Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

Latin language and the vicinities, painting of Rome


The majority of texts and materials on this site have something to do with the Latin language, including its perception and use in popular culture (Latin quotes, tattoos, mottos, engravings, inscriptions etc). Among the highlights are a free Latin Dictionary Assistant (a Windows interface for W. Whitaker's "Latin Words"), Latin Love poems, a Latin Motto Generator, Latin quotes & phrases, Antique engraved rings, and Legal Latin phrases, quotes & writs. Enjoy!


Antique maps and compasses on CD

 
Saturday, October 30, 2010, 20:14 - World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern
Posted by Administrator
People often ask me about the source of the beautiful antique compass image that I use on this site. Well, today it will be revealed!

I have an old CD (practically antique in its own right) published in 1995, entitled "Extraordinary Cartographic Motifs". It has several compass images (some are possibly even more stunning than the one I used, but I like mine because of its black background). The images are in fairly good resolution. I might use them to make mugs or calendars one day :)

The closest thing I was able to find on Amazon is this:

Antique/Historical Clip Art Maps


Pulvis et umbra sumus

 
Sunday, October 10, 2010, 20:15 - Best Latin Quotes, Words of Wisdom, Proverbs and Sayings
Posted by Administrator
Pulvis et umbra sumus
Translation: we are dust and shadows.

A few days ago I caught a little bit of "Gladiator" on television. Maximus is being told by his master to take it easy, if I remember correctly. "We are only dust and shadows," adds he. Not bad for a freedman, because the phrase is actually from Horace: Carm. 4.7.16. Movie makers (with the help of their consultants, of course) like going to Rome's great poets whenever they are stuck writing a dialogue. I suppose, this beats the alternative of regurgitating all the usual cliches...

You can find more uplifting Latin phrases here:
Sad quotes and locutions in Latin

How to make sure that a Latin phrase is correct?

 
Friday, October 8, 2010, 17:10 - Legal Phrases and Expressions, Popular Latin Phrases, Mottos, Slogans
Posted by Administrator
It's been demonstrated many times that when an average person aspires to have a Latin tattoo, an engraved ring or simply a clever motto they likely to have the desired Latin phrase badly mangled, often to the point of complete nonsense. I do my best to verify the spelling of all the phrases that appear on my site, but I would recommend that people check twice every tiny bit of Latin that they want to use for any purposes, no matter where it comes from. The good news is that this is not so difficult!

First of all, unless you are relying on someone who is trained in Latin translation, never use a phrase that, in your personal opinion, aptly renders a phrase in your own language (English, French, German etc.). Without proper knowledge of Latin it is often impossible to translate even a single word by simply looking it up in a dictionary, never mind an actual phrase. So, if you have something unique in mind, go to a translator. You will be glad you did. However, there is a universe of Latin phrases out there. You are free to pick out of many well-known quotes and mottos. The trick here is to be aware of misspellings and OCR errors. You really want to verify your selected quote by using at least two printed sources. I do not suggest that you buy a book of Latin adages and try to find your favorite Latin phrase there (although your money could not be better spent if you, in fact, do so). Google Books has numerous scanned published resources. Many of them come from the glorious times when not only the writers and editors knew Latin, but even typesetters and book-binding workers! All you need to do is carefully copy your Latin phrase into the buffer and then paste it within quotation marks (otherwise the search will be too broad) into Google Books's search field. Then open the actual scanned pages and verify that the phrase you are intending to use is indeed spelled the way you thought it was spelled. Oftentimes, you will get a nice translation as a bonus!

If the phrase you are tracking is fairly common, you can probably go to a collection of Latin quotes. Here is one such collection on Google Books:

Latin quotations, proverbs and phrases

Now, what if you are not finding the Latin phrases you were hoping to verify? It is quite possible that they have been misspelled. If so, identify a few words within a phrase and run a search on those words only (remember to use quotation marks). This will very likely bring up the Latin phrase in its correct form.

Cato on achieving maximum profit

 
Friday, September 10, 2010, 22:34 - Jokes and anecdotes
Posted by Administrator
In his Essay on Duties, Marcus Tullius Cicero tells a story about Cato the Elder.

One day Cato was asked, what is the most profitable aspect of property ownership? Cato answered, "Raising livestock with great success." He was then asked about the second most profitable aspect of ownership. "Raising livestock with some success," he answered. And what about the third most profitable aspect? "Raising livestock with little success." And the fourth? "Raising crops." Then his questioner asked, "What about money-lending?" Cato replied, "What about murder?"

Via McKeown's "A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the World's Greatest Empire". Certainly heard this anecdote several times before, but like it nonetheless.

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