Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ad Amicum Avarum

368     -     369     -     370

Ad Amicum Avarum
Solus habet quod avarus habet; nil donat amico.
Nil sibi dat; solus non habet hoc, quod habet.

The Covetous hath all himself, not giving:
He nothing hath Himself, but wants while living.

Source: John Owen (c.1564-c.1628), Epigrammata, 4.205, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey. Meter: Elegiac. Like many epigrams, this one is based on paradox. In the first line, Owen states that the stingy man selfishly keeps what he has all to himself (avarus solus habet quod habet), i.e. he does not give anything to a friend (nil donat amico) - that is the standard definition of a miser. Since Owen has addressed the poem to a "stingy friend," presumably he is alluding to the fact that this man will not give anything to his friend Owen in particular! Then, in the second line, we get the paradox: the miser is not even a friend to himself (nil sibi dat), and as a result he is so selfish that he does not even have what he has (solus non habet hoc, quod habet). The miser paradoxically has - and does not have - as a result of the fact that he is unable to share his wealth, even with himself! Although he has many possessions, his stinginess makes his having the same as not having. I thought this was a very fitting epigram for Open Access Week; find out more about that at the Open Access Week website. :-)

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

avārus, -a, -um: greedy, stingy; miser

ad: to, up to, towards (+acc.)
amīcus -a -um: friendly; (as subst.) friend
do dare dedī datum: give
dōno -āre: present with a gift (+ acc. of person and abl. of thing)
habeo -ēre -uī habitum: have, hold
hic, haec, hoc: this; hōc, on this account
nihil, nīl: nothing; not at all
qui, quae, quod: who, which, what; quis quid: who? what? which?
sōlus -a -um: only, alone; sōlum (adv.), only, merely
sui, sibi, sē: him- her- itself