November 11, 2008

Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam

In English: Worry follows growing wealth.

This is one of many Latin proverbs that warn about the cares and worries that come with wealth. In this case, the proverb features a very nice use of the Latin participle crescens, growing. As wealth grows, so do the worries that accompany it. The phrase itself comes from Horace, in his Ode 3.16, "Worry follows growing weath, as does a hunger for greater things"
Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam
maiorumque fames.
The participle crescens has also given rise to the English word "crescent," although we tend to think of "crescent" as being a static shape, rather than something actively "increasing" (this word also comes from the same Latin root, in-creasing). The word "crescendo" also comes from this same root (via Italian); and with "crescendo," you definitely get a sense of actively increasing and swelling, which we not longer sense in the word "crescent."

The shape of the "crescent" is that of the moon, of course, which is constantly in motion and not static at all, as it waxes and grows larger, passing through the shape of the crescent until it is a full moon. Then, as it wanes and grows smaller, it passes through the crescent stage again, but this time it is de-creasing rather than in-creasing. We should probably call them the "increscent" moon and the "decrescent" moon just to acknowledge the dynamic difference! After all, you can tel just from looking at the crescent if the moon is increasing or decreasing. The horns of the waxing moon as it grows to full point to your left side, while those of the waning moon as it decreases point to your right - really! (Although it's just the opposite in the southern hemisphere, so if you are reading this in Australia, reverse those directions). If you don't believe me, take a walk outside for the next few nights and see what you can discover - or you can view this nifty animation at Wikipedia (larger view).

The moon is a good metaphor to keep in mind for the ups and downs of worldly wealth, too. Money comes, and money goes, just as the moon waxes and wanes. In fact, Horace's warning about "crescent" money and its worries could apply just as well to money when it is increasing as well as to money when it is decreasing. In many ways, it would be so much easier if money would just stay the same... but that's hardly the nature of the economy. It never stands still.

So, hoping that any money woes you are suffering might be those of increasing wealth rather than its opposite, here is today's proverb read out loud:

3692. Crescentem sequitur cura pecuniam

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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