January 18, 2008

Dominus habet oculos centum

In English: The master has a hundred eyes.

This is a proverb that you can find in many variants: Dominus videt plurimum in rebus suis, "The master sees the most when it comes to his own business," or Dominus videt multum in rebus suis, "The master seems much when it comes to his own business," etc. I definitely prefer this hyperbolic vision of the master having one hundred eyes, however - kind of like the mythological Argos Panoptes! (You can see some wonderful depictions of Argos here at theoi.com.)

There's actually an Aesop's fable that illustrates this saying very nicely - here's the version from Barlow's Aesop:
Persecutus a Canibus, Cervus ad stabulum Bovium confugiebat et ibi totum corpus, praeterquam cornua, abscondebat. Adibat stabulum Servus et ille, oscitanter et negligenter huc et illuc oculos circumferens, mox decessit. Fortunae suae nimis applausit laetabundus Cervus et sese tutissimum autumabat. Sed statim, ipso Hero ingrediente locum et rebus curiosius perlustratis, cornua Cervi detexit et fustibus cum Vicinis adoriebatur.

Chased by dogs, a stag fled into a stable of oxen, and there he his entire body, except for his horns. A servant entered the stable but he soon went out, having sleepily and carelessly cast his eyes here and there. The stag rejoiced and applauded overmuch his good luck, and declared he was completely safe. But soon the master himself entered the place, and when things have been inspected more attentively, he uncovered the horns of the stag, and then with his neighbors he attacked the stag with sticks.
So, hoping you are enjoying the benefits of many-eyed vigilance of your own affairs, here is today's proverb read out loud:

1334. Dominus habet oculos centum.

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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