July 11, 2007

Vitae sal amicitia

In English: Friendship is the salt of life.

The proverb from yesterday opened the discussion of "friendship," and there are indeed many different perspectives on friendship which you can find in Latin sayings, so I thought that I would explore this topic for the next few days. Today's saying also emphasizes the absolute vitality of friendship in human life. If friendship is the "salt" of human life, this means you absolutely cannot do without it - life would have no savor without friendship!

Of course, in our culture we tend to take salt for granted, so we might translate this saying instead as "friendship is the spice of life," since spices are something a bit more rare and expensive than salt, so that they still seem a bit special and precious to us.

In the past, though, salt was itself a rare and valuable commody! Just look at the etymology of the English word "salary," for example. It is derived from the Latin word salarium, which was the soldier's allowance for the purchase of salt. Compare also the English idiom, "to be worth one's salt."

And yes, even "salad" comes from salt! It was originally herba salata, "salted greens." You can actually read about the Roman use of brine () and salads in this history of salad dressing online!

So, hoping your life is spiced with friends and your salad is nicely salted, here is today's proverb read out loud:

290. Vitae sal amicitia.

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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