Latin quotes with translation

Explore well-known and useful Latin quotes, phrases and sayings. In Latin with translation.

John Amos Comenius photo

„Aristotle compared the mind of man to a blank tablet on which nothing was written, but on which all things could be engraved. … There is, however, this difference, that on the tablet the writing is limited by space, while in the case of the mind, you may continually go on writing and engraving without finding any boundary, because, as has already been shown, the mind is without limit.“

—  John Amos Comenius Czech teacher, educator, philosopher and writer 1592 - 1670

The Great Didactic (Didactica Magna) (Amsterdam, 1657) [written 1627–38], as translated by M. W. Keatinge (1896).
Cf. Aristotle, De anima, III, 4, 430a: "δυνάμει δ' οὕτως ὥσπερ ἐν γραμματείῳ ᾧ μηθὲν ἐνυπάρχει ἐντελεχείᾳ γεγραμμένον· ὅπερ συμβαίνει ἐπὶ τοῦ νοῦ."
Original: (la) Aristoteles hominis animum comparavit tabulae rasae, cui nihil inscriptum sit, inscribi tamen omnia possint. … Hoc interest, quod in tabula lineas ducere non licet, nisi quousque margo permittat: in mente usque et usque scribendo, et sculpendo, terminum nusquam invenies quia (ut ante monitum) interminabilis est.

Seneca the Younger photo

„Unrighteous fortune seldom spares the highest worth; no one with safety can long front so frequent perils. Whom calamity oft passes by she finds at last.“

—  Seneca the Younger, Hercules Furens

Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules), lines 325-328; (Megara).
Original: (la) Iniqua raro maximis virtutibus fortuna parcit ; nemo se tuto diu periculis offerre tam crebris potest ; quem saepe transit casus, aliquando invenit.

Petronius photo

„Education is a treasure.“

—  Petronius, book Satyricon

Original: (la) Litterae thesaurum est.

Publilio Siro photo

„Necessity gives the law without itself acknowledging one.“

—  Publilio Siro Latin writer

Maxim 444
Variant translation: Necessity knows no law except to conquer.
Necessitas non habet legem, "Necessity has no law", is apparently of medieval origin. See Necessity for further variants.
Original: (la) Necessitas dat legem non ipsa accipit.

Nero photo

„What an artist dies in me!“

—  Nero Emperor of Ancient Rome, 5th and last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty 37 - 68

Variant translations:
What an artisan I am in dying!
So great an artist, I die!
Like an artist, I die.
Truly... an artist is about to perish.
Quoted in ""Nero"" - Page 51 by Edward Champlin - History - 2003
Original: (la) Qualis artifex pereo.

Plautus photo

„Nor do I hold that every kind of gain is always serviceable. Gain, I know, has render’d many great. But there are times when loss should be preferr’d to gain. (translator Thornton)“

—  Plautus, Captivi

Captivi, Act II, scene 2, line 75.
Variant translation: There are occasions when it is undoubtedly better to incur loss than to make gain. (translation by Henry Thomas Riley)
Captivi (The Prisoners)
Original: (la) Non ego omnino lucrum omne esse utile homini existimo. Scio ego, multos jam lucrum luculentos homines reddidit. Est etiam, ubi profecto damnum praestet facere, quam lucrum.

Plautus photo

„These things are not for the best, nor as I think they ought to be; but still they are better than that which is downright bad. (translator Henry Thomas Riley)“

—  Plautus, Trinummus

Trinummus, Act II, sc. 2, line 111; reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
Alternate translation : This is not the best thing possible, nor what I consider proper ; but it is better than the worst. (translator A. H. Evans)
Trinummus (The Three Coins)
Original: (la) Non optuma haec sunt neque ut ego aequom censeo : verum meliora sunt quam quae deterruma.

Plautus photo

„He gains wisdom in a happy way, who gains it by another’s experience.“

—  Plautus, Mercator

Mercator, Act IV, scene 7, line 40
Mercator (The Merchant)
Original: (la) Feliciter is sapit, qui alieno periculo sapit.

Plautus photo

„He’s a friend indeed who proves himself a friend in need.“

—  Plautus, Epidicus

Epidicus, Act I, sc. 2, line 9.
Original: (la) Nihil agit, qui diffidentem verbis solatus suis. Is est amicus, qui in re dubia te juvat, ubi re est opus.
Context: The man that comforts a desponding friend with words alone, does nothing. He’s a friend indeed who proves himself a friend in need.

Plautus photo

„You cannot eat your cake and have it too“

—  Plautus, Trinummus

Trinummus, Act II, scene 4, lines 12
Trinummus (The Three Coins)
Original: (la) Non tibi illud apparere, si sumas, potest, nisi tu immortale rere esse argentum tibi. Sero atque stulte, prius quod cautum oportuit, postquam comedit rem, post rationem putat.
Context: You cannot eat your cake and have it too, unless you think your money is immortal. The fool too late, his substance eaten up, reckons the cost. (translator Thornton)

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Nero photo

„Translation: I wish I could not write.“

—  Nero Emperor of Ancient Rome, 5th and last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty 37 - 68

Variant translation: I wish I were illiterate.
Quoted in " De Clementia" - Chapter 1, Book 2 by Lucius Annaeus Seneca.
Original: (la) Vellem nescire literas.

Citát „Who knows?
Better times may come to those in pain.“
Virgil photo

„Who knows?
Better times may come to those in pain.“

—  Virgil, Aeneid

Original: (la) Forsan miseros meliora sequentur.
Source: Aeneid (29–19 BC), Book XII, Line 153 (tr. Fagles)

Publilio Siro photo

„The judge is condemned when the guilty is absolved.“

—  Publilio Siro Latin writer

Maxim 407
Adopted by the original Edinburgh Review magazine as its motto.
Original: (la) Iudex damnatur ubi nocens absolvitur.

Pliny the Younger photo

„It is in the body politic, as in the natural, those disorders are most dangerous that flow from the head.“

—  Pliny the Younger Roman writer 61 - 113

Letter 22, 7.
Letters, Book IV
Original: (la) Utque in corporibus sic in imperio gravissimus est morbus, qui a capite diffunditur.

Isidore of Seville photo

„Letters are signs of things, symbols of words, whose power is so great that without a voice they speak to us the words of the absent; for they introduce words by the eye, not by the ear.“

—  Isidore of Seville, book Etymologiae

Bk. 1, ch. 3, sect. 1; p. 96.
Original: (la) Litterae autem sunt indices rerum, signa verborum, quibus tanta vis est, ut nobis dicta absentium sine voce loquantur. Verba enim per oculos non per aures introducunt.

Cato the Elder photo

„Grasp the subject, the words will follow.“

—  Cato the Elder politician, writer and economist (0234-0149) -234 - -149 BC

Cato's advice to orators (as quoted in Julius Victor, Art of Rhetoric. p. 197, Orell.; see also Wilhelm Sigismund Teuffel, Teuffel's History of Roman literature, Vol. 1 (1873), p. 158)
Cf. Dionysius Halicarnassensis, De Isocrate, ch. 12: "βούλεται δὲ ἡ φύσις τοῖς νοήμασιν ἕπεσθαι τὴν λέξιν, οὐ τῇ λέξει τὰ νοήματα." [Νature has it that style is in the service of thought, not the other way around.]
Variant translations:
Stick to your subject, and words will follow.
Get hold of the matter, the words will come of themselves.
Lay hold of the subject, and the words will follow.
Keep to the subject and the words will come.
Grasp the point, the words will follow.
Seize the subject; the words will follow.
Stick to the point; the words will follow.
Master the facts; the words will follow.
Lay hold of the substance, the words will follow.
Hold fast to the matter, the words will come.
Hang onto your meaning, and the words will come.
Have a grip of your theme and the words will come.
Hold the idea and the words will follow.
Stick to the meaning, and the words will take care of themselves.
Original: (la) Rem tene, verba sequentur.

Pope Alexander VI photo

„For the salvation of their soul.“

—  Pope Alexander VI pope of the Catholic Church 1492-1503 1431 - 1503

As pope, to Cardinal Ximenes on the why he saw no reason to hinder his son Cesare Borgia's renunciation of the Purple (August, 1498), as quoted in The Life of Cesare Borgia (1912) by Rafael Sabatini, Chapter V: The Renunciation of the Purple.
Original: (la) Pro salutae animae sua.

Sueton photo

„Caesar overtook his advanced guard at the river Rubicon, which formed the frontier between Gaul and Italy. Well aware how critical a decision confronted him, he turned to his staff, remarking: "We may still draw back but, once across that little bridge, we shall have to fight it out."“

—  Sueton, book The Twelve Caesars

Original: (la) Consecutusque cohortis ad Rubiconem flumen, qui provinciae eius finis erat, paulum constitit, ac reputans quantum moliretur, conversus ad proximos: "Etiam nunc," inquit, "regredi possumus; quod si ponticulum transierimus, omnia armis agenda erunt."
Source: The Twelve Caesars, Julius Caesar, Ch. 31

Augustus photo

„Goodbye, Livia; remember our marriage!“

—  Augustus founder of Julio-Claudian dynasty and first emperor of the Roman Empire -63 - 14 BC

Said to his wife Livia on his deathbed; in Suetonius, Divus Augustus, paragraph 99. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
Original: (la) Livia, nostri coniugii memor vive, ac vale!

Alcuin photo

„And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.“

—  Alcuin English scholar and abbot 735 - 804

Variant translation: We should not listen to those who like to affirm that the voice of the people is the voice of God, for the tumult of the masses is truly close to madness.
Works, Epistle 127 (to Charlemagne, AD 800)
Original: (la) Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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