Ancient And Biblical Languages

What is your Favorite Latin Phrase

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"What is your Favorite Latin Phrase"
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I'm torn betwen two 'favorite' Latin phrases (sentences really?). See what YOU think. The first candidate is, 'Dum spiro spero', which can be translated as, 'While I breathe, I hope' or 'As long as I breathe I have hope'. It is attributed to Cicero, who lived from 106 to 43 BCE . (A modern English equivalent might be 'where there is life there is hope' which is probably derived from the Latin original).

Despair and hopelessness blight many lives and in our modern world some people feel overwhelmed by 'events' which seem beyond their control. The banking and stock market crises of late 2008 and the mortgage foreclosures, job losses and pension disasters following on from them are a recent case in point. It is so important never to abandon hope though. There is always hope, always the chance that things will improve. Indeed, there is almost the certainty that things will improve if people maintain a positive mental attitude and refuse to succumb to self pity and fatalism. Dum spiro, spero! There is always hope as long as you have breath in your body, and hope is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

'Dum spiro spero' is the state motto, or one of them, of South Carolina, adopted in 1776, and is found on the state seal created by W.H. Drayton. Its use goes back much further though, for it can be traced to the town of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland, where it is linked to the arrival of the bones of St Andrew. It has also been the motto of clan Mc Lellan since the 16th and possibly the 13th century and is the motto of numerous other British families, both Scottish and English.

The second candidate for 'favorite phrase' is, 'Omnia vincit amor', 'Love conquers all'. Actually, there is a bit more, 'Omnia vincit amor et nos cedamus amori', 'Love conquers all and we must yield to love'. This is attributed to Virgil (he lived from 70 to 19 BCE). John Lennon famously wrote 'All you need is love' which the Beatles recorded in the late 60s. The world's great religions know the importance of love. On an individual level, we all know the overwhelming power of romantic love. We must yield to love. It is really hard to maintain hate and fury in the face of constant and undemanding love. That is a simple fact which anyone with experience of it will probably have to acknowledge.

Yet, perversely, as we look around us we see such a lot of anger and hate. It is a bit of a paradox perhaps. Loving is harder for some people than not loving, or even hating. Human nature is so easily affronted by set backs and disappointments or slights, real or imagined. How soon we forget the need to love one another, and let love get crowded out by other emotions. Yet who can deny that if we did ALL love one another and love our PLANET, the world would be so much better. Negative mindsets are not easy to escape, but, on a personal note, as long as I breathe I hope that love will conquer all; but first we have to yield to it!

Okay, so now it's make my mind up time, beacause I can't have TWO favorites. Yes, you guessed it (maybe), I go for 'Omnia vincit amor' (et nos cedamus amori). Love conquers all!

More about this author: Mark Hopkins

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