February 22, 2011

Non de ponte cadit qui cum sapientia vadit


Recording also available at iPadio using this link.

Today's saying is Non de ponte cadit qui cum sapientia vadit. In English: "He who walks with knowledge doesn't fall off the bridge."

I have to immediately explain that the charm of this proverb is that the Latin version rhymes, something that just doesn't come through in the English. I was prompted to choose the proverb because it shares a verb - Latin vadere, to go (as in English invade, evade, etc.) - with yesterday's proverb about the ant. More importantly, I chose it because I love rhyming proverbs. They are so fun and easy to remember. So, here's the Latin again: Non de ponte CADIT qui cum sapientia VADIT. So, enjoy the rhyme, and let the metaphor take care of the rest: in crossing the bridge of life, wisdom will give you a steady footing so that you don't fall off.

In terms of proverb style, this use of rhyme marks the proverb as medieval. For some reason, the ancient Romans were not enamored of rhyme, but it was much beloved by medieval authors, and many of the medieval Latin meters are rhyming meters, just as many of the medieval Latin proverbs rhyme, as this one does. This one, in fact, probably is aspiring to be a hexameter verse, a so-called Leonine verse - but as often in medieval Latin, the quantities are not quite right; the ablative ending of sapientiā means that it doesn't scan as a hexameter - but not worries: it still rhymes just fine!

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

Nōn dē ponte cadit quī cum sapientiā vādit.



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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"wisdom", not "knowledge"

Laura Gibbs said...

English vocabulary is much larger than Latin (lots of possible English words for a given Latin word), but none of the English possibilities even gets the sense of "taste" in there anyway which is at the root of Latin sapientia. Far better just to appreciate the Latin and dispense with the English as quickly as possible.