Monday, December 19, 2011

Homo Homini Deus

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 4.224. Here Owen is playing with two well-known Latin sayings, Homo homini lupus est, "Man is a wolf to man," and Homo homini deus est," Man is a god to man." Owen has taken these two ideas and shaped them into a set of three: at one extreme is the wolf who takes things away; at the other extreme is God, who gives; and in the middle you have man, who, even though wealthy, gives nothing to a poor man, even if that man might be his friend! Not quite a wolf... but definitely not God either.

Homo Homini DeusEst homo, qui locuples inopi nil donat amico.
Qui rapit, hic lupus est. Qui dabit, ille deus.

A Man’s a Man, though he but sparing lives:
A Wolf that spoils, a God who freely gives.

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

inops, inopis - needy, lacking, destitute
locūples, locūplētis - wealthy
lupus, lupī m. - wolf

amīcus -a -um: friendly; (as subst.) friend
deus -ī m.; dea -ae f. god; goddess
do dare dedī datum: give
dōno -āre: present with a gift (+ acc. of person and abl. of thing)
hic, haec, hoc: this; hōc, on this account
homo hominis m.: human being
ille, illa, illud: that
nihil, nīl: nothing; not at all
qui, quae, quod: who, which, what; quis quid: who? what? which?
rapio rapere rapuī raptum: seize, tear away
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist