October 25, 2006

Mea mecum porto

In English: I carry my things with me.

This is a famous Latin proverb that shows up in many variant forms. The form I have given here is the simplest one, and you will also find omnia mea mecum porto, "all my things I carry with me," and mecum mea sunt cuncta, "my things are with me, all of them!"

The reason I am prompted to include this proverb today is that it is specifically connected to the anecdote in yesterday's post about the wise man Simonides, who found himself stranded after a shipwreck. Although he had lost all his worldy, material possessions, Simonides declared that he had his stuff right there with him. In other words, he had his spirit, his talent, his intelligence - everything he needed in order to start over again and get his life back together after the disastrous shipwreck.

In addition to the version in Phaedrus's account of Simonides and the shipwreck, you can also find this same proverb associated with two other ancient philosophers: Stilpo and Bias. There's a great post at Laudator Temporis Acti which provides details of these stories. Both Stilpo and Bias were refugees fleeing from a political disaster, rather than a shipwreck, but the idea is essentially the same. When you all of a sudden have to abandon the life you had before, what will you take with you?

There was a lot of discussion about this when Hurricane Katrina caused such upheaval in people's lives last year. What these ancient figures - Simonides, Stilpo and Bias - all advise is to think about what you carry with you, within you, rather than the material possessions you could carry on your back or load into you car.

So, hoping none of us has to confront such disasters anytime soon, here is today's proverb read out loud:

1305. Mea mecum porto.

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. You can also hear this saying read aloud (the omnia mea mecum porto version) at a Polish website: Wladyslawa Kopalinskiego Slownik wyraz?w obcych i zwrot?w obcojezycznych (weblink).
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