Thursday, December 22, 2011


Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 4.230. As often, this epigram is full of paradoxes, along with an implied bit of advice for the speaker: if you have good news, you can take a long time relating it, but if you have a serious message to impart, you should keep it short.

Sermo voluptati similis, similisque dolori est:
Longus enim levis est sermo, gravisque brevis.

A Speech is like to Grief, is like to sport:
If long, ’tis trivial, if grave, ’tis short.

The vocabulary is keyed to the DCC Latin Vocabulary list. All the words in this poem are on that list:

brevis -e: short, shallow, brief; adv. breviter
dolor -ōris m.: pain, grief
enim: for, indeed
gravis -e: heavy
levis -e: light, trivial
longus -a -um: long, far; longē: far, far off
que (enclitic) - and
sermo -ōnis m.: conversation, discourse
similis -e: like, similar
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
voluptās -ātis f.: pleasure enjoyment

(image source)

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