In today's world, we often encounter winged Latin expressions. Genus slogans and advertising slogans, quotations in fiction and science literature, even everyday speech give us a huge variety of catchphrases, proverbs and sayings, either based on Latin expressions, or directly quoting them.
But the widespread use of Latin expressions is a phenomenon peculiar only to the last few centuries and is connected with the wide spread of literacy and mass culture. In the Middle Ages and the Modern Age the knowledge and understanding of even elementary Latin was reserved for aristocratic circles and the scientific community.
How did some of those Latin proverbs that we repeat almost daily come about? What great figures of antiquity and the Middle Ages are they associated with? Under what circumstances were they uttered and what changes have they undergone in our days? Let's try to get to the bottom of these questions.
The wisdom of the ages: sayings of ancient scholars in Latin
The ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, valued science and education very highly. Men of learning were often under the patronage of influential magnates, and even rulers of ancient polis and tyrants.
The great mathematician and engineer, Archimedes (3rd century BC), held such a high position in Syracuse under the tyrant Guiron. During the Second Punic War, his inventions more than once and not twice saved the inhabitants of the city from capture by the Romans. Even the Roman Consul Marcellus, who opposed Guieron, highly appreciated the merits of Archimedes. Book XXVI of the "Historical Library" by Diodorus of Sicily describes the death of 75-year-old Archimedes: he was killed by a Roman soldier for refusing to go with him. According to legend, Archimedes was so immersed in his drawing that he dismissed the man by telling him, "Noli
"(Don't touch my circles!). There are also other variations of the rendering of this winged phrase, such as: "
"(I beseech you, don't touch it [the drawing]!), in Valerius Maximus ("Prehistoric Deeds and Words." Book VIII, Chapter 7.7). It is interesting that at the Faculty of Physics of Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich there is a wall with a bas-relief, where just a learned old man is threatening the Roman conquerors with a sword.
Another famous winged expression of antiquity was the phrase-maxima, carved on a stone in the temple of Apollo in Delphi: "Know thyself" (Greek Gnothi seauton, Latin. Nosce
). The authorship of this phrase is disputed: Diogenes of Laertes attributes it to Thales of Miletus, and medieval philosophers to Thales and Chilon. Plato said that Socrates used this phrase as the beginning of many of his dialogues; later it acquired a more extended form: "Know thyself, and thou shalt know the whole world. In the Middle Ages this maxim was understood as a call to avoid submitting to the opinion of the crowd.
Who was the first living person to understand that there is no limit to perfection, and what did he mean by that?
This expression has long been used by many people in different countries. But who was the first to understand this simple truth? Today it is difficult to determine who its author was. In the treatises of Nietzsche you can find this phrase, it sounded from the mouth of Zarathustra. Others believe that it was voiced by Socrates, but this fact can hardly be established. This phrase has a deep meaning, and it can be understood in two ways, everyone puts into it his philosophy depending on his views on life and his worldview. We ourselves say from time to time that there is no limit to perfection. What does the phrase mean?
The mighty and the Latin: from war to peace and vice versa
It is worth noting that rulers often revealed catchphrases and expressions that survived the centuries. One of the greatest commanders and statesmen of the Ancient world, Gaius Julius Caesar, according to the Greek historian Plutarch, when crossing the Rubicon River on January 10, 48 BC, uttered a phrase which was to survive for centuries: Alea
(The lot is cast). It is from this moment begins Caesar's campaign against Gnaeus Pompey the Great, which led Caesar to absolute power in the Empire. All the circumstances were against him at that moment: Pompey's outnumbering of legions; the hostile aristocracy of Rome; the lack of sufficient political weight in the Roman Senate. But Caesar's quick decision-making ensured his continued success. To this day, his words are uttered in situations requiring a decisive choice and persistence in achieving the goal.
Caesar's phrase with which he described his victory over Pharnaces, king of the Bosporus Kingdom, in 47 B.C. was truly great. At that moment Farnacus had considerable forces and incited many kings of Western Asia to revolt against the Romans, and Caesar, possessing only three legions, decided to attack sharply and swiftly. After slaying nearly the entire army of Pharnaces, Caesar sent a letter to Rome to his friend Matius, in which he described his triumph in only three words - "Veni,
"(I came, I saw, I conquered - Plutarch. Caesar, chapter 50). Plutarch, who compiled a biography of Caesar, noted that in Latin these three words - with identical endings and consisting of only two syllables - "create an impression of convincing brevity. Subsequently, when celebrating the Pontic triumph on his return to Rome, Caesar ordered the tablets with this phrase (Suetonius. The Divine Julius, Chapter 37).
The Emperor of Rome, Octavian Augustus, used to say of bad debts that they would be paid by the Greek calendars ("Ad
"), i.e., never (Suetonius. "The Divine Augustus," chapter 87). This expression, like the phrase "Paulo post futurum" (roughly translated, "a little while after the future comes"), was a pure play on words: the calends in the Roman calendar referred to the day that preceded the first day of the next month (for example, the June calends were May 31), whereas the ancient Greek polis had no unified calendar. Besides, there were no calendars in any of the Greek calendars.
The Greek calendar had no calendars in any of the Greek calendars, and there were no calendars. Fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. - "Aut
" (Either Caesar or no one). These words expressed his infinite desire for power through the unification of the Italian lands. The original phrase sounded slightly different: "
"("One must be either a prudent man or Caesar"), and their author was the Roman emperor Caligula (Suetonius. "Gaius," chapter 37). As is well known, Caligula led a dissolute life, drowning in luxury, committed reckless spending on revelry, for which he paid with his own life. Thus, the expression that originally emphasized the negative aspects of human nature, a millennium and a half later became a reflection of ambition and courage.
Is it worth looking for something that doesn't exist?
For some, this phrase can be an excuse for being passive in their lives. They are certain that there is no limit to perfection, and therefore there is no point in going for it. It can be said that it is impossible to achieve the best, the most desirable, the most valuable, because there is no real limit to this most-something. It does not exist. So it's not worth trying, it's not worth trying and making every effort to become the best, because there's no boundary where you can tell if you've become that best. It is impossible to become perfect because there is no peak of perfection. It is a mirage that cannot be reached.
If you look at it from this perspective, it is really quite foolish to seek what is not there, and to strive for what is impossible to achieve. It will only lead to a waste of time and energy. If there is no limit to perfection and it is impossible to reach it, why waste your life on it? It is possible to be content with little, to take advantage of fortune's occasional gifts and to spend one's life quietly and serenely. Such a theory has a right to be. There are people who actively apply it to their lives, they are happy with what they have, and they don't want to strain to get something more.
Medieval writers and philosophers: a return to antiquity
Medieval thinkers and philosophers also contributed greatly to the creation of Latin proverbs and aphorisms. For example, Thomas Hobbes, in On Man (1658) proclaims, following Francis Bacon (with whom he was secretary in his youth), "Knowledge is power" (Scientia
). Meanwhile, the meaning of this expression can be interpreted in several senses. Bacon was referring to divine power, contrasting it with various "delusions" (i.e., heresies). Hobbes, on the other hand, spoke to a greater extent of the usefulness of scientific knowledge for the select few ("Knowledge is power, but little, for knowledge is seldom distinguished; and if it is manifested, it is in few persons and few deeds..."). Now we understand the meaning of this proverb (which, by the way, has an analogue in the Old Testament "Book of Solomon's Proverbs") quite differently: as a proof of scientific and technological progress and the steady movement of society forward on the basis of scientific achievements.
The great 17th century mathematician and philosopher René Descartes formulated in Latin the primary truth that cannot be doubted and on which all modern rational knowledge is based: "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore, exist). He later added an important detail to this statement: the fact of thinking and even the existence of man can be questioned, but the very fact of the appearance of doubt is undeniable. From this comes the famous formula: "Dubito
"(I doubt, therefore I exist). One of Descartes' ideological predecessors in this regard was Blessed Augustine, bishop of Hippo (late fourth and early fifth centuries), author of On the City of God. He responded to the objections of the educated men of his day: "If I am deceived, therefore I already exist. For whoever does not exist cannot of course be deceived: I therefore exist, if I am deceived" (
). However, Augustine contrasted his views primarily with the pagan milieu, which was critical of his proof of the existence of God; Descartes, by contrast, was forced to fight clerical obstacles (including the "Aristotelian-Christian synthesis" expressed in its reliance on the authority of sacred texts and preceptors) to science.
Writers of the Middle Ages and Early Modern Age also contributed greatly to the "creation" of Latin expressions that we today attribute to the philosophers of Antiquity. For example, Miguel Cervantes de Saverda, in the second part of his novel about Don Quixote (1615), finds an expression attributed to Aristotle: "Amicus
"(Plato is my friend, but the truth is dearer). The fact is that Plato and Aristotle were the greatest philosophers and scientists of Ancient Greece in the 4th century B.C., both were engaged in the education of students, but their views on the world and nature were strikingly different. Probably one of the few points in knowledge of the surrounding reality, which was common to both philosophers, was the unconditional primacy of truth over the opinion of the most authoritative teacher. For example, Plato, in the Phaedon, addressed his disciples in the words of Socrates: "When you follow me, think less of Socrates and more of the truth. A similar version is found in Aristotle: "Socrates is dear to me, but the truth is dearer than anything else. A thousand years later, Cervantes changed Socrates' name to Plato, and in this form the phrase became world-famous.
Of course, this set of winged phrases is far from exhausting the many colors of the Latin language. Both Antiquity and the Middle Ages gave us a huge number of winged expressions about which we could say and write a lot. Probably every person interested in world culture, outstanding works of art and literature could make his own list of proverbs and sayings in Latin, which he periodically uses in communication with others, in business correspondence, etc.
Maybe those who read this article should write (with a little explanation) the most prominent winged phrases in the comment form to draw the attention of others to this issue?
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You can always move forward
A different category of people have a different philosophy of life: they are constantly on the move, constantly self-developing, and looking for new ways to live a better life. For them the phrase sounds completely different: there is no limit to perfection. It does not matter who said it, the main thing is that today many people strive to embody it in their lives.
More often than not, people use it to mean that they do not want to limit themselves to any format. They understand that there are no limitations in life, and therefore they always have something to strive for and something to grow. In any area there is always room for development, there is always room to improve and achieve the best results. The phrase that there is no limit to perfection can be heard from people when they are praised for some achievement or for a bold attempt. It is when they are told that they have achieved a certain result and done something well, and it's time for them to stop there. At this point, the lucky ones themselves suddenly realize that this is not the limit of their dreams, and there is something to strive for.
Today the quote "there is no limit to perfection" sounds like a certain slogan, like a motivation for some new business or endeavor, like an incentive to go a certain way.
The 46-year-old tattoo artist known as Kitty Inc. from Vienna, Austria, has had a love of all things weird and out of the box since childhood. She was always unsatisfied with her own appearance, but Kitty decided to make any changes only at the age of 36, having her first surgery. Now, 10 years later, the woman has lost track of them.
"You say, 'Well, it's too much, it's not natural.' And I immediately wonder. It's too much for you, but it's just right for me." All in all, the woman spent 52 thousand pounds (about 5 million rubles) on plastic surgery. She had her breasts enlarged, making them the largest and largest possible size in Europe. She had several liposuctions, skin lifts, and Botox injections. Kitty was willing to do anything to become a real work of art. "I get happier after every change, whether it's plastic surgery, tattoos, or makeup-the results always make me happy. I'm a masterpiece in the making." The tattoo artist admitted that she doesn't care about the opinions of others, although she is annoyed that they vary depending on the circumstances. Often men in a circle of friends and next to their girlfriend say completely different things. If you don't like me, Kitty thinks, then don't look at me, but the point is that people always look at her. That was the goal - to stand out from the crowd and be different.
What's the point of the expression?
So, what is the meaning of this phrase? The expression can be understood in two ways, as they say - everyone chooses for himself (this, by the way, is also a quote from the poet Yuri Levitansky).
First, the quote can be understood as a directive to constant work, to the constant improvement of something. There is no limit to perfection, that is, there is always something to strive for, to move forward. It is always possible to do even better. In this case, the expression is a great motivation for action.
And here is a variant of understanding the phrase for those who, on the contrary, no longer want to act. No matter how hard you try, you can not achieve perfection, because there is no limit to perfection, and there will still be flaws, so do not set for yourself too high requirements, otherwise you will always be dissatisfied with the results of your work. This is a sort of quote-justification.
In general, which of the interpretations to choose - you decide, we will not argue. But about the authorship of the phrase is a polemic.
No one is doomed to stay at the starting point.
If today a person has a pessimistic outlook on life, it doesn't mean that he will remain in this position until the end of his days. Personality is a mobile living material, malleable and capable of transformation. It is not a frozen block of stone that cannot be changed. Through an effort of will, everyone is able to change the direction and flow of his thoughts and his life. The good news is that anyone can be a better person. As they say, there is no limit to perfection. There is no limit beyond which a person cannot cross, no barrier that would not allow him to go beyond his abilities and possibilities. If you allow yourself to do something, if you believe that you have the power and the right to do it, then you will achieve your goal.