December 03, 2006

Horae volant

In English: The hours are flying by.

I was prompted to choose this saying for today because the last week of our school semester begins tomorrow, although it seems as if it only just started. The months have flown by, hence the Latin: horae volant.

This is a commonly used phrase in Latin, although I wanted to cite here by way of example a lovely passage from Saint Augustine (Sermon 124) where he meditates on how time flies:
Hesternum diem nemo revocat: hodiernus crastino urgetur, ut transeat. Ipso parvo spatio bene vivamus, ut illo eamus unde non transeamus. Et modo cum loquimur, utique transimus. Verba currunt, et horae volant; sic aetas nostra, sic actus nostri, sic honores nostri, sic miseria nostra, sic ista felicitas nostra. Totum transit, sed non expavescamus: Verbum Domini manet in aeternum.

Nobody can summon yesterday to return; today is being pressed by tomorrow to pass away. This is the very brief space of time in which we must live well, in order to go to that place from which there is no more passing away. And even as we are speaking, we are indeed passing away. Our words run onwards, the hours are flying by; so too our life, our deeds, our achievements, so too our suffering, and our very happiness. Everything passes away, but let us not be afraid: the word of the Lord abides forever.
Here and in his other writings, Augustine was a keen observer of the paradoxes of time, how the future flows into the present, which is always passing away. Time does not just pass, but passes away, transit, a mortality that is stamped upon the very fabric of time in the world in which we live. Horae volant, indeed. Quite a profound thought to squeeze into two little words!

And here is today's proverb read out loud:

1034. Horae volant.

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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