B1 Intermediate UK 215 Folder Collection
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There are good reasons you see so many people with Latin tattoos.
For a start, Latin is a highly economical language -
you can say a lot in just a handful of words.
Another reason is that Latin literature
is full of timeless truisms.
Observations made over 2,000 years ago
are often as applicable to us now as they were to the Romans.
Here are five quotes from Latin authors
I feel are just as relevant to us today.
Number one:
Non videmus manticae quod in tergo est.
We cannot see the baggage that's on our own back.
In the mid-1st Century BC,
the Latin love poet, Catullus, observed a common human trait.
While we find it easy to recognise faults in other people,
we tend to be more or less blind to our own.
"Each of us has been assigned his own fault," he wrote,
"but we cannot see the baggage that's on our own back."
Catullus' message then, from over 2,000 years ago,
is to think about your own faults before criticising others.
Two:
Omnia vincit amor.
Love conquers all.
Love, in Virgil's line, isn't just a human emotion,
it's a divine force.
Love, amor, is Cupid,
the son of Venus, the goddess of love.
He will strike you with his arrow and make you fall hopelessly in love.
The love-sick poet who sighed, "Omnia vincit amor"
knew that to be in love isn't necessarily to be happy.
To be in love is also to be in pain.
Virgil shows us there's no point in trying to fight it.
"Omnia vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori" he continues.
"You're better off yielding to love
than trying to shield yourself from his spell."
Three:
Si hortum in bibliotheca habes deerit nihil.
If you have a garden and a library, you'll lack nothing.
Cicero actually wrote,
"If you have a garden in the library, you'll lack nothing."
Houses in Rome typically had the garden in the middle of the house
rather than at the back.
In the ancient world there was a tradition for learning outside.
Students at Plato's academy in Greece, for instance,
used to learn among the trees.
Cicero's message is if you have books and nature you have everything.
Four:
In vino veritas.
In wine is truth.
Anyone who has drunk a few glasses can vouch for this.
Wine loosens the tongue.
It may make you talk a lot of nonsense but as the ancients knew,
it could also make you spill your secrets.
The historian Pliny the Elder alluded to a popular saying,
about wine bringing out the truth.
"Veritas vino est."
At the same time, he pitied the drunks who do not see the Sun rising
and therefore live shorter lives.
Five:
Donec eris sospes multos numerabis amicos.
For as long as you're doing well, you'll have many friends.
Ovid was one of the leading poets of his day
but fell foul of the emperor
and was banished to the coast of modern Romania.
While there he wrote about his miserable fate,
which he blamed on a poem and a mistake.
The poem was full of advice about how to love and make love
and was far too raunchy for his times.
What the mistake was remains a mystery to this day.
In exile, the once popular poet found himself friendless.
The message is surely to work out who your real friends are
before it's too late.
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5 Latin phrases that are still meaningful today | BBC Ideas

215 Folder Collection
Seraya published on April 5, 2020
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