Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Humana Fumus

Here is today's emblem and distich by Gabriel Rollenhagen, Book 1.73, with an English rendering by George Wither. Careful with the humana in the title; it is a neuter plural used substantively: "human things" or, you might say, "the human condition."

Humana Fumus
Pulvis et umbra sumus; pulvis nihil est nisi fumus,
Sed nihil est fumus; nos nihil ergo sumus.

Hee, that on Earthly-things, doth trust
Dependeth, upon Smoake, and Dust.

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

fūmus, fūmī m. - smoke, steam
pulvis, pulveris m. - dust

ergo: therefore
et: and
hūmānus -a -um: human
nihil, nīl: nothing; not at all
nisi/nī: if not, unless
nōs nostrum/nostrī nobis nōs: we
sed: but
sum, esse, fuī: be, exist
umbra -ae f.: shade, shadow

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