Thursday, December 8, 2011


Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 2.203. This is another epigram that abounds in paradoxes. The first line poses a paradoxical question: how might a rich man be poor? The paradoxical answer is that a rich man might become poor if he trusts the untrustworthy sea. Note also the nice word-play with spes opesque in Latin. Although the image below is an illustration for Vergil's Aeneid, I thought it would be a good image for an ancient storm at sea.

MercatorDives utrum pauperne sit, haud mihi dicere promptum est,
Qui spes infido credit opesque mari.

’Tis hard to say That Merchant’s rich or poor,
Who to the trustless Seas intrusts his store.

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. There are three words which are not on the DCC list:

infīdus -a -um - faithless, untrustworthy, treacherous
mercātor, mercātōris m. - trader, merchant
promptus -a -um - public, visible, in readiness

crēdo -ere crēdidī crēditum: believe
dīco dīcere dīxī dictum: say; causam dicere, plead a case; diem dicere, appoint a day
dīves, dīvitis: rich (poet. dīs, dītis)
ego me mihi mē: I, me
haud: not
mare -is f.: sea
ne: interrogative particle attached to the emphatic word in a question
ops opis f.: assistance, resources
pauper -eris: poor, lowly
que: and (enclitic)
qui, quae, quod: who, which, what; quis quid: who? what? which?
spēs, speī f.: hope
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
uter, utra, utrum: which of two, either

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