Latin Proverbs, Mottoes, Phrases, and Words: Group I
(classical-language maxims, slogans, adages, proverbs, and words of wisdom that can still capture our modern imagination)
Expressions of general truths: Latin to English maxims, proverbs, and mottoes
Word entries are from Latin unless otherwise indicated.
In books and articles with many references, a writer may mention several sources on the same page. To avoid the constant repetition of the name of the author and the title of the work quoted or cited, the writer saves space by using ibid., a shortcut for saying "in the same book listed above".
Introduces a definition. Use i.e. only when rephrasing a statement to make it more understandable. The most frequent mistake made by people who don't really know what i.e. means leads to confusion between i.e. and e.g.; the abbreviation of exempli gratia, "for example".
The same word, the same author, or the same publication.
This word was used in the Roman calendar. In months of 31 days (March, May, July, October), the Nones were the seventh day and the ides the fifteenth, while in the shorter months (all of the months except March, May, July, and October), the Nones fell on the fifth and the ides on the thirteenth day.
Plutarch (Greek biographer and philosopher; died ca. A.D. 120) in his Life of Julius Caesar wrote, "There was a certain soothsayer that had long before given Caesar warning to take heed of the Ides of March (which is the fifteenth of the month), for on that day he should be in great danger. The day having arrived, Caesar went to the Senate-house and spoke merrily to the soothsayer, saying: "The Ides of March is come."
"So it is," the soothsayer answered softly, "but yet it is not past."
In William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, he had essentially the same version in that Caesar was warned previously by a soothsayer to, "Beware the Ides of March!" On the day that Caesar was going to the Capitol with Antony, Brutus, Cassius, and others; he saw the same soothsayer who had warned him and since it is now the 15th of March, he remarks that the Ides have come, to which the soothsayer replied that they have not gone. Sure enough, Caesar was murdered on the Ides (15th) of March.
Seneca, in De Providentia, warns us that there will be trouble in our lives and we must learn to come to grips with it, telling us that "life is not a bowl of cherries".
A light that misleads; a name given to a light that sometimes appears at night, usually over marshes, probably because of the combusion of marsh (methane) gas resulting from decaying vegetable matter. Other terms for it are jack-o'-lantern and will-o'-the-wisp. Anyone who attempts to follow this kind of light is misled; hence, the meaning will-o'-the-wisp.
This expression refers to a false hope, an illusion, any misleading or deluding goal, or a vain hope.
Also given as Ignorantia iuris (juris) non excusat, "Ignorance of the law does not excuse". An even broader expression is Ignorantia non excusat, "Ignorance does not excuse"; which goes beyond the realm of law, providing us with the criticism of some unfortunate one who says, "But I didn't know . . . ."
Ovid's thought in Ars Amatoria: "We don't want what we can't see."
Offered as a proposed motto or as advice. It is made up of pseudo, or mock, Latin illegitimatus "bastard" and Carborundum (silicon carbide [Sic], an abrasive), the trade name of a brand of abrasives.
It is also said to be the motto of General Joseph Warren ("Vinegar Joe") Stilwell (1883-1946); commander of U.S. army ground forces under MacArthur (1945); commander of U.S. 10th army in the Pacific (1945-46).
Also ab imo pectore: "From the bottom of the breast or chest."
An early motto of the State of Ohio (1866-1868), USA.
2. A person's guarantee or acceptance that something meets a good standard: The contents of the web site had the imprimatur of reliability and accuracy.
3. Etymology: from Latin "let it be printed" from the verb imprimere, "to mark" or "to engrave".