September 26, 2006

Avarum irritat, non satiat pecunia

In English: Money provokes the greedy person; it doesn't satisfy him.

The verbal charm of this Latin proverb depends on the similarity between the two verbs here: irritat, non satiat. I've been trying to come up with a pair of English verbs that fit together as nicely, but I haven't managed to come up with anything I like. Maybe: "Money makes a greedy man demented, not contented."

I chose this proverb for today in honor of the sentencing of Enron's Andrew Fastow, a perfect example of greed gone mad. Fastow has been sentenced today to six years in prison, the result of a plea bargain in which he testified against his bosses at Enron, Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

During the summer, I posted a large collection of Latin proverbs about greed after I saw the genius documentary film, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. If you have not seen this film, I recommend it very highly. I watched it out a sense of civic duty, since Enron was in the news all the time, but I really did not know very much about the story. I expected the documentary to be a bit tedious, but instead it was completely gripping, from start to finish. Through the words and deeds of Lay, Skilling and Fastow, the film shows how their greed for money, for insane amounts of money, launched them into a world that has nothing to do with reality. Enron was a real business, but what they were doing was surreal - and dangerous. It's a cautionary tale that I found both shocking and sobering.

The Romans had many proverbs denouncing the dangers of greed. Proverbs that might have helped Jeff Fastow stay out of jail. Ken Lay has since died - and as for Jeff Skilling, his sentencing is scheduled for next month. I'll have another proverb in honor of that occasion, too!

Meanwhile, here is today's proverb read out loud:

1090. Avarum irritat, non satiat pecunia.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

If you are reading this via RSS: The Flash audio content is not syndicated via RSS; please visit the Latin Audio Proverbs blog to listen to the audio.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me, also , of the corporate greed of GOOGLE. Recently they shot down JOTSPOT. I had two family sites developed on JOTSPOT., representing many hours of work and effort which they would not migrate to another site. It would mnot surprise me if somsday they go after TWITTER. I hope they get bitten by the same snake that got the hunyer in your proverb , today.

Laura Gibbs said...

I was sad about JotSpot! I used to use JotSpot myself, and it was my favorite of the web-based wiki systems (that must be 5 years ago now or more), and then Google bought it, and there was SILENCE for such a long time. At first I was not worried - Google bought, too, but that was great; they actually have done a lot of things to improve Blogger and integrate it with Google services. I thought they would do the same with JotSpot, but that's not what happened at all. I switched to when Google bought JotSpot, and PWBiki works pretty well. More importantly: PBWiki allows you to back up your work, and I do that every month... just in case something bad like that happens to them, like the way JotSpot got swallowed by Google and did not come back out again! (I guess JotSpot was the basis for the GoogleSites system, but it is definitely not the same old JotSpot at all). Twitter doesn't have backup, but I don't put anything in Twitter...