May 05, 2007

Omne solum forti patria est ut piscibus aequor

In English: Every land is a homeland for the courageous man, as water is a homeland for the fish.

I thought this "cosmopolitan" proverb would be a good follow-up to yesterday's saying. The saying comes from Ovid's poem, the Fasti.

The complete couplet reads as follows:

omne solum forti patria est, ut piscibus aequor,ut volucri vacuo quicquid in orbe patet.

"Every land is a homeland for the courageous man, as water is a homeland for the fish, as everything that lies open in the airy circle of the sky is a homeland for the bird."

It's ironic, of course, that poor Ovid penned these lines singing the praises of how the whole world is a homeland to the courageous man, when Ovid's own courage certainly faltered when he was sent into exile on the Black Sea. He definitely did not feel very much at home there, so far away from his beloved Rome.

This saying also features another one of those notorious Latin homographs, multiple words that are written with the same letters. The word solum here is a neuter noun meaning "bottom, floor; soil, ground; land, country." More common is the Latin adjective solus, sola, solum, meaning "alone, sole, only." If you take inflected forms, there is also sol, meaning "sun," which yields words like solis, soli and solum, which can be confused with forms of solus, sola, solum and solum as well.

So, keeping in mind that solum here is all about land, not about being lonely, here is today's proverb read out loud:

488. Omne solum forti patria est ut piscibus aequor.

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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