October 30, 2006

Sua cuique sunt vitia.

In English: To each his own vices.

This is another variation on the "to each his own" group of proverbs. Yesterday I did the positive saying, "cuique suum studium," "to each his own enthusiasm." Today's proverb is the negative flip-side of that saying: "sua cuique sunt vitia," "to each his own vices." Each human being is a unique collection of qualities, including bad qualities, vitia.

The Latin word vitium gives us the English word "vice." The English word "vicious" comes from the Latin vitiosus, "full of vices."

The Latin sense of "vitia" includes a much wider range of failings than the English word "vice" and the even more narrow English word "vicious." In Latin, the word refers to physical blemishes and defects, in addition to moral failings. As a result, even inanimate objects can have vices in Latin. A fruit that has a bruise, for example, would be a fruit with a "vice" in Latin. You can get a sense of that broader Latin meaning of the word in the English saying, "vicious circle." The circle does not have some kind of moral failure and it is not mean-spirited. Instead, the circle is "vicious" because it has a flaw in its logic.

And is there any "vice" in "advice"? No, not at all! The "vice" in the English word "advice" is from a completely different Latin root, "vis" (as in the words vision, visible, etc.). You can see that root in the English verb, "advise," which more clearly reflects underlying Latin word, "advisum," a view or opinion.

So, feel free to give someone advices about their vices... remembering that each of us has their own vices, of course!

And here is today's proverb read out loud:

938. Sua cuique sunt vitia.

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

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