Memo esto, be mindful of. . .

Latin maxims to live by

Quiquid latine dictum sit altum viditur
Whatever is said in Latin sounds profound.

For people whose old schools or universities have Latin mottos, quoting the ancient sayings adds weight or ‘gravitas’ to any conversation. The sayings provide moral guidance long after the students have graduated and left their institution of learning.

Who would disagree with Cicero, the intrepid Roman statesman and orator who said:

Brevis tempus aetatis satis est longum ad bene honesteque vivendum.

In English, Cicero’s words sound just as insightful: “A short term on earth is long enough for a good and honourable life.”

Honour, virtue, sincerity, liberty, duty, prudence, knowledge and living the blameless life integer vitae are the goals that the citizens of the great Republic of Rome strove (before the state was hijacked by Julius Caesar and his nephew Augustus).

No one wants to hear preachy, pious statements, but here are some time-tested Latin maxims that are still pertinent in
today’s chaotic, amoral environment:

ipsa quidem virtus pretium sibi
virtue is indeed its own reward

id agas tuo te merito ne quis oderit
take care that no one hates you justly
Publilus Syrus

in candore decus
there is honour in sincerity

in virtute posita est vera felicitas
true happiness is centered in virtue

magnum vectigal est parsimonia
thrift is a great revenue

crescat  scientia, vita excolatur
where knowledge increases, life is enriched

incertum est quo te loco mors expectet, itaque in omni loco illam expecta
it is uncertain in what place death awaits you; therefore be ready for death in every place

longum iter est per praecepta, breva et efficax per exempla
teaching by precept is a long road, but brief and beneficial is the way by example

malo benefacere tantumdem est periculum quantum bono malefacere
to do good to the bad is a danger as great as to do bad to the good

medium tenuere beati
blessed are they who have kept a middle course

mira quaedam in cognoscendo suavitas et delectatio
there is a certain wonderful sweetness and delight in gaining knowledge

Contents page | Proverbs to live by | Integer Vitae

Source: The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations by Jon R Stone (2005)

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