hastens the denouement at a critical juncture."

This is perhaps one of the most famous Latin phrases employed as a term of literary criticism. Funny thing about it is that the exact phrase "deus ex machina" cannot be found in a single work of either Classical or Medieval Latin. Instead, the source of the expression is Greek: ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός. This most certainly was a term used by Greek theorists (including Plato and Aristotle). Apparently, Renaissance Latin translations of their works made such an impression that the term was retained henceforth. Oddly enough, the Latin term is now sometimes used in English translations of Greek authors (the quote is once again from Belton):

In Plato's Cratylus, 425, Socrates says (Jowett's translation): "That objects should be limited, and find an expression in letters and syllables, may appear ridiculous, Hermogenes, but this cannot be helped there is no better principle to which we can look for the truth of first names. Deprived of this, we must have recourse to a Deus ex machina, like the tragic poets, who have their gods suspended in the air; and we must get out of the difficulty in their fashion by saying that the gods gave the first names, and therefore they are right."

Vox populi - vox Dei

 
Vox populi - vox Dei
The voice of the people (is) the voice of God


Reading the Wikipedia article about the meaning of the phrase "vox populi (vox dei)" one may experience some confusion regarding the origin of the expression:

Often quoted as, Vox populi, vox dei, "The voice of the people is the voice of God", is an old proverb often erroneously attributed to William of Malmesbury in the twelfth century.[1]

Another early reference to the expression is in a letter from Alcuin to Charlemagne in 798, although it is believed to have been in earlier use.[2] The full quotation from Alcuin reads:

Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.[3]

English translation:

And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.[4]


Indeed, further medieval references can be cited, such as Peter Damian:

Tunc denique probatum est uerum esse quod dicitur: Vox populi uox Dei.
And then if finally proved to be true they, as they say: The voice of the people is the voice of God.


But Let us now look at Isaiah 66:6, using Jerome's Latin translation:

vox populi de civitate vox de templo vox Domini reddentis retributionem inimicis suis

The voice of the people from the town, the voice from the temple, the voice of the Lord who renders recompense to His enemies.


What's interesting, you will not find the word people in the Septuagint and, as far as I can tell, in the Hebrew text. Cf. KJV:

A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.

Whatever the reason for textual discrepancies, we have an innovation in the Latin translation (although, I am sure, Jerome had some textual basis for his reading). Thus, for the first time we have within the same context the idea of the people's voice and the idea of the voice of God. Apparently, sometime after the Vulgate became widely used these two ideas produced the well-known proverb. It is funny that the origin of the phrase is completely erroneous and accidental, but it is still regarded as holding some veracity and an independent value of a morally obliging statement!


Sad Quotes in Latin

 
Monday, July 14, 2008, 15:38 - Best Latin Quotes, Words of Wisdom, Proverbs and Sayings
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Here is a little collection of sad quotes and phrases in Latin. They range in their mood from confused annoyance to mild depression.

A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi - A precipice in front, wolves behind (between a rock and a hard place)

Abiit nemine salutato - He went away without bidding anyone farewell

Abyssus abyssum invocat - Hell calls hell; one mistep leads to another

Accensa domo proximi, tua quoque periclitatur - When the house of your neighbor is in flames, your own is in danger

Acclinis falsis animus meliora recusat - The mind intent upon false appearances refuses to admit better things (Horace)

Acerrima proximorum odia - The hatred of those most nearly connected is the bitterest of all (Tacit)

Acta est fabula, plaudite! - The play is over, applaud! (Said to have been emperor Augustus' last words)

More sad phrases and locutions in Latin

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