July 16, 2007

Amici nec multi nec nulli

In English: Friends: not many, not none.

Last week, I began posting some proverbs on the topic of friendship. All of the proverbs I cited last week were laudatory, praising the positive dimensions of friendship. This week, I will post some proverbs that highlight some cautions as well. Today's proverb, for example, cautions that while everybody needs to have at least some friends (non nulli), there is a danger in having too many friends (non multi).

Notice that, as so often with Latin proverbs, there is no actual verb! So you can supply the verb that sounds best to you in English: you should have not many friends, but at least some; you don't want to have many friends, but you also don't want to have no friends at all, etc. You can also find variants of the Latin proverb which do contain a verb, such as Nec nulli sis amicus, nec omnibus, "You should not be a friend to no one, nor to all," etc.

I really had to laugh when I thought about this saying in contemporary terms, with "friends" that one makes on shttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifocial networks. I'm a member of various social networks, such as the eClassics ning community and the Classroom2.0 group, and I also like to use Twitter. Especially on Twitter, there are some people who want to "friend" everybody (note the new techno-English verb that has been created for this purpose!).

When I first created my Twitter account earlier this summer, before I had even shared my address with anybody at all, I got requests from some total strangers to be my friends, and when I looked them up, I discovered they had thousands and thousands of "friends." So apparently they just watch the public feed of Twitter and try to "friend" every single person who's twittering. I wonder if there is a good word that has emerged for people on social networks who clearly have multi amici, to the point of absurdity!

So, hoping that you are not suffering from having too many friends or from having none at all, here is today's proverb read out loud:

50. Amici nec multi nec nulli.

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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