November 18, 2008

Qui leviter credit, deceptus saepe redit

In English: He who is quick to believe often ends up deceived.

In the spirit of the rhyming proverbs of the past couple of days, I thought I would including another rhyming one for today: Qui leviter credit, deceptus saepe redit. Plus, I managed to find a more or less adequate rhyming version in English: "He who is quick to believe often ends up deceived." There's also a variant version in Latin, where this thing does not happen "often" but rather "soon" - Qui leviter credit, deceptus cito recedit, "He who is quick to believe, soon goes away, having been deceived."

In the marvelous wook by Heinrich Bebel, Proverbia Germanica, we can find some variants in the form of couplets. Here's one that says it is the young who are likely to make this mistake, while old men have learned better:
Qui cito crediderit, falletur saepe, levisque
Est cordis: raro fallitur ipse senex.

English: He who soon believes, will often be deceived, and is a mental lightweight: an old man, however, is rarely deceived.
In this variation, the key is to trust only a few - the trouble comes not so much from trusting too quickly but from trusting too many:
Nemo decipitur nisi qui confidit, et ergo
Paucis confidens hic sapienter agit.

English: No one is deceived unless he puts his trust in something, and therefore he acts wisely who puts his trust in few.
This idea of trusting only a few rather than many is also the focus of this couplet:
Nemo decipitur, nisi qui vult fidere multis:
Hinc penitus paucis fidere quisque velit.

English: No one is deceived, unless he is willing to put his trust in many people; henceforth, let each person agree to thoroughly trust only a few people.
This saying takes up the idea of trustly too quickly and combines it with the peril of believing everything:
Nusquam tuta fides; non omnibus omnia credas;
Falletur subito, qui cito crediderit.

English: Trust is never secure; you should not believe everything that everybody says; he who believes quickly will soon be deceived.
This variation warns that even your friends can be the problem:
Qui leviter notis nimium confidit amicis,
Fallitur, et cordis dicitur esse levis.

English: He who is quick to put too much faith in familiar friends gets fooled, and can be said to be a mental light-weight.
As all these versions attest, this is clearly a saying that has had a strong appeal to Latin rhymesters and versifiers over the ages! Meanwhile, if you have never explored Bebel's amazing book, you can browse through it in all its glory here at GoogleBooks, all 600+ pages of it!

So, hoping you have successfully navigated the dilemma of "to believe or not believe?" today, here is the proverb read out loud:

3524. Qui leviter credit, deceptus saepe redit.

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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