Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ad Amicum Pauperem

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 3:181. This is another one of those epigrams that plays upon a paradox - let things go from bad (male) to worse (peius), as the first line wishes; that is because the best things (optima) can follow on the heels of the very worst things (summis malis). As we say in English, it's always darkest just before the dawn!

Ad Amicum Pauperem
Est male nunc; utinam in peius sors omnia vertat!
Succedunt summis optima saepe malis.

Is’t bad? I would ’twere worse: for at the worst
Oft better things succeed than came at first.

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

pēior, pēiōris - worse
succēdo -ere, successī, successum - advance, follow, climb
utinam - if only! oh that! (particle of wishing)

ad: to, up to, towards (+acc.)
amīcus -a -um: friendly; (as subst.) friend
in: in, on (+ abl.); into onto (+ acc)
malus -a -um: evil
nunc:  now
omnis -e: all, every, as a whole
optimus -a -um: best, excellent; adv. optimē
pauper -eris: poor, lowly
saepe: often
sors, sortis f.: lot, fate, destiny; oracle
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
summus -a -um: highest, farthest, last
verto vertere vertī versum: turn