February 02, 2007

Vinum animi speculum

In English: Wine is the mirror of the mind.

I thought this would be a good follow-up to yesterday's proverb, In oculis animus habitat. Today's proverb tells us that there is another way to discern someone's mind and to detect their thoughts. One way is to gaze into their eyes, but vinum, "wine," provides a mirror that can also reflect what lies inside.

Fortuitously, the English words "wine" and "mind" give this a very nice sound quality so, this time at least, I don't have to complain about the terrible compromises made when translating the Latin saying into English.

This is a common idea, and I found it nicely expressed here in this little epigram, written by Friedrich Taubmann (1565-1613), addressing a certain "Valens Hebeisen," in these two couplets:
Si quem nosse, Valens, penitus cupis; obrue vino:
Notus et interius fiet et exterius.
Ebrietas animi speculum est; ut lamina formae:
Istud et hoc ipso certius esse puto.

If you want to get to know someone deeply, Valens, overwhelm him with wine: he will become known to you inside and out. Drunkenness is the mirror of the mind; it's like a metal engraving plate, but even more revealing!
I guess if we were to rewrite the epigram for modern technology, we'd have to say that wine is like a xerox of the mind, but even more accurate!

So here is today's proverb read out loud:

69. Vinum animi speculum.

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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