Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 3:155. You can read more about the famous phrase attributed to Hippocrates, ars longa, vita brevis (Greek: Ὁ βίος βραχύς, ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή), in this Wikipedia article.

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
Ut solide sapiat, nulli sua sufficit aetas,
Mors prius a tergo, quam sapiamus, adest.

An Age to make one wise doth not suffice:
Death’s at our backs before we can be wise.

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. There are only two words in this poem that are not on the DCC list:

solidus -a -um - firm, whole, complete, real
sufficio -ere, suffēcī, suffectum - be sufficient, suffice, be enough
ā, ab, abs: from, by (+abl.)
adsum adesse affuī: be present
aetās -tātis f.: age, time of life
ars artis f.: skill
brevis -e: short, shallow, brief; adv. breviter
longus -a -um: long, far; longē, far, far off
mors mortis f.: death
nūllus -a -um: not any, no one
prior -ius: earlier, preceding; prius or priusquam, before
quam: how?; (after comparative) than
sapio sapere sapīvī: be wise
suus -a -um: his own, her own, its own
tergum -ī n.: back, rear; a tergō, from the rear
ut, uti: as (+ indic.); so that, with the result that (+ subj.)
vīta -ae f.: life

Here is an image of Hippocrates and Galen:

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