Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.


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Latin Proverbs from the Middle Ages

 
I chose just a few Latin proverbs that go back to the Middle Ages and, I presume, no further than that, at least in the form given. That's because for the most part they rhyme, which usually automatically gives away Medieval Latin. They sort of roll off your tongue, and represent common wisdom of the bygone days. I don't know what they can be used for, but maybe some aspiring writer can employ a few phrases in a period mystery novel? My absolute favorit is: Nomina si nescis, perit et cognitio rerum.

Aedibus in propriis canis est mordacior omnis. – Every dog is more prone to bite when in its own house.
Amphora sub veste raro portatur honeste. – A jar is rarely hidden under the cloak with good intentions.
Ante Dei vultum nihil unquam restat inultum. – In God's sight nothing ever remains unavenged.
Arbor naturam dat fructibus atque figuram. – The kind of fruit and its form depend on the tree.
Artem natura superat sine vi, sine cura. – Nature surpasses art without effort or anxiety.
Audi doctrinam si vis vitare ruinam. – Be attentive to teaching if you wish to avoid disaster.
Capta avis est pluris quam mille in gramine ruris. – A captured bird is worth a thousand on the green.
Carius est carum, si praegustatur amarum. – The dear is all the dearer for tasting bitter at first.
Catus amat pisces, sed non vult tingere plan tarn. – The cat loves fish, but doesn't like to wet her feet.
Conjugium sine prole, dies veluti sine sole. – Marriage without children is like a day without sunshine.
Contra vim mortis non herbula crescit in hortis. – There is no herb in the gardens against the power of death.
Cui sunt multa bona, huic dantur plurima dona. – He who has much gets many a gift.
Dat bene, dat multum, qui dat cum munere vultum. – He is a good and bountiful giver who gives a smile with his gift.
Deficit ambobus qui vult servire duobus. – He who tries to serve two masters serves neither.
Dormit secure, cui non est functio curae. – Far from court, far from care.
Dum sis vir fortis, ne des tua robora scortis. – While you remain a strong man, do not give your strength away to harlots.
Ebibe vas totum, si vis cognoscere potum. – Drink up the whole draught if you want to know what it is.
Est facies testis, quales intrinsecus estis. – The face shows what you are inwardly.
Esto laborator, et erit Deus auxiliator. – Be a laborer and God will be your helper
Ex lingua stulta veniunt incommoda multa. – Many troubles have sprung from a foolish tongue.
Fac bene dum vivis, post mortem vivere si vis. – Act wisely as long as you live, if you want to live after death.
Illa mihi patria est, ubi pascor, non ubi nascor. – My home country is where I graze, not where I was born.
In vili veste nemo tractatur honeste. – No one in poor clothing is honourably entreated.
Mus salit in stratum, cum scit non adfore catum. – The mouse springs on the couch when it knows the cat's not there.
Nobilitas morum magis ornat quam genitorum. – Nobility of manners adorns better than that of birth.
Nomina si nescis, perit et cognitio rerum. – Knowledge of things is gone if you know not their names.
Non tenet anguillam, per caudam qui tenet illam. – He who holds a snake by the tail does not have it under control.
Occurrit cuicunque Deus, paucique salutant. – God meets every man, but few recognise Him.
Prodigus est natus de parco patre creatus. – From a thrifty father is born a spendthrift son.
Qui pingit florem non pingit floris odorem. – You may paint the flower, but you can't paint its scent.
Quisquis amat ranam, ranam putat esse Dianam. – If one is in love with a frog he thinks it a goddess.
Stare diu nescit, quod non aliquando quiescit. – That can't stand long which never takes rest.
Subtrahe ligna focis, flammam restinguere si vis. – If you would quench the fire take off the fuel.
Sus magis in coeno gaudet quam fonte sereno. – The sow delights more in mire than clear water.
Verba satis celant mores, eademque revelant. – Words serve to hide one's character as well as show it.
Vulpes vult fraudem, lupus agnum, foemina laudem. – The fox likes tricks, the wolf lamb, a woman praise.


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