May 20, 2007

Sapiens a se ipso pendet

In English: The wise man relies on himself.

I thought this would make a good follow-up to yesterday's proverb, which told us that Nemo nisi sapiens liber est, "No one, unless he is wise, is free." Today's proverb provides a different perspective on this same idea. The wise man's freedom consists in self-sufficiency. Someone who is wise can rely on his own knowledge, rather than having to depend on other people's knowledge.

If you push at the Latin word pendet you can see the idea of freedom emerging. From the same root as Latin pendere, "to hang," comes the word dependere, "to hang on something, to depend."

Now, just negate that word: in-dependent. Someone that is in-dependent does not hang on something or somebody else. Independence is freedom - which is how we ended up with a "Declaration of Independence" back in 1776.

So, the wise man in today's proverb is someone who "pends on himself," so to speak, and does not depend on anybody else. The wise man is independent, taking us back to yesterday's proverb which asserted that no man, in fact, can be free (independent), unless he is wise.

So, with good wishes to all of you out there exploring the independence of wisdom, here is today's proverb read out loud:

1516. Sapiens a se ipso pendet.

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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