February 19, 2011

Corrige praeteritum, rege praesens, cerne futurum

Recording also available at iPadio using this link.

Today's saying is Corrige praeteritum, rege praesens, cerne futurum. In English: "Correct the past, direct the present, detect the future."

The "triple" aspect of this proverb is really appealing to me! Both as a teacher and as a student, I feel like I am always looking to the past and the present and the future. Correcting past mistakes is how I can try to avoid making such mistakes again in the future. By directing the present, I try to steer its course towards the destination that is my goal. Finally, I have to try, somehow, to discern what is to come in the future, detecting the trends that could end up having quite an impact on my future present, so to speak! Finally, what I like best about this proverb is that it suggests there is a perfect kind of balancing act here; you need to spend equal time on past, present, and future, not getting completely hung up on just one of them. So, try to keep all three in mind if you can: Corrige praeteritum, rege praesens, cerne futurum.

In terms of Latin, notice that there is a nice word play with corrige and rege, which have the same verbal stem, which I've tried to suggest with "correct" and "direct" in English. Plus, in the English, I've extended that echo still further, with "detect" the future, using a little bit of rhyme to emphasize the lovely tri-fold structure of the Latin saying.

For those of you who are fans of macrons, here is the Latin written with macrons:

Corrige praeteritum, rege praesens, cerne futūrum.



Leal said...

I also love this sentence.
I've been trying to find the origin of that, but I didn't find it anywhere. It seems that it has been invented by somebody from the recent time.
Do you know the origin of that?

Laura Gibbs said...

Try this online search: cerne futurum - sometimes searching for Latin words that contain "ae" is tricky because of the use of the æ digraph combining the letters. Computers can find that hard to read/recognize. I found the saying in a collection of sundial mottoes. Finding the "origin" of something that is a proverb or motto is not easy, but there is no reason to assume that it is modern. I think it is a beautiful saying to inscribe on a sundial!

Leal said...

In fact it is. Do you know from which time this sundail is?

enjay uu said...

how would you translate:
Learn from the past, Only Live in the present, plan the future

Moa Madrid Tattoo said...

I love this sentence
One of my customers tattooed 3 sentences in latin. This is one of them

Laura Gibbs said...

That is some serious tattooing! :-)