Thursday, January 5, 2012

Scala Aulicorum

Here is today's distich by John Owen, with an English translation by Thomas Harvey, 8.4. As often, the distich expresses a paradoxical juxtaposition: the way up takes many steps, but the way down can take place thanks to a single (mis)step!

Scala Aulicorum
Nemo, gradus nisi per plures ascendit in aula,
Ad descendendum plus satis unus erit.

None, but by many steps doth rise at Court,
But falling, one’s enough, too much, though short.

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

aula f. - hall, temple, castle, court
aulicus -a -um - courtly; courtier
scāla f. - stairs, ladder

ad: to, up to, towards (+acc.)
ascendō -ere -scendī -scēnsum: climb up, ascend
dēscendō -scendere -scendi -scēnsum: climb down, descend
gradus -ūs m.: step, pace; grade, rank
in: in, on (+ abl.); into, onto (+ acc)
nēmo: no one (gen. nullius, dat. nulli, abl. nullo or nulla > nullus -a -um)
nisi/nī: if not, unless
per: through (+acc.)
plūs plūris n.: a greater amount or number, more
satis/sat: enough, sufficient
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
ūnus -a -um: one