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.


Sator Arepo tenet opera rotas

 
Tuesday, December 4, 2007, 01:11 - Latin Language, Popular Latin Phrases, Mottos, Slogans, Unsolved Mysteries and Myths
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SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS

This very famous palindrome, written in a square, is usually interpreted in such a way that rotas is taken as Accusative Plural of rota 'wheel'. We then get something like this: "Sower Arepo holds the wheels of work" (literally, I think, opera is some kind of retained Accusative). What agricultural meaning is hidden in this phrase? Hard to say. I think that in this case, as it often happens with philological toys of this sort, we are trying to get away with having at least a hint of a meaning, all for the sake of the art, so to speak. It is not surprising then that a late medieval work by Christanus Campililiensis 'Tractatus de uersibus' this palindrome is given in this form, making it impossible to fit it in a square:

Ecce rotas opera tenet arepo sator.

Ecce here is a part of the palindrome! The magic gets lost. It's as if the author of this work was unaware of the Arepo square.

And this, among other things, makes me believe that ROTAS is actually not a part of the sentence, but an instruction built into the palindrome, meaning 'you turn /this/ around'. Interestingly, the agricultural metaphor is preserved, because the sentence is still reminiscent of boustrophedon, the movement of oxen in a plough, changing the direction after each pass. Also, I have received a comment reminding me that the "Sator arepo" square has been interpreted to be an encoded Pater noster prayer, with the addition of two letters: Alpha and Omega.

French mottos?

 
Sunday, December 2, 2007, 20:43 - Learn Latin Language, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern
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I am playing with the idea of making a list of French mottos. For a few centuries, Latin and French coexisted as the two primary languages into which you would want to have your motto translated. Well, there is also Greek, but Greek did not have a very strong folloiwng during the Middle Ages, so Greek mottos never really caught on. It is easy to see why French was so important. For hundreds of years, France was the most dominant player in European politics, economy and culture. That was back when England was not perceived as a power at all. Add to this the Norman invasion and you will understand why French developed an air of a certain... je ne sais quois. :) As far as I can tell, nobody has yet compiled a nice list of French mottos. These could obviously have some educational value. Off the top of my head I can only think of a few French mottos right now, but once I locate some published source I might delve into it.

P.S.

Done!
French phrases used as mottos in heraldry

Most popular Latin phrases and sayings in the logfile...

 
For what it's worth, here is a list of Latin phrases most commonly searched for, according to my data. The first one is apparently due to the fact that a new movie with Angelina Jolie is currently playing in the theaters. I realize that this data mostly reflects the popular phrases that are better covered on my site, but at this point I don't know how else I can get more reliable statistics without spending hours searching through various search engine data.

Quod me nutrit me destruit - What nourishes me also destroys me.
Sic transit gloria mundi - Thus passes away the glory of this world.
Simplex commendatio non obligat - A simple recommendation does not bind.
Assignatus utitur jure auctoris - An assignee is clothed with rights of his assignor.
Deus et patria - God and the country.
Qui potest capere capiat - Let him accept it who can.
Amare et sapere vix deo conceditur - Even a god finds it hard to love and be wise at the same time.
Nemo punitur pro alieno delicto - No one is to be punished for the. crime or wrong of another.
Vitanda est improba siren desidia - One must avoid that wicked temptress, Laziness. (Horace).
Lex non favet delicatorum votis - An action does not lie because of a trifling inconvenience, which would only be regarded as such by the dainty.

Propertius' love elegies

 
Saturday, December 1, 2007, 18:27 - Latin Translation
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Added a few lines from Propertius to the Love Poems page. He is quite good, but sometimes gets a little too racy. For now, I will stay away from a few of his elegies. I am all too mindful what 'carmen et error' did to Ovid...

Latin Love poetry

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