June 23, 2008

Elephantus culicem non curat

In English: An elephant doesn't notice a gnat.

Continuing on with the animal proverbs, we have today a proverbially big animal, the elephant, and a proverbially small animal, the gnat. That yields a nice animal version of the familiar English saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff!" I'm glad I was able to capture the alliteration in the Latin, culicem curat, with the English alliteration, "notice a gnat" - that's definitely part of the charm of this proverb!

Although there's not an Aesop's fable involving this specific pair of animals, there's a great little fable about a camel, camelus, and a gnat that conveys the same idea. In typical Aesopic fashion, however, the story is based on foolishness - in this case, a gnat who is foolish enough to think he matters to a camel! Here is the version in Ademar:
A gnat happened to land on the back of a camel and lingered there on top of the baggage. When he finally decided to disembark, he said, 'I will let myself down now as fast as I can so as not to burden you any longer, weighed down as you are.' 'Much obliged,' said the camel, 'but I was not even aware that you had landed, and your departure is not going to lighten my load.'
If you pay no attention to rank and try to rival your superiors, you will earn our scorn.

Culex dum forte in Cameli dorso morasset cum omnibus sarcinis, deinde saliens dixit: Ideo me ocius ad terram mitto, ne te attritum gravem. At ille: Gratum est, inquit; sed nec imposito te sentire pondus potui, nec deposito habere levamen.Qui se superiori absque ordine coaequare nititur, in despectum notatus devenit.

If you were to amplify today's proverb based on the Aesop's fable, you could say that the elephant does not pay attention to a gnat - even when the gnat thinks he is a weighty matter indeed!

So, hoping your problems today have been all gnat-sized, here is today's proverb read out loud:

1162. Elephantus culicem non curat.

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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