Useful Latin tags

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Useful Latin tags

Rome, where all this came from…


From: John Charity Spring, Fellow of Oriel College, and Captain Harry Paget Flashman Esq, poltroon and coward, aboard the “trader” the Balliol College, as recalled in the latter Gentleman’s candid memoir “Flash for Freedom


Here are some easy tags or quotations, in every-day Latin, which may prove useful to the wise student.

Hiatus maxime deflendus (or) Hiatus valde deflendus = Want (or wish) greatly to be deplored.

Quidquid praecipies, esto brevis = If you are going to moralize, keepitshort.

Qui male agit odit lucem = A bad person hates the light.

Paucis carior est fides quam pecunia = Few do not set a higher value on money, than on good faith.

Pars sanitatis velle sanari fruit (pronounced ‘frewit’) = The wish to be cured is in itself a step towards good health.

Gravis ira regum semper = Anger of kings is always severe.

Qui mori didicit servire dedidicit (Seneca) = He who has learned to die, has learned how not to be a slave.

Quo quo, scelesti ruitis = Where are you rushing, fools?

Salvor pudore = Without offending modesty.

Civis Romanus sum. Odi profanum vulgus = I am a Roman citizen. I hate vulgar profane persons.

Omne capax movet urna nomen = Every name is shaken in death’s great urn.

Litera scripta manet = the written letter remains (as evidence, for example).

Rectus in curia = upright in court.

Vae victis (Livy, Roman historian) = Down with the defeated! (to be heard twice in the film Gladiator).

Pugna magna victim sumus (Livy) = Defeated are we, in a great battle.

Procul omen abesto (Ovid, Roman poet) = Far be that fate from us!

Procul hinc, procul este, severae (Ovid) = Keep away from me, grim women!

Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur up ipsae (Ovid) = Women who come to see the show, come to make a show themselves.

Expèdit esse deos, et, ut expedit, esse putemos (Ovid) = It is convenient that there are gods, and, as it is convenient, let us believe that there are.

Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis (Ovid) = Perhaps my name too will be linked with theirs.

Ut desint vires, tame nest laudanda voluntas (Ovid) = Though strength is lacking, willingness is commendable.

Medio tutissimus ibis (Ovid) = The safest is the middle way. (Note: see Tony Blair)

Tempus edax rerum (Ovid) = Time, devourer of everything.

Ignoranti, quem portum petat, nullus suus ventus est  (Seneca, Roman philosopher & poet)  =  If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.

Homines dum docent discunt (Seneca) = even while they teach, men learn.

Eripere vitam nemo non homini potest, at nemo mortem (Seneca) = anyone can stop a man’s life, but no-one his death.

Non ignara mali miseris succurrere disco (Virgil, Roman poet) = no stranger to trouble myself, I am learning to care for the unhappy.

Tacitae per amica silentia lunae (Virgil) = through the friendly silence of the soundless moonlight.

Quis fallere posit amantem  (Virgil) = who could deceive a lover?

Varium et mutabile simper femina (Virgil) = fickle and changeable always is woman.

Possunt, quia posse videntur (Virgil) = they can, because they think they can.

Audentis Fortuna iuvat (Virgil) = fortune assists the bold (or) fortune favours the brave.

Experto credite (Virgil) = trust one who has been through it.

O formose puer, nimium ne crede colori (Virgil) = Don’t rely too much on your looks, lovely boy!

Latet anguis in herba (Virgil) = there’s a snake hidden in the grass (or) a snake in the grass.

Nunc scio quid sit Amor (Virgil) = Now I know what Love is.

Non omnia possumus omnes (Virgil) = We can’t all do everything!

Omnia vincit Amor ( Virgil) = Love conquers all.

Solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant (Tacitus, Roman senator and historian) = they make a wilderness and then call it peace.

Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris (Tacitus) = It is human nature to hate the man you hurt.

Dues fortioribus adesse (Tacitus) = God sides with the stronger.

Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi (Jeremy Taylor, XVII century English divine and Bishop) = If you are at Rome, live in the Roman style; if you are elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere or, briefer – When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Lectior difficilior = (literally) That hard principle which guides an editor in choosing between two manuscript variants of apparently equal authority.

Levavi oculos! = Lift up your eyes!

Per ardua al astra = Through struggle to the stars.

Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume, Labunur anni (Horace, Roman poet) = Ah me, Postumus, Postumus, the years are slipping by!   (or, briefer) How Time flies!

Brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio (Horace) = I strive to be brief, and so become obscure.

Si visme flere, dolendum est primum ipsi tibi (Horace) = if you want me to weep, you must first feel grief yourself.

Semper ad eventum festinat et in medias res, non secus ac notas auditorem rapit (Horace) =  he always hurries to the main event and whisks his audience into the middle of things as though they knew already!

Si possis recte, si non, quocumque modo rem (Horace) = If possible honestly, if not, somehow, make money!

Nos numerus sumus et fruges consumeri nati (Horace) = we are just statistics, born to consume resources.

Ira furor brevis est (Horace) = anger is a brief madness.

Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret (Horace) = you may be driving Nature away, yet She will constantly return.

Nil desperandum (Horace) = never despair.

Nil carborundum illegitimi = don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Nemo repente fuit turpissimus (Juvenal, Roman satirist) = no-one ever suddenly became depraved.

Cantabit vacuus coram latrine viator (Juvenal) = travel light and you may sing in the robber’s face.

. . . duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses (Juvenal) = the modern citizen anxiously wishes for only two things, bread and the big match.

. . . mens sana in corpore sano ( Juvenal) = a healthy mind in a healthy body.

By | 2017-07-24T13:24:04+00:00 September 24th, 2011|Philosophy|3 Comments

About the Author:

‘Dean Swift’ is a pen name: the author has been a soldier; he has worked in sales, TV, the making of films, as a teacher of English and history and a journalist. He is married with three grown-up children. They live in Spain.


  1. christian September 29, 2011 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Very useful !!! Thank a lot, I think I will use a couple of them in a daily basis.

  2. Peter Edwards July 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Is it only a coincidence that these tags are the same ones, and in the same order, as traded unequally by John Charity Spring, Fellow of Oriel College, and Captain Harry Paget Flashman Esq, poltroon and coward, aboard the “trader” the Balliol College, as recalled in the latter Gentleman’s candid memoir “Flash for Freedom?” 😉

    • Dean Swift July 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      Hi I’m the son of the author who recently passed away. I didn’t know, I will put a mention right now ! Thanks and cheers !

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