Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

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Quid pro quo

Literally, "what for what", often used to convey the idea of an equal exchange. Originally quid pro quo probably simply referred to replacing something with something, often not without negative connotations. To my surprise, I could not find any classical examples of this expression. Even medieval sources were pretty much silent. I was expecting at least to see quid pro quo as a literary term.

One interesting poem by Hermann de Werden (Hermannus Werdinensis), however, contains this expression. It is used to describe a medicine replaced with something totally different by a dishonest doctor:

Hic verus medicus, quia non vendit dyatruphis,
Nec tibi quid pro quo decipiendo terit,
Set veram nardum confectam pneumate sancto,
Per quam peccatrix uncta Maria fuit.

This is a true physician who does not sell [..](having some trouble translating 'dyatruphis'),
and does not deceivingly rub you with something instead of something else,
but with a true nard-oil, prepared by the Holy Spirit,
with which Mary the sinner was anointed.

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