Livy's maxims

Facets of everyday Roman life, from food to travel to petkeeping. "How did the Romans...?" answered here!

Moderator: Aldus Marius

Livy's maxims

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 31, 2004 4:43 am

Salvete omnes

Here are a number of sayings drawn from the Ab Urbs Condita of Titus Livius. Their Latin versions may be looked up at the Latin Library.

II.47.11: Despise temporary glory that accumulates only now and then.

III.56.7: Haughtiness and cruelty, even when committed behind bolted doors, not lightly comes to punishment.

III.72.3: Rumors and political alliances condemn the great as much as they are believed.

IV.37.7: Fortune attends the courageous.

V.51.5: Happy results come to those who follow the gods, misfortune to those who scorn Them.

V.51.9: The misfortune of others admonishes the pious.

VIII.29.5: Fortune helps the strong.

IX.1.11: The more favorable is a thing, then the more adversity it arouses from the gods.

XXV.11.16: A pecuniary fine, that natural impediment, makes ready council.

XXV.38.18: The strongest hope among the poor comes with each and every counsel to be safe.

XXVII.9.1: From little things are great things often born.

XXVIII.27.7: Injuries will not heal unless properly and effectively handled.

XXVIII.44.2: The greater the unknown, the greater the fear.

XXX.30.7: To take hold, rather than allow the opportunity to slip away, is how to solve a problem.

XXX.30.18: The greatest good for everyone is the least believable.

XXX.44.8: No great nation came remain quiescent for long.

XXX.44.9: There is nothing like the loss of money to swiftly prod one into action.

XXXIV. 4.2: Avarice and luxury is that plague which eventually overthrows all great empires.

XXXIV.14.4: What is most safeguarded is what is most precious.

XV.32.13: Counsel fierce and audacious is the first most abundantly received, becomes the hardest to handle, and results in the most sorrowful outcomes.

XLII.62.11: Rather than seek apparent prosperity that fortune brings, seek to govern the mind well.

XLV.8.7: He at length will become a man of virtue whose mind is neither carried away in good times nor is disheartened by adversity.
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Roman maxims

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Jan 31, 2004 10:18 am


Similar precepts of good ol' Roman wisdom can be found in Cato Maior's Monosticha and Disticha. The first, which I have copy-pasted below, are in fact short, straightforward imperatives, showing us very briefly what a traditional Roman thought important values for a good man and citizen. I will not copy the Disticha (longer sentences, as the word indicates) however, which cover several tens of pages. They can be found, together with the monosticha at, a Dutch site, but with Latin-English content.


Incipiunt dicta Marci Catonis ad filium suum.
Cum animadverterem quam plurimos graviter in via morum errare, succurrendum opinioni eorum et consulendum famae existimavi, maxime ut gloriose viverent et honorem contingerent. Nunc te, fili carissime, docebo, quo pacto morem animi tui componas. Igitur praecepta mea ita legito, ut intellegas; legere enim et non intelligere neglegere est.

Since I am aware of how many stray in the path of morals, I thought I should come to the aid of their understanding and take their reputations into account, so that they might live with greatest glory and obtain honors. Now I shall teach you, dearest son, how to fabricate morals for your own mind. There read my precepts, that you may understand; to read and not to understand is to be negligent.

Itaque deo supplica. So, pray to God.
Parentes ama. Love your parents.
Cognatos cole. Respect your kindred.
Magistrum metue. Fear (respect is perhaps the better translation - Atticus) your teacher.
Datum serva. Keep what is given to you.
Fora para. Be careful of the market-place.
Cum bonis ambula. Keep company with good people.
Antequam voceris, ne accesseris. Don't go until called.
Mundus esto. Keep clean.
Saluta libenter. Greet freely.
Maiori concede. Give way to your superior.
Minori parce. Be nice to your inferior.
Rem tuam custodi. Keep what you have (your counsels?)
Verecundiam serva. Preserve modesty.
Diligentiam adhibe. Be diligent.
Libros lege. Read books.
Quae legeris, memento. Remember what you read.
Familiam cura. Take care of your family.
Blandus esto. Be nice (be laid back).
Irascere ob rem noli. Don't get angry for no reason.
Neminem riseris. Don't laugh at anybody.
Mutuum da. Give in return.
Cui des, videto. Think about to whom you are giving.
In iudicio adesto. Stand by (a friend) in court.
Ad praetorium stato. Keep in good standing.
Convivare raro. Don't party too much.
Quod satis est, dormi. Sleep the right amount of time.
Iusiurandum serva. Keep your oath.
Vino tempera. Don't drink too much.
Pugna pro patria. Fight for your country.
Nihil temere credideris. Don't be gullible.
Tute consule. Give good advice.
Meretricem fuge. Flee the prostitute.
Litteras disce. Study literature.
Nihil mentire. Don't lie.
Bono benefacito. Do good to the good.
Maledicus ne esto. Don't curse.
Existimationem retine. Hold on to your reputation.
Aequum iudica. Judge properly.
Parentem patienter vince. Overcome your parent with patience.
Beneficii accepti esto memor. Remember a good turn.
Miserum noli ridere. Don't sneer at the poor.
Consultus esto. Be a good guru (I'd rather say 'counsellor' - Atticus).
Virtute utere. Practice virtue.
Iracundiam temporale rege. Control your anger.
Trocho lude. Play with the hoop (sic!).
Aleam fuge. Spurn dice-playing.
Nihil arbitrii virium feceris. Don't be a bully.
Minorem non contempseris. Don't sneer at your inferior.
Alienum noli concupisci. Don't covet.
Coniugem ama. Love your wife.
Liberos erudi. Teach your children.
Pati legem, quam ipse tuleris. Keep the law you make yourself.
Pauca in convivio loquere. Don't talk much at a banquet.
Illud stude agere, quod iustum est. Seek to do that which is right.
Libenter amorem ferto. Be ready to show affection.
Minime iudica. Do not judge.

Good to print out and hang above your bed. Off to buy a hoop :wink:

Quintus Pomponius Atticus

"Ars longa, vita brevis" - Hippocrates
Quintus Pomponius Atticus
Posts: 500
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 6:03 pm
Location: Belgica

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Sat Jan 31, 2004 12:37 pm

Salve Attice

Or you might try the translation of the Monostichia found at SVR's site.

Vale bene
M Horatius Piscinus

Sapere aude!
User avatar
Horatius Piscinus
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Sep 15, 2002 7:39 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Sat Jan 31, 2004 12:45 pm

Oops, I must urgently run over the new contents of the essay pages, it seems :oops:

Quintus Pomponius Atticus

"Ars longa, vita brevis" - Hippocrates
Quintus Pomponius Atticus
Posts: 500
Joined: Wed Aug 28, 2002 6:03 pm
Location: Belgica

Return to Collegium Vitae Quotidianae

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest