April 26, 2007

Homines sunt eiusdem farinae

In English: People are (made) from the same flour.

After yesterday's proverb involving Latin farina, "flour," I pretty much had to include this famous saying today! You can see this idiom used in one of the satires of Persius, writing about someone who used to be of the same "flour," cum fueris nostrae paulo ante farinae, "since you only a short while ago were of our flour."

There are many English sayings that express this same idea, such as being "cut from the same cloth" or "birds of a feather flock together."

Now when it comes to birds and cloths, we can certainly understand that there are many kinds of birds and many types of cloth. With flour, however, we may be a bit baffled, since we think of flour being pretty much the same, in an era of mass-produced, fine, white flour.

Yet if you think back to Roman times, you took your grain to the miller so that it could be ground into flour - and there were many different "grinds" of flour. There could be very fine-ground flour, and flour that is ground not so fine! So to be of the "same flour" as someone else, eiusdem farinae, is to share the same degree or quality or refinement (or lack of refinement!) as they do.

Consider a related Latin saying: sunt eiusdem furfuris, "they are made of the same bran." In other words, they are not finely ground flour at all, but the dark, hard outer layer of the grain which accumulates as a by-product of the milling process - much like the proverbial chaff, which is left to be blown away by the winds or burnt in the fire, as in Matthew 3: congregabit triticum suum in horreum paleas autem conburet igni inextinguibili, "he will gather his wheat into his barn; the chaff, however, he will burn with unquenchable fire."

So, hoping you have had a day of flour without too much chaff, here is today's proverb read out loud:

809. Homines sunt eiusdem farinae.

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 at a Polish website: Wladyslawa Kopalinskiego Slownik wyraz?w obcych i zwrot?w obcojezycznych (weblink).
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