Tessera caerulea - commentariolum. Tessera rubicunda - nota textualis. Tessera viridis - translatio
AM inde ab initio, mi doctissime Richarde, gentilium antiquitati, quae multarum erat indiga rerum, nihil magis pium, nihil potius fuit, quam ut eos mortales qui ad humanae vitae usum quippiam reperissent, et deos appellaret, et divinitus honore afficeret, ut quo per haec diuturnius eorum memoria perpetuatur, hoc magis reliqui ad perquirenda aliqua vitae commoda illicerentur. Ea igitur de causa Osyridem, Cererem, Saturnum, item Mercurium, Apollonem, Aesculapium, quod hi medicinae, illi vero agriculturae inventores fuissent, alioque complures ob alias repertos artes deos fecit pieque coluit. At posteritas itidem (cum iam satis coelicolarum crevisset numerus) summos rerum inventoribus habere honores modis omnibus studuit. Quo factum est ut homines quocunque tempore eius praemii appetentiores effecti pro se quisque desudaverint alicuius rei auctores fieri, qui tot retulere commoditates, ut iam prope nihil ad vitam molliter degendam nobis absit. Quamobrem invenire primum ac praecipuum semper iudicatum est, contra magnum committi piaculum, si quispiam qua quoquo modo fraudaretur laude. Atque tantum abfuit ut ullum fastiditum sit inventum, ut etiam cuiuslibet sordidae rei repertor nunquam fuerit tacitus a scriptoribus relictus. Et profecto neutiquam id immerito factum dixerim, quando tantum invenire est oneris, quantum inventis addere facilitatis. Caeterum et qui addiderunt, non caruere nomine (ut in nostro De Rerum Inventoribus opere passim docuimus).
2. Sed dices, mi bellissime Ricarde, quorsum haec? Porro ut iuxta tecum viri tui similes literatissimi intelligant Polydorum tuum aliquid praestitisse suis. Quippe abhinc annos alterum et viginti, mihi bonos autores lectitanti a primo in mentem venit adagia celebriora una cum metaphoris venustioribus, concinnisque allusionibus colligere, quae deinde scribentibus ceu quoddam orationis condimentum forent, ita ut et feci in commentariolumque redegi. Et ne ordo vel industria desideratur, primum sum legentium oculos subiecimus provebium, dato unicuique apposite loco, dein unde natum, qui sigificarent, in quot usus quiret apte accommodari, et quatenus ab autoribus usurpatum foret, planum fecimus. Item ut in novitio invento ne ambitisior essem, labore congerendi plura in unum adagia, vel singulis dandi sua capita, consulto supersedi. Quare in uno explicando saepe duos treve adagiones exposuisimus. Is itaque tantillus commentariolus sive libellus, non rerum alioqui inanis missu Guidonis ducis mei Urbinatis, cui ego illum dedicaveram, primo quoque tempore in apertum prolatus, omnes fere orbis partes peragravit. Qui manibus hominum attritus cum uspiam rarus esse inceperit, est ilico formis denuo excusus, non sine tamen multis (uti usu coditie venit) librariorum incuria acceptis vulneribus. Atque ita Polydorus tuus apud Latinos primus huiusce rei argumentum attentavit, et quicquid id laudis fuit, iam pridem citra cuiuscunque iniuriam, iure sibi optimo vindicavit.
3. At post aliquot annos quam ita de proverbis commentariolum aedideram, ecce tibi, successorem habui nostrum Erasmum, id quod ob singularem hominis doctrinam pergratum fuit, et si ille ceu eiusmodi commentarioli nostri minime sciens, utrumque decus, inventae scilicet rei atque auctae ad se trahere est conatus, quem tamen vix potuit ignorare, si unquam suum ipsius Adagiorum opus Argentorati, quod est suae Germaniae oppidum, apud Matthiam Scheurenium formulis excussum vidit, vidit autem dubio procul, cum illud postmodum bis terve adauxerit. Quippe in eius operis fronte Matthias attestat se paulo ante nostra Adagia in apertum protulisse. Ipsi etiam eum cum aliquando apud nos pranderet per iocum, nostri huius instituti aemulatorem appellavimus. Ita ille rei suae intentus nuper in novissima paroemiarum suarum aeditione est palam professus primum se apud Latinos id genus argumenti attentasse, ut cui tum non venit in mentem nostri libelli imaginis. Etenim pene incredibile est Erasmum tot titulis redundantem, velle cuiquam tam modicae inventionis gloriolam invidere. Quanquam sunt nonnulli sagaciores qui adfirment eum idcirco illud dissimulasse, ut qui praeter adagiorum multitudinem nihilo plus praestiterat, ne videretur esse imitatus, atque sic primas ferret partes. Ego tamen (quia veritas procul eminet) totum istud aequi bonique faciens, tantum apud te, qui utriusque nostrum es ex aequo amantissimus, testatum esse volui, qui nihil ex eo offensionis posthac essem habiturus. Nam (ut Martialis ait),
Qui velit ingenio cedere , rarus erit.
4. Caeterum sum gavisus (uti dixi) tali successore et alios quoque modo successores habere constitui, si qui mox fuerint quos iuverit in hoc scribendi genere mundiora sequi. Ego itaque cum libellum meum ita saucium (ut potui sine archetypo, qui ad manus non erat) integrum reddidissem, et ille simul retulisset se cunctis multo fore gratiorem, si semichritianum saltem facerem (erat enim totus ethnicus) duxi operaeprecium futurum, si ex evangelicis aliisque divinis literis adagia, allegorias, metaphoras, et id genus cohortem proverbiorum famulicio idoneam colligerem. Id quod et feci, ad ad priorem additionem adiunxi, veluti uberrimum arcanarum literarum fonticulum in longo recessu operis suaviter scaturientem, unde haurire possent qui hoc genere nectaris suos sermones condere vellent. Sed non video, mi Ricarde amantissime, ecquid sit, quamobrem nonnullos pudeat a sacris literis mutuari adagia vel metaphoras, quibus suam decorent locupletentve orationem, imo parum venustum ducant, si quid usurpent quod illas redoleat. Et tamen satis constat prophetas primum, et deinde Christum, qui voluit e nostris quilibet esse unus, familiariter loquutos, et adagiis atque metaphoris usus, quo scilicet imitaremur. Id quod vulgus rite facit, qui talia istiusmodi in ore frequenter habet. Ut nos non abs re scriptoribus nostris vitio vertatur, quod malunt quavis inopi et parum interdum munda fabella quam alicuius evangelicae sententiae venustate delectare legentem. Quid enim quaeso sunt aliud parabolae quibus Christus loqui consueverat quam sermones ad rationem vitae magnopere conducibiles, grata quadam obscuritate in se haudquaquamque parum emolumenti continentes? Expedit proinde ut pars haec non negligatur, quae non minus ad excolenda ingenia quam ad vitae pietatem exercendam efficacissima est. Quapropter libentius hunc primum quasi gustum (porro alii mox fortasse copiam suppeditabunt ubertim) propinavi degustare volentibus. Nam ut acida stomachum offendunt et dulcia fastidiunt, at vero simul mista gratum efficiunt saporem, sic nempe oratio fit luculentior, si humanis verbis divina velut condimentum connectantur.
5. Haec autem secunda proverbiorum pars tanto priore melior quanto sacra prophanis praestant, ne sine patrocinio esset, tuum sibi nomen inscripsit, rata se ubique gentium tutam fore, si tuis auspiciis et ductu prodiret. Quippe quae audierat quam amantissimus esses nostri, simulque studiosorum bonarum artium, quarum ipse fastigium iam tenes, quam item charissimus Henrico regi eius nominis octavo, qui ob florentissimum regni sui statum ac multiiugas animi et corporis dotes iam recte dici potest felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (fuit ea populi Romani in suorum principum creatione acclamatio bene omnantis). Rursum vel ei innotuerat, quam gratissime acciperis a Thoma cardinale Eboracensi legato (ut vocant) de latere ac Angliae cancellario. Hunc totius orbis magnas it fama per urbes, unicum esse post hominum memoriam virum perbeatum atque pro meritis super aethera notum, ut cuius nutu atque renutu tam domi quam foris cuncta feliciter in nostro orbe gerantur. Hi ambo, alter rex potentissimus, alter maximus pontificum in te ornando certatim certant. Quamobrem nobiscum generatim omnes ceu nostrae in primis sectae benevoli tibi gratulantur, gratulantur seculo, quia tandem aliquando tam bene novit, suum virtuti reddere praemium. At tu vero ea est modestia ut aliud nihil videaris accepisse quam publicum nostrae academiae habiti honoris testimonium, quando hoc unum in te procul excellit, quod non sublimem inde geris animum, sed multo humanisssimum omnibus passim te exhibes. Verum cum altius (ut brevi bene iuvante Deo est futurum) ascenderis, tunc demum recte edocibis quantum ille bene mereantur, qui fautor est bonorum. Vale, Londini sub nonas Iunias anno MDXIX.
ROEZENI Atticae regionis (sicuti a Plutarcho accepimus) populi antiquissimi Neptunum olim summa religione colere, eive (quando Troezen oppidum in illius tutela erat) fructum primitias offerre consueverunt. Horum igitur ritu ac pietate ego monitus, Guido princeps, cum tuo itidem genio civitas nostra dicata sit, Feltrioque numine servata diuque tuta, demum incolumis existat, merito equidem tanquam impius gravissime reprehendendus fuissem, vel tu mihi iure succensuisses, si hunc proverbiorum libellum nostri primitias ingenii (qualiscunque sit) aediturus nonnullis amicis sane doctissimis suadentibus, nomini tuo non consecrassem. Futurum enim erat, ut illud facile diceretur, ideo me tibi dicare noluisse, vel quia ignorarem quod Latinae academiae princeps esses, atque quantum semper tu paternis vestigiis in hoc veluti caeteris in rebus maxime insistens cum Octaviano patruo tuo ingeniis favisses, vel quia in te ingratissimus forem, quippe qui de me et si plurimum benemeritus perinde ac patruus suus, nunquam tamen vel Georgium Vergilium parentem nostrum ac Ioannem, Franciscum, Hieronymumque fratres et honoribus ornare et beneficiis afficere conquiesti. Quamque ne minimam quidem hac re meritorum tuorum partem assequi me posse confido. Verum aliquid omnino mihi praestitisse videbor (quandoquidem parem gratiam referre non licet) si huiusmodi saltem munusculis tibi qui longe pulchrius ditare quam ditescere ducis, gratiam habere ostendero.
2. Caeterum dicet quispiam lucubratiunculas nostras haud dubie humiles non perinde dignitate tuae congruere, id quod et si peringenue fateor, nihil eo tamen veritus sum quin illae ipsae tibi gratissimae existerent. Has enim principibus inscribendi mos vetus est, nec interest qua materia sint, modo non obscoena. Quando ea literarum dignitas semper fuit ut dicari eas sibi principes ac reges et gloriosum et honestum putaverint, adeoque nullum genus fastiditum est, ut Iulius Pollux ad Commodum Caesarem de grammatica, Oppianus ad Antoninum de piscibus, Vitruvius ad Augustum de architectura scripserunt. Verum hoc opusculum si admodum tenue est, non ideo minimi laboris fuit aut prorsum inutile. Nam cum cuiuscemodi proverbia primum a viris tum sapientissimis dicta, tum a rerum natura orta, mox a scriptoribus passim usurpata in ore fere omnium versari, nec omnino intelligi animadverterem, sub hiisque pariter aureas (uta dicam) sententias ac praecepta haudquaquam mehercle negligenda contineri mecum ipse pensitarem, non absurdum visum est haec pauca ex Latinorum autorum monimentis et Graecorum quorundam qui in Latinum versi sunt, sparsa in unum colligere, quibus subinde collectis maior profecto eorum sensus abstrusos explicandi superfuit labor. Quod ut melius efficerem pro virili operam dedi, et unde nata sint, et quare in proverba cesserint, ex autoritate veterum scriptorum docere, quorum etiam obiter nonnulla loca partim correximus partem enodavimus. Quamque nec inficias eo ex his quaedam in aliam quam ipse retulerim sententiam verti posse, sed mihi satis fuit propriorem reddidisse sensum. Nec praeterea ignoro quosdam fore qui me prae multitudine eiusmodi proverbiorum quae cum in Latinis tum in Graecis exemplaribus inscripta sunt pauca admodum nostro opusculo inseruisse accusabunt, quod omnino in me perperam facient, quando consilium fuit Graecos plurimum praeterire authores, ut ne ex alieno penario istud condimenti genus affatim ministrare prius laborarem quam certum haberem quantum degustantibus nostris placuisset, ad quod novitium hoc inventum iure poscebat. Ex Latinis autem scriptoribus non parvi profecto negocii fuit colligere cum siquidem ad nullum certum autorem qui de his antea scripsisset me conferre potuerim. Quare nobis necessum fuit, more apium, singulis eorum orationis flosculis insidere antequam onus conficeremus. Haec itaque (quota pars sit) lectitando a me observata sunt. Tu vero, Guido princeps, accipe quaeso hilari vultu hoc a me opusculum frugum mearum primitias (deinceps enim maturiores fructus capies) veluti pignus et monimentum meae erga te observantiae, munus haud quaquam preciosum, sed quo nullum preciosius a Polydoro cliente accipere posses. Quod si tibi non iniucundum fuerit, putabo equidem et me operaepretium fecisse, et te tanto vindice fretum ab omni prorsus obtrectatione tutum fore. Vale Venetiis anno MCCCCXCVIII.
ENIET fortasse tempus, optimi adulescentes, cum tam maxime vos iuvabit audire atque attendere hunc nostrum adagiorum librum, quam minime vestros praeceptores vobis aliquando legere pigebit. Quippe hinc velut a topiario quodam humanarum literarum opere et flosculos ornandae orationis colligere, et ceu ex thesauro sacrae scripturae rationes bene instituendae vitae eruere facillime poteritis. Quare ut omnia vobis obvia forent, hunc brevem proverbii ac figurarum, quibus illud potissimum tegitur, finitionem quasi ob oculos ponere placuit. Est itaque proverbium sententia scita rebus temporibusve accommodata et modo clara, ut fas nefas vel qualis mater, talis filia, modo vero subobscura, ut Sardonius risus sive consuere pulvillos sub cubito. Quae quidem sententia mox vulgi sermone celebrata sit proverbium, hoc est commune omnium verbum. Idem vel adagium nuncupatur quasi (quemadmodum Varro ait) circumagium, quia circumagatur per omnium ora, at Graecis paroemia vocitatur. In huiusce autem adagii cohorte principalis figura est metaphora, nostris translatio dicta, quod aut nomen aut verbum ex proprio transferatur loco, et pene mutare naturam cogatur, velut si libeat ponere habenas, quod est retinaculum equi, pro potestate sive facultate, et ita dicas, immitto tibi habenas, id est potestatem facio sive facilitatem tibo do abeundi. Item tangere pro intelligere, remugire a boum voce sumptum pro resonare. Quin et in simplici nomine gigni poterit metaphora, cum hominem hebetis ingenii asinum appellaveris. Sequitur allegoria, id est metaphora continua, ut caecus parietem palpat, ubi aliud verbis aliud sensu ostenditur. Comitatur et allusio, quae sit cum aliud dicitur, et ad aliud sententia latenter refertur, velut illud hic literas Uriae defert. Est item in comitatu hyperbole quam Cicero superlationem vocat, quae fidem excedens nunc auget, nunc minuit, uti nive candidior et levior foliis. Cum his obambulat scomma, quod est morsus figuratus, fraude aut urbanitate tectus ut aquilae senectus, vel vinum potantem decipit. Atque hae sunt praecipuae figurae quorum in eiusmodi proverbiis proverbialibusque sententiis usus est frequentior. Caetera vero hoc est unde soleant adagia nasci, et quatenus usurpanda, quaeve illis confinia sint, quae proverbiorum speciem prae se ferunt, quid item utilitatis ex eorum cognitione rei literariae proficiscatur, quantumve illud bene degendae vitae simul conducat, atque ob eam rem potissimum quantum semper dignitatis apud mortales omnes illis accesserit, lectio ipsa abunde docebit. Quapropter ista omnia hoc loco singillatim explicando nos tanto labori ceu parum omnino utili haud inconsulto pepercimus. Valete.
Vade, liber, genio Guidonis fultus et aura,
Recto ad Feltranos tramite curre lares.
Si quem (praemoneo) tetricam subducere frontem
In te nasutum rhinocerota vides,
Aut tristis ronchos effundere saepe repandis 5
Naribus, et miro verba canina modo,
Ne timeas, illi te displicuisse iuvato
Esse cui gratus, si malus ipse fores.
Si gravis huic ergo, simul invidiosus et asper,
Ast aliis quaeso iam bonus usque sies. 10
I, pete sic dominum quo non est doctior alter,
Aut armis maiore, nec pietate fuit.
Qui te, magne Cato, vel te gravitate, Camille,
Praestat, Nasicam vel probitate pium.
Inclyte vel Caesar tibi nec clementia maior, 15
Qui (fateor) saevis hostibus aequus eras.
Huic igitur placeas, ut te hic amet, foveatque clientem,
Cuius ubique sacro numine tutus eris.
I, citus excipiet, raptim nunc curre, libelle,
Ad dominum, licet haud nobile munus eas. 20
Non hic Agenoreas miratur namque lacernas,
Suspicit ast tantum, qui valet ingenio.
Proverbium istud a Plinio libro secundo capite septimo refert, a Graecis utique ita dicentibus sumptum ἅνθρωπος ἀνθρώπου δαιμόνιον, hoc est homo homini deus. Quale Vergilianum illud,a
Deus nobis haec ocia fecit,
Namque erit ille mihi semper deus.
Cicero liber De Natura Deorum primo,b Sed nolo, inquit, esse longior. Ita concludam, tamen beluas a barbaris propter beneficium consecratas. Et Senecac ad Lucillium epistola nonagesima quinta, magna scilicet laus est, si homo mansuetus hominem adiuvet. Porro ita antiquitas credidit, iis cum primis habendum divinitatis honorem qui de genere mortalium essent quoquomodo benemeriti. Adagium igitur admonet invicem sibi homines prodesse debere. A quo nostrum opusculum placuit potissimum auspicari, ut intelligant primum legentes quantum ab homine alienum sit homini iniuriam facere, pestem aut ullam ab eo proficisci. Quare ego ominibus veluti mihi faventibus aliquanto liberius huiusmodi proverbiorum sensus eliciendi munus obivi.
[Man is god to man
The proverb man is god to man (taken from the Greek) is quoted by Pliny, II.vii, It is like those lines from Vergil, A god has created this rest for us. For I shall always consider that man a god. In Book I of De Natura Deorum Cicero says, But I do not wish to be tedious. I will make my point thus: these animals are at all events deified by the barbarians for the benefits which they confer. And in his ninety-fifth epistle to Lucilius Seneca says, for it is highly praiseworthy for a gentle man to help a man. Furthermore, antiquity was of the opinion that those in particular should be accorded the honor of divinity who had in some way been of benefit to humanity. Therefore this adage advises us that men should mutually assist each other. And this is where I choose to make the beginning of my work, so that my readers might first and foremost appreciate how alien it is from Man to harm one’s fellow man, or to have any bane proceed from this. And so, as if with favorable omens, I have felt somewhat easier about undertaking my task of explaining the meaning of proverbs.]
a) Vergil, Eclogue i.6f. b) Cicero, De Natura Deorum I.ci.15 c) Seneca, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium xcv.51.4
A2. Mutuum muli scabunt
Apud Ausoniuma in episotolio proverbium istud extat, quod haud valde superiori absimile est. Sensus enim significat iuxta Terentianamb sententiam, tradere operas mutuas et par pari rependere. Nam cum muli soleant sese vicissim defricare et scabere, merito in consimili remuneratione et talionis aequilibrio hoc proverbio utimur. Hadrianic (quod non longe ab re est) iocus balnearis innotuit qui plures olim senes evocari iussit, et alium ab alio invicem defricare, cum ille se marmorbus attererent, ad liberalitatem principis provocandam, qui veteranum quendam servis et sumptibus donaverat, qui se in balneis marmoribus destringebat, propterea quod servum non haberet.
[Mules scratch each other
According to Ausonius in a small epistle, this proverb exists, and it is not very different from the preceding. For its meaning, as Terence has it, to supply mutual help and to give tit for tat. For, since mules are wont to rub and scratch each other, this is justly used as a proverb to describe a similar remuneration and requital. A joke of Hadrian in the baths (and this is not far off the point) became famous when he singled out some old men and commanded them to rub each other, at at time they were rubbing themselves against the marble walls, since he had bestowed servants and the cost of their maintenance on a certain veteran he had seen rubbing himself against the walls of the bath because he had no servant.]
a) Ausonius, Technopaegnion iv praefatio b) Terence, Eunuchus 445, Phormio 212 c) cf. Aelius Spartianus, De Vita Hadriani xvii.6
Res ad triarios redisse proverbio increbuit, quum laboratur. Etenim post hastatos, ubi ordinibus exercitus instructus erat, pugna ad principes sensim veniebat; si apud principes quoque haud satis prospere esset pugnatum, tum paulatim certamen ad triarios referebatur, in quibus suprema spes sita est. Authore Livio libro octavo Ab Urbe Condita.a
[The thing came down to the third line
The thing came down to the third line came to be a proverbial description of a perilous situation. For when an army was drawn up in battle formation, after the spear-throwers did their work, the fight gradually devolved on the men in the front ranks. If it went badly for them, then gradually the struggle fell on the men in the third line, on which the ultimate hopes were pinned. My authority is Livy, in Book VIII of his Ab Urbe Condita.]
a.) Livy VIII.viii.11.
Vetus et elegans ac (ut ita dixerim) aureum adagium est. Significat enim pulchrum esse (quemadmodum Marcus Tullius docet)a ab aliorum erratis suam vitam in melius instituere. Nam tunc aliena fruimur insania, quum illa nobis documento est. Unde Plautinum illud,b
Feliciter sapit is qui alieno periculo sapit,
et Anneus Seneca in proverbiis:c ex vitio, inquit, alterius sapiens suum emendat. Ex quo factum est hoc proverbium, optimum est aliena frui insania. Quod a Plinio scite usurpataur his verbis libro Naturalis Historiae decimo octavo,d capite quinto, dicente optimum est (ut vulgo dixere) aliena frui insania, quod nos semper meminisse decet.
This is an old, elegant, and (if I may say so) golden adage. For it indicates (as Cicero explains) that it is a fine thing to place one’s life on a better footing thanks to the mistakes of others. For we profit from someone else’s follow when they serve to teach us. Hence that saying of Plautus, he is happily wise who is wise at another man’s expense, and among his proverbs Seneca says, the wise man corrects his mistake thanks to another that of another man. This is well-quoted by Pliny in Book XVIII of his Natural History, chapter five, when he says it is best, as the popular saying has it, to profit from someone else’s folly, and it behooves us always to bear this in mind.]
a) I can find no such statement in Cicerob) Mercator IV.vii.40c) Publilius Syrus, Sententiae E4 (prior to Erasmus’ 1515 edition of Seneca, some of this collection of maxims culled from the mimes of Publilius were often attributed to Seneca and circulated under the title De Moribusd) Natural History XVIII.xxxi.4
Plancus cum audivisset Asinium Pollionem orationes adversus se parare, quas ipso mortuo ne respondere posset, vel ipse Asinius vel filius eius aederet, dixit cum mortuis non nisi larvas luctari. Quod quidem exemplum instar proverbii Pliniusa in sua praefatione retulit. Ait enim nec Plancus illepide dixit cum mortuis non nisi larvas luctare. Larvae enim dicuntur noxiae inferorum umbrae, quibus cum mortuis nobis tantum res est. Quod proverbium in eos est qui obtrectatione alienae scientiae defunctos calumniando scriptores famam sibi occupant. Quo (ut Martialisb inquit) admonemur ducere illos improbe facere, qui et in alieno libro ingeniosi sunt, et in demortuos saeviunt.
[Only ghosts fight against the dead
When Plancus had heard that Asinius Pollio was writing orations against himself which either he or his sons would publish, so that he could not respond to them after his death, he said that only ghosts fight against the dead. In his proem, Pliny repeats this as if it were a proverb. For he says, nor did Plancus speak inelegantly when he said that only ghosts fight against the dead. For we call noxious shades of the Underworld ghost, and these only have dealings with the dead. This is a proverb against those writers who gain fame by railing against the dead with a criticism of another man’s ability. By this, as Martial says, they do ill who are clever concerning another man’s book and savage the dead.
a) Pliny, N. H. proem xxxi.2 b) Martial, I proem 9
Lactantius Firmianus libro Divinarum Institutionum tertio, capite vigesimo, quum eos sceleratos appellat qui arcana mundi et hoc caeleste templum pollure impiis disputationibus quaerunt, aliquid ergo, inquid, Socrates habuit cordis humani, qui cum intelligeret haec non posse inveniri, ab eiusmodi quaestionibus se removit. Vereorque ne in eo solo, multa enim sunt eius non modo laude digna, sed etiam reprehensione dignissima, in quibus fuit suorum simillimus.a Ex his unum eligam quod ab omnibus sit probatum, celebre hoc proverbium Socrates habuit, quod supra nos, nihil ad nos (supple attinet). Quos nos decenter uti possumus quum ea quae nostras vires excedere videntur mente consequi nequimus.
[What is above us is nothing to us]
In his Divine Institutions III.xx, in the course of calling depraved those men who strive to pollute the secrets of the universe and this heavenly temple with their impious disputations, Lactantius Firmianus says, Socrates possessed something of a human heart, for when he understood that these things could not be determined, he withdrew himself from such questions. I fear that not only this, but in many of his sayings, there were things that were praiseworthy, and also ones most worthy of criticism, in which he was very like his fellows.a Of these, I shall select one which is approved by one and all, for Socrates had this famous proverb, That which is above us is (i. e., means) nothing to us. We can appropriately use this when we cannot grasp with our minds things which surpass our powers.]
a) This is a rather difficuilt sentence. I would imagine it means, in effect, “Socrates has many good points, and also some bad ones, and in this he was like all the other Greek philosophers.”
Isthmos ea terrae angustia appellatur quae inter duo maria, Aegaeum et Ionum, conclusa est, cuius strictura quinque millium passuum intervallo constat, qui non sine longo et ancipiti navium ambitu transiri potest. Quam ob causam (ut Plinius lib. iij cap. iiij tradit) perfodere navigabili alveo angustias tentavere Demetrius rex, dictator Caesar, Caesar princeps, Domitius Nero, infausto (ut omnium patuit exitu) incoepto. Hinc quum quempiam aliqua in re frustra laboraturum esse proverbialiter significare volumus, Isthmum fodis dicimus, quasi quod id factu perdifficile sit.
[You’re digging the Isthmus
That narrow neck of land land enclosed between the Aegean and the Ionic Seas, about five miles wide, cannot be passed save by a long and dangerous sea-voyage. For what reason, as reported by Pliny III.iv, King Demetrius, the dictator Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and Nero attempted to dig a navigable canal cross it, but, as all their results went to show, these were failed undertakings. Hence when we wish to use a proverb to indicated that somebody is destined to devote his effort to something fruitlessly, we say you’re digging the Isthmus, as if the undertaking is very difficult.]
Plinius lib. VIII cap lviij ait mutae sunt etiam ranae in Seripho insula, quamvis mendosi codices non ranae sed cicadae habeant, quod non convenit quum illic de ranis sermo sit. Unde proverbium βάτραχος ἐκ Σερίφου, hoc est rana Seriphia, in vehementer silentiosos manavit.
[A frog of Seriph0
At VIII.lviii, Pliny says, the frogs of the island of Seriphos are mute: although bad manuscripts have crickets instead of frogs, this is inappropriate, since at this point Pliny’s discourse concerns frogs. Hence the proverb a frog of Seriphos, which is used of stubbornly silent men.]
Haec Marci Varri sunt in satyra quae Testamentum inscribitur, ab Aulo Gellio lib. III cap xvj repetita. Ille enim inquit, si quis mihi filius unus pluresque in decem mensibus gignuntur, ii si erunt ὅνοι λύρας, hoc est asini ad lyram, exhaeredes sunto. Quod recte quadrabit in homines indociles et disciplinae omnis expertes, perinde ac est asinus ad musicam capessendam.
[Donkeys listening to the lyre
These words belong to Marchus varro in his satire Testamentum, quoted by Aulus Gallius III.xvi. He says, If I have one more sons born in nine mounths, if the are donkeys singing to the lyre, let them be disinherited. This rightly applies to men incapable of learning anything or accepting any discipline, just as a donkey is incapable of understanding music.]
Eiusdem Varri idem Gellius praenotato capite vetus proverbium esse prodit (nam ille ait) Accio idem quod Titio ius esto apud me. Quod adagium hoc est idem Accii quod Titii de rebus inter se nihil distantibus dicitur.
[Let Accius be as Titius
In the selfsame chapter Gellius repeats an old proverb quoted by this same Varro, As far as I am concerned, let Accius be as Titius. This adage is said of things having to difference between them.
A marinis mercatoribus sumpta est metaphora, qui quum navigant, si minus quam cupiunt lucrari possunt, student ut saltem recuperent ex mercibus vendendis quantum pro vectura (naulum enim vecturae precium est) navili solverunt. Hinc ortum vulgo proverbium perdere naulum stultum est in eum qui, cum multa amiserit, reliqua etiam perdere velit. Unde Iuvenalisa hoc usurpans Satira viij ait furor est post omnia perdere naulum, et Ovidiusb,
Nemo potest, damnis addere damna nefas.
[To throw away the fare is foolish
This metaphor is taken from seagoing merchants who, when they make a voyage that turns out less profitable than they would like, strive at least to recover from their sales a sufficient amount to cover the cost of their voyage (called the fare). Hence has arisen the common proverb to throw away the fare is foolish, applied to the man who, when he has lost a lot, is willing to lose the rest. Hence in Satire viii Juvenal uses this, it is madness to lose the fare after all the rest. And Ovid, No man can resist the Fates, it is wrong to pile loss upon loss.]
a) Juvenal, Satire viii.97 b) from a medieval poem wrongly attributed to Ovid. Cf. M. Édélestand du Méril, Poésies inédites du moyen âge (Paris, 1854) p. 395
Hoc vetus adagio a Graeco fluxit. Dicunt enim illi λύκον τῶν ὥτων ἕχω, hoc est, lupum auribus tendo. Quod apud Terentiuma in Phormione amator in periculo collocatus usurpavit. Tiberius Caesar quoque hoc identidem Tranquillob autore utebatur. Postremo Hieronymusc scribens adversus Ioannem Origenistam ait, nunc vero quasi auribus lupum apprehenderis, nec tenere potes, nec audes dimittere. Nam propter aurium exilitatem lupi haud retineri possunt, de quo etiam Marcus Varro in VII De Latina Lingua meminit. Quod in re ancipiti periculosaque dici solet. Qui enim auribus lupum tenet haud dubie valde animi pendet, ceu qui nec eum dimittere audet nec sine periculo tenere potest.
[I’m holding a wolf by the ears
This old adage, I’m holding a wolf by the ears, comes from the Greek. It is used by the endangered lover in Terence’s Phormio Tiberius Caesar likewise used to use it, according to Suetonius. Finally, Jerome, writing against Johannes the disciple of Origen, said, now, as it were, you are holding the wolf by the ears: you can’t hang on, you don’t dare let go. For, because of the small size of their ears, wolves’ ears cannot be kept on one’s grasp, as is also mentioned by Marcus Varro in Book VII of De Lingua Latina. This is customarily said in a doubtful and perilous circumstance. For he who is holding onto a wolf by the ears undoubtedly is very anxious, since he does not dare release it, nor can he hold onto it without endangering himself.]
a) Terence, Phormio 506 b) Suetonius, Tiberius xxv.1 c) St. Jerome, Contra Ioannem Hierosolymitanum vi (vol. 23.412 col. 0359D Migne) d) Varro, De Lingua Latina VII.31.4
Superiori non admodum diversum est inter saxum et sacrum sto. Quippe apud Romanos qui haud quaquam minus religione quam armis caeteris gentibus praestiterunt mos vetus erat ut cum foedus cum quibusdam populis inirent teste Livioa Ab Urbe Condita et Fenestellab De Magistratibus Romanis hoc pacto facerent. Ducebant porcam ad confinia ubi constitutam sacerdos fecialis saxo feriebat his verbis utens, quemadmodum hanc porcam saxo feriam, ita fulmine a Iove optimo maximo feriatur is qui hoc sanctum foedus fregerit. His peroratis, porcam saxo feriebat. Ex quo haud ineleganter in eum proverbium venit, qui in periculo constitutus ut dicat inter saxum et sacrum sto, perinde ac porca manet antequam a sacerdote feriatur. De quo Plautusc in Captivis meminit ubi ait inter sacrum et saxum sto.[I’m standing 'twixt a rock and a frock
Not very different from the preceding is I’m standing 'twixt a rock and a frock.For among the Romans, who surpassed other nations in their religion just as much as with their arms, there was an old custom, attested by Livy in his Ab Urbe Condita and Fenestella in De Magistratibus Romanis, of doing the following whenever they entered into a treaty with outher peoples. They would bring a pig to their border, where a priest of the College of Heralds would crush it with a rock, using this verbal formula, just as I crush this pig with a rock, thus may Rome be stricken by lightning sent by Jupiter Greatest and Best, if it breaks this holy pact. Having said these words, he would crush the pig. From which custom arose the not inelegant proverb said by a man in desperate straits, I’m standing between a rock and a frock, just as if he were in the situation of the pig before being crushed by the priest. Plautus remembers this in his Captives, where he says I’m standing 'twixt rock and a frock.]
a) Livy I.xxxiv.9 b) in fact, this work, first printed in 1510, was a contemporary concoction written by the Italian Andrea Fiocco; read it herec) Plautus, Captivi 617 (cf. Casina 970)
Versus Graecus est autore Gellio lib. XII cap. xvj, πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου est, multa cadunt inter calicem sumpremaque labra. Hoc nostri veteres quam brevissime dicere solebant, inter os et offam, quod significat non esse de futuro nimis sperandum. Inde etiam locum habuisse hoc proverbium tradunt quod vir quidam aetate grandaevus dum vineam plantaret a vicino per derisum interrogatus est cui vineam sereret. Qui quum sibi serere respondisset, ludibrio habitus est perinde quasi impossible foret eum tam diu vivere ut mustum ex ea gustare posset. Vidit tandem senex ex ea uvas, afferrique sibi praematuros aliquot racemos et premi iussit, vicinum praeterea accersiri, cui calicem musti plenum manu ostendens et iam pene admovens ori, putastine, inquit, vinum me ex vinea quam te spectante plantavi gustaturum? Inter haec anhelus puer accurrit descendisse in vineam aprum nunciat uvasque vastare. Senex deposito calice in vineam properat, comitantur eum vicinus et puer, aprum prosequuntur, qui facto in senem impetu eum necat. Atque ad hunc modum cum calicem iam fere labris amotum gustare non potuisset, locum proverbio perquam appositum dedit, non autem ille venator (ut imperiti quidam divinare conati sunt).
[There’s many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, or There’s a great difference between the mouth and the morsel
There is a Greek verse quoted at Gellius XII.xvi, There’s many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. Our own Latin speakers used say this more briefly, There’s a great difference between the mouth and the morsel. They say that what gave rise to this proverb was that when a certain elderly man planted a vineyard, he was jokingly asked by a neighbor for whose benefit he had planted the vines. When he responded that he had done so for his own benefit, he was mocked as if it would be impossible that he would live long enough to be able to taste the wine made from them. But the old man survived to see the grapes, and he bid a few unripe clusters to be brought to him and pressed, and also for the neighbor to be fetched. Showing him a cup full of wine and bringing it to his mouth he said, did you imagine you’d see me about to taste wine made from the vines you saw me plant? At that moment a panting slave came running in and announced that a wild boar had gotten into the vineyard and was ruining the grapes. The old man set down the cup and hastened to the vineyard, accompanied by the neighbor and the slave, and they gave chase to the boar. It charged the old man and killed him. And in this way, since he could not drink from the cup he had almost brought to his lips, he provided a very apt opportunity for a proverb, but not as a hunter (as certain unlearned men have sought to divine).]
Proverbium est teste Gellio lib. III cap. ix Noctium Atticarum de homine infelici ac calamitoso, cuius haec ratio est. Cneius Seius equum habuit natum Argis, quem fama erat progenitum esse ex equis qui Diomedis Thracis fuerunt, quosque Hercules Diomede occiso Argos perduxerat. Hunc magnitudine inusitata fuisse cervice ardua, colore phoeniceo, flava et comanti iuba caeterisque equorum laudibus insignem. Veruntamen ea fortuna ut quisquis eum possideret, is cum omni domo, familia, et fortunis in pernitiem deduceretur. Itaque ferunt Cneium Seium primum eius dominum a Marco Antonio capitis damnatum miserabili supplicio vitam finisse. Eodem tempore Dolobellam consulem in Syriam proficiscentem fama eius equi permotum Argos divertisse, emisseque sestertiis centum milibus. Sed ipsum mox in Syria bello civili obsessum atque interfectum fuisse. Deinde eundem equum Caium Cassium qui Dolobellam obsederat adduxisse. Quem Cassium postea victoribus Parthis fusoque exercitu suo miseram mortem oppetiisse manifestum est. Deinde Antonium post interitum Cassii parta victoria nobilem illum equum requisivisse, et mox eo potitum, victum atque desertum detestabili exitio interiisse.
[That man has the horse of Seius
According to Aulus Gellius at Attic Nights III.ix, there was a proverb about an unlucky and ill-starred man, the explanation of which is as follows. Cneius Seius had a horse born in Argos, which was alleged to be descended from the horses that had belonged to Diomedes of Thrace, which Hercules had brought to Argos after killing Diomedes. This horse was of unusual size, with a high neck. It was roan, with a full blonde mane, and was a noble horse in its other points. But it was fated that whoever owned it would be brought to ruin together with his entire household, family, and fortune. So they say that its first owner Cneus Seius was condemned by Mark Antony and died suffering a wretched punishment. At the same time, the story goes that consul Dolobella was moved by report of that horse and turned aside in Argos as he was making his way to Syria, and bought it for 100,000 sesterces. But he was soon besieged in Syria during the civil war and killed. Then Caius Cassius, who had besieged Dolobella, acquired it. And it is well known that Cassius was subsequently died at the hands of the victorious Parthians, after his army had been routed. Then, after Cassius’ death, Antony, who had gained the victory, confiscated the noble horse, and soon afterwards was conquered, deserted, and died a hideous death.]
Huc et illud pertinit Tolosanum aurum possidet. Porro oppidum Tolosanum in terra (ita enim Gelliusa eodem libro tradit) Italia Quintum Cepionem consulem quondam diripuisse constat, in cuius templis cum multum auri fuisset inventum, quicunque ex ea praeda aurum attigit, eum misero ac cruciabili exitu periisse manifestum est. At tibi, Guido princeps, exercituique tuo non sacrilegium, ut Terentio Varroni, ut Quinto Cepioni creditum est, aliudve perpetratum scelus cladem ullam afferet, qui (ut par est) tantopere victrices militum manus (secundae enim res, ut verissime Crispusb prodit, sapientium etiam animos fatigant) a rebus sacris abstinentissimas servas, qui militarem disciplinam a Federico patre, qui suarum rerum gestarum splendore facile imperatorum omnium gloriam non modo aequiparavit, verum mehercule valde superavit, traditam pari severitate et indulgentia pro loci, pro temporis opportunitate regis, qui denique militem tuum armis tantum intentum esse facis. Scis enim, optime imperator, vires armis constare, quae ubi a recto itinere desciverint, sese oppressurae sunt nisi opprimantur. Caeterum Iustinusc lib. XXXII Tolosanum urbem Galliae non Tolosanum in Italia oppidum (ut in Gellianis codicibus scriptum est) hisce verbis appellat: Tectoagi autem cum in antiquam patriam Tolosam venissent, comprehensique pestifera lue essent, non prius sanitatem recuperavere quam auruspicium responsis moniti aurum argentumque bello sacrilegiisque quaesitum in Tolosensem lacum mergerent. Quod omne mago post tempore Cepio Romanus consul abstulit. Fuere auri ponto cx milia, argenti pondo quinquies decies centum milia. Quod sacrilegium causa excidii Cepioni exercituique eius fuit. Iustinus hactenus. Strabod autem libi. Geographae IV de Tolosa cum Iustino convenit. Thesauros vero, sic in codiibus legitur, Scipionem non Cepionem diripuisse tradit. Verum (ut obiter locum corrigam) quamvis semidocti quidam haec duorum authorum verba inter se dissentire contendant, mihi maxime consentiunt. Loco enim Scipionem proculdubio Cepionem legendum. De Tolosa Martialise itidem lib. IX mentionem facit.
[He possesses gold of Tolosanum
Pertinent to the preceding proverb is he possesses gold of Tolosanum. They say that the consul Quintus Caepio captured Tolosanum, a town in Italy (as Gellius says in the same Book), in the temples of which town much gold was found. But it is clear that whoever touched the gold belonging to that booty died a wretched, painful death. But you, prince Guidobaldo, and your army have been guilty of no such sacrilege as has been credited to Terrentius Varro or Quintus Caepio, or any other crime, since (as is only reasonable) you have expended such effort on restraining the hands of your victorious soldiers (for, as Sallust says, even prosperity wears on the minds of the wise). For you have not only maintained the military discipline of your father Federico, who easily equaled the glory of all commanders with splendor of his achievements but, by Hercules, have even surpassed them, controlling your soldiers with equal indulgence or severity as dictated by the opportunity of place and time, and have kept them intent on their arms. For you know, you best of commanders, that strength resides in arms, and when these go astray from the path of righteousness, they will oppress if they are not repressed. But in his Book XXXII Justin says that Tolosanum was a town in Gaul, not Italy (as is written in the manuscripts of Gellius), in these words: The Tectosagi, on returning to their old settlements about Tolosanum, were seized with a pestilential distemper, and did not recover from it, until, being warned by the admonitions of their soothsayers, they threw the gold and silver, which they had got in war and sacrilege, into the lake of Tolosanum; all which treasure, a hundred and ten thousand pounds of silver, and fifteen hundred thousand pounds of gold, Caepio, the Roman consul, a long time after, carried away with him. But this sacrilegious act subsequently proved a cause of rain to Caepio and his army. So Justin, and inn Book IV of his Geography Strabo agrees with Justin. But he says that Scipio, not Caepio, plundered the gold (or so it stands in his manuscripts), although for Scipio we should no doubt read Caepio. Martial also mentions Tolosa in his Book IX.]
a) Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights III.ix.7 b) Sallust, Bellum Iugurthinum xi.8 c) Justin , Epitome of Pompeius Trogus XXXII.iii.9 d) Strabo IV.i.13 (modern editions adopt the reading recommended here) e) Martial IX.xcix.2 (cf. also XII.xxxii.18)
Quoniam divitiae, bona valetudo, potentia, honor, voluptas, et his similia caduca et incerta sunt, et non tam in nostris consiliis quam in fortunae temeritate posita, amicitia autem, quae a Laelioa divinarum humanarumque rerum, cum benevolentia et charitate, summa consensio definitur, omnibus rebus humanis anteponitur. Quippe qua nihil in vita mortalium utilius aptiusve (id enim multis constat exemplis) est, quemadmodum Marcus Tulliusb perspicue in Amicitia demonstrat, ubi Amicitia, inquit, plurimas res continet. Quoquo verteris, praesto est, nullo loco excluditur, nunquam intempestiva, nunquam molesta est. Itaque non aqua, non igni, non aere (ut aiunt) pluribus locis utimur quam amicitia. Hinc teste Plautoc vetus fluxit proverbium, ubi amici, ibi opes. Quam verum est, ait, verbum quod memoratur: ubi amici, ibi opes. Est Fabius Quintilianusd lib. V hoc itidem citat. Ad quod Martialise haud dubie respexit illis versibus in lib. V,
Extra fortunam est quicquid donatur amicis.
Quas dederis solas semper habebis opes.
Unde Salustianusf Sylla apud Iugurtam scienter ait, nulli unquam hominum satis fuit amicorum. Titus quoque Vespasianus (ut testis est Tranquillusg) recordatus quondam super coenam nihil se cuique toto die praestitisse, memorabilem illam meritoque laudandum vocem aedidit, amici, diem perdidi. Quae modo passim eruditorum praeconio celebratur. Caveant itaque omnes, praesertim principes (ut tu, Guido, facis) ne perdant amici diem. Scipio Aemylianus huius fortasse non immemor proverbii, cuius in hoc Titus videtur vestigia imitatus, studebat non prius e foro discedere quam aliquem ex adeuntibus familiarem sibi atque amicum quovis pacto effecisset.
[Where your friends are, there is your wealth
Since riches, goods, good health, power, honor, pleasure, and suchlike are transitory and uncertain, and reside not so much in our counsels as in the impulsiveness of fortune, whereas friendship, which is defined by Laelius as the supreme agreement of things both divine and human, joined together with good-will and charity, is to be placed ahead of all human things. For (as is shown by many an example) nothing in mortal life is more useful or suitable, as Cicero penetratingly shows in his De Amicitia, where he says, Friendship contains many things. Wherever you turn, it is there, it is excluded from no place, it is never untimely, it is never troublesome. Therefore we do not use water, fire, or air (as they say) in more situations than we do friendship. Hence, as Plautus shows, there arose an old proverb, where your friends are, there is your wealth. This is also cited by Quintilian in Book V, and Martial was thinking of it in writing these verses in Book V, Whatever is given to friends lies outside the reach of Fortune. You will always have the wealth you give. Hence Sulla in Sallustus’ Iugurtha says with insight, a man has never had enough friends. As Suetonius attests, Titus Vespasian also recalled once at dinner that he had done no man a favor all that day, and added that justly-famous remark, my friends, I have wasted today, celebrated by the praises of all learned men. And so all men, and most especially princes, should take care (as you do, Guidobaldo) lest friends waste a day. Scipio Aemilianus was perhaps not unaware of this proverb, for in this he appears to have followed in Titus’ footsteps, in striving never to leave the market-place without in some manner befriending one of those there present.]
a) Laelius is the principal speaker in Cicero’s De Amicitia b) Cicero, De Amicitia xxii.15 c) Plautus, Truculentus 885 d) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria V.xi.41 e) Martial V.xlii,7f. f) Sallus, Bellum Iugurthinum cii.8 g) Suetonius, Titus viii.1
Euthymus poeta semper Olympiae victor, ut ait Plinius lib. VII cap. xlvij. Caeterum vetus lectio picta, id est pugil, non poeta habet. Is in Locris Italiae qui Epizephyrei cognominantur, ortus Asticleo patre vel (ut indigenis persuasum est) Cecino amne genitus, qui Locros a Rheginis dividit. Hunc semel a Thasso Theagene victum Pausaniasa tradit, non iusto quidem certamine sed circumventum dolo. Unde nec Theageni decretus honor, insuper damnatus ut mulctae nomine talentum Euthymo repraesentaret. Demum Euthymus in Italiam reversus post octavum et septuagesimam fere Olympiadem Themessam venit, genium loci, quem Ulysses comitem fuisse ab oppidanisque quia virginem stuprasset, interemptum ferebant, ob id vagari larvas eius, et nisi pacarent, quotannis oblata virgine crassari solitas, et perniciem affere omni aetati ac sexui compescuit. Liberata quam devoverant puella in matrimoniumque deducta vixisse perquam diu, alioque quam caeteri mortales solent modo humanis excessisse. Caeterum ut proverbii sensus tandem reddatur, his Aelianib authoritas addatur, qui octavo suae Historiae libro ita inquit, Euthymus Locrus ex Italia picta inclytus et robore insigni fuit lapidem gestabat ingenti magnitudine, qui Locris ostenditur et Temesseum heroa, quod cuique per vim abstulerat, reddere coegit, etiam cum foenore, ut inde natum sit adagium iis qui sordidos et iniustos quaestus faciunt, affore Temesseum genium. De quo Straboc etiam lib. VI Geographiae meminit.
[The ghost of Temessa is here
Euthymus was a poet who always won at Olympia, as Pliny says at VII.xlvii (but the old reading is pugilist, not poet). He was born at the so-called Epizephrian Locris in Italy, of a father named Aristocles, or (as the locals are convinced) was sired by the river Cecinum, which separates the Locrians from the people of Rhegium. Pausanias says he was once defeated by Theagenes of Thasos, but not in a fair fight but rather by cheating. So Theagenes was awarded no prize, and was also condemned to pay a talent to Euthymus. Then Euthymus returned to Italy after about the seventy-eighth Olympiad and came to Temessa, a place they say haunted by the ghost of a companion of Ulysses who had been put to death for raping a girl; for this reason his ghost wandered around and, unless it was appeased by an annual virgin sacrifice, would trouble people of every age and sex. He made an end to this ghost, married they girl they had chosen to sacrifice, and lived a long time with her, and then left this human life in an unusual way. But, to get around to explaining the proverb’s meaning, let this be added on the authority of Aelian, who speaks thus in Book VIII of his History: Euthymus, an Italian Locrian, was an eminent wrestler and reported to have been of admirable strength. The Locrians show an extraordinary great stone which he showed at Locris. He compelled the hero Temessus to return with interest what he had stolen from each of his victims,and from this arose a proverb against those who make a sordid and unjust living, that the ghost of Temessa is here. Strabo also mentions Euthymus in Book VI of the Geography.]
a) Pausanias, Description of Greece VI.vi.5 b) Aelian VIII.xviii c) Strabo VI.i.v
Praetextatus apud Macrobiuma libro Saturnalium primo, quomodo cum servis agendum et eorum consilium non omnino sit contemndendum, verba facit, adversusque evangeliumb ita inquit, Tu modo vive cum servo clementer, comiter quoque in sermonem illum, et nonnunquam in necessarium admitte consilium. Nam et nostri maiores omnem dominis invidiam, omnemque servis contumeliuam detrahentes, dominum paterfamilias, servos familiares appellaverunt. Colant ergo te potius servi tui (mihi crede) quam timeant. Unde putas arrogantissimum illud manasse proverbium, quod iactatur totidem nobis hostes esse quod servos. Non habemus illos hostes, sed facimus eum in illos superbissimi, contumeliosissimi, crudelissimi simus. De quo etiam Senecac Epistola xlvij ad Lucilium meminit.
[We have as many enemies as we have servants
In Book I of Macrobius’ Saturnalia, contrary to the Gospel, Praetextatus tells us how we ought to deal with our servants, and that says that their advice is by no means to be scorned: You should only coexists gently with your servant, be affable in your discourse with him, and sometimes admit him into your intimate counsel. For our ancestors, taking all invidiousness from masters and all disgrace from servants, called the master the head of the household, and the servants members of the family. Trust me, it is better for your servants to adore you than fear you. From this you can imagine that there arose that most arrogant proverb they quote, we have as many enemies as we have servants. We do not have them as enemies, we make them such when we became very arrogant, abusive, and cruel. This is mentioned by Seneca in his forty-seventh epistle to Lucilius.]
a) Macrobius, Saturnalia I.xi.11 b.) possibly the allusion is to Mattew 10:24, The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord c) Seneca, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium xlvii.5
Quoties longo quempiam temporis intervallo vel admodum raro quis videt, dicet proverbialiter, ursam parientem video. Etenim teste Plinio lib. viij cap. xxvj nihil quicquam rarius homines quam parientem vident ursam.
[I see a bear giving birth
As often as one sees a person only after a lengthy interval or very rarely, he proverbially says I see a bear giving birth. For, as Pliny attests at VIII.xxvi people see nothing more rarely than a bear giving birth.]
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, authore Plinius De viris illustribus,a altero consulatu Sardiniam domuit, ex eaque tantum captivorum adduxit ut longa venditione res in proverbium venerit Sardi venales. Cuius usus admodum tempestivus erit quum plus nimio res in moram trahuntur.
According to Pliny in his De Viris Illustribus, in his second consulship Tiberius Semprionius Gracchus conquered Sardinia, and brought home such a great number of captives that the lengthy time it took to auction them off led to the proverb Sardinians for sale, which will be very appropriately used when some business takes too much time.]
a.) A work variously attributed to Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Cornelius Nepos, and Sextus Aurelius Victor, printed (with attribution to Pliny) at the Monastery of St. Jacob of Ripoli in 1478. The ultimate source of the proverb is Festus Pompeius, De Verborum Significatione p.322.27 Lindsay.
Philippus Beroaldusa vir utique memoria nostra eruditissimus ex Philostratob enarrans illum Hieronymic locum vulgatissimum in liminari pagina Veteris Instrumenti, ubi ille ait Ut Iarcham in throno sedentem aureo, et de Tantali fonte potantem audiret docentem, ita disserit: Iarchas apud Indos philosophorum princeps est, penes quem Tantali statua subscriptione notata est iiij cubitorum longitudinis, quae similis propinanti phialam porrigit, in quam humor distillat incorruptibilis. Ex hoc Tantali poculo soliti sunt bibere Indici philosophi antequam somno indulgeant, iugem humorem perinde fundente ac si ex fonte scaturiet. Est autem amicitiae firmandae causa huiusce compotatio apud Indos inventa, qui ministrum eius faciunt pocillatoremque Tantalum, propterea quod hic amicissimus mansuetissimusque erga homines habitus est. Hoc enim proverbium, quum ad amicos amicitiae confirmandae causa scribimus, usurpare decenter possumus.
[Let us drink from Tantalus’ cup
Filippo Beroaldo, the most learned man I can recall, in explicating this very well known pasage from the first page of Jerome’s Old Teastament, where he says, where he heard Hiarcas sitting on a golden throne and drinking from the cup of Tantalus, explained it as follows: Hiarchus was the most distinguished of the Indian philosophers, and he owned a statue of Tantalus, identified by an inscription and four cubits high, which offered a cup as if it were making a toast, into which the purest water dripped. The Indian philosophers were wont to drink from this cup before indulging themselves with sleep, as it would pour a copious amount of water, as if it were issuing from a fountain. This form drinking was invented by the Indians as a way of cementing friendships, who made Tantalus its minister and cup-bearer, so that he was thought most friendly and gentle in his dealings with mankind. When we write to our friends for the sake of cementing our own friendships, we can appropriately use this proverb.]
a) the Italian Humanist Filippo Beroaldo the Elder [1453 - 1505]; I do not know in which of his works he made this observation b) Philostratus Vita Apollonii III.xxv.30 c) in fact this is a quotation of St. Jerome’s Epistle liii.i
Post Mutinensem fugam quaerentibus quibusdam quid ageret Antonius, familiaris eius urbane quidem ac festiviter respondisse fertur quod canis in Aegypto bibit et fugit. Quoniam, teste Macrobioa Saturnaliorum lib. II et Pliniob lib. VIII in illis regionibus constat canes raptu crocidiliorum exterritos currere et bibere. Quo proverbii loco appositi uti possumus in eum qui metu perculsus illinc quo se receperat raptim aufugit.
[That man is acting like a dog in Egypt
After the rout at Mutina, when some people were asking what Antony was doing, one of his friends is said to have given the urbane and witty reply that he was a dog in Egypt, running and fleeing. Since, as Macrobius in Book II of the Saturnalia and Pliny in Book VIII say, in those parts dogs are so terrified of being taken by crocodiles that they drink while running. We can fitly use this as a proverb applied to the man who is panic-stricken and runs off to hide.]
a) Macrobius, Saturnalia II.ii.7 (the source of the preceding anecdote) b) Pliny, N. H. VIII.cxlix.2
Iuvenalisa Satyra vij ita scribit, occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros. Ubi Politianus,b vir quidem sagacissimi ingenii Grecum proverbium poetam expressisse affirmat, quod est δὶς κράμβη θάνατος. Significat bis positam cramben mortuum esse. Crambe autem brassicae genus est, idque expressus ut fastidium repetitae saepius controversiae notaret, quum vulgo quoque recalfacta brassica iam in proverbium fastidii concesserit. Nos autem eo commodum uti possumus ubi aliquid saepius repetitum nobis fastidium parit.
[Cabbage served again and again
In his second Satire Juvenal writes, served up again and again, cabbage is the death of unhappy masters. Politian, a man of most sagacious intellect, maintains this reflects the Greek proverb twice-served cabbage is death. Cabbage is a kind of vegetable, and this expresses the idea that a controversy often provokes disgust when often repeated, since a re-heated vegetable has become proverbial for a source of disgust. And we may use it to good advantage when something repeated too often is not to our taste.]
a) Juvenal, Satire vii.154 b) the Italian Humanist Angelo de' Ambrosini da Monte Pulciano or Politianus [1454 - 94]; I do not know which one of his many works contains this textual emendation
Bullas post caeteras significationes etiam appellamus tumores illos qui in aqua, praecipue cum bullit, repente excitantur et repente evanescunt. Unde illud notissimum ac probatissimum apud Varronem libro De Re Rustica primoa potuit ad vitae humanae fragilitatem ostendandam, sumus enim similes bullae, fluxi et momento caduci.
[Man’s a bubble
In addition to its other meanings, we use this word to those objects that swell up in water, particularly when it is boiling, which are suddenly produced and suddenly disappear. This is why, according to that very familiar and popular statement of Varro in Book I of his De Re Rustica, we are like bubbles, a way of expressing the fragility of human life, for we are transitory and soon die.]
a.) De Re Rustica I.i.
Quintilianus Institutionum Oratoriarum lib. IIa quum de musice et eius laudibus loquitur ita inquit, Unde etiam ille mos ut in conviviis post coenam circumferretur lyra, cuius cum se imperitum Themistocles confessus esset (ut verbis Ciceronis utar) habitus est indoctior. Denique in proverbium usque Graecorum celebratum est indoctos a Musis atque Gratiis abesse. Quo nos admonemur non literarum studiis tantum, sed certe rerum omnium artium disciplinis, pro virili operam quoad vivimus impendere debere.
[The unlearned have no truck with the Muses and the Graces
When in Book II of Institutiones Oratoriae Quintilian speaks of music and its glories, he says as follows: “Whence arose the custom at symposia, after the meal had been concluded for a lyre to be passed around, and when Themistocles admitted he had no skill at playing it (if I may quote Cicero), he was regarded as deficient in learning.” Hence there arose a Greek proverb that the unlearned have no truck with the Muses and the Graces, by which we are admonished that as long as we live we need to devote ourselves might and main, not just to literary studies, but to all the branches of learning.]
a) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria I.x.19, quoting Cicero, Tusculan Disputations I.iv.10.
Graeca paroemia est πρώτερον χελώνη παραδραμεῖται δασύποδα, hoc est, primus testudo cursu praeveniet leporem. Quae inde tracta est. Nam testudo lente incedit, lepus autem habita tam parvi corporis proportionis ratione omnium fere animalium velocissimus est. Unde quidam a pedum levitate sibi nomen vendicasse volunt, idque Varro teste Gellio lib. I cap. xviij minime probat. Cum itaque impossible sit testudinem cursu praevenire leporem, de his quae factu difficila sunt huiusmodi proverbium dici solitum est. Alterum de dasypode, id est lepore, apud Graecos proverbium extat, quod est,
[Sooner will the tortoise outrun the hare
There is a Greek proverb, the tortoise outruns the hare, from which ours is taken. For the tortoise moves slowly, but, if you take its small size into consideration, the hare is about the fastest of all animals. Hence some think its name, “quick-foot,” comes from its speed (although Varro, quoted by Aulus Gellius I.xviii, disapproves of this). And so, since it is impossible for a tortoise to outrun a hare, this is customarily said about things hard to accomplish. There is another proverb concerning the hare, which is,]
a) It is surprising that Polydore does not attempt to associate this proverb with Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare
Graeci dicunt δασύπους κρεῶν ἐπιθυμεῖ, hoc est, lepus carnem quaerit, quod de iis dicitur qui ab alio quaerunt quae in se habent. quemadmodum lepus si carnem quaerat, qua maxime abundant. Scribit enim Aristotelesa dasypodem, timidum animal omnium praedae nasci solum, superfoetare aliud educantem, aliud in utero pilis vestitum habentem, aliud implume, aliud inchoatum, aliud non perfectum. Quae itidem Plinius lib. VIII cap. lv ad verbum propemodum refert. Quod adagium eleganter interpretatus est Terentiusb in Eunucho, qui ait, lepus tute es et pulpamentum quaeris, i. e., ab alio, quod in te habes, hoc est blandiris scorto, cum ipse sis scortum. Quod si Donatus et caeteri illius poetae interpretes intellexissent, non fuissent tot ambagibus usi in re simplici atque aperta. Nec me clam est nonnullos esse qui ad id referri velint quot singulis leporibus (ut Plinius ait) vis inest. Verum prior sententia magis placet.
[A rabbit craves meat
The Greeks said a rabbit craves meat of men who seek from others what they themselves possess, as a rabbit would do if he sought meat, in which it greatly abounds. For Aristotle writes that the rabbit, that most timid of all animals, produces its young in great abundance, having one fetus in its womb already covered in fur, a second that is hairless, a third beginning to take form, and yet another that is quite imperfect, something that Pliny repeats nearly verbatim at VIII.lv. Terence elegantly reproduces this adage in his Eunuch, where he says, You’re a hare yourself and you’re hunting for game, i. e. you are searching for something in somebody else what you have in yourself — I mean, you are flattering a whore, when you are a whore yourself. If Donatus and the other commentators on that poet had understood this, they would not have offered such involved explanations for such a simple, clear thing. I am not unaware that there are some who would explain this in terms of how much strength there is in each rabbit (as Pliny observes). But I prefer the previous explanation.]
a) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium I.i.15 p. 774a31 Bekker b) Terence, Eunuchus 416
Nemo fere est (sit quamvis mediocriter eruditus) quem fugiat quam longa sit Helenae genealogiae, et saepe atque saepius a poetis repetita. Ex quo quoties quis alte incipit et propemodum supra principium rem retexere, dicimus poverbialiter illum ab ovo incipere, cum ex gemino ovo Castor, Pollux, Helena, Clytemnestra ortum habuerint. Quod Horatiusa in Poetica Arte ita scribens tetigit,
Nec gemino bellum Troianum orditur ab ovo.
Fabulam vero alioqui vulgatiorem esse arbitramur quam ut hic sit repentenda.
[To begin with the egg
There is next to nobody, be he however poorly schooled, who is unaware of what a lengthy genealogy Helen had, and how it is rehashed over and over again by the poets. Whenever somebody begins to rehearse it from its beginning, and almost go back beyond the first-beginnings of the thing, we proverbially se he is beginning with the egg, inasmuch as Castor, Pollux, Helen and Clytaemnestra were born from a pair of eggs. Writing in the Ars Poetica, Horace touched on this when he wrote “nor is the Trojan war narrated from the two eggs.” But I think the story is too familiar to need retelling here.]
a) Horace, Ars Poetica 147
Cretenses prioribus annis navigandi principatum tenuere. Unde sermone vulgatum est proverbium ut, si quis quam callet se ignorare dissimulet, dicamus ironicôs, Cretes nescit pelagus. Haec ex Strabonea ad verbum lib. X Geographiae.
[Cretans don’t know the sea
In years gone by the Cretans were the world’s best sailors. Hence came about a popular proverb. When somebody claims to be ignorant of a subject on which he is an expert, we ironically say Cretans don’t know the sea. These are Strabo’s words verbatim, taken from Book X of his Geography.]
a) Strabo, Geography X.xvii.20
Plutarchusa De Liberis Educandis. Quod enim inquit inconsulto ac temere dictum factumve sit, id pulchrum esse nequit, ut in proverbio est, difficilia honesta sunt. Sensus autem adagii facilis et apertus est. Significat enim id fere (quando virtutis nomine omnia honesta continentur) quod Lactantiusa in primo Divinarum Institutionum libro ait, qui ita scribit, Nam quia virtutibus amaritudo permixta est, vita vero voluptate condita sunt, illa offensi ac deliniti homines feruntur in praeceps. Et Pitacusc perdifficile est, inquit, bonum esse, et Marcus Tullius,d quod difficilius, hoc praeclarius. Idem in calce tertii Tusculanarum libro,e Quid autem praeclarum, non idem arduum? Et Martialisf ad hoc idem alludens ad furem, Non sex paratur aut decem sophos nummis.
[Honorable things are hard
In De Liberis Educandis Plutarch says, For that which is said or done without reflection and rashly cannot be fair. As the proverb says, “honorable things are hard.“ The meaning of this adage is clear and self-evident. For (since all things honorable are embraced by the word “virtue”), it means about the same thing as what Lactantius says in Book I of his Divinae Institutiones, where he writes, there is a bitterness mingled with virtues, while vices are seasoned with pleasure, offended by the former and soothed by the latter, men are borne headlong, and deceived by the appearance of good things. Pittacus says, it is a hard thing to be a good man, and Cicero, the harder something is, the nobler it is. Likewise at the end of Book III of his Tusculan Disputations, he asks, what fine thing is not arduous? And, alluding to this same idea, Martial says to a thief, a wise man cannot be bought for six sesterces, or even for ten.]
a) Plutarch, De Liberis Educandis ix b) Lactantius, Divinae Institutiones proem ii c) cf. Johannes Conradus Orrelius, Opuscula Graecorum Veterum Sententiosa et Moralia (Leipzig, 1819) I.175 d) Cicero, De Officiis I.lxiv.14 e) Cicero, Tusculan Disputations III.lxxxiv.8 f) Martial I.lxvi.4
Quintilianusa Oratoriarum Institutionum lib. V At vero, inquit, statuarum artifices pictoresque clarrisimi, cum corpora quam speciosissima pingendo fingendove effingere cuperent, nunquam tamen in hunc inciderunt errorum, ut Bagoum aut Megabyzum aliquem in exemplum operis assumentes sibi, sed doryphorum illum aptum vel militae vel palaestrae, aliorum quae iuvenum bellicorum et athletarum decorare corpora existimarint,ubi Bagoum et Megabyzum pro imbellibus et mollibus accepit. Sed mendose Baccham (ut Hermolausb super XXXV lib. Plinii docet) scriptum erat, qui ait, potes et Bacelum in Fabio legere, quem et semivirum desidia ac libidine insignem proverbium Βάκηλος εἶ, id est, similis Bacelo, autor Suidas. Quo in valde molles homines et itidem libidine insignes decenter uti licebit.
In Book V of his Institutio Oratoria, Quintilian says, When the masters of sculpture and hand desired to carve or paint forms of ideal beauty, they never fell into the error of taking some Bagoas or Megabyzus as models, but rightly selected the well-known Doryphorus, equally adapted either for the fields of war or for the wrestling school, and other warlike and athletic youths as types of physical beauty, where he uses Bagoas and Megabyzus as examples soft, effeminate men. But the manuscripts had had the corrupt reading Baccham (as Hermolao shows in writing on Pliny, Book XXXV, remarking you can also read Bacelum in Quintilian). There is also a Greek proverb, you are a Bagoas, i. e. you are like Bagoas. Bagoas was a half-man notable for his sloth and lust, according to Suidas,c and one can appropriately apply this to soft men likewise notable for their wantonness.]
a) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria V.xii.21 b) the reference is to the Castigationes Pliniae by the Italian Humanist Ermolao Barbaro [1453 - 1493] c) Suda Lexicon s. v.
Hoc antiquum est proverbium, dicente Seneca lib. De Ira iij.a Vetus dictum est, a lasso rixam quaeri. Unde quoties quispiam seu dives seu viribus praestans hominem irritat, vel imbellem aut defatigatum ad pugnam provocat, eleganter dicimus a lasso rixam quaris, quippe qui reluctari nec potest nec omnino audet.
[You’re picking a quarrel with a weary man
According to Seneca’s book De Ira, chapter iii, you’re picking a quarrel with a weary man is an old proverb. So that, whenever someone either wealthy or possessed of surpassing strength provokes a helpless or tired man to a fight, we elegantly say you’re picking a quarrel with a weary man, since he is unable to put up a resistance, and is quite lacking in courage. ]
a) Seneca, Dialogi V.ix.v.
Est quidem lema Graecis lacrhyma, sed congelata, ut testatur Plinius lib. XXIII ca. ij, ita scribens, si lemae in oculis erunt, licet omnes fere codices, ut Hermolausa perspicue demonstrat, perperam lachrymae non lemae habeant. Et quoniam huiusmodi lemae, id est lachrymae, si diutius in oculis congelatae fuerint, hominem segnem ac pene stultum rebusque suis indormientem significant, ceu socordiae certum et stoliditatis symbolum. Hinc apud Aristophanemb proverbium est κρονικαὶ λῆμαι, hoc est diuturnae lemae in eos qui parum prudentes sunt.
Rheum is congealed tears, as Pliny attests at XXIII.ii, writing thus: if rheum be in the eyes (although almost all manuscripts have lachrymae (“tears”) rather than lemae (“rheum”), as Hermolao insightfully shows. And so, if this rheum is constantly congealed in the eyes, it indicates a lazy and stupid man who sleeps on his own affairs, or is a sure sign of idleness and dullness. Hence in Aristophanes there is a proverb, the chronically rheumy, used of those who are imprudent.]
a) See on A32 above b) Aristophanes, Plutus 581
Hoc vetus est proverbium. Significat autem unumquemque debere vitium vel culpam vel infamiam fugere, sed ita ut nullo id pacto praeter casam suam sit, hoc est ne praetermittat casam suam, quae sit sibi tutissimum receptaculum, quod eleganter a Terentioa in Phormione usurpatur. Nos autem decenter uti possumus quum significare volumus esse rebus nostris semper caute ac prospicienter consulendum.
[Shun it, nothing beyond your house
This is an ancient proverb. It signifies that each of us should shun vice, guilt, and infamy, in such a way that in no way does it go beyond his house, i. e. that he does not let it out of his house, which is his surest refuge. This is elegantly used by Terence in the Phormio, and we can use it appropriately when we wish to indicate that we must always be careful and foresightful in tending to our affairs.]
a) Terence, Phormio 768
Apud Gellium libro Noctium Atticarum XIII cap. xxvij proverbium Graecum legitur. Sic enim ait, Ne plane fiat Graecum illud de Varronis satyrae proverbium τὸν ἐπὶ τῇ φακῇ μῦθον, id est in lente fabulam. Sed mendose scriptum est, ut perbelle Beroaldusa demonstrat, qui non fabulam sed unguentum, et non μῦθον sed μύρον, quod unguentum significat, legendum esse docet. Male igitur lens leguminis genus cum unguento convenit. Ex quo quum volumus notare quempiam propter imparilitatem haud satis commode cum aliquo copulatum esse ad aliqua munia subeunda, dicimus in lente unguentum est. Hoc proverbium usurpat etiam M. Tulliusb quadam ad Atticum epistola decenter, ubi in lente unguentum dixit cum carpere voluisset Lentulum Clodiae filium haudquaquam cum Metello Cretico et L. Flacco viris clarissimis in legatione collegam copulandum.
[Unguent in the lentils
At Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights XIII.xxvii a Greek proverb is read. It says, lest that proverb “the story (μῦθον) is in the lentils,” which is found in Varro’s satire... But this is written with a corruption, as Beroaldo excellently shows, who reads unguent (μύρον) for story (μῦθον). For lentils and unguent do not belong to gether. And so when we want to say that one thing is incongruously joined to another for performing some task, we say there’s unguent in the lentils. Cicero uses this proverb appropriateliy in some letter to Atticus, where he says there’s unguent in the lentils when he wished to complain that Clodia’s son Lentulus ought not be included in an embassy along with those very distinguished gentlemen Metellus Creticus and Lucius Flaccus.]
a) the Italian Humanist Filippo Beroaldo [1453 - 1505], who published an edition of Aulus Gellius in 1503 b) Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum I.xix.8
Idem Gellius in calce <proemii sui> operis meminit veteris proverbii quod haud longe ab est a superiore. Sic enim ait: Vetus adagium est nihil cum fidibus graculo, nihil cum amaracino sui. Sensus est satis apertus, quo significatur neque musicam graculis avibus obstreperis et clamosis, neque unguentum porcis immundus et lutosis convenire. Amaracinum enim penultima correpta teste Plinio lib. XIII cap. i unguenti genus est, quod (ut apud Lucretiumb lib. VI extat) peculiariter sues odere. Hoc igitur proverbium in eos usurpamus qui (ut Vergilianoc utar verbo) illaudati sese viris illustribus conferre et amplissimos honores inhiare audent.
[A grackle has nothing to do with fiddles, nor pigs with marjoram
At the end of the proemium of his work, this same Gellius recalls an old proverb which does not greatly differ from the preceding. Thus he says: An old adage is “a grackle has nothing to do with fiddles, nor pigs with marjoram.” The meaning is clear enough: grackles, which are obstreperous, raucous birds, have nothing to do with music, nor do pigs, which are dirty and muddy, with unguent. For amaricinum (the penultimate syllable is correpted according to Pliny XIII.i) or marjoram is used to scent unguent, and pigs especially loathe it (as Lucretius says in his Book VI). Thence we use this proverb against (if I may use Vergil’s word) unpraiseworthy men whom dare compare themselves to illustrious ones and gape after the highest honors.]
a) Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae proemium xix.8 b) Lucretius, De Rerum Natura VI.973 c) Vergil, Georgics III.5
Cum Liber pater per deserta Libyae exercitum duceret, universa iam Asia devicta, et siti admodum laboraret, implorasse a patre auxilium dicitur. Quo facto, apparuit ei extemplo aries, quem dum fugientem sequitur, pervenisse illo duce ad fontem amoenissimum, quapropter desiderio putis existimasse arietem illum fuisse Iovem, eique templum mirae magnitudinis in harena constituisse, de quo Martialisa versus,
Dissimuletque deum cornibus ara frequens
(id licet Politianus de Apollinis ara in Delo dictum esse contendat), et deum vocasse Ammonem, hoc est Iovem harenarium. Graeci enim ἄμμον harenam vocant. Unde est frequens hoc apud eos proverbium de frustra in re difficili laborantibus ἄμμον μετρεῖς, hoc est, harenam mensuras
[You’re counting grains of sand
When Father Bacchus was leading his army through the Libyan desert after having conquered all of Asia and was greatly suffering from thirst, he is said to have implored his father for help. When he had sone this, suddenly a ram appeared to him, and when he pursued it as it ran off, by its guidance he came to a very pleasant spring. So, in his desire for a well, he thought that the ram was Jove, and he built a temple of wonderful size for him in the sand, which is mentioned in a verse of Martial, Let the altar, bristling with horns, speak modestly of the g0d (although Politian argues that this said of the altar of Apollo on Delos), and called the god Ammon, i. e., Jupiter of the Sands. For in Greek ammon means sand. Hence they had a popular proverb about those toiling in vain on a difficult task, you’re counting grains of sand.]
a) Martial, Spectacula i.4 (modern editions accept Politian’s emendation Delon for deum)
Veteres Cyprii bovis merendam loco proverbii vocabant turpem coenam ac vilem significare volentes. Quoniam in Cypro insula boves humano stercore pasecebantur, author Festus Pompeius.a
[A Cyprian bull’s supper
The ancients proverbially referred to a bad and nasty meal as a Cyprian bull’s supper, since on the island of Cyprus they fed their bulls on human dung, as reported by Festus Pompeius.]
a) De Verborum Significatione p.273.2 Lindsay.
Appianus Alexandrinusa lib. II Civilium Bellorum et Suetoniusb autores sunt Caesarem cum e Gallia rediens armato exercitu (quod ne fieret senatu cautum erat) Rubiconis ponticulum transisset, iacta est alea dixisse. Quod profecto iam olim in proverbii consuetudinem venit, cum sic coepta res est ut desistere integrum non sit, ut dicimus iacta est alea. Iacere enim aleam significat se periculis exponere, de quo Ciceroc in Philippicis meminit. Hoc enim incertos et audaces subeuntibus casus (ut Plutarchusd prodit) vulgo exordium esse solet. Alea autem dicitur de omni ludo in fortunae varietate collocato, accipiturque pro periculo atque discrime et rerum eventu, ut Pliniuse M. Tullium extra omnem ingenii aleam positus, et Lucanusf quoque placet alea fati alterutrum mersura caput.
[The die is cast
Both Appian of Alexandria in Book II of his The Civil Wars and Suetonius tell us that when Caesar was returning from Gaul with his armed forces (something the senate had forbidden him to), when he was crossing over the Rubicon by a little bridge, he said the die is cast. Which has long since become a proverb, to that, when some business has begun which cannot be safely broken off, we say the die is cast. For to cast the dice means to expose oneself to risk, about which Cicero speaks in his Philippics. For, as Plutarch says, this is the a common beginning for those who are about to subject themselves to uncertain, bold events. And dice is used to designate every gamble that depends on the chance for fortune, and is accepted as embracing danger, risk, and uncertain outcome, as Pliny uses it metaphorically to say that Cicero’s intellect was beyond any question, and he chose to cast the dice of Fate, destined to end his life one way or the other.]
a) Appian, Bellum Civile II.xxxv b) Suetonius, Julius Caesar xxx.i c) perhaps a reference to Philippics II.lvi.9 d) Plutarch, Life of Caesar xxxi.viii.3 e) Pliny, N. H. proem, vii.3 f) Lucan, Bellum Civile VI.7
Hoc dictitare solebat Augustus Caesar (ut testis est Suetoniusa) quum quispiam illi libellum timide porrigebat. Cuius etiam rei Macrobiusb est autor, qui in Saturnaliis lib. II ita ait, Augustus cum ei quidam libellum trepidus offerret, et modo proferret manu et modo traheret, Putas inquit te assem elephanto dare? Nempe qui assem, hoc est nummum, elephanto dabat, cum pavore et formidine porrigebat. Unde in eos qui timide aliquid agunt proverbium extat das assem elephanto, de quo Quintilianusc quoque libro Institutionum Oratoriarum VI meminit. Quod autem elephantis a populo nummi darentur, de hoc attestatur Plinius,d sic scribens in VIII de elephantis, stipes quas populus dedisset servatae et in sinu effusae.
[You’re giving a penny to an elephant
As Suetonius attests, when someone would offer him a written document timidly, Augustus Caesar used to say this. Macrobius also recounts this in Book II of the Saturnalia, saying: When somebody offered him a document fearfully, now extending his hand and now pulling it back, Augustus said to him, “do you imagine you are giving a penny to an elephant?” For if anyone would give a penny to an elephant, he would do so with fear and dread. Hence the proverb you’re giving a penny to an elephant, a proverb also recorded by Quintilian in Book VI of his Institutio Oratoria. That people did give pennies to elephants is attested by Pliny when writing about elephants in Book VII, by keeping for them and throwing into their bosom the pieces of money which the public had given them.]
a) Suetonius, Augustus liii.3 b) Macrobius, Saturnalia II.iv.1 c) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria V.xi.30 d) Pliny, N. H. VIII.xiv.6
Nunc oblita mihi tot carmina, vox quoque Moerim,
Iam fugit ipsa, lupi Moerim videre priores.
Hinc factum est proverbium, lupus est in fabula, quoties superveniente eo de quo sermo erat necesse est tacere, quod Terentius in Adelphis usurpat.b
It is thought that the sight of wolves is harmful a man and, if they catch sight of him first, they strike him dumb. Writing thus in the Bucolics, Vergil testifies thus:
And even his voice is failing Moeris now;
The wolves eyed Moeris first.
Hence came about the proverb, there’s a wolf in the story, said whenever the man one is talking about comes along so that it necessary to fall still. This was quoted by Terence in the Adelphoe.
It is thought that the sight of wolves is harmful a man and, if they catch sight of him first, they strike him dumb. Writing thus in the Bucolics, Vergil testifies thus:
And even his voice is failing Moeris now;
The wolves eyed Moeris first.
Hence came about the proverb, there’s a wolf in the story, said whenever the man one is talking about comes along so that it necessary to fall still. This was quoted by Terence in the Adelphoe.]
a) Vergil, Eclogues ix.53f. b) Terence, Adelphoe 537.
Anticyra insula est ad regionem Phocaicam pertinens, in Corinthum versa, in qua ingens ellebori copia nascitur, quod multis remediis efficax est. Quippe comiciali medetur morbo, quamobrem teste Plinioa ferunt Livium Drusum Anticyram petisse. Item ad purganda corpora valet. Ovidiob in IV De Ponto dicente,
I, bibe, dixissem, purgantes pectora succos,
Quiquid et in tota nascitur Anticyra.
Sed potissimum insanium tollit, teste Horatioc II Sermonum, qui de avaro insanienti ait,
Danda est ellebori multo pars maxima avaris,
et Persiod Satyra iiij, Anticyras melior sorbere meracas. Hinc igitur proverbium fluxit, ut quum symbolocôs et obscure quempiam tanquam minime mentis compotem insaniae coarguere volumus, dicamus hic navigat Anticyram.
[He’s sailing to Anticyra
Anticyra is an island belonging to the district of Phocaea, near Corinth, in which grows a large supply of hellebore, which is efficacious as a manifold remedy. For it cures epilepsy, which, according to Pliny, is why they say Livius Drusus went to Anticyra. Likewise it has the virtue of purging bodies. As Ovid says in Book IV of his Letters from Pontus,“Go,” I said, “and drink the heart-purging juice which grows throughout Anticyra.” But most of all it removes insanity, as Horace testifies in Book II of his Satires, who says of a daft miser, The greatest portion of hellebore needs to be administered to miser. And Persius in his third Satire, your best course would be to swallow the contents of all the Anticyras undiluted. From this has derived a proverb: when we want to accuse someone of being out of his right mind, we may say he’s sailing to Anticyra.]
a) Pliny, N. H. XXV.lii.5 b) Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV.iii.53 c) Horace, Sermones II.iii.83 d) Persius, Satire iv.16
Pescennius Niger Romanus imperator, cum apud Aegyptum ab eo milites vinum peterent, volens illorum petulantiam proverbiali figura notare respondit, Nilum habetis et vinum quaeritis? Quod modo loco proverbii ususrpatur cum quis vini caritate laborans nimio magno studio vinum quaerit, veluti non habeat aquam, primum mortalitus poculum a natura datum. Consimile exemplum illud Augusti est, qui, teste Tranquillo,a de vini caritate querentem severissime coercuit, dicens satis provisum esse a genero suo Agrippa, productis pluribus aquis, ne homines sitirent. Potest item accommodari ad quancunque rem quae loco alterius queat nobis esse usui.
When his soldiers in Egypt were demanding wine of the emperor Pescennius Niger, wishing to rebuke their forwardness with a proverbial turn of speech, he replied, you have the Nile and you’re asking for wine? This is nowadays used as a proverb when somebody suffering from a dearth of wine very passionately asks it, as if he has no water, the original drink given mortals by nature. There is a similar example involving Augustus, who, according to Suetonius, very severely chastised a man complaining of a shortage of wine, saying that by bringing much water to the city, his son-in-law Agrippa had taken quite sufficient care that people would not go thirsty. For something can be accommodated to our use in place of something else.]
a) Suetonius, Augustus xlii.1.
Martialisa in Apophoretis versus est. Ait enim, Sunt apinae Tricae et si quid vilius istis. In cuius (bona venia dictum sit) interpretatione, Domitius,b vir alioqui non indoctus perspicue halucinari et claudicare videtur, qui inquit, Apinae, nam res leviores solebant mitti in apophoretis, Apinae ab apiano fructu fragilis corticis, tricae impedimenta dicuntur. Hoc ille. Quod quantum sententiae urbanissimi poetae convenit, aliorum iudico pensitandum relinquimus. Caeterum ego affirmare ausim Martialem in hoc loco haud dubie vetus tetigisse proverbium, quod huiusmodi est. Apina Tricaque duo Apuliae oppida fuerunt, quae, teste Plinio lib. IV cap x, rex Diomedes evertit tanta ignominia ut in proverbii ludibirum transierint. Quoties itaque rem vilem et nullius precii ostendere volumus, Apinas et Tricas nominamus. Quod vehementer cum poetae sensu congruit. Nobis autem potissimum explicare placuit, partim ut locum emacularem, partim vero ut proverbii sensus aperiendo studiosis consulerem. Hoc enim longe plures usurpare quam intelligere videam.
[These are follies and trifles
In his Presents Made to Banquet-Guests, Martial has a verse, These are follies and and trifles [apinae tricaeque, and whatever is cheaper than these. In which (if I may be pardoned for so saying) Domitius, not otherwise an unlearned man, is visibly deceived and appears to be wrong in saying, lighter things were wont to be given as presents at banquets, and these are called apinae because the muscatel (apianus) is a thin-skinned fruit, and pieces of luggage are called tricae. So Domizio. What this has to do with the meaning of this most urbane poet, I leave for other to judge. But I would be so bold as to say that in this passage Martial was handling a proverb, of the following kind. Apina and Trica were two towns of Apulia which (on the showing of Pliny IV.x) King Diomedes defeated so disgracefully that their names became a mocking proverb. And so, whenever we want to point out a cheap, worthless thing, we call them Apinas and Tricas, or follies and trifles. This very much agrees with the poet’s sense. I have particularly chosen to explain this, partially so as to clear up the passage, and partially to consult for my studious readers in explaining the proverb’s meanings. For I see very many more men using this proverb than understanding it.]
a) Martial XIV.i.7 b) the reference is to the commentary on Martial by the Italian Humanist Domizio Calderino [1446 - 1478], available here
Polium herba, autore Plinio lib. XII ca. vij, inclyta est, Musaei et Hesiodi laudibus celebrata, ac ad omnia utilis, quae prorsus miram in se varietatem repentinamque mutationem habet. Eius enim folia (ut tradunt) mane candida, meridie purpura, sole occidente coerulea aspiciuntur. Unde iam proverbii instar inolevit, ut quum volumus quempiam taxare, quod aliud (ut Salustianisa verbis utar) stans, aliud sedens sentiat, et varius et mutabilis sit dicamus tanquam polii folium es.
[You’re like a leaf of germander
According to Pliny XII.vii, germander is a herb, faniys for being praised by Musaeus and Hesiod, useful for all purposes, which has a wonderful variability and capacity for sudden change. For they say its leaf is white in the morning, purple at noon, and blue at sunset. And so it has become proverbial, so that whenever we want to tax somebody for having one opinion while standing, and another while sitting, and for being variable and shifting, we can say you’re like a leaf of germander.]
a) Ps.-Sallust, In M. Tullium Ciceronem vii.15
Hoc adagium luculentur a Plautoa in Amphytrione his versibus declaratur. Ait enim, Ita diis placatm est: ab eodem culmine voluptas et ei moeror comes sequitur. Quod regnum (est enim rerum omium vicissitudo) utrumque potissimum habet, ut Dionysii Syracusanorum tyranni exemplum celebre demonstrat. Nam illius Democles quidam (ut Cicerob in ultima Tusculanarum et Horatiusc in III Carminum referunt) divitias atque opes vehementer admirabatur, illumque felicem putabat. At Dionysius qui sub suarum curarum conscius esset, visne, inquit, Democles, quam felix sit vita tyrannica degustare? Cum ille annuisset, iussit hominem in strato purpura atque auro exornato recumbere, epulasque regio luxu instructas apponi, adesseque illi qui administrarent pulcherrimos pueros, adeo ut felicissimum illis rebus se putare Democles posset. Verum eodem tempore ex laquearibus triclinii acutum ensem equina seta ligatum supra discubentis caput pendere curavit. Maximo timore per omnia temporis puncta afficiebatur Democles, ne in caput suum decideret ensis. Ita tantum abfuit ut ullam ex tanto rerum apparatu voluptatem ceperit ut etiam tyrannum oraverit quo sibi abire liceret, quod iam beatus nollet esse. Quod itidem, teste Suetonio,d Augustus cognoscens de resignando imperio bis cogitavit, quod tamen ne faceret Vergilius suasit. Te quoque, Guido princeps, ne tam dira cupido capiat. Est enim pulchrum imperare. Sed bene (ut tu ipse facis) admodum difficile, id quod Diocletianus dictitare solebat.
[Where there is nourishment, there is cancer; where there is honey, there is poison
This adage is illuminated by Plautus in the Amphitryo in these words, where he says, This is the god’s decree, that sorrow attend upon pleasure as its companion. For (such is the vicissitudes of all things), each holds sway in its turn, as the famous example of Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, goes to show. For (as Cicero in the final book of the Tusculan Disputations and Horace in Book III of his Odes say) a certain Democles greatly admired his wealth and power, and imagined he was happy. But Dionysius, who was well aware of his cares, said Democles, do you wish to have an inkling of the happiness of a tyrant’s life? When he said yes, he bade the man recline on a couch, clad in purple and gold, and for him to be served a banquet of royal quality, and to be served by the prettiest boys, so that Democles could think himself most happy in his affairs. But the same time, he arranged for a sword to be hung from the ceiling of the banquet-room, dangling by a single horse-hair above the reclining man’s head. Democles was affected by the greatest terror at every second, lest the sword fall on his head. And thus he was so far removed from taking any pleasure from his luxurious estate that he even begged the tyrant for permission to leave, because he did not want to be happy. Likewise, Suetonius tells us that Augustus was aware of the same thing and twice thought of resigning his office, but did not do so at the urging of Vergil. And I hope, Prince Guidobaldo, that you never be seized by the same desire. For it is a fair thing to govern, But it is hard do so well (as you do), as Diocletian used to say.]
a) an approximate quotation of Plautus, Amphitryo 635 b) Cicero, Tusculan Disputations III.xxvii.2 c) Horace, Odes III.i.17f. d) Suetonius, Augustus xxviii.1
A48. Argentanginam pati
Critolaus3 scripsit legatos Mileto publicae rei causa venisse Athenas. Tum qui pro sese verba facerent, quos visum erat advocasse advocatus, uti erat mandatum, verba pro Milesiis ad populum fecisse. Tunc Demosthenes Milesiorum postulatis acriter respondit. Res in posterum diem reiecta est. Legati ad Demosthenem venerunt magnoque opere oraverunt uti contra ne diceret. A quibus, autore Gellio lib. XI ca. ix, pecuniae quantum petiit accepit. Postridie cum res agi denuo coepta esset, Demosthenes lana multa collum cervicesque circumvolutus ad populum prodiit et dixit συνάνχην, id est anginam, pati, quae est morbi genus, eo contra Milesios loqui non quire. Tum e populo unus exclamavit non συνάνχην, id est anginam, sed ἀργuράγχην, id est argentanginam. Quod etiam ipse Demosthenes postea non concaelavit, quin gloriae quoque sibi assignavit. Nam cum Aristodemum actorem fabularum interrogasset quantum mercedis uti ageret accepisset, et Aristodemus talentum respondisset, At ego plus, inquit, accepi ut tacerem. Hanc quamvis historiam C. Gracchus in orationibus eodem Gellio testante in Demadem contulerit. Quod quidem proverbiale schema (undecunque sit) vice proverbii increbuit in eos qui pecunias accipiunt ut iniuste agant, vel cum in agendis causis loqui debeant, ipsi tacent pecunia corrupti, id quod pessimi faciunt advocati.
[To suffer silveritis
Critolaus wrote that legates came to Athens on a public embassy. In accordance with their instructions they retained advocates to represent themselves, who spoke to the people on behalf of the Milesians. Then Demosthenes responded to the Milesians’ requests with asperity. The matter was put over until the following day. The ambassadors went to Demosthenes and earnestly exhorted him not to speak against them. And, according to Aulus Gellius XI.ix, he received all the money he asked for. On the following day, when the matter was resumed, Demosthenes made a public appearance with his throat and neck wrapped in a great deal of wool, and said that he was suffering from laryngitis, a kind of malady, so that he could not speak against the Milesians. Then one of the crowd called out that this was not laryngitis, but rather silveritis Which Demosthenes himself did not disguise afterwards, but rather counted it to his credit. For when he asked the actor Aristodemus how much he was paid for a performance, and Aristodemus replied he got a talent, Demosthenes said, but I got more for keeping quiet (although Gellius says that in a speech Gaius Gracchus told this same story about the orator Demades). Whatever its origin may have been, this quip became proverbial, used against those who take money to act unjustly, or who, when they ought to plead a case, are bribed into silence, that which the most corrupt advocates do.]
a) as reported by Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights XI.ix.1
Scirpe, teste Donato lenis, iunci species sunt, et quoniam nodo carent, hinc factum est proverbium, nodum in scirpo quaeris, de iis qui in rebus claris atque apertis difficultatem faciunt. Quid scienter a Terentioa in Andria citatur.
[You are looking for a knot on a reed
According to Donatus, a scirpe is a supple and smooth kind of reed. Inasmuch as it is not knotty, a proverb was created, you are looking for a know on a reed, concerning men who manufacture difficulty concerning matters which are clear and straightforward. This is adroitly used by Terence in the Andria.]
a) Terence, Andria 941 (cf. Plautus, Menaechmi 247); Donatus’ commentary on this line is also cited
Zoilus libros adversus Homerum scripsit, eosque Alexandriam veniens Ptolemaeo regi recitavit. Ptolemaeus cum audivisset poetarum parentem indigni carpi, nullum illi responsum dedit. Zoilus cum diu fuisset in regno, rerum tandem inopia compulsus regem adiit rogans ut sibi dari aliquid iuberet. Tunc rex inquit, Homerus, qui mille ante annis decessit, auro perpetuo tot milia hominum pascit. Quare tu quoque debes, qui meliori ingenio te profiteris, non modo unum, sed etiam plures alere posse. Dignum profecto sapientissimo rege responsum. Hic vero cognomen adoptaverat ut Homeromastix vocaretur, Ovidio dicente in primo De Remedio Amoris,a
Ingenium magni livor detractat Homeri.
Quisquis es ex illo, Zoile, nomen habes.
Quod verbum apud Graecos flagellum significat. Tractum inde proverbium ut omnes huiusmodi doctorum virorum calumniatores Homeromastigas nominemus. Omnibus denique obtrectatoribus accommodari potest, ut Vergiliomastix, Gellius in fronte XVI [sic] Noctium Atticarum libri.b Eius liber inquit etiam fertur nefando titiulo Ciceromastix. Usurpat Plinius quoque in suo proemio.c
Zoilus wrote books against Homer, and, coming to Alexandria, he read them in the presence of King Ptolemy. When Ptolemy had heard the father of poetry being undeservedly criticized, he gave the man no reply. And since Zoilus long lived in his kingdom, his poverty at length obliged him to approach the king, begging that he would command something be given him. Then the king said, Homer, who died a thousand years ago, has fed so many thousand men with a constant stream of gold. So you too, who claim to have a better intellect, should be able to feed not just one man, but others as well. This was indeed a worthy answer for a right wise king. And this fellow got the nickname of Homeromastix (mastix is the Greek word for “scourge”). Ovid says in the first Book of Remedia Amoris, Your envy rails against Homer’s genius. From this you gain your name, Zoilus — whoever you are. From this is derived a proverb, whereby all detractors of learned men can be called Homeromastiges, and this can be adapted to fit all manner of critics, as Aulus Gellius speaks of a Vergiliomastix at the beginning of Book XVI of his Noctes Atticae. He speaks of a book with the disgraceful title Ciceromastix. Pliny also uses this in his proem. ]
a) Remedia Amoris 366 b) Gellius XVII.i.1c) N. H. proem xviii.3
Augustus Caesar (ut Tranquillus tradit)a quum volebat aliquem nunquam esse soluturum significare, non illepide dicebat solvet ad Calendas Graecas, hoc est, nunquam, quia Graeci non Calendas sed neomenias, id est novilunia, quippe qiu et ad cursus lunae usuras solvebant, ad quod Caesar allusisse videtur. In itidem significatum quoque eleganter dicimus ad nomenias Latinas, quia (ut refert Hieronymus ad Fretellam de interpretationum psalmorum)b Latini neomeniis carent. Atque sic utrunque dictum non inconcinne apud vulgus in proverbii consuetudinem iam olim venit.
As Suetonius reports, when Augustus wished to indicate that he never wished to repay someone, he used to say, not without wit, he would pay on the Greek Kalends, i. e., never, since the Greeks did not use the Kalends, but rather the day of the new moon, as the time for the repayment of debts, and it is to this that Caesar seems to have alluded. The same thing is meant when we elegantly speak of the Roman new-moon day since, as Jerome mentions in writing to Fretella concerning the interpretation of the Psalms, the Romans did not have new-moon days. And so both sayings have not inelegantly come into common usage as proverbs.]
a) Suetonius, Augustus lxxxvii.1b) Jerome, Epistle cvi.86
Cum populus Romanus nimio luxu corruptus sumptuosissimus circa coenas effectus esset, ita ut (velut Horatius ait)a nusquam medium esset, multae severissimae leges ad huiusmodi luxuriam coercenda latae sunt, quas Cato cibarias appellavit. Caeterum sumptuariae dicebantur, id est de moderandis sumptibus latae. Inde vetus proverbium manavit, leges bonae ex malis moribus procreantur. Etenim nisi pessimis effusissimisque viveretur moribus, profecto non opus ferundis legibus esset, de quo Macrobius lib. Saturnalium IIIb mentionem facit.
When the Roman people had been very corrupted by excessive luxury concerning its banqueting, to the extent that (as Horace says) they had lost sight of the Golden Mean, many very strict laws were enacted to curb this wantonness. Cato called them “food laws,“ but they were designated as sumptuary laws, that is laws passed to moderate consumption. This was the source of the old proverb good laws arise from bad manners. For, had they not lived with scurvy and spendthrift manners, there would have been no need at all for such legislation. They are mentioned by Macrobius in Book III of his Saturnalia.]
a) Horace, Epistulae I.xviii.9b) Macrobius, Saturnalia III.xvii.11
Suetoniusa de aedilitate Caesaris ita scribit, Venationes autem ludosque et cum collega et seperatim aedidit. Quo factum est ut communium quoque impensarum solus gratiam caperet, nec dissimularet collega eius M. Bibulus evenisse sibi quod Polluci. Haec ille. Ideo enim dicebat Bibulus sibi accidisse quod Polluci. Nam cum templum esset sacratum Romae in foro, teste Livio lib. II,b Castori et Polluci, unius tamen Castoris dicebatur. Quod vice proverbii usupari potest, quum duo commune munus obeunt, alter vero muneris mercedem accequitur.
In writing of Caesar’s aedileship, Suetonius writes as follows: He gave beast-hunts and gladiatorial shows both by himself and jointly with his colleague. And so it came about that, although these were presented at their join expense, he alone got the gory, and his colleague Marcus Bibulus did not conceal the fact that Pollux’ fate has befallen himself. For when a temple had been dedicated to Castor and Pollux in the Forum, as attested by Livy, Book II, it was said to belong to Castor alone. Which can be used as a proverb, when two undertake a duty, but only one reaps the reward.]
a) Suetonius, Julius Caesar x.1 b) Livy II.xxii
Nasturtium, autore Plinio lib. XX cap. xiij, herbae genus est, nomen autem a narium tormento accepit. Unde factum est proverbium ad excitandum torporem ἔσθιε κάρδαμον, hoc est ede nasturtium. Quod perinde est ac si diceremus expergiscere, excitare.
According to Pliny XX.xiii, nasturtium is a kind of plant, so-called because it is a “nose-torturer.” Hence the proverb eat a nasturtium has been coined to rouse somebody from his torpor, as if we were say get up, get going.]
Caius Caligula atera fax humani generis stans (ut testis est Tranquillusa) intra mediam porticum volens ut indifferenter omnes custodiae ad supplicium deducerentur, hac proverbiale elocutione, id est a calvo ad calvum usus est. Cuius rei (ut Dionb autor est) ratio haec est. Cum enim Caligula recognosceret custodias duo forte aderant calvi, alter in summo, alter in imo carceris, ita ut inter duos calvos omnes custodiae continerentur. Caius igitur ut nullo delictorum discrimine habito, omnes ad unum punirentur, ita sybolicôs ad supplicium duci imperavit. Quod loco proverbii nunc vulgus in ore habet, quum vult innuere bonos et malos homines indiscriminatim ab aliiquo iniquo iudice punire, vel aliud aliquid perperam nullius rei habita ratione fieri.
[From the bald man to the bald man
When Gaius Caligula, that dark torch of the human race, was standing in the middle of a portico (as Suetonius relates), wanting that all the men imprisoned there be indiscriminately executed, used this proverbial expression, from the bald man to the bald man. According to Dio, its explanation is as follows. Caligula observed that two bald men were being held in custody, one at the front of the prison and the other at its back, in such a way that the rest were standing between the bald men. And so, that they might be punished to a man, with no distinction to be made about their guilt, he thus signified that they should be led off to their executions. Nowadays this saying is commonly on men’s lips as a proverb, when someone wants to indicate that good men and alike are being indiscriminately punished by some unjust judge, or some other wrong is being committed with no considerations taken into account.]
a) Suetonius, Caligula xxvii.1 b) Dio Cassius, Historiae Romanae LIX.xx.3
Straboa lib. Geographiae VIII, quum de Corintho loquitur, ita inquit, Veneris etiam templum adeo locupletatum extitit ut supra mille deae prostitutas puellas caperet quas veneri viri mulieresque addixerant. Propter has igitur frequens in urbem multitudo turbaque conveniebat unde civitas mirum in modum ditabatur, nautae etiam leviter sumptus facilitantes absumebandur. Hinc vulgatum veteri sermone proverbium, non omnium est virorum Corinthum navigatio. Phocion autem (ut Gelliusb est testis) inde natum tradit, quod Lais meretrix non admittebat nisi qui solverent quantum posceret. Cuius Horatiusc quoque libro Epistolarum primo meminit. Nos autem uti possumus quum innuere volumus fortunam non aequa lance omnibus favere. Eodem etiam Straboned teste cuiusdam meretricis facetum illus posteris vulgatum est responsum. Porro cum altera illi exprobaret inertiam quod nulla operis teneretur industria, nec lanas attingeret, Ego, inquit, talis in hoc brevi tempore ternas disposui telas, innuens se maiorem divulgando corpore quaestum fecisse quam illam ex lanificio.
[Not all men get to sail to Corinth
In discussing Corinth in Book VIII of his Geography, Strabo speaks thus: There is such a wealthy temple of Venus there was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, “Not all men get to sail to Corinth.” And (as Gellius records) the courtesan Lais did not admit men if they did not pay as much as she demanded. Horace also mentions this proverb in Book I of his Epistles. We can use this proverb to indicate that fortune does not favor all men with an equal cast of her scales. And, according to this same Strabo, a reply of a certain courtesan became famous to posterity: when another woman chided her laziness because she did no handiwork and would not touch wool, she replied, But in this short time I have made three looms’ worth, indicating that by selling her body she had turned a greater profit than the other had for her wool-work.]
a) Strabo, Geography VIII.vi.20 b) Aulus Gellius I.viii.3 c) Horace, Epistulae I.xvii.36 d) Strabo, Geography VIII.vi.20
Cum inter eas meretrices de quibus superius diximus Lais esset, quae, autore Gellio lib. I cap. viij, ob elegantiam venustatemque formae grandem pecuniam decernebat. Conventus ad eam ditiorum hominum ex omni Graecia celebres erant, nec tamen admittebat nisi qui dabat quod poposcerat. Poscebat autem illa nimiam quantitatem. Ad hanc ille Demosthenes clanculum adiit, ut sui copiam faceret petiit. At Lais μυρίας δράχμας, id est decem dragmantum milia poposcit. Tali petulantia mulieris atque pecuniae magnitudine ictus expavidusque Demosthenes avertitur et discedens, Ego, inquit, poenitere tanti non emo. Id quod iam quondam in elegantissimi adagionis consuetudinem venit, quem nos vel in consimili re, vel cum ea declinamus, quae si perpetraremus paulo post poenitentiam nobis allatura forent, proverbialiter ac festiviter usurpare quimus.
Lais was one of those courtesans of whom I have spoken above, and, according to Aulus Gellius I.viii, because of her elegance and comeliness she fetched a great price. They say that men came flocking to her from all over Greece, but she would only admit those who paid what she demanded. And she demanded a great detail. Demosthenes furtively came to her and asked for her company. But Lais demanded ten thousand drachmas. Demosthenes, astonished by the woman’s audacity and the high sum, was repelled and went away, saying I won’t buy regret for such a huge price. This has now become a very elegant adage which we can happily say as a proverb when we turn ourselves away from something similar, which, were we to do it, would be bound to bring us regret a little later.]
Boves quum cornu petunt mos est ut in eorum corniculis foenum alligetur, quo signum daretur traneuntibus ut caveant. Hinc metaphoricôs proverbium fluxit ut cum hominem maledictum cernerent foenum habet in cornu dicerent. Horatius in primo Sermonum,a Foenum habet in cornu, longe fuge.
It is customary to tie a hank of hay to the horn of a bull that charges, as a signal to passers-by that they should beware. From this has derived a metaphoric proverb that when men see a man who speaks ill, they say he has hay on his horn. In the first Book of his Satires, Horace says, he has hay on his horn, steer clear.]
a) Horace, Sermones I.iv.34
Prandium abstemium in quo nihil vini potantur proverbiali figure caninum appellatur, quoa canis vino caret. Haec Gellius lib. XIII.a
[A dog’s dinner
An abstemious meal at which no wine is consumed is proverbially called a dog’s dinner, since dogs don’t drink wine. This is mentioned by Aulus Gellius in Book XIII.]
a) Aulus Gellius XIII.xxxi.1.
Apelli illi omnium pictori optimo perpetua consuetudo fuit nunquam tam occupatam diem agendi quin non lineam ducendo artem exerceret. Ex quo natum est proverbium, ut quum significare volumus non esse frustra terendum tempus, nulla sit dies sine linea dicamus.
It was the constant habit of Apelles, that best of all painters, to let no day become so busy that he could not practise his art by drawing a line. From which came a proverb we use when we want to indicate that no time should be wasted, let no day go by without its line.]
Hoc proverbialiter dici potest cum quis in rationario libello referre vellet quod pro munere amatorio prodegerit, ut facete admodum ipse Vespasianus usus est adversus procuratores suos rationem impensarum referentes, Tranquillusa autor.
[For loving Vespasian
This can be said proverbially about a man who wants to record in his account-books what he squandered on his amorous exploits, as Vespasian very wittily did to tease his financial agents when they recorded his expenses, as Suetonius tells us.]
a) Suetonius, Vespasian xxii.1
Pliniusa in praefatione inquit, quum celerius etiam elephanti parient. Quod ideo proverbio increbuit, quia decem annis (ut idem Plinius lib. viij cap. x tradit) gestare in utero elephantos vulgus existimat. Atqui Aristotelesb biennnio, nec amplius quam singulos uno partu gigni refert. Unde vetus adagium est quum significare volumus aliquid tarde fieri, ut dicamus celerius elephanti parient ad hoc vel illo utimur.
[Elephants will give birth more quickly
Pliny in his preface says, since elephants will give birth more quickly. Which became proverbial since elephants are commonly thought to have a gestation period of ten years, as the same Pliny reports at VIII.x. But Aristotle says it is two years, and that they never give birth to more than one at a time. Hence the old adage we use when we wish to indicate something is going slowly, when we may say elephants will give birth more quickly, applies to this or that.]
a) Pliny, N. H. praefatio xxix.1 b) Aristotle quoted by Pliny, N. H. VIII.xxviii.2
Huic finitimum est illud citius mula pariet. Porro Pliniusa lib. VIII cap. de mulis ita disserit: Observatum ex duobus diversis generibus nata tertii generis fieri, et neutri parentum esse similia, eaque ipsa quae ita nata sunt non gignere in omni animalium genere. Idcirco mulas non parere. Quod etiam testatur Aristotlesb lib. X De Animalibus, qui inquit, genus mulorum totum est sterile. Extat tamen in annalibus peperisse saepe, verum prodigii loco habitum. Quod Appianusc Alexandrus lib. II in prodigiis accidisse ante Syllae ingressum in urbem prodit. Theoprastusd vulgo parere in Cappadocia tradit, sed esse id animal ibi sui generis. Item Plinius lib. XXX cap. ult. (quod non longe ab re est) quum de quarundam bestiarum miraculis loquitur, pulverem, inquit, in quo se mula volutaverit corpori inspersum mitigare ardores amoris.
[Sooner will a mule give birth
Akin to this is the proverb, sooner will a mule give birth. In his chapter on mules in Book VIII Pliny thus elaborates: It has been observed that births of a third species can come from a mating of two diverse species, resembling neither of their parents, and that those which have thus been born are sterile. For this reason, mules do not breed. Aristotle testifies to the same in Book X of his On Animals, saying, the entire breed of mules is sterile. And yet history records that they often given birth, albeit this is regarded as a prodigy. In Book I Appian of Alexanders counts a mule that foaled among the prodigies that occurred before Sulla’s entry into Rome. Theophrastus said they commonly foaled in Cappodicia, but that this was an animal sui generis. Likewise in the final chapter of Book XXX (and this is not far off my subject), in speaking of miraculous facts concerning some animals, says the dust in which a mule has rolled, scattered on the body, lessens love’s ardors.]
a) Pliny, N. H. VIII.clxxiii.2 b) Aristotle, Historia Animalium VIII p.606b18 c) Appian, Bellum Civilie II.xxxvi d) as cited by Pliny, loc. cit.
Augustus Caesar ad explicandum, autor Tranquillus,a festinatae rei velocitatem dictitabat citius quam asparagi coquantur. Qui cum cito coquantur, iam Caesaris dictum inter proverbia merito adnumerandum videtur.
According to Suetonius, to describe the speed of anything done quickly, Augustus Caesar used to say quicker than asparagus is cooked. And since it is indeed cooked quickly, Caesar’s dictum seems fit to be included among our proverbs.]
a) Suetonius, Augustus lxxxvii.2
Hoc a medicis tractum est, qui usque ad vivam carnem vulnera curant, quo Laelius in Amicitiaa ad superstitiosam nimisque subtilem refutandam Stoicorum de sapientibus sententiam usus est, quod significat non esse omnia ad unguem exploranda, a quo non dissonat illud ab eodem Laeliob proverbii loco paulo inferius usurpatum,
This proverb is taken from physicians, who only tend wounds down to quick flesh. This was used by Laelius in On Friendship, in order to refute the over-particular subtlety of the Stoic view of wise men, signifying that everything need not be investigated down to the last detail. The proverb spoken by Laelius a little further down does not disagree with this,]
a) Cicero, De Amicitia xviii.2b) ib. xix.1
Minerva ingenium dicitur (est enim ingeniorum dea). Quare quum significare volumus non oportere nimis anxie et morose atque curiose omnia inquirere, dicimus agamus pingui Minerva, id est crasso ingenio, quod Columella lib. XIIa ita scribens usurpat. In hac autem ruris disciplina non desideratur eiusmodi scrupulositas, sed quod dicitur pingui Minerva &c. Cuius deae, cum mentio facta sit, non erit alienum subiicere illud,
The intellect is called Minerva (for she is the goddess of intelligence). So when we wish to indicate that we should not examine everything anxiously, morosely, and over-precisely, we say let us act with a fat Minerva, that is with a dull wit, which Columella uses in Book XII, writing thus: In this rural discipline there is no need for this kind of scrupulousness, but rather for a so-called fat Minerva &c. And since we are on the subject of that goddess, it will not be amiss to add this one,]
a) Columella, De Re Rustica XI.i.32
Minervam non solum ingenii (ut dictum est) deam esse poetae finxerunt, sed sapientiae omnes appellant, quippe quae ex vertice capitis Iovis nata est, quare Horatiusa in carmine ait,
Proximos ille tamen occupavit
Nam deo nemo proximior est quam ipse sapiens. At sus cum omnium animalium immundissimus sit, quid tam impar et indecens ac absurdum est quam suem docere Minervam? Quoties igitur hominem imperitum videmus qui sapientem docere nitatur, neutiquam illepide huiusmodi proverbio utimur. Quod Hieronymusb in quadam ad Ruffinum epistola usurpat, qui illud quoque loco adagii in eadem epistola.
[A pig instructs Minerva
Not only did the poets feign that Minerva, as I have just said, is the goddess of intelligence, but rather all men call her the goddess of wisdom, since she was born from Jove’s head. Wherefore Horace says in an ode, But next to him Pallas won the honors. For nobody is closer to god than a wise man. But since the sow is the filthiest of all animals, what is so unreasonable, indecent and absurd than for a sow to teach Minerva. So whenever we see an unlettered man striving to teach a wise one, we cannot use this proverb without being elegant. St. Jermone quotes it in a certain letter to Ruffinus, identifying it as a proverb in that epistle.]
a) Horace, Odes I.xii.20f. b) St. Jerome, Epistola xlvi.1
Hieronymusa inquit, Oblitus veteris proverbii “mendaces memores esse oportere.” Et Apuleiusb in Apologia oratione secunda, Saepe audivi non de nihilo dici mendacem memorem esse oportere, cui illud Terentianumc fallacia alia aliam trudit subiacet.
[A liar must have a good memory
Jerome says He is forgetful of the proverb “liars should have good memories.” And in the second oration of his Apology, Apuleius writes, I have often head that a liar needs to have a memory about no small amount of things, a proverb on which depends that one in Terence, one lie follows upon another.]
a) St. Jerome, Adversus Scripta Rufini III.xiii (vol. 23.543 col 0467B Migne) b) Apuleius, Apology xlix.18 c) Terence, Andria 778f.
Vetus adagium est ab antiqua historia sumptum. Cimmerii enim populi Scythici fuerunt, a quibus Bosphorus Cimmerius nominatus est, quamvis Straboa in VII Geographae Cimmerium Bosphorum quasi Cymbrium a Cymbris dictum putet. Cimmeriorum autem clima cum tenebrosum sit, et aer quoque caliginosus, ut testis est idem Strabob in I et Tibullus,c dicens
Cimmerion etiam obscuras accessit ad arces.
Quis nunquam candente dies apparuit ortu.
Hinc deductum est proverbium tenebrae Cimmeriae in eos qui tanquam caeci omnis veritatis expertes sunt, quod Lactantius Firmianus lib. Divinarum Institutionum V cap. iij sic scribens usurpat, O caecum pectus, o mentem Commeriis (ut aiunt) tenebris atriorem! Et divus Hieronymusd contra Ioannem Hierosolymitanum, Rogo, inquit, quae tanta est caecitas Cimmeriis (sicut aiunt) tenebris involuta? Cimmerios etiam Ephoruse in Italia fuisse tradit iuxta Lacum Avernum, et in subterraneis habitasse domiciliis quorum morem patrium esse, ut solem nemo intueatur. Verum nocturno tempore egrediuntur. De quibus Dionysiusf De Situ Orbis meminit, et Festus Pompeiusg ita scribens, Cimmerii dicuntur homines qui frigoribus occupatas terras incolunt, quales fuerunt inter Baias et Cumas in ea regione in qua convallis satis eminenti iugo circumdata est, quae neque matutino neque vespertino tempore sole contingitur.
This old adage is taken from ancient history. For the Cimmerians were a Scythian people, from whom the Cimmerian Bosphorus takes its name, although in Book VII of the Geography Strabo thinks the Cimmerian Bosphorus is actually called the Cimbrian, as if named after the Cimbri. Since the weather of the Cimmerians was dark and their air misty, as the same Strabo attests in Book I, and also Tibullus saying, He arrived too at the dark cities of Cimmeria, on which day never rose. From this was taken the proverb Cimmerian darkness, applied to those who are blind and ignorant of all truth. It is used by Lactantius Firmianus at Divine Institutions V.iii, who writes thus: Oh the blind heart! Oh the mind darker than (as they say) Cimmerian darkness! And in writing against John of Jerusalem, St. Jerome says, I ask you, what is this blindness wrapped (as they say) in Cimmerian darkness? But Ephorus reports that the Cimmerians lived in Italy hard by Lake Avernus and dwelt in underground houses according to their ancestral custom, so that none of them would look at the sun. But they went outdoors at night. Dionysius mentions them in De Situ Orbis, and Festus Pompeius writes thus: The Cimmerians are said to be men who live in cold climes, such as existed between Baiae and Cumae in that region where the land was sufficiently walled in by a ridge that neither in the morning nor in the evening was it touched by the sun.]
a) Strabo, Geography VII.ii.2 b) ib. I.ii.9 c) Tibullus III.vi.64f. d) St. Jerome, Contra Ioannem Hierosolymitanum xliv (vol. 23.453 col. 0394C Migne) e) as reported by Strabo, Geography V.iv.5 f) Dionysius Periegetes, Orbis Descriptio 167f., 549, 681 g) Paulus, epitome of Festus Pompeius, De Verborum Significatione xli
Cervix, in singulari contra Serviia sententiam, praeter alia significata, a scriptoribus saepissme pro superbia usurpatur. Unde vice proverbii increbuit, homo durae cervicis, hoc est superbus. Vel ab eo, quia cervix posterior colli pars est, ex qua origo est omnibus nervis. Et quoniam nervi ipsi corpus erectum ac rigidum faciunt, qui in cervice sunt collocati, ideo dicmus hominem durae cervicis quasi indomatibilem, more ferocium boum. Et a divo Hieronymob in interpretatione veteris instrumenti dictum est, populus iste durae cervicis est.
[A stiff-necked man
Besides its other meanings, cervix (“neck”) is very often used in the singular to mean “pride,” contrary to the opinion of Servius. Hence there has a risen a proverb, a stiff-necked men, i. e., an arrogant one. Perhaps it is inspired by the fact that the cervix is the back part of the neck, and the starting-point for all our musculature. And since our muscles keep our bodies erect and rigid, we therefore say a stiff-necked man, as meaning a man as indomitable as a fierce bull. This is used by St. Jerome in his interpretation of the Old Testament, in speaking of a stiff-necked people.]
a) Servius, commentary on Aeneid II.707 b) Jerome uses this phrase repeatedly, such as in his Commentaries on Jeremiah II (vol. 24.898 col. 0734A Migne) and Commentaries on Micah II (vol. 25.527 col. 1227A Migne)
Hoc (authore Terentio in Heauton Timoroumeno) vetus est adagium apud quem Menedemus conquerens Aut illud, inquit, falsum est quod vulgo audio dici, diem adimere aegritudinem hominibus. Significat autem illud, quod Servius Sulpitiusb ad Ciceronem de obitu Tulliae scribens ait, nullus dolor est quem non longinquitas temporis minuat atque molliat. Unde vere Ovidusc tempus rerum edax appellat, quando dolorem minuit vel tollit. Quid haud facile esse. Nam, ut Cicerod ait, cui placet obliviscitur, cui dolet meminit. At huic adago peroportunus locus erit, quando innuere volumus tempus omnia consumere. Quia (uti Marcus Tulliuse dicit) nihil est opera manuque factum quin non minuat consumatque vetustas, et Horatiusf in carmine, Damnosa quid non minuit dies?[A day takes away a man’s sorrow
This, according to Terence in Heauton Timoroumenos, is an old adage, for he makes Menedemus complain, Or that is wrong which I hear said commonly, that a day takes away men’s sadness. But what it signifies, as Servius Sulpicius writes to Cicero about Tullia’s death, there is no sorrow that the passage of time does not diminish and soften. Hence Ovid rightly calls time all-consuming, since it diminishes or removes sorrow. This is not easily done. For, as Cicero says, we forget what delights us, we remember what grieves us. Since, as he says, there’s no work, nothing made by human hand, which the passage of time does not diminish and destroy, and Horace says in an ode, what does ruinous time not diminish?]
a) Terence, Heauton Timoroumenos 422 b) Servius Sulpicius at Cicero’s Epistulae ad Familiares IV.v.6 c) Ovid, Metamorphoses XV.234 (cf. Epistulae ex Ponto IV.x.7) d) Cicero, Pro Murena xlii.7 e) Cicero, Pro Marcello xii.1 f) Horace, Odes III.vi.45
Epimenidem author est Plinius lib. VII cap. lij et Laertiusa lib. I Gnosum puerum aestu et itinere fessum in specu septem et quuinquaginta dormisse annis, rerum faciem mutationemque mirantem velut postero experrectum die. Ex quo festiva haec allusio loco iam proverbii vulgata est, ut quum volumus notare quempiam quia segnis et somniculosis sit, totumque vitae fere tempus edormiat, dicimus hic Epimenidis somnum edormit.
[He sleeps the sleep of Epimenides
According to Pliny VII.lii and Diogenes Laertius Book I, Epimenides was a boy of Cnossus, who when wearied by his journey and the heat, fell asleep in a cave and slept for fifty-seven years. Then when he woke up, as if on the next day, he was astonished at the changed appearance of everything. A proverb has arisen making humorous allusion to this story, so that, when we want to chide someone for being an idle sleepyhead who drawses away all his life, we say he sleeps the sleep of Epimenides.]
a) Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers I.cxc
In quadam divi Severi epistola et imperatoris Antonii Graecum adagium reperitur. Ea citatur ab Ulpianoa in i de proconsulis officio, quodemque titulo ponitur in fine lib. I. Verba sunt haec epistolae, quae quoniam elegantissima et bonae frugis plena sunt, ediscenda iis censeo qui rempublicam gesturi sunt. Quantum, inquit, ad xenia pertinet, audi quid sentimus. Graecum proverbum est οὐτὲ πάντα, οὐτὲ πάντῃ, οὐτὲ παρὰ πάντων, hoc est, nec omnia, nec passim, nec ab omnibus. Nam valde inhumanum est a nemine accipere, sed passim vilissimum et per omnia avarissimum. Ab hoc igitur celebri adagio addiscant qui magistratus gerunt, vel ipsi etiam principes, ut munera recipienda sunt, quae (ut in ecclesiastica historia non minus vere quam eleganter legitur) occaecant prudentes et iustorum verba subvertunt. In his proinde capiendis modus habendus est, quemadmodum hoc proverbio monemur.
[Not everything, nor everywhere, nor from everyone
This Greek adage is found in letters by the empererors Severus and Antonius, cited by Ulpian in his first rule on the duty of a proconsul, set forthin a title at the end of his Book I. Because the words of this epistle are elegant and profitable, I think they ought to be memorized by those who intend to govern a commonwealth. As far as the receiving of gifts goes, receive my opinion. There is a Greek proverb, “not everything, nor everywhere, nor from everyone.” For it is quite unkind to receive them from everybody, but very low-down and avaricious to take them from everybody. So from this famous adage those who occupy magistracies should learn that there are gifts one can receive which (as is read no less truly than elegantly in the history of the Church) render prudent men blind and subvert the words of the just. So moderation is to be used in accepting these things, as we are advised in this proverb.]
a) Ulpian, Digest I.xvi.vi.3
Vetus proverbium est, author Plinius lib. XXVIII cap, ij, ubi ait, Pollices quum faveamus premere etiam proverbio iubemur. Quod Horatiusa Epistolarum lib. I tetigisse videtur sic scribens,
Consentire suis studiis qui crediderit te,
Fautor utroque tuum laudabit pollice ludum.
Ex quo illud Iuvenalisb peritissime,
et verso pollice vulgus
Quemlibet occidunt populariter.
ceu si verso pollice tollatur favor. Nam ut favere qui pollicem premerent (ita censeo), qui veterent denegare gladiatoribus favorem credebantur. Quemadmodum autore Augustinoc De Civitate Dei lib. XVIII, quum de Isidis et Serapidis simulacro loquitur, digito labiis impresso silentium fieri significatur, et tollere digitum testibus Ciceroned in Verrem et Martialee lib. V ad hospites, est, se vel conductorem vel emptorem ex publica venditione aut locatione significare. Item et se victum fateri, quando qui in conflictu succubuisset, eo signo indicabatur, dicente Persio,f
Nil tibi concessit ratio, digitum exere, peccas.
[To give a thumbs-up, to give a thumbs-down, to raise a finger
Pliny XXVIII.ii cites a proverb, When we want to show favor we are proverbially bidden to give a thumbs-up. For Horace appears to refer to this in Book I of his Epistles, writing thus: The patron who fancies you approve of his pursuits will give the thumbs-up to your play. And we have that very artful saying of Juvenal, And with its thumbs-down the common people kill whomever they want, as if mercy is taken away by a thumbs-down, as if mercy is denied by a thumbs-down. For, just as (I think) those wishing to show favor turned their thumbs up, so it was believed that those who turned them down were refusing to grant mercy to a gladiator. In the same way, according to Augustine in Book XVIII of The City of God, where he speaks of a statue of Isis and Serapis, a finger to the lips indicates that silence should be maintained, and according to Cicero in his Vnrrines and Martial writing to his guests in Book V, a raised finger is a sign used by a purchaser or renter at a public auction or sale. Likewise, it is a sign of surrender a loser gives in a fight. As Persius says, Reason gives you no support, lift up a finger, you’re wrong.]
a) Horace, Epistulae I.xviii.65 b) Juvenal, Satire iii.35f. c) St. Augustine, The City of God XVIII.v d) Cicero, Verrine Orations II.i.141.7 e) Martial V.lxii.4 f) Persius, Satire v.119
Marcus Tulliusa in quadam ad Atticum epistola sic ait, Habes scytalem Laconicam. Quo proverbialiter dicto significare voluit epistolam brevissime scriptam et occulto significatu obscuratam, sicut Lacedaemonii veteres facere consueverunt, qui occultare volentes literas publice ad imperatores suos missas, ne ab hostibus exceptae consilia sua indicarent, epistolas mirando commento scriptas mittebant. Namque lorum tenuissimum surculo tereti atque oblongo complicabant, et in eo loro literas per transversas iuncturarum oras inscribebant. Id lorum deinde ex surculo revolutum imperatori suo mittebant, qui istiusmodi rei bene conscius surculo compari quem habebat lorum consilimiter complicabat. Atque ita literae per ambitum eundem surculi coalescentes rursum coibant et ita integram et incorruptam epistolam et facilem legi praestabant. Hoc genus epistolae Graece scytale Laconice nuncupatur, authores Gellius lib. XVI cap. ix et Plutarchusb in Lysandro. Cum Cicero igitur exemplum epistolae Marci Antonii ad se missae inseruisset epistolae ad Atticum, dixissetque habes scytalam Laconicam, hoc est epistolam brevitate Laconica scriptam et super rebus arcanis compositam, sicut Lacones componere consueverant. Nos itidem quum significare volumus furtiva scripta vel per notas composita (ut dictator Caesar autore Suetonioc facere consuevit), nominare possumus proverbialiter scytalem Laconicam.
[A Spartan message-stick
In a certain letter to Atticus Cicero says you have a Spartan message-stick. By this proverbial phrase he wanted to indicate that his letter was written as briefly as possible and contained hidden significant, just as the old Spartans used to do. When they wanted to keep secret the contents of the letters they publicly sent to their commanders, lest these be intercepted by their enemies and reveal their plans, thy would send letters written by a wonderful device. For they would rap a very narrow strip of paper obliquely around a round stick and write their messages across its surface. Then they would unwind the strip and send it to their general. He, well aware of the device, would wrap the strip around a stick of the same diameter, and thus the letters of the message would be restored to their former, easily-read condition. The Greeks called this form of communication the Spartan message-stick according to Aulus Gellius XVI.ix and Plutarch in his Lysander. Thus, when Cicero wished to include a copy of a letter sent to him by Mark Antony in his missive to Atticus, he said you have a Spartan message-stick, i. e, a letter composed with Laconic brevity and written on a secret subject, just as the Spartans used to do. Likewise, when we want to indicate secret messages written in code (such as the dictator Caesar used to do, according to Suetonius), we can proverbially call a message a Spartan message-stick.]
a) Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum X.x.3 b) Plutarch, Life of Lysander xix.5 c) Suetonius, Julius Caesar lvi.6
Nihil equidem est quod magis penitus hominem introspiciat eiusque animum noscat quam ipsa conscientia, quae si scelerum conscia est, nos semper sollicitat et torquet, Iuvenale dicente,a Et tacita sudant praecordia culpa. Sin bene actae vitae non expers est, oblectat et fovet, atque adversus omnia maledicta tuetur, unde vetus manavit proverbium, conscientia mille testes, perinde ac si diceretur eam vim conscientia habere quam mille testes. De quo Quintilianus in V meminit.b
There is nothing that sees into a man more deeply and knows his mind than his very conscience. For, if our conscience knows we have done wrong, it always troubles and torments us. As Juvenal puts it, he sweats with the secret awareness of sin. But if one leads a good life, it delights and supports him, protecting him against all slanders, which has engendered an old proverb, conscience is a thousand witnesses, just as if one were to say conscience has the same power as a thousand witnesses. This is mentioned by Quintilian in Book V.]
a) Juvenal, Satires i.167 b) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria V.xi.31
A77. Albus an ater sis nescio
Catullusa in Caesarem hoc vetus proverbium exprimit, ubi inquit Albus an ater homo. Per quae verba proverbilater dicta significat se nihil facere utrum Caesar bonus sit an malus. Albus enim bonum et liberalem, ater vero malum et sordidum signat, sicuti interpretatur Porphiro apud Horatium,b qui et ipse in secundo Epistolarum libro in ultima ad Iulium Florum epistola hoc proverbiali elocutione usus est illo versu,
Mortalis in unum,
Quodque caput vultu mutabilis albus et ater.
De quo intellexit Quintilianusc lib. XI quum negat, inquit, se magnificare aliquis poetarum utrum Caesar sit ater an albus homo. Quod apud eruditos frequens est, sicut apud Apuleium,d qui its scribit in Apologia, Etiam libenter te nuper usque albus an ater esses ignoravi, adhuc Herle non satis novi. Et apud divinum Hieronymume scriptum legimus in libro Contra Helvidium, Quare balbutis et erubescis? Albus (ut aiunt) aterve sis nescio. Nos autem hoc adagium usurpare possumus in eos quos subdole notamus quod minime boni sint. Solet item ad eos apte retorqueri quos prorsus ignoramus, utpote quos nunquam vidimus, velut Apuleius cum primis est usus.
[I have no idea whether you’re dark or bright
Catullus uses this old proverb against Caesar, when he says you’re either a bright man or a dark. By these words, proverbially spoken, he says that he does not care whether Cesar is a good man or a bad. For bright indicates a good and liberal man, and dark an evil and sordid one, as Porphyrio interprets the statement in Horace’s second Book of Epistles, where in the final one he uses this proverbial turn of speech in writing to Julius Florus, in this verse, our mortal genius, fickle in aspect, bright or dark. This is what Quintilian understood in his Book XI, when he said, some poet said he had no great concern whether Caesar was a dark man or a bright. This is a common thing for learned to men, as does Apuleius, who writes thus in his Apology, Lately I cheerfully had no idea whether you were dark or bright. And, by Hercules, I still don’t know you well enough. And we read in St. Jerome’s book Against Helvidius, Why are you stammering and blushing? I have no idea (as they say) whether you are dark or bright. And we can use this adage applied to those we secretly mark down as not being good men. And it likewise is customarily applied with propriety to those who are absolute strangers, since we have never laid eyes on them, and this is the way in which Apuleius especially uses it.]
a) Catullus xciii.2 b) Porphyrio’s commentary on Horace, Epistulae II.ii.188f. (quoted immediately below) c) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria XI.i.28 d) Apuleius, Apologia xvi.25 e) this is found in an old gloss, deleted in Migne’s edition, on St. Jerome, Adversus Helvidium (vol. 23.224 col. 240C Migne)
Nam qui in portu navigat tutus est a tempestate et fluctuum impetu. Ex quo quum volumus dicere proverbialiter tuti sumus dicimus in portu navigamus, et est allegoria.
He who sails into harbor is save from the storm and the assaults of the waves. So when we wish to employ a proverb to say we are safe, we say we’re sailing to harbor, and this is an allegory.]
Graeci olim nullius religionis, nullius fidei hominum genus utpote quo vitiorum omnium (ut Plinius ait lib. xv cap. iiij) genitores sunt, testimonia invicem inter se mutuabant. Quo fiebat ut eiusmodi testes non iusiurandi sed laedendi eum verba meditarentur in quem testificabantur. Unde apud proverbium eos erat da mihi testimonium mutuum, dicente Marco Tullioa in oratio Pro Lucio Flacco, Testimoniorum religionem et fidem nunquam ista natio coluit, totiusque huiusce rei quae sit vis, quae autoritas, quod pondus ignorat. Unde illud est, da mihi testimonium mutuum? Num Gallorum, num Hispanorum putatur? Totum illud Graecorum est. Quod in falsos testes et in eos qui turpiter inter se beneficia foenerantur recte quadrabit.
[Let me borrow your testimony
Once upon a time, as Pliny says at XV.iv, once upon a time the Greeks were regarded as a breed men of no religion, and no faith, since they had originated all the vices and bought and sold their testimony. And so it came about that they were devoted, not to keeping their oath, but to harm the man against whom they gave evidence. Hence they had a proverb, let me borrow your testimony, mentioned by Cicero in his oration Pro Lucio Flacco, That nation has never observed religion and good faith, and has no idea what that thing is or what authority and weight it possesses. What is the origin of that saying, “let me borrow your testimony?” Is it deemed to belong to the Gauls, or the men of Spain? It is entirely Greek. This will rightly apply to bearers of false witness and to those who shamefully barter back and forth for benefits.]
a) Cicero, Pro Flacco ix.14
Nobiles Romani fere omnes tribus nominibus, praenomine, nomine, cognomine notabantur, ut C. Iulius Caesar. Antiquis autem simplicia nomina erant, ut Romulus et Remus. Praenomen a Sabinis eos sumpsisse Priscianusa autumat, idque vel differentiae causa, vel quod tempore quo Sabinos Romani asscivere civitate ad confirmandam coniunctionem nomina illorum suis praeponebat nominibus, esse factum tradit. Ex quo illud satyricum, tanquam habeas tria nomina,b id est tanquam sis nobilis, vel tanquam sis in libertatem assertus (ut Politianoc placet), qui hoc de iis qui manu mittebantur a poeta dictum putat. Sed undecunque sit, iam in proverbium abiit in eos qui sibiipsis plus quam par sit ultra dignitatem tribuunt, vel, cum viles sint, nobilitatis decora sibi poscunt. Solebant ingenui (quod obiter dicam) eiusmodi nomen, praenomen et cognomen tribus literis notare ut M. T. C. pro Marco Tullio Cicerone. Unde non minus proverbiliter per ironiam quis possit trium literarum homod dici, cum nobilitatem fastidiose iactaret.
[As if you had three names
Nearly all Roman nobleman were designated by three names, viz., a praenomen, a nomen, and a cognomen, such as Gaius Julius Caesar. But the old Romans had simple names, such as Romulus and Remus. Priscian imagined that the Romans got the praenomen from the Sabines, for the sake of differentiating individuals, or because at the time the Romans took the Sabines into their city they placed those people’s names before their own to affirm their union. From this comes that satirical remark, as if you had three names, i. e., as if you were noble, or (as Politian likes to think) as if you were a free man, because he thinks the poet was talking about people who had been manumitted. But, whatever its source may be, it has become a proverb applied to those who assume for themselves more dignity than is reasonable, or people who, while being base-born, put on the airs of nobility. And, if I may say so in passing, freeborn would abbreviate their names by the use of three letters, such as M. T. C. for Marcus Tullius Cicero. Hence one can no less proverbially say, by way of irony, that someone is a man of three letters, when he grows snooty and boasts of his nobility.]
a) Priscian, Institutiones Grammaticae II.lviii b) Juvenal, Satire v.127c) for Politian, see on A24; presumably this was his explanation of Juvenal’s remark d) if ever such a proverb did exist, it is not to be confused with the one discussed here as A168
Marcus Tullius,a lib. VII Epistolarum Familiarium ad Marium, vetus proverbium citat ita inquiens, in quibus ipse Pompeius profitetur se et operam et oleum perdidisse, hoc est omnem laborem irritum fuisse. Quod tractum est vel a palaestritis, quibus dabatur oleum ut ungerentur, vel ab is qui multum et frustra vigilantes oleum consument, unde in proverbio eruditorum dicitur plus olei quam vini consumpsi. Quod equidem tu, illustrissime Guido, vere usurpare potes, qui manifestum iter ad ingenii lumen ostendens a teneris (ut Graeci dicunt) unguiculis usque adeo diligenter primis literarum elementis insistere coepisti ut (vide quantum sit assuescere) deinceps nullos studiorum labores nullave incommoda subterfugeris. Quare tu tanquam illius Antisthenisb prae te ferens dιctum μανείην μᾶλλον ἢ ἡσθείην, id est, insanirem potius quam oblectarer, non voluptatibus undique circumfusis (ut caeteri solent, quibus perinde ac tibi fortuna rerum omnium copiam praestat), sed literarum studiis donec per aetatem munus militare obire nequisti,c omnem tuam operam pernoctesque lucubrationes enavasti. Plus igitur olei quam vini consumpsisti, ut ille quoque Demosthenes cuidam eius eloquentiam demiranti respondisse fertur. Cui germanum est illud quod Macrobiusd refert libro Saturnaliorum II de corvo sutoris Caesarem salutante. Qui cum Augustus se talium salutatorum satis domi habere dixisset (quoniam memoria tenebat et illa quibus dominum querentem audire solebat) statim subtexuit, opera et impensa periit. Atque antiquiores cum aliquid eiusmodi frustra fieri putabant, operam ludimus scite admodum dicebant. Plautuse, Si me nunc suspendam, operam luserim. Caeterum et hac corvina voce proverbii vice ut apte licebit, quum res diu elaborata tandem male ceciderit.
[To waste oil and effort
In Book VII of the Epistulae ad Familiares, in writing to Marius Cicero cites an old proverb, speaking thus: regarding which matters, Pompey admits he has wasted his effort and his oil, i. e., that all his work was in vain. This image is taken either from wrestlers, who were given oil to anoint themselves, or for whose who vainly stay awake late into night consuming oil, which leads to a proverb about the learned, I have used up more oil than wine. Which indeed you yourself, right illustrious Guidobaldo, could truly use, who (as the Greeks say) from the early age when your fingernails were still tender, have lit your conspicuous way to learning, starting with diligently applying yourself to your ABC’s, and (note the power of habit) henceforth you have shirked no labors and no inconveniences in your studies You therefore are able to repeat that dictum of Antisthenes, I’d prefer to go mad than enjoy myself, and do not surround yourself with pleasures, as do other men to whom Fortune has granted a like abundance of all things, but rather you applied yourself to literary studies: until you reached an age where you were unable to perform such military service, you devoted all your effort to this work late into the night. You can therefore say the same as Demosthenes once did to a man who was marveling at this eloquence, that you have consumed more oil than wine. Akin to this is that which Macrobius tells in Book II of this Saturnalia about the tailor’s crow which greeted Caesar. When Augustus told him he had plenty of such greeters at home since the crow had learned by rote what he had heard his owner saying, immediately the crow added my work and expenses have been squandered. And when the ancients thought that something of the sort had been done in vain, they used to say, very artfully, I have been cheated of my effort, just as Plautus says if I hang myself now, I’d be cheated out of my work. And it will be possible to use this crow’s saying as a proverb with propriety, when something on which one has long toiled turns out amiss.]
a) Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares VII.i.3 b) quoted by various writers, including Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights IX.v.4 and Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VI.iii.2 c) Polydore appears to be speaking figuratively here d) Macrobius, Saturnalia II.iv.29 e) Plautus, Casina 424
Senecaa lib. Epistolarum lxx ad Lucillium ait, apud Graecos in proverbium cessit “talis hominibus fuit oratio qualis vita.” Cuius etiam Pliniusb in Epistolis lib. IV meminit, et Democritus, inquiens, actionis umbra existit oratio, autor Plutarchusc De Liberis Educandis. Nam crebro usu venit ut quemadmodum aera tinnitu, ita homines sermone dignoscantur.
[As a man’s life is, such is his speech
In his seventieth letter to Lucilius, Seneca says, among the Greeks it became proverbial to say “as a man’s life is, such is his speech. Pliny also mentions it in Book IV of his Epistle, as does Democritus, who said speech is a shadow of action according to Plutarch in De Liberis Educandis. For by long experience we learn that a man is judged by his speech, just as brass is by its ringing.]
a) Seneca, Epistulael Morales ad Lucilium lxx.5 b) I cannot find such a statement in Pliny the Younger’s Epistles c) Democritus, quoted by Plutarch, De Liberis Educandis xiv
A83. Acta agis
Quoties ea quam iam acta sunt, quispiam frustra saepius repetit proverbialiter dicimus, acta agis, id est nihil facis. Quod perbelle Ciceroa in Amicitia declarat hisce verbis, Sed quum multis in rebus, inquit, negligentia plectimur, tum maxime in amicis diligendis et colendis. Praeposteris enim utimur consiliis et acta agimus, quae vetamur veteri proverbo. Quod etiam Terentiusb in Adelphis usurpavit.
Whenever something has been done and somebody vainly repeats it, we proverbially say you’re doing a done thing , i. e., you’re doing nothing. With Cicero very beautifully declares in On Friendship in these words: Although in many things we are accused of negligence, most of all we are when it comes to our choosing and cultivation of friends. For we adopt silly counsels and do a done thing, which we are forbidden to do by this old proverb. It is also quoted by Terence in Adelphoe.]
a) Cicero, De Amicitia lxxxv.4 b) Not in Terence, but cf. Plautus, Cistellaria 703 and Pseudolus 260
Eiuscemodi proverbium a divo Hieronymoa saepe reptitur. Quod inde ortum est quia dos uxoria lis viris est, dicente Iuvenaleb, veniunt a dote sagittae et ipsae uxores in nocte semper conquestuosae et garrulae sunt, ut idem.
Nonne putas melius quod tecum pusio dormit,
Pusio qui noctu non litigat?
quasi innuens cum uxoribus semper coniugibus litem et iurgium esse. Propter quod Metellus Numidicus de ducendis uxoribus ad populum haec verba fecit, Si sine uxore possemus, Quirites, esse, omnes ea molestia careremus, sed quoniam ita natura tradidit ut nec cum illis satis commode, nec sine illis ullo modo vivi possit, saluti perpetuae potius quam brevi voluptati consulendum. Haec ex Gellio lib. I cap. vj. Cum litis itaque (ut Chilon Lacedaemonius, authore Plinioc lib. VII dictitabat) miseria ipsa perpetuus comes sit, hoc proinde adagione utiliter monemur uxorem non esse temere et praesertim dotis causa ducendam, ut nobis illud sit quod urbanissimus poetad sibi exoptat, dicens,
Sit nox cum somno, sit sine lite dies.
[He who does not litigate is unmarried
A proverb of the following kind is often repeated by St. Jerome. It has its origin in the fact that a wife’s dowry provides grist for men’s lawsuits. As Juvenal says, darts come from dowries, and wives themselves are always complaining and chattering at night-time. As the same poet says, Don’t you think it would be better for you to sleep with a catamite, a catamite who doesn’t squabble in the night? as if he is indicating that we always have tiffs and squabbles with our wives. For this reason Metellus Numidicus addressed the following words to the people: If we could live without wives, my fellow citizens, we should all lack those troubles. But since nature as decreed that we cannot live with them well, or without them at all, we should think about or continual welfare rather than our short-lived pleasure. These words come from Aulus Gellius I.vi. And since (as the Spartan Chilo used to say, according to Pliny in Book VII) unhappiness is a constant companion of lawsuits, by this adage we receive the useful advise that a wife is not to be chosen rashly, and certainly not for the sake of her dowry, but that it should be for us as that most urbane poet hopes for himself, saying, May you have sleep at night, and no lawsuit during the day.]
a) actually it is only found at St. Jerome, Adversus Iovinianum I.xxviii (vol. 23.282, col. 0149C Migne) b) Juvenal, Satire vi.129 (the following quote is ib. 34)c) Pliny, N. H. VII.clxxx.5 d) Martial II.xc.10
Divus Hieronymusa in epistola ad Paulinum scribit Apollonium philosophum perrexisse ad Aethopiam, ut gymnosophistas et famosissimam solis mensam videret, quae talis erat, author Herodotusb lib. Historiarum III, qui in Aethiopia inquit fuisse pratum omnium quadrupedum carne refertum quam per noctem magistratus illic ponere festinabant, et ubi illuxisset, cuilibet licebat ad illud accedere epulum. Indigenae existimabant copiam epularum divinitus suppeditari, et hanc solis mensam nuncupaverunt, ad quam inspiciendam olim Cambyses misit legatos in Aethiopiam. Solinusc Graeco vocabulo heliutrapezan, hoc est solis mensam, vocat. Helios enim Graece sol, trapeza mensa nominatur, de qua ita scribit lib. III Pomponius Melad, est locus paratis semper epulis refertus, et quia ut libet vesci volentibus licet, heliutrapezan appellant, et quae passim apposita sunt affirmant innasci subinde divinitus. Ex quo quum volumus proverbialiter significare aliquos non suo sed suorum maiorum vel aliorum labore (ut haeredibus evenit) partis frui divitiis, aliisve id genus commoditatibus redundare, proverbialiter ac scienter dicimus mensa vobis solis est, quasi divinitus data. Cum siquidem (ut Horatiuse etiam ait) nihil sine magno vita mortalibus labore dedit.
[You have the Table of the Sun
In an epistle to Paulinus, St. Jerome writes that the philosopher Apollonius came to Ethiopia to see the Gymnosophists and the very famous Table of the Sun that was there In Book III of his Histories, Herodotus reports that there was a meadow there, full of the meat of all four-footed creatures; and here their magistrates hastened to place the meat by night, and by day any man who wished might come there and feast himself; and the natives thought the earth of itself produced these things continually. They called this place the Table of the Sun, and Cambyses once sent ambassadors to Ethiopia to have a look at it. Solinus likewise mentions it, using the Greek word helioutrapeza, for helios means “sun” in Greek, and trapeza “table.” Of this Pomponius Mela writes in his Book III, this is a place always full of things to eat, and since all who wish were free to eat there, it was called the Helioutrapeza, since they claimed that everything set forth there grew by divine intervention. From which, when we want to proverbially signify that some men enjoy wealth not amassed by their own effort, but rather by that of their ancestors or others (as happens to heirs), or abound in other advantages of that kind, we can proverbially and knowledgably say, you have the Table of the Sun, as if this stuff is divinely given. And yet (as Horace says), life gives nothing to mortals without great labor.]
a) St. Jerome, Epistle liii.1 b) Herodotus III.xviii.1 c) Solinus, De Mirabilibus Mundi xxx.3 d) Pomponius Mela, De Chorographia lxxvi e) Horace, Sermones I.ix.59f.
Divinare proprie est augurari et vera de futuro dicere, ut Ciceroa lib. III Epistolarum Familiarium ad Appium Pulchrum inquit, Quasi divinarem tali in officio fore mihi aliquando expetendum studium tuum. Et quia sapiens est, qui verum dicit... Hinc veteres, authore Donatob super Ecyra, proverbium esse voluerunt, sapientem divinare.
[For the wise man to divine
Properly speaking, to divine means to foresee and speak true things about the future. In a letter to Appius Pulchrus in Book III of Epistulae ad Familiares, Cicro says, As if I had divined that someday I would have to request your help in such a business. And since he is wise, who tells what is true... Hence, as Donatusb says in commenting on the Hecyra, the ancients had a proverb, for the wise man to divine.]
a) Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares III.xiii.1 b) Donatus’ commentary on Terence, Hecyra 696
Hoc Graecorum vetus adagium Cicero lib. Officiorum Ia perspicue declarat. Ait enim, Nihil decet invita (ut aiunt) Minerva obstante, id est adversante et repugnante natura. Idem in prima Tusculana,b Bene enim illo Graecorum proverbio praecipitur quam quisque norit artem, in hac se exerceat, et alibi,c Nihil aliud est more gigantum cum pugnare cum diis quam naturae repugnare. Unde etiam Horatiusd in Poetica Arte praecipit, Tu nihil invita dices faciesve Minerva.
Cicero clearly identifies this as an old Greek adage in Book I of his Offices, saying, It behooves us to do nothing, as they say, against Minerva’s will, I mean when nature opposes and resists us. Likewise in Book I of the Tusculan Disputations, For it is well taught by this Greek proverb that each man should play the art he knows. And elsewhere, Resisting nature is nothing other than to imitate the Giants in their struggle against the gods. Hence Horace also teaches in his Art of Poetry, You should say or do nothing against Minerva’s will.]
a) Cicero, De Officiis I.cx.10 b) Tusculan Disputations I.xli.19 c) De Senectute v.12 d) A. P. 385
Clematis Aegyptia est herba (ut inquit Plinius lib XXIIII cap. xv) nigra, folio lauri longo, ab alii Daphnoides, ab aliis polygonoides vocata. Unde qui corpulenti et nigro colore sunt appellantur clematis Aegyptia. Ita Zeno Citicus (prout Laertiusa in eius vita refert) cognominatus est, quod statu procero et atra cute fuisset.
[The Egyptian clematis
As Pliny tells us at XXIV.xv, clematis is an Egyptian plant, black with the long leaf of a laurel. Some call it daphnoides, and others polygonoides. Hence those who are corpulent and dark of complexion are called the Egyptian clematis. Thus Zeno of Citium was nicknamed, as Laertiusa tells us in his life of him, because he was tall and dark-skinned.]
a) Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers VII.i.2
Sybaris, autor Straboα lib. VI Geographiae, a flumine vicino congominata civitas amoenissima fuit haud procul a Crotone. Sybaritae autem in primus luxu et delitiis notabiles fuerunt, sic ut principes omnium colerent Ionas atque Tyrrhenos, quoniam alteri Graecorum, utpote qui teste Valerio Maximob lib. II omnium primi unguenti coronarumve in convivio dandarum, et secundae mensae ponendae consuetudinem, haud parva luxuriae irritamenta, adinvenerunt, alteri barbarorum luxuriosissimi. Ab his sunt fabulae Sybariticae, quales ferme apud Aesopum. Plutarchusc in Convivio Septem Sapientum morem fuisse scribit Sybaritis, mulieres ab usque anno priore ad convivia vocandi, ut veste auroque moliri exornareque per ocium se possent. Unde proverbium deductum Sybaritae per plateam, contra fastosius ingredientes, in eas potissimum mulieres quae comptae et luxurioso ornatae apparatu pompatico gressu incedunt. Non minus etiam proverbialiter quam concinne Sybariticae delitiae dicuntur, quum modum excedunt et Sybariticos libellos, id est lascivos, apud Martialem lib. XIId legimus, et apud Iuvenaleme Sybari colles, satyra vj, cui non valde absimile est.
[Sybarite woman on the street
According to Strabo in Book VI of the Geography, Sybaris was a very pleasant city, not far from Croton, which took its name from a neighboring river. The Sybarites were particularly notable for their love of luxury and delights, so much so that they were the first of all to have dealings with the Ionians and the Etruscans, since (according to Valerius Maximus in his Book II) the former were the first to give away unguent and garlands in banquets and invented the custom of eating a second course, no small incitement to luxury, and the latter were the most luxurious of the barbarians. They produced the “Sybaritic tales,” such as those we find in Aesop. In his Banquet of the Seven Wise Men Plutarch writes that it was the Sybarites’ custom to invite women to banquets a year beforehand, so that they would have the leisure to prepare their garments and gold. This led to the proverb, Sybarite women on the street, against those who walk about putting on airs, and especially women who, dressed in their finery and their luxurious get-up, strut around as if on parade. And no less proverbially or neatly does one speak of Sybaritic delights, when they exceed the bounds of reason, and Sybaritic books, i. e. naughty ones, as we read in Book XII of Martial, and also the hills of Sybaris, which is not much dissimilar.]
a) Strabo, Geography VI.i.12 b) Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia II.vi.1 c) Plutarch, Septem Sapientum Convivium p. 147E Stephanus d) Martial XII.cxv.2 e) Juvenal, Satire vi.296
Milesii (ut Straboa docet) Ioniae populi celeberimi delitiis quosque luxuriaque insignes fuerunt, qui lepido et illecebrarum pleno sermone utebantur, ut de Aristide Milesio Lucianusb in Amores refert et Apuleiusc in fronte Asini sui, ubi inquit, Ut ego tibi sermone isto Milesio varias fabellas conseram, auresque tuas benevolas lepido susurro permulceam. Ex quo Graecum proverbum fluxit, οἴκοι τὰ Μιλήσια οὐ γὰρ ἐνθάδε, hoc est, domi non hic Milesia, videlicet in eos qui domesticum luxum celebrant, ubi minus probatur, unde alterum extat,
[Miletus is at home, not here
As Strabo tells us, the Milesians were a people of Ionia notorious for their delights and luxuries, and they wrote in delightful way full of witticisms, as Lucian tells us in his Amores concerning Aristeides of Miletus, and also Apuleius at the beginning of his Golden Ass, where he says, So that, for your benefit, I may string together various tales in the Milesian way, and delight your friendly ears with my elegant whispering. From this came a Greek proverb, Miletus is at home, not here, said of those who enjoy their luxury at home, where it will be less criticized. And hence there exists a second proverb,]
a) Strabo XII.iii.xi b) Ps.-Lucan, amores i.10 c) Apuleius, Metamorphoses I.i
Milesii itaque olim luxu diffluentes brevi omne virilitatis robur amiserunt, sicuti legimus apud Liviuma Hannibalis milites illos, qui tot strages Romanis intulerant, tot urbes insigni virtute expugnarant, unius demum Capuae civitatis allectos illecebris, luxuria corruptos, mox turpiter effoeminatos, Punicas vires perdidisse penitus (tam pestifera luxuria et voluptas est), ita ut non temere deinde diceretur illis, Capua alterae Cannae existitisse. Unde apud Graecos ab Aristophaneb vulgatum est proverbium,
πάλαι πότ᾿ ἦσαν ἄλκιμοι Μιλήσιοι,
olim fortes fuere Milesii. Quo in eos commodum utimur qui quondam felices et fortes in miseriam, iam imbelles effecti, devenerint.
[Once the Milesians were brave
And so the Milesians came to abound in luxuries and quickly lost all their manly strength, just as we read in Livy that those soldiers of Hannibal who had inflicted so many slaughters on the Romans and stormed so many cities by their noble virtue, were in the end seduced by the delights of the single city Capua and corrupted by luxury, and quickly became basely effeminate, quite losing their Punic strength (luxury and pleasure being that pestilential), so much so that one would not have been wrong in saying that, for them, Capua was a second Cannae. Hence Aristophanes has popularized the Greeks’ proverb, once the Milesians were brave. We can fitly apply this to those who were once happy and brave, but are reduced to misery by having become enfeebled.]
a) Livy XXIII.xviii14 b) Aristophanes, Plutus 1075
Huic affine est fuimus Troes. Hoc loquendi color iam efficax de consuetudine chori illius Lacedaemonii ductus et in adagium ascitus. Nam (ut est scriptum apud Plutarchum in libro cui sic est titulus, Quo Pacto Laudare Se Quispiam Citra Invidiam Valeat) chorus erat Lacedaemonorum trifarius, senum, puerorum, iurvenum. Canebant autem senes ita, fuisse se quondam robustos iuvenes. Pueri vero sic, se futuros longe his meliores profitebantur. Iuvenum cantio haec erat, se iam id esse dicebant quod vel illi fuissent vel hi se futuros sperarent, eiusque rei paratos facere periculum. Ex quo factum vulgo proverbium, fuimus Troes, quod significat non eos viros esse fortes vel felices quos olim fuisse dicamus. De quo Vergiliusb in secundo Aeneidos meminit.
[We were Trojans
Akin to this is we were Trojans. This effective mode of speaking is taken from the custom of that Spartin chorus, and used as an adage. For (as is written in Plutarch’s work entitled How One May Praise Oneself without Invidiousness) there was a triple chorus of Spartans composed of old men, boys, and youths. The old men sang that they were once robust youths. The boys claimed they would grow up to be much better. The youths’ song was to the effect that they were now what the former had been and what the latter hoped they would be, and were ready to prove that. From his has come the common proverb we were Trojans, which we say when we indicate we are not as strong or prosperous as we once were. Vergil uses this in Book II of the Aeneid.]
a) Plutarch, De laude ipsius p. 544E Stephanus (cf. also Life of Lycurgus xxi.2 and Apophthegmata Laconica p. 238A Stephanus) b) Vergil, Aeneid II.325
Huiusmodi Terentianum dictuma iam proverbii loco vulgatum est, quo utimur quum significare volumus nos divinandi artem non callere.b Nam cum Sphinx monstrum illud Thebanum aenigma proposuisset, quod esset animal bipes inde tripes ac quadrupes, et solvendi Iocastae connubium Thebanumque regnum praemium propositum foret, praeter Oedipum solvere potuit nemo, quid id hominem esse asseruit. Quae sane res facit locum adagioni appositissimum.
[I’m Davus, not Oedipus
Terence’s statement of this kind has now become a popular proverb, which we use when we want to indicate that we have no skill at the art of divination. For when the Sphinx, that Theban monster, had proposed its riddle, what living thing is two-footed, three-footed, and four-footed, and made the hand of Jocasta the prize and the throne of Thebes the prize for its solution, nobody could solve it save Oedipus, who stated that the answer was Man. And this thing serves as a most appropriate basis for an adage.]
a) Terence, Andria 194 b) Davus is a typical slave’s name, as it is in Terence’s play.
Metaphora a viro sumpta videtur qui somnum simulat, author Iuvenalis. Doctus et ad calicem vigilante stertere naso, quoad uxor moechos admittitit. Quia si illa aliquos recipiat qui solvere non possint quantum vir velit, ipse statim surgit dicens, non omnibus dormio, hoc est non omnes patior, id est tenues perinde ac divites uxorem adire. Quo nos vice proverbii eleganter uti quimus quum aliquid uni sive ob benevolentiam aut quamvis aliam ob causam concedimus quod etiam sibi caeteri omnes concessum putant. Vel non omnibus dormio significat non omnibus operam meam nego simpliciter. ut Cicero in libro Epistolarum vij posuit ad Gallum.
This appears to be a metaphor taken from a husband who feigns sleep, as Juvenal says. He is skilled in staying wide-awake while snoring with his nose, while his wife lets in adulterers. But if she takes in some men who are unable to pay as much as the husband would like, he immediately wakes up, saying I don’t sleep for everybody, meaning I don’t allow everybody to do this, i. e. to permit rich and poor alike to visit his wife. And we can elegantly use this is a proverb when, out of benevolence or for any other reason, we allow one person a liberty which others imagine should likewise be conceded themselves. Or I don’t sleep for everybody simply means I do not refuse my help to anybody, as Cicero says to Gallus in Book VII of his Letters.]
a) Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares VII.xxiv.1.
A95. Hic Epicurus subans est
Apud divum Hieronymuma lib. II Contra Iovinianum legitur, Restat ut Epicurum nostrum subantem in hortulis suis inter adulescentulas et mulierculas alloquamur, ubi subare (quamvis in codicibus Hieronymi quidam sudantem male legant) antiquissimo vocabulo dicuntur sues qui libidinantur. Unde translatio quoque facta est in caetera animalia, ut docet Porphyrio enarrans illud Horatianumb,
Tenta cubilia tectaque rumpit.
Ex quo Hieronymus volens Iovinianum significare in coitum et libidines ruere, Epicurum, qui summum bonum in voluptate ponit, proverbialiter subantem appellavit. Nos quoque quum notare volumus quempiam in consimilem rem pronum, haudquamque minus adagii loco dicere possumus hoc Epicurus subans est.
[A pig in heat
In Book II of St. Jeromes’ Against Jovinianus we read, It remains to speak of our Epicurus rutting in his gardens among his little girls and woman, where subantem is a very old word describing a pig in heat (although in the manuscripts of Jerome the corruption sudantem is read). The word is metaphorically applied to other animals as well, as Porphyrio shows in discussing that line of Horace, and now she’s making the over-strained bed and its canopy burst. By this Jerome, wanting to intimate that Jovinianus was rushing to sexual intercourse and pleasures, proverbially called him a rutting Epicurus, since Epicurus placed the summum bonum in pleasure. We too, when we want to brand a man for being prone to something similar, can make no less use of this adage in saying he’s a rutting Epicurus.]
a) St. Jerome, Adversus Iovinianum II.xxxvi (vol. 23.379 col. 0333B Migne) b) Horace, Epodes xii.10f. with Porphyrio’s commentary ad loc.
Hoc Graecorum vetus et elegans adagium luculenter a Strabonea lib VI Geographiae declaratur his verbis ubi ait, Post Locros Sagra fluvius labitur, quem foeminine nominant, in cuius ripa Castoris et Pollucis arae sitae sunt. Ad quas decem Locrorum milia una cum Rheginis adversus Crotoniatas numero centum et triginta milia Marte collato victores evaserunt. Quo ex negotio adversus incredulos proverbium ἀληθέστερα τῶν ἐπὶ Σάγρα, id est, hoc re apud Sagram gesta verius est. Haec ille. Verum Iustinus lib. XX de armatorum numero cum Strabone non convenit, sic scribens, Itaque cum in aciem processissent et Crotoniensium centum viginti milia amatorum constituissent, Locrenses paucitatem suam circumspicientes (nam solum quindecim milia militum habebant), omissa spe in destinatam mortem conspirant.
[This is truer than what happened by the Sagra
This old and elegant proverb of the Greeks receives a lucid explanation in Book VI of Strabo’s Geography, where he says in these words, Beyond the Locrians flows the river Sagra (which they mention in the feminine gender), on whose bank are located altars of Castor and Pollux. Hard by these, ten thousand Locrians, together with some men of Rhegium, fought a battle against one hundred and thousand men of Croton and came away victorious. As a result of this affair, the proverb “this is truer than what happened by the Sagra”is said to disbelievers. So Strabo. But in his Book XII Justin does not agree with Strabo about the number of armed men, writing thus: Thus when came to fight and the Crotonians had brought up one hundred twenty thousand men, the Locrians, beholding their own small force (for they only had fifteen thousand) abandoned hope and swore to die their destined death.]
a) Strabo, Geography VI.i.10 b) Justin, epitome of Pompeius Trogus, XX.iii.4
Ait Aristotelesa Iupiter non cantat, nec cytharam pulsat. Id quod praeterire minime libuit, ut te dignum aliquid, inclyte princeps, attigisse videar. Ex quo exemplo proverbialiter docet principes non debere musicam exercere, qua (ut ipse facis) satis est si aliis utentibus oblectentur. Quod a Nerone imperatore minime servatum est, qui, teste Tranquillo,b musica a teneris annis imbutus in scenam prodire non erubuit. Unde haud immerito Philippus Macedonum rex Alexandrum filium iusta castigatione incessuit, cum accepisset illum quodam in loco suaviter cecinisse, Nonne te pudet, inquiens, quod tam pulchre canere scias? Quod quidem schema nos elegantis proverbii loco in eos speciatim principes usurpare quimus qui quod se parum decet studium exercent. Verum de te dici non potest. Es enim semper et ubi tuae dignitatis memor.
[Jupiter does not sing and play the lyre
Aristotle says Jupiter does not sing, nor does he play the lyre. I scarcely wish to omit this, since I have touched upon something worthy of you, noble prince. By this example we are proverbially taught that princes should not play music: it is sufficient to do as you do and take pleasure if others play it. This precept was not observed by the emperor Nero who, as Suetonius observes, was steeped in music from his youth and did not blush to appear on the stage. And so it was not without good cause that King Philip of Macedon rebu7ked his son Alexander because he learned that he had been singing someplace other, saying, Aren’t you ashamed that you know how to sing so beautifully? This is a phrase which we can apply, not without elegance, to those prices who devote themselves to some enthusiasm that does not befit them. But this cannot be said of you. For you are always mindful of your dignity.]
a) Aristotle, Politics VIII.v p. 1339b8 Bekker b) Suetonius, Nero xx.1
Tiberium Caesarem proverbialiter Gallipedem appellatum testatur Tranquillusa his verbis, Ad extremum vota pro itu et reditu suo suscipi passus, ut vulgo iam per iocum Callipedes vocaretur, quem cursitare ac ne cubiti quidem mensuram progredi proverbio Graeco notatum est. Quod Cicerob in quadam ad Atticam epistola usurpat, accusans Varronis segnitiam et tarditatem quum ait, Biennium praeteriit, cum ille Kαλλιππίδης assiduo cursu cubitum nullum processit. Quod inde tractum quia gallus gallincaeus cursitare consuevit, moxque subsistere, nec longe progredi. Aliquis ideo gallipedes proverbio dicitur quasi pedes galli gallinacei habeat sitque tardigradus et tardipes. Sed cum hoc Graecum proverbium sit, et a Cicerone per Graecam dictionem enuncietur, quidam se parum compertum habere aiunt qua ratione possit Latine dici gallipedes. Quocirca, re diligentius pensitata, existimant id proverbium non ab ave deduci, sed ab homine qui Kαλλιππίδης nominabatur, fuitque histrio in tragoediarum actione peritissimus (sicut docet Plutarchusb). Hic cum in agenda historia esset venustior, incessu per pulpitum pompatico et moroso discurrebat, statimque resiliebat, non ultra cubiti longitudinem progrediens. Hinc igitur proverbium deductum putant ut Callipides cum c litera in principio et i in penultima ab homine, non gallipedes cum g et e (ut dictum est) ab ave sit. Quod (undecunque veniat) in homines tardos et segnes graphice accomodabitur.
[He’s a Callipides
Tiberius Caesar was proverbially nicknamed “Gallipedes” according to Suetonius, in these words: At last he suffered vows to be put up for his good journey and safe return, insomuch that he was called jocosely by the name of Callipides, who is famous in a Greek proverb, for being in a great hurry to go forward, but without ever advancing a cubit. In a letter to Atticus, uses this proverb when he accuses Varro of sloth and inertia, saying, Two years have passed, and with his busy running this Callipides hasn’t advanced a cubit. This image is taken from the fact that a chicken is accustomed to run about but soon to sit down without having gone very far. Someone may therefore be proverbially called chicken-footed, as if he had the feet of a chicken and so was slow of foot. But since this is a Greek proverb and written in Greek by Cicero, some men say they fail to understand how gallipedes can be said in Latin. And so, thinking the matter over more closely, they think this proverb is not taken from the bird, but from a man named Callipides, and that he was a very artful tragic actor of that name mentioned by Plutarch. He was a graceful actor who moved about the stage with sad and heavy steps, and quickly got back to his original position, so that he did not move more than the length of a single cubit. Hence they believe this proverb is taken, so that we should read Callipides with a C at the beginning and an i in the penultimate syllable, not Gallipedes with a G and an e. Whatever the proverb’s source, it will be colorfully applied to late and lazy men.]
a) Suetonius, Tiberius xxxviii.1 (where modern editors of course do read Callipides) b) Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum XIII.xii.3 b) Plutarch,Life of Agesilaus xxi.4., Life of Alcibiades xxxii.2., Apophthegmata Laconica p. 212F Stephanus
Hirundo avis nescit nemo homo quam dum nobiscum commoratur, garrula semper sit, utpote quae nunquam a cantu desistit. Ex quo factum est proverbium hirundo suscipienda non est, id est garruli et rumigeri homines recipiendi non sunt, ut Hieronymusa ad Ruffinum demonstrat.[You can’t tame a swallow
Everyone knows that a swallow is a bird which is always chattering when it is around us, and never stops its singing. Hence a proverb has been made, you can’t tame a swallow, i. e., talkative rumor-mongers are not to be given admission, as Jerome shows in writing to Ruffinus.
a) St. Jerome does not quote this proverb. The allusion is conceivably to his Apologia Adversus Libros Rufini I (vol. 23.471, col. 0409A Migne) Alioqui stulta verbositas, rabulae potius et garruli hominis, quam eloquentis putanda est
Vadimonium quidam ita definiunt ut sit sponsio ad certum diem sistendi se in iudicio, id est comparendi, per se vel per advocatos, quod frangi nec aequum nec iustum est. Unde antiquum proverbium est, quoties magnum aliquid significare volumus, ut dicamus propter quod vadimonium deseri posset. Quod perinde est ac si diceretur ius violari, quod a Plinioa eleganter in suo prooemio citatur.
[For this I could forego my bail
They define bail as money pledged to guarantee one’s to come to court on a specified day, i. e. to make his appearance, either himself or as represented by his advocates, a pledge which is neither right nor lawful to break. Hence an old proverb we use whenever we wish to signify that something is important, is to say for this I could forego my bail, which is the same as saying I could break the law. This is cited elegantly by Pliny in his preface.]
a) Pliny, N. H. proem xxiv.6
Proverbium istud tecum habita a M. Tullioa in Senectute usurpatur. Significat enim homines suas vires meteri debere et (ut Thales ait, teste Diogene Laertio)b seipsos noscere. Autor Persius,c qui ita inquit,
Tecum habita, ut noris sit tibi curta supellex.
[Live with yourself
This proverb, live with yourself, is used by Cicero in De Senectute. It indicates that men should measure their own strength so that (as Thales said, according to Diogenes Laertius) they might know themselves. My authority is Persius, who spoke this, Live with yourself, so you may learn that you have limited resources.]
a) Cicero does not use this proverb in De Senectute or anywhere else b) Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers I.ix c) Persius, Satire iv.52
Pliniusa lib. Epistolarum V scribens ad Flaccum proverbialiter ait, Recipies epistolas steriles et simpliciter ingratas, ac ne illam quidem solertiam Diomedis in permutando munere imitantis. Plinius hactenus. Hoc ex Homerico poemata sumptum est, namque in VI Iliados scribit Glaucum ac Diomedem in medium processisse ut singulari certamine confligerent. Glaucum deinde post enarratos suos natales invitatum a Diomede ut ex hostibus hospites fierent et hospitii necessitudine invicem copularentur. Quod ut caeteri (inquit) intelligant, armaturam permutemus. Et ita inter se arma permutarunt. Glaucus aurea quae centum boum precio taxabantur Diomedi dedit, a quo accepit aerea quae novem tantum aestimabantur. Unde ex hac tam impari armorum permutatione Glaucus stupidus et demens iudicatus, Diomedes vero solers et astutus, cum ille iacturam fecerit, hic lucrum. Ex quo quotiescunque alterius rei comparatione dissimili fit muneris permutatio, proverbialiter et commodissime dicimus haec est permutatio armorum Glauci cum Diomedis armis. De quo mentionem facit Pliniusb Naturalis Historiae lib. XXXIII, quum de commertiis loquitur, et Gellius lib. II cap. xxiij., et Martialisc illis versibus,
Tam stupidus nunquam, nec tu, puto, Glauce, fuisti,
Chalcea donanti, chrysea qui dederas.
[This is Glaucus’ exchange of armor with Diomedes
In Book V of Pliny the Younger’s Epistles, in writing to Flaccus he proverbially says, You will receive this barren and thoroughly unwelcome letter, not even the work of a man who is imitating Diomedes’ cleverness in his exchange of gifts. So Pliny. This is taken from the poetry of Homer, for in Book VI of the Iliad he writes that Glaucus and Diomedes came out between the armies to fight in single combat. After having rehearsed his ancestry, was invited by Diomedes that they should become friends rather than enemies, and be linked by the ties of friendship. And Diomedes said, So that the rest might understand this, let us have an exchange of armory. And thus they traded their armor. Glaucus gave his golden armor, which had cost him a hundred cattle, to Diomedes, and received in return bronze armor that cost only nine. And so Glaucus was adjudged to be silly and foolish because of this unequal exchange, but Diomedes clever and astute, since the former suffered a loss, while the latter turned a profit. And so whenever there is some unequal exchange, we proverbially and very aptly say this is Glaucus’ exchange of armor with Diomedes. Pliny mentions this in Book XXXIII of his Natural History while speaking of exchanges, as does Aulus Gellius II.xxiii, and Martial in these verses, And I do not think you were so stupid, Glaucus, who gave golden armor to the man who gave you bronze.]
a) Pliny the Younger, epistolae V.ii.2 b) Pliny, N. H. XXXIII.vii.4 c) Martial IX.xciv.3f.
A103. Sedere ad Eurotam
Romae fuit porticus Corinthia inter caeteras celebris, ad Circum Flaminium erecta a Cn. Octavio, dicta Corinthia propter aes Corinthiacum quod erat in columnis. Dicebatur etiam porticus Persei, quoniam Cn. Octavius ex bello navali contra Perseum triumphum rettulit. In qua porticu erat tabula picta habens Lacedaemonem et Eurotem fluvium Laconiae, author Plinius lib. IV.a Unde ignavi illic desidentes dicebantur sedere ad Eurotam. Hinc postea proverbio increbuit, ut sedere ad Eurotam esset nihil agere.
[A103. To sit by the Eurotas
Among the porticoes at Rome was one notable one, the Corinthian, built by Cnaeus Octavius. It was called the Corinthian because of the Corinthian bronze used in its columns. It was also called the Portico of Perseus, since Cnaeus Octavius won his triumph in a naval battle against Perseus. In this portico was a painting showing Sparta and the river Eurotas, according to Pliny, Book IV. So the low-down idlers who congregated there were said to “sit by the Eurotas.” Afterwards a proverb came into circulation, so that to sit by the Eurotas meant to do nothing.]
a) Pliny, N. H. IV.xvi.5.
Iam hoc proverbii loco a luculentissimis viris usurpari audio. Nam Augustus (teste Suetonio)a quum minor emolumenti spes quam damni metus inerat, huiuscemodi minima commoda non minimo sectantes discrimine, similes aiebat esse aureo hamo piscantibus, quod si hamus decideret nulla captura damnum rependere posset. Quare quum aliquem itidem facientem videmus, proverbialiter dicere quimus hic aureao hamo piscat. Potest vel longius metaphora generatim ad omnia dispendia trahi quae nullo mox queant sarciri compendio.
Nowadays I hear this proverb being quoted by the most distinguished men. For, as Suetonius tells us, when less hope of profit than fear of loss attached to some project and men were chasing after little advantage while incurring no little risk, Augustus used to compare them to men fishing with a golden hook: if the hook were to be lost, no catch could compensate for the damage. And so, when we see a man doing the same thing, we can proverbially say this man is fishing with a golden hook. And this metaphor can be generalized to describe all losses which cannot quickly be made good by any amount of gain.]
a) Suetonius, Augustus lxxxiii.1.
Graecorum paroemia est δὶς παῖδες οἱ γέροντες, id est bis pueri senes. Sub hoc proverbio Varro satyram aedidit, cuius testimonium citat Gellius.a Senes autem tunc repuerascere dicuntur, hoc est in puerilem aetatem reverti et pueri penitus fieri, quum vitio aetatis desipere incipiunt. Autor Plautus in Mercatore,b ubi senex, inquit, quum extemplo est, nec sentit nec sapit, aiunt solere eum rursum repuerascere. Et Ciceroc in Catone, Si quis deus mihi largiatur ut ex hac aetate repuerascam et in cunis vagiam, valde recusem. Et Seneca,d Non bis pueri sumus (ut vulgo dicitur) sed semper. Hinc igitur in deliros senes proverbium fluxit, de quo Ausoniuse mentionem facit.
There is a Greek proverb that “old men are in their second child.” Varro used this proverb as the title for a satire. For old men are said to become children again at this time, I mean to revert to childishness and become wholly infantile when they grow foolish thanks to the fault of their old age. My authority is Plautus in his Mercator, where an old man says, directly a person is old, no longer has he sense or taste; people say that he has become a child again. And Cicero in his Cato, If some god where to offer to do me the favor of becoming a child again at my age and babbling in my cradle, I should stoutly refuse. And Seneca, We do not have a second childhood (as is commonly said): we are always in our childhood. And so this proverb has come to apply to crazy old men, and it is mentioned by Ausonius.
a) Aulus Gellius VII.v.10 b) Plautus, Mercator 295 c) Cicero, De Senectute lxxxiii.10 d) Seneca, as quoted by Lactantius, Divinae Institutiones II.iv.14 e) Ausonius, Edyllia 321
Qui ipse sibi sapiens prodesse nequit, nequicquam sapit Ciceronis verba sunt ad Trebatium lib. VII Epistolarum Familiarium,a sumpta a proverbio Graeco, quod est μισῶ σοφιστὴν ὅστις οὐχ αὑτῷ σοφός, cuius sensus est qui sapiens sibi non prodest, frustra sapiens est, praesertim cum natura upsa (ut Terentius ait)b omnes sibi quam aliis melius esse malint et suae quique utilitati serviant.
The wise man who cannot help himself is wise to no good end are Cicero’s words to Trebatius in Book VII of his Letters to his Friends, taken from a Greek proverb to the effect that the wise man who does not help himself is wise in vain, especially because, as Terence says, each man prefers goods things for himself rather than others, and looks to his own advantage.
a) Cicero, Epistolae ad Familiares VII.vi.2 b) Terence, Andria 427
Idem Ciceroa ad Trebatium ait, Quem ante ne andabatam quidem defraudare poteramus. Et divus Hieronymusb Contra Iovinianum I de andabatis meminit, scribens, Melius est (quod dicitur) oculis andabatarum more pugnare quam directa spicula clypeo non repellere veritatis. Ex quorum (ab aliis enim de his mentio non fit, quod sciam), lectione colligimus andabatas populos quosdam fortasse fuisse, qui clausis oculis pugnarent.c Atque hinc factum est quum aliquis parum diligenter et quasi clausis oculis quippiam agit, ut illum dicamus Andabatrum more pugnare.
[To fight like an andabates
Cicero said to Trebatius, we could not even fool an andabates. And in Book I of Against Jovianus St. Jerome mentions andabatae, writing It is better (as they say) to fight with one’s eyes like the andabates do than to fail to ward off the darts aimed at us with the shield of truth. From these writers — for there is no mention of andabates in other writers, so far as I know — I gather that the Andabates were perhaps some people who fought with their eyes shut. Hence it has come about when somebody does something carelessly and, as it were, with his eyes shut, we may say he is fighting like an andabates.
a) Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares VII.x.2 b) St. Jerome, Adversus Jovianum I.xxxvi (vol. 23.294 col. 0260A Migne) c) Polydorus was wrong: andabates were gladiators who fought wearing a view-obstructing helmet
Ennius in Sacra Historia, authore Lactantio lib. Divinarum Institutionum I cap. xj, scriptum reliquit Iovem Saturni filium postea quam multa mortalibus munera praestitisset, in Creta vitam consummasse atque inibi sepulchrum eius esse in oppido Gnoso, et in eo sepulchro literis Graecis scriptum fuisse ΖΕΥΣ ΚΡΟΝΟΥ, id est Iuppiter Saturni filius, deo qui Ciceroa, cuius idem Lactantius testimonium citat, De Natura Deorum, quim tres Ioves a theologis nominari docet, ita scribit. Tertius fuit Cretensis Saturni filius, cuius in illa insula sepulchrum ostenditur. Unde Lactantius vanam religionem deridens ait, Quomodo igitur potest deus alibi esse vivus, alibi mortuus, alibi habere templum, alibi sepulchrum? Quare Cretenses semper mendaces habiti sunt, quippe qui sint Iovis sepulchrum fabricati, cum ille quem deum faciunt nunquam obierit, perpetuoque sit. Unde proverbium Graecum factum sit, mendaces Cretenses, in eos qui veritatis minime amici sunt, quod Statiusb in I Thebaidos tetigit scribens, Mentitaque manes, Creta, tuos, et Ovidiusc in Amoribus, Cretes erunt testes, nec fingunt omnia Cretes, et alibi. Nota loquor non hoc quae centum substinet sic urbes, quamvis sit mendax Creta negare solet.
[Cretans are liars
According to Lactantius at Divine Institutions I.xi, in his Sacred Historia Ennius wrote that,after having done many boons for mankind, Saturn’s son Jove ended his life on Crete and that his tomb is there in the town of Cnossos, with a Greek inscription ZEUS SON OF KRONUS, set up for that God mentioned by Cicero in his De Natura Deorum (cited by this same Lactantius), who said that students of religion spoke of three Joves: The Third was the son of Cretan Saturn, whose tomb is shown on that island. And so Lactantius derides their vain religion, saying, How can a god be living at one place and dead at another, having a temple here and a tomb there? For this reason the Creatins have always been deemed liars, for having built Jove’s tomb, while he whom they regard as a god has never died, but is everlasting. Thence there came about a Greek proverb, Cretans are liars, applied to those who are no friends of truth. Statius referred to this in Book I of the Thebais, writing, Crete, lying about your dead, and Ovid in his Amores, The Cretans will bear witness, they don’t falsify everything, and elsehwere. I am not speaking of the tradition that Crete is supposed to have supported a hundred cities: although Crete is a liar, it is wont to deny this.]
a) Cicero, De Natura Deorum III.ccxxvi.4 b) Statius, Thebais I.279 c) Ovid, Amores III.x.19
Straboa ait lib. IX Geographiae, Memoriae prodit Ephorus Thraces factis erga Boeotios inducis noctu incursationes egisse, cumque securius et negligentius expeditionem agitarent, perinde ac si pace iam facta, eos vero Boeotii propulsassent quererenturque quod inducias violassent. Illi non violasse responderunt, deis enim pepigisse, noctu aut iucursasse dicentes. Unde vulgatum est proverbium Thracium commentum de iis qui sophismatibus fidem datam modis omnibus eludunt. De quo Ciceroa in I Officiorum meminit, quum de iniuriis a vaframento loquitur.
[A Thracian lie
Strabo in Book IX of his Geography says, Ephorus records that the Thracians, having made a truce with the Boeotians, made inroads by night. And when they conducted an expedition carelessly and with negligence, just as if peace were prevaling, the Boeotians drove them off and complained that they had violated the truce. They replied that they had not violated it, for claimed that the truce applied to the daytime, but they had made their incursion at night. Thence a proverb has circulated, a Thracian lie, about those who will do anything to break their word by recourse to sophistries. Cicero mentions this in Book I of De Officiis in speaking of harm done by rascally behavior.]
a) Strabo, Geography IX.ii.4 b) Cicero does not quote this proverb in De Officiis or anywhere else
A110. Summum ius summa iniuria
Ciceroa in supradicto libro ita inquit, Existunt etiam iniuriae saepe calumnia quadam et nimis callida, sed maliciosa iuris interpretatione. Ex quo illud summum ius summa iniuria. Quod Terentiusb in Heautontimoroumeno proverbialiter usurpavit. Nam multis nimis rigide iura interpretantur, et magna interdum malitia utuntur, quae contra est prudentiae, iustitiae, aequitati. Unde Aristotelesc in Ethicis inquit, Cum lex sit universalis, opus est interdum adhibere bonum virum et aequum qui legem emendet. Qui haud dubie, inclyte Guido, tu vir ipse aequus et integer est. Corrigis enim leges summa iustitia, pari aequitate, populis tuis iura praebes. Sed leges ipsae tamen iuraque pariter in tuis dominantur civitatibus.
[More law, less justice
In the aforementioned book, Cicero says thus: Injustice often arises also through chicanery, that is, through an over-subtle and even fraudulent construction of the law. This it is that gave rise to the now familiar saw, “More law, less justice,” which Terence uses proverbially in the Heauton Timoroumenos. For the law is rigidly interpreted by many, and sometimes great malice is used, which is contrary to prudence, justice, and equity. Hence Aristotle says in the Ethics, Since law is universal, sometimes it is necessary to produce a good, equitable man to emend the law. And undoubtedly, noble Guidobaldo, you yourself are that just and upright man. For you correct the laws with consummate justice and no less equity to provide justice to your people. For both the laws and justice hold equal sway in your cities.]
a) Cicero, De Officiis I.xxxiii.3 b) Terence, Heauton Timoroumenos 796 c) Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics V.10 p. 1127b4 Beklker
Attici semper quum ad amicos scribebant prolixe agebant, Lacones e diverso in scribendo quam brevissimi erant. Unde ab illis ortum est proverbium in eum qui breviter scribit Laconice scribis, autor Ciceroa Ad Atticum. Ut Aristagoras etiam breve dicendi genus Chilonium vocabat, quoniam Chilon in loquendo brevis fuisset. Diogenes Laertiusb autor lib. I.
[Your writing is Attic, your writing is Laconic
When the Athenians wrote to their friends they were always prolix, but on the contrary the Spartams were as brief as possible in their writing. Whence has arisen a proverb concerning the man who writes briefly, your writing is Laconic. My authority is Cicero’s letter to Atticus. In this same way, Aristagoras called the manner of terse speaking “Chilonian,“ since Chilo was curt in his speech: see Diogenes Laertius, Book I.]
a) Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum IV.x.2 b) Diogenes Laertius, Life of Chilon v
Romani (ut Nonius et Varroa prodiderunt) quum sexagesimum excedebant annum a publicis negociis liberi erant, nec in creandis magistratibus suffragia ferebant, quae per pontes, authore Festo,b dabantur. Unde factum est proverbium ut quoties significamus quempiam senem, seu propter ingravescentem aetatem seu ob quamvis aliam causam, negociis omnibus liberatum exautoritatumque esse, dicamus sexagenarios senes de pontibus praecipitari, quia removebantur ne ferrent suffragiis per pontes in Campo Martio, eius rei causa fabricatos, de quibus intellexit Ciceroc in I Rhetoricorum quum dixit, pontes disturbat, cistas deiicit. Inde depontanti senes dicti sunt. De hoc Macrobiusd quoque libro Saturnaliorum I meminit, et Ovidiuse in Fastorum prope finem sic scribens,
Pars putat ut ferrent iuvenes suffragia soli,
Pontibus infirmos praecipitasse senes.
Ad illum utique ritum alludens, non autem Romani, qui mansuetudine et pietate caeteras longe gentes praestiterunt suos senes e ponte praecipitarent Tyberim, ut ibidem idem Ovidiusf sentit dicens,
Corpora post decies senos qui credidit annos
Missa neci, sceleris crimine damnat avos.
Secus apud Caspios, teste Straboneg lib. XI Geographiae, inclusi fame senes necabantur cum sexagesimum annum excessissent, et innumerae aliae gentes feritate insignes senes necare consueverant.
[To throw sixty year-olds off bridges
As Nonius and Varro tell us, when they passed their sixtieth year Romans were freed from public service, nor did they have votes in creating votes, and, as Festus says, voting was transacted by means of bridges. Hence came about a proverb, so that when we signify that some old man has been discharged from all his public responsibilities and disenfranchised, either because his years are weighing on him for for some other reason, we say sixty year-olds are thrown from bridges. For they were removed lest they cast their votes by means of the bridges built in the Campus Martius for that purpose. Cicero speaks of these in Book I of his Rhetoric when he says, he disturbs the bridges, he overthrows the urns. And so old men are said to be thrown off bridges. Macrobius also mentions this in Book I of his Saturnalia, and Ovid near the end of his Fasti, saying, Some, thinking that only the young should vote, have thrown the infirm old men off bridges. He was referring to this custom, and not saying that the Romans (who far surpassed other nations in their gentleness and piety) actually threw their old men off bridges into the Tiber. As Ovid says, He who believes that after sixty years men were put to death, accuses our forefathers of a wicked crime. It was very different among the Caspians, as Strabo tells is in Book XI of the Geography, who starved their old men to death when they had passed their sixtieth year, and countless other nations notable for their savagery had a similar custom.]
a) Nonius, Dictionary p. 523 Lindsey, Varro, De Vita Populi Romani frag. 71.4 b) Pontus, epitome of Festus, De Verborum Significatu 75 c) Ps.-Cicero, Rhetorica ad Herennium I.xxi.12 d) Macrobius, Saturnalia I.v.10 e) Ovid, Fasti V.633 f) ib. V.623f. g) Strabo, Geography XI.xi.7
Quoniam Romani (ut nonnullis constat exemplis) haud minores res consilio atque ingenio quam armis gesserunt, id quod et Marcus Tulliusa in I Officiorum ita scribens praeter multorum opinionem probare contendit, Vere autem si volumus, ait, iudicare, multae res extiterunt urbanae maiores clarioresque quam bellicae, et ibidem, Parva enim, inquit, sunt foris arma, nisi sit consilium domi. Idem volens ostendere oppressis Catilinae furoribus, se togatum plura gessisse quam imperatores exercitus hunc versum composuit,b cedant arma togae, concedat laurea linguae. Et Horatiusc in carmine idem sentire videtur quum dicit, Vis expers consilii mole ruit sua. Quamquam Salustiusd in sua praefatione hoc non definivit: Ubi utrumque, inquit, per se indigens alterum alterius auxilio eget. Hinc igitur ortum est proverbium, Romanus sedendo vincit. Quo Varro lib. De Re Rustica I cap. ij utitur dicens, Vultis igitur interea proverbium quod est Romano sedendo vincit usurpemus, dum iste venit? Nos autem adagium recte adducemus quum significare volumus ingenio magis pollere quam armis vel (ut Scipio dicere solitus erat) nunquam nos minus ociosos esse quam quum ociosi sumus, eo enim pacto sedendo vincimus.
[The Roman conquers by sitting still
As is shown by many an example, the Romans conducted no less important affairs by counsel and intelligence than they did by force of arms, as Cicero argues in Book I of the De Officiis, contrary to the opinion of many men, If we care to judge the matter, many civilian affairs have existed that were greater and nobler than our wars. And likewise, Arms abroad count for little, unless there is council at home. Likewise, wanting to show that he as a civilian had done more to repress Catiline’s furies than generals and their armies, he composed the verse, arms defer to the toga and yield the laurel to the tongue. And Horace in one of his Odes appears to think the same, where he says, Power without counsel collapses under its own weight. And in his preface Sallust did not make this qualification, saying, since each is insufficient by itself, it requires the support of the other. Hence has arisen the proverb, the Roman conquers by sitting still. Varro uses this at De Re Rustica I.ii, saying, Meanwhile to you want to put that proverb “the Roman conquers by sitting still” into action, until he comes? And we will properly come out with this proverb when we want to indicate that one is more powerful by his intellect than his arms, or (as Scipio used to say), we are never less idle than when we are idle, and in that way we conquer by sitting still.]
a) Cicero, De Officiis I.lxxiv.7 and lxxvi.9 b) Cicero, frag. 11.1 c) Horace, Odes III.iv.65 d) Sallust, Catalinae Coniuratio ii.1
Lerna et Argivi et Mycenei lacus est, in qua poetae finxerunt Hydram multorum capitum fuisse, quorum a aliquot excisis, totidem continuo renascebantur. Quod quidem monstrum cum totam eam regionem devastaret, tandem post multa purgamina ab Hercule clavo primo ictum, deide post pestiferum afflatum sagittis petitum, postremo cum sese solitis cavernis condidisset, lignorum congesta strue igne consumptum est, testante Vergilio,a
Quinquaquinta atris immanis hiatibus Hydra,
Quid? Saeva Lernae monstra numerosum malum,
Non me ignis demum vicit et docuit mori?
Hinc igitur ortum proverbium de his quae haud facile expiari purgarique possunt, authore Strabonec lib VIII Geographiae, qui ita inquit, Lerna Argivi Myceneique lacus est, in qua hydram constitisse scriptores tradunt, in illa quum facta sunt purgamina, proverbium quoddam vulgo manavit, Lerna malorum. Nec minus apte in sceleratos quadrabit, quod illi velut pestilens pelagus omnia contaminent.
[A Lerna of evils
Lerna is a lake belonging to Argos and Mycenae, in which the poets feigned the many-headed Hydra to live. If some of these heads were cut off, the like number would immediately grow back. And when this monster was laying waste to that entire region, finally, after many rituals of purgation it was first stricken by Hercules’ club. Then the pestilential beast was shot at with many evils. And finally, after it hid itself in its customary caverns, a pile of wood was heaped up above it and it was consumed by fire. As Vergil attests, the Hydra with its fifty pitch-black maws, and Seneca, Lerna's fell monster, pest manifold, did he not quell at last by fire and teach to die? From this has arisen a proverb about those things which cannot easily be expiated or purged away. My authority is Strabo in Book VIII of the Geography, where he says, Lerna is a lake belonging to Argos and Mycenae, in which writers say the Hydra lived. Since rites of purification were conducted in that lake, there arose a popular proverb, “a Lerna of evils.” Nor will this apply less aptly to rascals, because, like a pestilent sea, they are all-polluting.]
a) Vergil, Aeneid VI.576 b) Seneca, Hercules Furens 241f. c) Strabo, Geography VIII.vi.13
Homericum carmen quod proverbii loco Phocionem virum sapientem adversus Demosthenem privatem publiceque maledictis magnum Alexandrum insectantem Plutarchusa dixisse refert. Nam cum leo, teste Plinio,b animal generosissimum fortissimumque sit, crebroque in iram exardeat, praesertim lacessitus, illum sane periculosum est irritare, quamadmodum Martialisc de rhinocerote scribit a Domitiano in harenam ad spectaculum deducto. Ait enim,
Praestitit exhibitus tota tibi, Caesar, harena,
Quae non promisit praelia rhinoceros?
O quam terribilus exarsit pronus in iras!
Quantus erat cornu, cui pila taurus erat!
Quum nos itaque quispiam irritat qui nobis mox irascentibus daturus sit poenas, hac proverbiali figura recte uti possumus, desine iam demens saevum stimulare leonem. Cui non absimile est illud quod idem De Liberis Educandis Plutarchusd ait, ignem ferro caedi minime decere, hoc est irritandum non esse furentem.
[Don’t be so mad as to provoke a savage lion
Plutarch reports that the wise man Phocion repeated this Homeric line to Demosthenes, who was slandering Alexander the Great both privately and in public. For since, according to Pliny, the lion is the noblest and bravest animal, and often blazes forth in anger, especially when wounded, so that it is dangerous to provoke it, just as Martial wrote about a rhinoceros introduced into the arena by Domitian. For he says, What battles did the rhinoceros not promise to give, after having been shown off to the entire arena by yourself, Caesar? Oh how he fearsomely blazed forth in wrath! What a horn he had, with which he played ball with a bull! And so when somebody provokes a man who soon will punish us for the provocation, we can rightly use this proverb, don’t be so mad as to provoke a savage lion. And not dissimilar to it is the proverb which the same Plutarch quotes in his On the Rearing of Children, it is not fit to poke a fire with steel, which is to say a man prone to fury man should not be irritated.]
a) Plutarch, Life of Phocion xvii.1 (quoting Odyssey 9.494) b) Pliny, N. H. VIII.xlii.3 c) Martial, Spectacula ix d) Plutarch, De Liberis Educandis xvii p. 12E Stephanus
Malea Laconiae promontorium est a Maleo Argivorum rege dictum, quod teste Servioa super V Aeneidos per l miliaria in mare protenditur, ubi unda adeo saeva est ut persequi navigantes appareat, Statiob dicente lib. VII Thebaidos, Et raucae circumsonat ira Maleae, Virgilius itidem lib. V Ionioque mari Maleaeque sequacibus undis. Supra quod Straboc lib. VIII Geographiae haud tuta navigatio erat, propter adversos ventorum flatus. Inde est natum vulgo proverbium, cum Maleam deflexeris domesticos obliviscere, quasi ob imminens periculum de rebus iamiam actum esse videatur. Quare Italicis mercatoribus gratissimum erat, omisso ad Maleam cursu, Corinthum divertere (idem Strabo autor) advectis eo mercibus.
[While you’re rounding Malea you forget your domestic affairs
Malea is a promontory of Laconia, named after King Maleos of the Argives. According to Servius on Book V of the Aeneid, it extends about fifty miles into the sea, where the water is so savage that it appears to be attacking sailors. As Statius says in Book VII of the Thebais, and the wrath of raucous Malea howls around them, and Vergil writes in that some Book V, and the Ionian Sea and Cape Malea’s pursuing waves. Concerning which, in Book VII of the Geography Strabo observes that the navigation is unsafe because of the gusts of opposing wind. Hence has arisen the proverb, While you’re rounding Malea you forget your domestic affairs, since you seem to be over and done with because of the impending peril. And so, as the same Strabo tells us, merchants take great pleasure in forsaking a passage by Malea and put in at Corinth, together with their wares.]
a) Servius on Aeneid V.193 (quoted below) b) Statius, Thebais VII.16 c) Strabo VIII.vi.20
Corinthus urbs fuit Achaiae, quae primum, teste Eusebioa De temporibus, a Sisypho latrone Aeoli filio super Isthmon, in medio maris Ionii et Aegaei constructa, deinde aucta Ephyra vocata. Sed post haec eversa et ab Corintho Orestis filio instaurato, eodem Eusebiob testificante, cognominata fuit, quae mox diutius deserta manens, teste Strabone lib. VIII Geographiae, a divo Caesare restituta est, quam quondam locupletissimam fuisse authores multi tradunt. Verum ager non admodum telluris bonitate pollebat, quippe quae oblique distorta foret et aspera. Unde superciliosam Corinthum vocant universi et abiit in vulgare proverbium, Corinthus superciliis curvitatibusque laborat, quo in consimili re non ineleganter uti licet.
[Corinth suffers from hills and hollows
Corinth was a city of Achaea which, according to Eusebius’ Chronicle, was first founded on the Isthmus, between the Ionian and Aegean Seas, by the robber Sisyphus, son of Aeolus. Then it grew and was called Ephyra. But afterwards it was sacked and re-founded and named after Orestes’ son Corinthus, as the same Eusebius testifies. Then it was soon abandoned and lay deserted (as Strabo tells us in Book VIII of the Geography) until it was restored by the divine Caesar. Many authors report it was very wealthy. But its surrounding countryside did not abound with good soil, because it was broken and rough country. Hence everybody speaks of hilly Corinth, and this led to a common proverb, Corinth suffers from hills and hollows, which can be used, not without elegance, to describe something similar.]
a) Eusebius, Chronicle (vol. 27 col. 0210 Migne) b) at least as edited in Migne, Eusebius does not say this, but the information is found at Isidore of Seville, Etymologies XV.i.45 c) Strabo, Geography VIII.vi.23
Scolus (ut Straboa ait lib. IX) pagus est in ora Asopia sub Citherone, sedes iniucunda atque aspera. Inde natum proverbium, ut quum volumus quempiam admonere ne se ad loca inculta et minus grata conferat, dicimus ad Scolon neque ipse vades neque alteri comes ibis.
[Don’t go to Scolos by yourself or with anyone else
As Strabo says in Book IX, Scolos is a hamlet on the border of Asopia, underneath Mt. Cithaeron, a very unpleasant and steep place. Hence has arisen a proverb we use to warn somebody not to go to uncouth and displeasing places: wse say, don’t go to Scolos by yourself or with anyone else.}
a) Strabo, Geography IX.ii.23
Straboa libro undecimo Geographiae originem adagii disserens ita refert. Dioscurias itaque in hoc sinu posita Euxini recessus, et extrema navigatio appellatur. Unde illud quod in proverbio dicitur, in Phasim, ubi cursus carinis ultimus, sic intelligendum est, non quod poeta qui iambicum fecit de flumine dicat, nec de urbe eiusdem nominis quae ad flumen sita est, sed de Colchide, ut de parte quod recta navigatio a flumine et ab urbe in recessum sit sexcentorum fere stadiorum. Hactenus Strabo. Navigare igitur ad Phasim usque quispiam hyperbolice dicitur qui longinquas orbis partes peragrat, sumpta metaphora a Iasonis fabula. Ita hodie in istiusmodi sensum quis dicetur ire usque ad Britannos, qui extra mundi terminos ponuntur, dicente Vergiliob, Et penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos. Atque et Phasis est Colchorum pergrandis fluvius, de quo Lucanusc in III Colchorum qui rura secat ditissima Phasis. Per hunc Argonautae cum Iasoni intraverunt ad Colchos, testificante Ovidiod lib. VII Metamorphoseos,
Multaque perpessi claro sub Iasone tandem.
Contigerant rapidas limosi Phasidos undas.
[To sail as far as Phasis
In Book XI of his Geography, speaking of the origin of this adage, Strabo says, Dioscourias is located in a gulf of the Euxine sea, and is said to be as far as one can sail. Hence this proverbial “to Phasis, as far as a ship can reach,” is to be understood, not as the poet did, as speaking of the river, nor of like-named town situated alongside the river, but about Colchis, since the voyage from the city and the town to there is a matter of some six hundred stades, as the crow flies. So Strabo. Thus to sail as far as Phasis is said by way of hyperbole about the man who visits distant parts of the world, and the metaphor is taken from the story of Jason. Thus, nowadays, in the same way one could be said to go far as the Britons, since they live outside the ends of the earth. As Vergil, says, and the Britons, quite cut off from the world. The Phasis is a great river belonging to the Colchians, of which Lucan says in Book III, the very rich Phasis, which cuts through the fields of the Colchians. By this river the Argonauts and Jason came to those Colchians, as Ovid attests in Book VII of the Metamorphoses, And having suffered much under noble Jason, at last they reached the rapid watters of the muddy Phasis]
a) Strabo, Geography XI.ii.16, discussiong tragica adespota fr. 559.1 Nauck2 b) Vergil, Eclogue i.66 c) Lucan, Bellum Civile III.271 d) Ovid, Metamorphoses VII.5f.
Phrygia provincia est, teste Solino,a minoris Asiae a Phrygio amne, qui illam a Caria dividit, vel a Phrygia Cecropis filia cognominata. Mysia autem Phrygiae provincia est, adiacens Hellesponto (ut Pliniusb ait lib. V Naturalis Historiae) in qua est Moesia civitas, dicente Servioc super primum Georgicon. Mysia provincia est, Moesia vero civitas haud longe a Troia. Sed harum provinciarum fines definire, Strabone authore lib. ΧΙΙ Geographiae non facile est, qui ita inquit, Phrygum et Bithyniorum et Mysorum fines determinare difficle est, quod unaquae natio distincta esse debeat, id conceditur. Nam de Mysis ac Phrygibus huiuscemodi proverbium est. Phrygum ac Mysorum fines separati, sed definire difficile. Et causa est, quia cum incolae barbari, strenui, ac militares essent, quae vicissent non firmiter tenebant, sed frequentius, ut vagi et errantes modo, eiiciebantur. Hae gentes omnes Thraciae putandae suit, quia ulteriorem regionem hi colunt, et non facile alter ab altera immutatur. Haec ille. Nos autem huiuscemodi adagium recte usurpamus quum sermo de his est quae facilitatem prae se ferunt verum ea ipsa tractare perdifficle est.
[The territories of the Prygians and Mysians are separate, albeit is hard to distinguish them
Phrygia was, as Solinus testifies, a province of Asia Minor, named either from a Phrygian river which separates it from Caria, or from Phrygia the daughter of Cecrops. As Pliny says in Book V of his Natural History, Mysia was a province of Phrygia adjacent to the Hellespont, in which was the city of Moesia, as Servius tells us in commenting on Book I of the Georgics. Mysia was a province, but Moesia a city not far from Troy. But, as Strabo says in book XII of the Geography, it was not easy to determine the boundaries of these of these provinces: It is difficult to ascertain the borders of the Phygians, Bithynians and Mysians, although it is conceded that each nation ought to be distinct. For there is a proverb of the following kind concerning the Mysians and the Phrygians: “The territories of the Phrygians and Mysians are separate, albeit it is hard to distinguish them.“ The reason is that, since their inhabitants are vigorous and warlike barbarians, they do not remain in firm possession of what they have conquered but rather, being nomads, they are often ejected. And all these nations are to be regarded as Thracians, since they dwell in the region beyond Thrace, and are not easily distinguished. Thus Strabo. And we can employ this adage properly when the discussion is about things which look as if they are easily accomplished, whereas in fact they are very difficult to do.]
a) Solinus, Collectanea Rerum Mirabilium xxxix.12 (cf. also Pliny, N. H. V.cxix.2) b) Pliny, ib. ch. cxxi.2 c) Servius on Vergil, Georgics I.102 d) Strabo, Geography XII.iv.1
Aeolicarum urbium maxima et optima est Cuma (ut Straboa refert lib. XIII Geographiae) et fere ea metropolis est. Cumani autem carpuntur ut homines insulsi et hebetes ob hanc causam (ut quidam putant), quod CCC annos post eius urbis aedificationem portus vectigalia exegerunt, quum antea populus eiusmodi proventum non haberet. Quare obtinuit opinio quod hi homines sero sentirent, cum urbem ad mare habitarent. Dicitur etiam aliter quod publica pecunia mutuo accepta porticus construxerunt. Postea vero cum pecuniam constituta die non reddidisset, a deambulatione arcebantur, sed cum pluviae essent, in dedecus quoddam creditores edictum immittebant ut Cumani porticus subirent. Et cum praeco ita inclamaret porticus subite, dictum esse proverbium Cumani sero sentiunt, quod Cumani non sentiant ut in pluvia porticus subeunda sit, etiam si nemo per praeconem admoneatur. Haec ex Strabone eodem libro. Quod quidem adagium non absimile fere est illi quod alibi retulimus, the Phrygians grow wise too late.
[The men of Cume are late in coming to their senses
The largest and best of the cities of Aeolia is Cume (as Strabo says in Book XIII of his Geography), and is virtually their metropolist. But its citizens are criticized as being stupid and dull, for this reason (as some think), that they set up tax-barriers three hundred years after the city’s foundation, whereas until then the people did not have revenue of this kind. This led to the opinion that these men were late in coming to their senses, inasmuch as they inhabited a coastal city. There is another story, that they built a portico with borrowed public money. Afterwards, when they had not paid back the money by the appointed day, they were prevented from walking in it. But when the rain came, to shame them their creditors published an edict that the citizenry of Cume should take shelter under the portico. And when the town crier announced get under the portico, this engendered a proverb, the men of Cume are late in coming to their senses, since they did not have the sense to shelter from the rain until a crier told them to do so. This comes from Strabo in the same Book. This adage is not very different from that which I have included elsewhere,
a) Strabo, Geography XIII.iii.2 et seqq. (the anecdote comes from chapter vi)
A122. Aquilae senectus
Plinius lib. X Naturalis Historiaea de aquilis hic refert, Oppetunt non senio, nec aegritudine, sed fame, in tantum superiore accrescente rostro ut aduncitas aperiri non queat. Aquila igitur tantum in senectute bibit, vel de praeda sanguinem sugit. Ex quo iam quondam iactatum vulgo proverbium in senes, qui plus bibunt quam comedunt. Cuius etiam meminit Terentius in Heauton Timororoumenob his verbis, Nihil narras? Visa vero est (quod dici solet) aquilae senectus.
In Book X of his Natural History, Pliny says of eagles, They do not die of old age or disease, but rather of hunger, inasmuch is their upper beaks become so large that they cannot be opened, so that in its old age the eagle drinks or sucks the blood from its prey. This has engendered this popular sally against old men who drink more than they eat. It is mentioned by Terence in his Heauton Timorumenos in these words, You say it’s nothing? And yet you’ve seen the old age of the eagle, as they say.]
a) Pliny, N. H. X.xv.1b) Terence, Heauton Timororoumenos 521
A123. Sylosontis chlamys
Chlamys vestis militaris est, pallio pene adversa, cui brevior multo atque artior sit. Plautus,a Puer, cape chlamydem et da pallium, et Virgilius,b
Sidoniam picto chlamydem circumdata limbo.
De qua celebre proverbium est Sylosontis chlamys, quod de his dicitur qui iactant se magnificentia vestimentorum. Quoniam Syloson Samius Polycratis frater, cum in exilio esset vestem habebat insignem ac sumptuosam, quam, teste Strabonec lib. XIV Geographiae, cum Dario nondum regi eam diu concupiescenti dono misisset, is postea regno potitus ac beneficii memor natali solo eum restituit, ex quod illud extat,
A cloak is a military garment, very unlike the tunic, which is much shorter and narrower. Plautus, Boy, take this cloak and give me the tunic, and Vergil, A cloak from Sidon, edged with an embroidered border. Concerning which there is a famous proverb, Syloson’s cloak. When Syloson, the brother of Polycrates, was in exile, he owned a splendid and expensive garment which, as Strabo tells us in Book XIV of the Geography, Darius long coveted at a time he was not yet king. Syloson sent it to him as a gift, and after becoming king, mindful of the kindness, Darius restored him to his homeland, which resulted in the following proverb:
a) Plautus, Mercator 912 b) Vergil, Aeneid IV.137 c) Strabo, Geography XIV.i.17
Syloson itaque, eodem Strabonea authore, Polycrate fratre defuncto, regnum adeptus tyrannidem adeo acerbe exercuit ut urbs Samiorum hominibus viduata ac penitus exhausta sit. Unde proverbium Sylosonis opera locus amplus est, in eos qui tam crudeliter superbeque imperant, ut civitates hominibus vacuas reddant. Quod porro adagium si in quempiam principum usurpatur, in te autem, Guido, minimi dici potest. Ornas enim civitates tuas, non destruis, amplecteris tuos cives clementia, comitate, humanitate, quibus longe praestas caeteris imperitantibus; non odio persequeris; in eos amorem geris, non caedes et scelera admittis. Tua igitur opera hominum coetu urbes tuae frequentes sunt, non autem vacuae.
[Thanks to Syloson, there’s plenty of space
And so, the same Strabo tells us, after the death of his brother Polycrates, Syloson gained power and exercised his tyranny so harshly that the Samians’ city was emptied and depopulated. Hence the proverb, thanks to Syloson, there’s plenty of space, is used against those who govern with such cruelty and arrogance that they empty cities of their men. This adage can be used against any ruler, but can scarcely be said of you, Guidobaldo. For you ornament your cities rather than destroying them. You embrace your subjects with clemency, affability, and kindness, things in which you far surpass other rulers. You do not vex them with hatred, but are loving towards them. You commit no murders and crimes. And so, thanks to you, your cities are crowded with throngs of men, rather than being empty.
a) Strabo, Geography XIV.i.17
Samum unam ex xij Ioniae civitatibus condidit Tymbrion, ac deinde Patrocles, de cuius ubertate Straboa ita loquitur lib. XIIII: Samus vino non valde fortunata est, in caeteris vero feracissima, quod ex eo maxime perspici potest quod bellis infestatur. Unde laudantes non dubitant illud ei proverbium accomodare, quod etiam fert gallinae lac. Haec Strabo. Quod licet proverbium alibi retulerim, non tamen visum est repetere, ut quomodo scriptores usurpaverint intelligatur.
[Chicken milk on Samos
Samons, one of the twelve Ionian cities, was founded by Tymbrion, and then by Patrocles, and Strabo speaks of its plenty in Book XIV: Samos is not very blessed with wine, but is most abundant in everything else, as can bparticularly be seen in the fact that it has been troubled by wars. Hence those praise it have no hesitation in applying a proverb to it, that it even produces chicken milk. So Strabo. Since I have treated this proverb elsewhere, I have chosen not to discuss it here so that one might understand how writers have employed it.]
a) Strabo, Geography XIV.xv.15
Corycus mons est (ut Straboa docet lib. XIIII Geographiae) excelsus non procul ab Erythris civitate Ionica, et portus Casystes sub eo. Item alius portus qui Erythras appellatur ac deinceps complures. Alii dicunt totam Coryci praeter navigationem latribonibus plenam esse, qui Corycaei dicuntur. Hi novum insidiandi genus adinvenerunt. Dispersi enim per portus accedunt ad mercatores qui applicuerint, auscultantes quid rerum ferant et quo navigent. Postea cum illi solverint et in altum se receperint, congregati eos adoriuntur ac diripiunt. Ex quo quicunque curiosus est et occulta et secreta auscultare conatur, proverbialiter dicimus hic Corcaeus est. Unde etiam illud manavit,
[This man is a Corycaean
As Strabo tells us in Book XIV of the Geography, Corycus is a lofty mountain not far from the Ionian city of Erythrae, and the harbor of Casystes lies beneath it. Likewise the harbor called Erythrae and a number of others. Some say that the entire sea-route alongside Corycus is invested with pirates, who are called Corycaeans. These men invented a novel method of attack. For they scattered throughout the harbors and approached the merchants who landed there, to overhear what goods they were carrying and whither they were bound. After these merchants had cast off and were at see, they came together to attack and despoil them. As a result, whenever a man is over-curious and attempts to overhear secrets, we proverbially say this man is a Corycaean. This is also the source of the following proverb:
a) Strabo, Geography XIV.i.32
Alterum insuper adagium est, teste Strabonea in supradicto libro, qui ita inquit, Et in proverbio dicimus hunc ergo Corycaeus auscultavit, cum quis aliquid dicere vel facere secreto videatur quod minime videatur, propter eos qui speculantur et scire student, quae non convenit. Haec ille. Potest et apte de quo quoque dici qui velut Corycaeorum insidias expertus id dissimulare maxime nititur, quod tamen deprehenditur. Meminit et huius adagionis Cicero ad Atticum.b Quod autem quidam ex Strabone tradunt hoc proverbium esse, Corycaeos auscultatores aufuge. Id quanquam ita esse non eo inficias, sed ubi in Strabone tale quid legerint, ipsi videant.
[A Coryrcaen has overheard him
There is a second adage as well, attested by Strabo in the aforesaid Book, who says as follows: And as a proverb we say “so a Corycean has overheard him, when somebody appears secretly to be doing or saying something secretly, for the sake of those who are spying and striving to learn what they should not know. So Strabo. This can aptly be said of a man who, as if experienced in Corycaean wiles, greatly strives to keep something concealed which is nevertheless discovered. Cicero alludes to this adage in writing to Atticus. But some people say that this adage in Strabo is shun Corycaean listeners. I shall not deny that this so, but let them find where in Strabo they can read anything of the kind.]
a) Strabo, Geography XIV.i.32 b) Cicero, Epitulae ad Familiares XII.xiii.3
Straboa lib. ΧΙΙΙΙ Geographiae quum describit ut Cilices piratae fierent, inquit Delus, quae non admodum procul aberat, emporium magnum et pecuniosum exhibebat. Ea enim multa mancipiorum milia et recipere et emittere eadem die poterat. Ex quo proverbium factum est, mercator naviga et expone, iam omnia venundata sunt. Quo etiam teste causa erat quia Romani post Carthaginis et Corinthi eversionem divites effecti, multis servis utebantur, quapropter piratae et praedandi et vendendi opportunitate oblata, mirum in modum coaluerunt. Quo perurbane et eleganter uti possumus quum alicubi merces raptim vendi significare volumus.
[Sail and set out your wares, merchant, and everything is sold in a trice
In Book XIV of his Geography, when Strabo is describing how the Cilicians became pirates, he says, Delos, which was not far away, had a large and profitable market-place. For many thousands of slaves could be bought and sold there daily. This led to a proverb, “sail and set out your wares, merchant, and everything is sold in a trice.” This testimony explains how, after their conquest of Carthage and Corinth, the Romans became wealthy and employed many slaves, and and why a wonderful number of pirates collected to take advantage of the opportunity of robbing and selling. We can use this proverb with great urbanity and elegance when we wish to indicate that stolen goods are for sale somewhere.]
a) Strabo, Geography XIV.v.ii
Harma, id est Currus, teste Strabonea lib. ΙΧ Geographiae, pagus est ad Mycalenum desolatus, dictus Harma, id est currus ab Amphiarai curru, quod (ut aiunt) corruente Amphiarao de curro, ipse currus ad locum illum detractus est. Pythici itaque vates ad ipsum currum intuentur, et eo tempore sacrificium Delphos mittunt, quum fulgura cernunt. Observabant autem ad menses tres, singulis mensibus dies tres noctesque totidem e Iovis Fulguralis foco, qui est in muro inter Pythium et Olympium. Hinc factum proverbium, quando per Harma fulguraverit. Cui locus peridoneus erit, quoties significamus rei agendae tempus observari.
[When lightning is seen around Harma
According to Strabo in Book IX of his Geography, Harma (which means “Chariot”) is a desolate hamlet near Mycalessus, thus named after the chariot of Amphiarius. For they say that after Amphiaraus was thrown from his chariot, the chariot was dragged to that place. Therefore Pythian prophets keep watch at the chariot itself, and send sacrifices to Delphi when they see lightning. They keep watch for three months, three days and nights per month, at the hearth of Jupiter the Thunderer, which is on the wall between the districts of Pythia and Olympia. Hence the proverb, when lightning is seen around Harma. This may be said very opportunely as often as we indicate that we must watch for the opportunity to do something.]
a) Strabo, Geography IX.ii.14
Ut huius adagii sensum melius explicem, Strabonisa verba ex libro VIII Geographiae ponam, quae sunt haec. Oenone vero diutius duabus Atticae tribus par nomine vocabatur. Uni quae ad Eleutheras prope iacet, ut illud est, campos Oenones habitare foenarios. Eleutherae vero una de quadripoli ad Marathonem est, de qua natum est proverbium Oenones vallis. Haec ille. Ex licet coniecturam facere (haec enim nomina aequivoca sunt, quia ait tribum hoc nomine vocare, et paulo inferius insulam pariter esse demonstrat,b quae eo quoque nomine appelletur, quum dicit eam habitavere Argivi, Cretenses, Epidauri, et Dorienses) ut hoc proverbium aliud nihil importet quam significat illud quod de Phrygibus et Mysis paulo ante retulimus, ut mea fert opinio.
[The valley of Oenone
The better to explain the meaning of this adage, I shall qyote the words of Strabo from Book VIII of the Geography, which are these: For rather a long time Oenone was the name of two Attic demes, one which lay hard by Eleutherae, which gave rise to the saying “haymakers dwell in the fields of Oenone. Eleutherae is one of the four towns by Marathon, which gave rise to the proverb “the valley of Oenone.” So Strabo. From which one may form the conjecture (for these words are equivocal, since he says a deme was called by this name, and a little further down he likewise shows it to have been an island, when he says it was inhabited by Argives, Cretans, Epidaurians, and men of Doris) that this proverb means nothing else than that one I recorded a little earlier about the Phrygians and Mysians. Such is my opinion.]
a) Strabo mentions the Attic village of Oenoe (not Oenone) at Geography VIII.vii.1, but does not make the statements recorded here b) Strabo says that Oenoe was the ancient name for Aegina
Varro De Lingua Latinaa (quod sciam) huius proverbii et divus Hieronymusb in quadam epistola meminerunt, quod significat canem caninam carnem non edere. Cuiusmodi est illud Plinianumc in VII, Leonum feritas inter se non dimicat. Quod eleganter usurpamus quum volumus dicere aliquos inter se maxime consentire, licet aliter ostentent.
Varro in his De Lingua Latina, I know for a fact, and St. Jerome in some epistle mention this statement, to the effect that dog does not eat dog. To the same effect is that statement of Pliny in Book VII, lions in their savagery do not fight each other. Which we can elegantly employ when we wish to say that certain men are in strong agreement, although they appear to be otherwise.]
a) Varro, De Lingua Latina V.xcix.3 b) I cannot find this proverb in the works of Jerome (or any other Church Father) c) Pliny, N. H. VII.v.9
Hoc vetus Graecorum adagium quid significet nemo tam mediocriter eruditus est quem fugiat. Quod his verbis Terentiusa in Adelphis usurpat, quum Micio ita loquitur, Nam vetus verbum hoc quidem est. Communia amicorum esse inter se omnia, de quo etiam Cicero in primo Officiorumb meminit et Martialisc lib. II.
There is nobody, no matter how ill-educated, who cannot grasp the meaning of this old Greek proverb. Terence uses these words in his Adelphoe when Micio says, For this is an old saw, “friends have everything in common.” It also quoted by Cicero in Book I of his Offices and by Martial in Book II.
a) Terence, Adelphoe 803f. b) Cicero, De Officiis I.li.4 c) I cannot find this proverb used by Martial
Vadum, teste Servioa super primum Aeneidos, est locus in mari per quam vadare possumus, est proprie tamen fundum fluminis, lacus, maris, et cuiuscunque aquae. Et quoniam in profundo periculum est, in vado autem ob parvam aquarum altitudinem securitas. Hinc proverbium vulgo natum de his quae periculum evaserint, autor Terentiusb in Andria, ubi Davus ait, Omnis res est iam in vado, et Plautusc in Aulularia itidem meminit.
According to Servius on Book I of the Aeneid, a shallows is a place in the ocean where we can wade, and can properly be said of the bottom of a river, lake, sea, or any body of water. And since danger exists on the deep, safety exists in a shallows because of the small depth of the water. Hence arose a popular proverb concerning those who have escaped danger, as when Davus says in Terence’s Andria, All our business is now in the shallows, and Plautus quotes the same proverb in his Aulularia.]
a) Servius on Aen. I.536b) Terence, Andria 845 c) Plautus, Aulularia 803 (cf. also Rudens 170)
Terentianaa verba sunt in Eunucho proverbialiter dicta. Nam Ceres in hoc loco, quae cunctarum frugum dea est, pro pane accipitur. Unde duo aediles, teste Fenestellab De Romanis Magistratibus, qui rei frumentariae apud Romanos praeerant Cereales dicti sunt, quorum creandorum autor fuit C. Iulius Caesar. Liber autem pater pro vino, cuius (ut poetae fabulantur) inventor extitit, sed Lactantius Firmianus lib. II cap. xiiij Divinarum Institutionum Noe omnium primumi vineam sevisse, ex eaque fructum cepisse perspicue demonstrat. Venus autem pro belluina voluptate, id est coitum, ponitur. Nam homo abstemius segnis est ad Idaliam,c hoc est Venerem. Caeterum Terentius ad hilaritatem ostendendam hoc adagio usus est, quandoquidem, Horatiod teste, vinum omnem animi tristitiam expellit. Proverbium autem, autore Donato,e ex eo ortum est, quod frigere proprie est non adhaerere. Translatum enim hoc proverbium friget, a picatione vasorum, quae frigidam picem non tenet, cum alia multo meliora sunt ad usum frigida, ut ferrum, argentum, et caetera huiuscemodi. Usus igitur adagii accommodatus erit quum quis fame atque siti affectus minime excitatur, et tristi animo est.
[Venus goes cold without Ceres and Bacchus
These words used by Terence in his Eunuch were said proverbially. For in this context Ceres, the goddess of all grains, is meant for “bread.” Hence, according to Fenestella’sb On Roman Magistrates, there were aediles who presided over the grain supply and were called the Cereales, offices established by Gaius Julius Caesar. And Father Bacchus stands for wine, whom the poets represent as its inventor, although at Divine Institutions II.xiv Lactantius Firmianus sagely shows that Noah was the first of all men to plant vines and harvest its fruit. Venus stands for beastly pleasure, i. e., for sexual intercourse. For an abstemious man is slow in going to Idalia, i. e. to Venus. But Terence used this adage to indicate hilarity, since, as Horace bears witness, wine purges all sadness from the mind. And, according to Donatus, it is a proverb born from the fact that frigere (“to be cold”) properly means “doesn’t stick.” For the image is taken from the use of pitch to seal vessels, for a cold vessel does not hold the pitch, and other things are much better for use in cold situations, such as iron, silver, and other things of the kind. Therefore the adage can be applied to a man who, affected by hunger and thirst, cannot be cheered up and is downcast.]
a) Terence, Eunuchus 732 b) see on A13 c) segnis ad Idaliam appears to be some sort of proverb itself: Antonio Mancinelli [1452 - 1505] uses it in his Vitae suae sylva d) possibly Polydore was thinking of Odes II.xix.6 e) in his commentary on Eunuchus 732
Lupus enim animal est rapacisssimum, qui plurimum ovibus insidiatur. Ex quo male eius custodiae ovis committitur, cum siquidem eam repente voret. Hinc natum proverbium in eos qui temere aliquid homini minime fido committunt, autor Terentiusa in Eunucho ubi Thais ait scelesta ovem lupo commisisti.
The wolf is the most rapacious of animals, and for the most part lies in wait for the sheep. So it is a bad idea to entrust the sheep to its care, for it will quickly devour it. Hence there arose a proverb concerning those who rashly entrust something to a very untrustworthy person. Terence uses it in the Eunuch, where Thais says, you evil woman, you have entrusted a sheep to a wolf.]
a) Terence, Eunuchus 832
Metaphora ab equis sumpta videtur, quos sponte sua currentes (est enim ex iumentis velocissimum animal) factum est proverbium, currentem incitare, quod significat nos non oportere quempiam ad ea hortari in quae ipse studiose incumbat et propensus sit. Unde Senecaa Epistola xxxiiij ait, Sed iam currentem hortor, invicem hortantem. Potest et in malam partem in hanc significatione capi, a qua non abhorreo. Si quis (ut puta) alicui detraheret et interim alter maledicus illum in detrahendo adiuvaret ut eo magis in maledicta proveheretur, eleganter possumus dicere illum currentem excitasse per se quamvis intentum.
This appears to be a metaphor taken from horses, which run of their own volition (for the horse is the swiftest of domestic animals), turned into a proverb, to spur a runner, which indicates that we should not urge a man to do that which he himself earnestly does of his own volition, and which he is inclined to do. Hence Seneca says in Epistle xxxiv, But now I am encouraging a runner, who is encouraging me in his turn. It can also be taken in a bad way, from which I do not refrain. For example, if somebody is disparaging another man and meanwhile another slanderer comes to his aid, so that the first slanderer goes farther in his imprecations, we can neatly say he has spurred a runner, although the fellow was already intent on this on his own initiative.]
a) Seneca, Epistulae Morales xxxiv.2
Vulpes animal est versutum et semper fallax, testificante Plauto,a qui ait, vulpinus animus ne quid moliatur mali. Ab huius fallacia igitur, quia ingenita vitia tolli non possunt, tractum est proverbium in eos qui dolis et versutia abundantes naturam omnino suo mutare nequeunt, ut vulpes mores suo deponit nunquam. Quod, teste Tranquillo,b Vespasianus eleganter in Bubulcum senem usurpavit.
The fox is animal which is ever-sly and ever-deceitful, as Plautus attests, who says, lest his foxy mind contrive some evil. And so, since great vices cannot be expunged, this proverb is taken from its trickiness, and is used of those men who abound in schemes and wiliness who cannot change their nation at all, just as a fox cannot alter its manners. According to Suetonius, Vespasian elegantly applied this to old man Bubulcus.]
a) This quotation is found in Stephanus’ Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (“perhaps from Plautus”) b) Suetonius, Vespasian xvi.3
Cingillum cinguli genus est quo, teste Festo Pompeio,a nova nupta praecingebatur. Id vir in lecto solvebat factum ex lana ovis, ut sicut illa in domum sublata convincta erat, sic vir eius cinctus cum ea vinctusque esset. Hoc Herculano nodo ligatum ominis gratia vir solvebat, ut sic ipse felix esset in suscipiendis liberis, ut fuit Hercules, qui lxx liberos reliquit. Ex quo cum quis numerosam prolem genuerit, proverbii loco dicimus, hic cingillum Herculano nodo vinctum solvit. Solutum enim ita futuros portendebat filios, quamadmodum eum tota Asia regnaturum antiqua oracula canebant qui Gordii plaustri nexum solvisset. Cuius rei causa magnus Alexander, expugnata Gordio, cum solvere nequisset, loramenta gladio amputavit. Autor Iustinusb lib. XI.
[He untied the girdle tied with a Herculean knot
A girdle is a kind of belt with which, according to Festus Pompeius, a new bride was engirdled. This girdle, made out of wool, her husband would loosen in the marriage bed, so that, just as she was brought into the household bound, so her husband would be bound and tied to her. This was tied with a so-called Herculean knot for the sake of the omen, and the husband untied it so that he would thus be as fortunate in begetting children as was Hercules, who sired seventy sons. And so, when a man has fathered numerous children, we proverbially say, he untied the girdle tied with a Herculean knot. For when it was untied it portended future sons, just as ancient oracles proclaimed that he who untied the knot attached to Gordius’ wagon would rule all Asia. For this reason, when Alexander had conquered Gordium and could not untie it, he cut it with his sword. Justin tells the story in Book XI.]
a) Festus Pompeius, De Verborum Significatione p. 925.14 Linday; see also Varro, De Lingua Latina V.cxiv.3 b) Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus XI.vii.3
Apud Terentium in Phormionea Antipho adolescens inquit in nervum potius ibit, ubi proverbialiter in nervum ibit, teste Donato, pro decipiet dixit. Quod a proverbio sumptum est a sagitariis tracto, quum vis omnis atque conatus arcum tendentium non in volatum teli, sed in ruptionem nervi expetitur. Ex quo de homine fallici eleganter dicimus hic in nervum it, id est alio tendit, quam qui fallitur putat.
[He is going to the string
In Terence’s Phormio the young man Antiphon says he will rather go to the string, where, according to Donatus, go to the string is said for deceive. This is a proverbial expression taken from archers, when all the strength and effort of those drawing the bow results, not in the flight of an arrow, but in the breaking of a string. Hence we may elegantly of a deceptive man, he is going to the string, i. e., he is aiming at something different than his victim imagines.}
a) Terence, Phormio 696 (cf. also 325) with Donatus’ commentary ad loc.
Refert Titus Liviusa cum ludi Circenses Apollini aliquando celebrarentur et Hannibal nunciatis esset circa Collinam portam urbi ingruere, omnes raptis armis eo concurrisse, quos deinde reversos, cum piaculum sese fecisse formidarent invenisse saltantem in circo senem quendam. Hunc interrogatum dixisse minime a se intermissam esse saltationem. Itaque ortum exinde esse proverbium salva res est saltante sene. Quo generatim ad omnia laeta uti licet, de quo etiam Serviusb super VIII Aeneidos meminit. A quo illud quoque non discrepat, saltat senex. Nam mater deum non prius placari potuit quam senex saltaverit autor idem Servius.c Ac hinc et huius adagii extat origo.
Livy recounts how the Circensian Games were once being celebrated in honor of Apollo, when it was announced that Hannibal was threatening the city at the Colline gate, so they all snatched up their weapons and ran there. Upon their return, they feared they had committed a sin, but found an old man dancing in the Circus. When asked, he said that he had been dancing without interruption. From this arose a proverb, the matter’s safe while the old man’s dancing. This may applied to happy developments in general. It is mentioned by Servius in his commentary on Book VIII of the Aeneid. A similar proverb is the old man’s dancing, for the Mother of the Gods could not be appeased until an old man danced, as we are told by the same Servius. And this is the origin of that adage.]
a) Livy VIII.cx.7 b) Servius on Aen. VIII.110 c) Servius on Aen. III.279
Appianusa Alexandrinus Civilium Bellorum lib. IV de Bruto, uno de C. Caesaris percussoribus, loquens hanc tradit, Ferunt Brutum cum in Samo supra mare natalem suum celebraret, nec laete admodum his in rebus se haberet, hunc versum nulla ratione adductum protulisse, “Sed me sors misera et Latonae perdidit infans.” Ex Asia quoque in Europam transmissuro cum exercitu nocte deficiente pene lumine, horrendam vigilanti astitisse imaginem, quam cum impavide rogaret ille, quisnam hominum aut deorum esset, hoc solum respondisse, Tuus, o Brute, daemon malus. In Philippis me videbis”, eaque novissima in pugna quae in Philippis acta est iterum apparuisse. Appianus hactenus. Quippe duo sunt daemonum genera, teste Lactantio lib. II Divinarum Institutionum cap. xv, unum coeleste, alterum terrenum. Et hi daemones cum rerum periti ac scii (ita enim eos interpretantur) in ima parte terrae deiecti, vel in hoc aere veluti congruo sibi carcere damnati, nocendi semper cupidi, a iustitia alieni, superbia tumidi, invidia lividi, fallacia callidi, humana corpora semper infestent, et quandoque ingrediantur vel viventia vel iam mortua hic factum est, ut cum quis turbetur stimuleturque a quopiam, adagii vice iam subito dicat tu es meus daemon malus, ad illud potissimum Bruti daemonem alludens, vel ad huiusmodi spirituum nocendi potestatem. Dicetur autem daemon malus, qui secundum Euclydem Socraticumb duplex omnibus hominibus apponitur daemon, genius hoc est bonus et malus. De quibus Apuleiusc De Socratis Deo etiam meminit, dicens, Daemones sunt genere animalia, ingenio rationabilia, animo passiva, corpore aeria, tempore aeterna,
[You are my evil genius
Speaking of Brutus, one of Gaius Caesar’s assassins, in Book IV of his The Civil War Appian of Alexandria records this: While Brutus was celebrating his birthday at Samos, it is said that in the midst of the feast, although not a ready man with such quotations, he shouted out this verse without any apparent cause, “Misfortune and Latona’s son Apollo have destroyed me.” And when about to bring his army over from Asia to Europe, while he was awake at night and the light was burning low, he saw an apparition of extraordinary form standing near him, and when he boldly asked what man or god it might be, the spectre answered, “I am your evil genius, Brutus. I shall appear to you again at Philippi.” And it is said that it did appear to him before the last battle. So Appian. There are two kinds of genius, as Lactantius attests at Divine Institutions II.xv, one heavenly and the other earthly. And since these geniuses are well-informed (for so they are understood) are either banished to the deepest part of the earth or are condemned to flit about in the air, as if it is a suitable prison for them, and are always eager to harm, being unacquainted with justice, swollen with pride, green with envy, artful at deceit, they always take possession of human bodies. And since they enter into bodies, living or dead, it comes about that when one is disturbed or provoked by anyone, he suddenly resorts to the proverb you are my evil genius, alluding in particular to the genius of Brutus, or to the harmful power of spirits of this kind. It is called the evil genius because, according to Socrates’ follower Eucleides, all men have a double genius, i. e. a good one and a bad one. Of whom Apuleius writes in The God of Socrates, demons are as to genus animated beings, as to mind rational, as to feelings passive, as to body aerial, as to duration eternal.]
a) Appian, Bellum Civile IV.vi.42 b) for the doctrine of this philosopher, cf. D. T. Starnes, “The Figure Genius in the Renaissance,” Studies in the Renaissance 11 (1964) 234 - 44 c) Apuleius, De Socratis Deo xlii
Viaticum nemo est qui nescit appellari quicquid iter agendi causa necessarium est, et quoniam ad vitam substitendam atque alendam necesse est, ut se quilibet in aliqua arte exerceat.
Everybody knows that “passage money” is the money needed for a journey, and, since money is needed to support and sustain life, it is necessary that every man be skilled in some art.]
Salii vocati sunt sacerdotes Martis, quod in portandis ancylibus saltare eos mos esset. De quibus Liviusa ait, Numa Salios xij Marti Gradivo legit, tunicaeque insigne dedit, et super tunicam aeneum pectori tegmen coelestiaque arma quae ancylia appellantur ferre, ac per urbem ire canentes carmina cum tripudiis sollenique saltu iussit. Qui quidem Salii cum amplissimo apparatu coenas facerent. Hinc vice proverbii opiparae ac copiosae coenae Saliares appellatae sunt.
The Salii are the priests of mars, who customarily danced while carrying shields. Of them, Livy says, Numa chose twelve Salii for Mars Gradivus, and granted them am embroidered tunic, with a bronze cuirass over it, and sacred arms which were called their shields called ancilia, and bade them go about the city singing songs with capering and solemn dancing. These Salii were to hold sumptuous feasts. Hence large and copious banquets are called Salian feasts.]
a) Livy I.xx.4
Caesar (Suetonioa autore) verba sunt, qui suadentibus amicis ut Hispanorum custodia sibi undique insidias imminentes caveret, melius omnino putavit se semel ad aleam exponere quam assiduo in metu esse, qui, teste Cicerone,b malus est diuturnitatis custos <metus>. Quod quidem vice proverbii a doctis usurpari video. Nam Senecac in itidem significatum ait, Nemo est tam timidus ut malit semper pendere quam semel cadere. Quod tibi, inclyte princeps, nequaquam continget. Non enim times, quia non timeris, non caves quia vehementer amaris. Quum volumus igitur significare longe melius esse semel tentare quid sibi fortuna velit quam metu semper angi, eleganter dicimus satius est subire semel quam cavere semper.
[Better to die once than to be on one’s guard forever
According to Suetonius, when his friends urged him to surround himself with a Spanish bodyguard to protect himself against impending plots, Caesar said that he thought it altogether better to expose himself once to risk than to be in constant fear, because, as Cicero says, fear is a bad guardian of longevity. I see this is used as a proverb by the learned. For Seneca signifies the same thing when he says, Nobody is so fearful that he’d prefer to be left hanging forever rather than take a single fall. But this will never befall you, noble prince. For you are unafraid because you are not feared, and are not on your guard because you are ardently love. So when we want to indicate its better to test fortune’s will one time than always be tortured by fear, we elegantly say, better to die once than to be on one’s guard forever.]
a) Suetonius, Julius Caesar lxxxvi.1 b) Cicero, De Officiis II.xxiii.11 c) Seneca, Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium xxii.3.8
Vetus proverbium est cuius talis sensus existit, quisque homo bone cum sui similibus convenit, vel, teste Ciceronea in Senectute, ubi Cato ait, Pares autem cum paribus verteri proverbio facillime congregantur. Ad quod Columellab lib. VII [sic] respexisse videtur. Ubi quoniam, inquit, similia similibus familiariora natura fecit. Cuius etiam Quintilianusc in quinto mentionem facit.
There is an old proverb to this effect, that every man gets along well with men like himself, or, as Cicero makes Cato say in his On Old Age, According to the old proverb, like most easily congregate with like. Columella appears to have alluded to his in his Book VII, Since nature makes like things most friendly to each other. And so does Quintilian in his Book V.]
a) Cicero, De Senectute vii.2 b.) Columella, De Re Rustica VI.xxxvi.4 c) Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria V.x.24.
Hoc adagium nos admonet ut dum iuvenes sumus, ea ipsa quae senem decent tractemus, et quadam senili gravitate nos ipsos geramus insignes, ita enim diutius senes extiterimus. Sed quia non sua cuique aetati eo pacto officia redderentur, huic proverbio non plane apud Ciceronema in Senectute idem Cato assentitur hisce verbis, Nec enim unquam sum assensus illi veteri laudatoque proverbio, quod monet mature fieri senem si diu velis esse senex. Ego vero me minus diu senem esse mallem quam esse senem antequam essem.
This adage advises us that, while we are young men, we should do those things which are fitting for old men, and bear ourselves with distinction, relying on a certain elderly gravity, so that we might be old men for a long time. But inasmuch as in this way the responsibilities proper for each age of our lives would not be performed, Cato in Cicero’s On Old Age disagrees with this proverb, using these words: Nor have I ever approved of that old and much-praised proverb which advises “you should grow old quickly, if you want to be old for a long time.” I would prefer not to be elderly for such a long time, rather than be old before my time.]
a) Cicero, De Senectute xxxii.12
Cicero lib. I De Officiis Odium est, inquit, cum a praetereuntibus dicitur, o domus antiqua heu quam dispari domino dominaris! De quo in secunda quoque Philippica mentionem fecit. Quod in tritum proverbium cessit in eos qui ipse nequam bonos habuerunt parentes ac maiores suos, id quod (ut idem ait) his temporibus in multos dicere licet.
[Oh old home, by what a different master you are owned!
In Book I of his Offices, Ciceroa says, when it is said by passers-by, “oh old home, alas, by what a different master you are owned!” He also quotes this in his second Philippic.b This is grown into a much-used proverb, applied to those who have no good parents or forebears, something which (as Cicero says) can nowadays be said about many.]
a) Cicero, De Officiis I.cxxxix.11 b) Cicero, Philippics II.civ.11
Caius Pompilius, teste Ciceronea in octava Antonianarum et Liviob lib. XLV Ab Urbe Condita, a senatu legatus ad Antiochum missus ut bello se quo Ptolemaeum lacessebat abstineret, cum ad eum venisset atque is prompto animo et amicissimo vultu dexteram ei porrexisset, invicem ei suam porrigere noluit, sed tabellas senatusconsultum continentes tradidit, quas ut legit Antiochus dixit se cum amicis collocuturum. Indignatus Pompilius quod aliquam moram interposuisset, virga solum quo insistebat denotabit, et prius, inquit, quam hoc circulo excedas, da responsum quod senatui referam. Continuo rex affirmavit fore ne amplius de se Ptolemaeus conquereretur. Ac tum demum manum eius Pompilius tanque socius apprehendit. Ex quo quum quis raptim vel quippiam fateri vel interroganti respondere cogitur, hoc proverbiali figura tempestiviter utens dicere potest ego sum Pompilii circulo septus. Autor etiam Valerius Maximus lib. VI.c Caeterum apud Ciceronem in praenotato loco legitur C. Pompilius, in codicibus autem Valerii Cn. Pompilius, ut in alterutris menda sit.
[I’m enclosed by the circle of Pompilius
According to Cicero in the eighth of his Philippics and Livy in Book XLV of Ab Urbe Condita, the senate sent Caius Pompilius was sent as an ambassador to Antiochus, to tell him to break off the war by which he was inflicting damage on Ptolemy. When Pompilius had arrived, and Antiochus very eagerly and amicably extended his hand, Pompilius refused to shake hands, but rather handed him a tablet containing the senatorial decree. Having read it, Antiochus said he would discuss it with his friends. Pompilius, indignant at the delay, took the staff on which he had been leaning and drew a line in the earth, saying before you leave this circle, you must give a reply which I can report to the senate. The king immediately replied that he would give Ptolemy no further grounds for complaint. Then at last Pompilius shook hands with him as an ally. Since then, whenever somebody is compelled to give a speedy reply or make any admission to an interrogator, he can make timely recourse to this proverbial turn of speech and say I’m enclosed by the circle of Pompilius. This is also documented by Valerius Maximus in his Book VI. But in the aforementioned passage by Cicero we read Caius Pompilius, whereas in the manuscripts of Valerius the name is given as Cnaeus Pompilius, and one of these must be wrong.
a) Cicero, Philippic VIII.xxiiib) Livy, XLV (periocha) c) Valerius Maximus VI.iv.3
Hoc vetus proverbium et sensus est, illud quod factum est, nemo facere potest quin factum sit, ne dii ipsi quidem, secundum Plinium, qui lib. II cap vij inquit nullum deos suos habere in praeterita ius praterquam oblivionis. Cuius Plautusa in Aulularia meminit. Ait enim factum illud fieri infectum non potest.
[What’s done cannot be undone
This is an old proverb, and its idea is that what no man can render undone something that has been accomplished, not even the gods, for, according to Pliny II.vii, the gods have no power over the past, other than the power of forgetfulness. Plautus mentions this proverb in his Auluaria, saying, that deed cannot be undone.]
a) Plautus, Aulularia 741
Caecias est ventus, quem Aristotelesa ita flare dicit ut nubes non procul pellat, sed ad sese vocet. Ex quo proverbium factum scribit, κακὰ ἐφ᾿ αὑτὸν ἕλκων ὥσπερ Καικίας νέφος, hoc est mala ad sese trahens ut Caecias nubes. Quod in eos eleganter usurpari potest qui sibiipsis officunt malumque accersunt. Autor Gellius lib. II.
[He attracts evils to himself, as Caecias does clouds
Caecias is a wind, said by Aristotle to blow in such a way that it does not drive the clouds far away, but rather summons them to itself. From which comes a proverb, he attracts evils to himself, as Caecias does clouds. This can be elegantly said about men who creat obstacles for themselves and invite evil. My authority is Aulus Gellius, Book II.]
a) Aristotle, Meteorologica p. 364b24, quoted by Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae II.xxii.24