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Famous Latin Quotes Posted by on Jun 17, 2021 in Grammar, Latin Language

Today, we are going to talk about famous Latin quotes. The allure of Latin is apparent in its portrayal in media. For most, it is a distance magical language. However, most people don’t realize that Latin permeates our language today.

A building's corner with Latin inscription at the top of the pillars.

Photo by Luca Tosoni on Unsplash

Famous Latin Quotes

Many famous quotes that most people have heard have Latin roots are were popularized through Latin. We will be exploring some of these quotes today. Each quote will include some grammar notes.

Cicero Quotes

  1. Omnium Rerum Principia Parva Sunt – ‘The beginnings of all things are small.’ – Cicero
    • A literal translation would be “of all things, beginnings small are.”
  2. Male Parta Male Dilabuntur – ‘What has been wrongly gained is wrongly lost.’ – Cicero
    • Grammatical this saying is “those things (implied by “parta” neuter plural ending) having been acquired wrongly or badly, they are wrongly or badly lost”

Virgil Quotes

  1. Amor Vincit Omnia – ‘Love conquers all.’ – Virgil
    • This sentence is pretty straightforward. Omnia refers to all things as a neuter plural.
  2. Non Omnia Possumus Omnes – ‘We can’t all of us do everything.’ – Virgil
    • Again, this sentence is straightforward with omnia in the same case as #3.

Other Author Quotes

  1. Carpe Diem – ‘Seize the day.’ – Horace
    • Carpe is an imperative. Learn more about imperatives here.
  2. Timendi Causa Est Nescire – ‘The cause of fear is ignorance.’ – Seneca
    • A literal translation would be “Being afraid cause is to be[ing] ignorant.” Timendi is a gerund.
  3. Ars Longa, Vita Brevis – ‘Art is long, life is short.’– Hippocrates.
    • The verb “est” is assumed in both parts.
  4. In Vino Veritas – ‘Truth in Wine.’– Pliny the Elder
    • Although, it may not look like it. Veritas is a singular nominative.
  5. Exitus Acta Probat – ‘The result justifies the deed.’— Ovid
    • This sentence is pretty straight forward. “The ending/result, the deed esteems or justifies”
  6.  Fiat Lux – ‘Let there be light.’— Old Testament ‐ Genesis 1:3 [Vulgate Latin Bible]
    • While this was not originally a Latin phrase, I would like to say that more people were introduced to the Bible through Latin. Fiat is the jussive subjunctive form of the verb facio (to make, to build, sometimes to be). The English translation of “Let BLANK happen” is the general translation of the jussive.

So, the next time to hear one of these phrases in media or conversation, you now know the origin and a bit about the Latin.

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About the Author: Brittany Britanniae

Hello There! Please feel free to ask me anything about Latin Grammar, Syntax, or the Ancient World.


Comments:

  1. Andrea:

    In number 1 under “Other Author Quotes,” you write “Carpe is a vocative…” Carpe is a verb in the Imperative mood (singular). It cannot be in the Vocative case, since it is not a noun.

    • Brittany Britanniae:

      @Andrea Great catch! I realized that I meant imperative as it is a verb and a command, not a vocative since that is only available as a noun.


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