10 Latin quotes for the underground
Last week it was reported that the drivers on the Piccadilly line would be adding some well chosen quotes to their announcements on the underground: "Hell is other people", "Beauty will save the world" and other appropriate thoughts for a commuting journey.
Surely, with Boris as Mayor, there ought to be some real Latin among the anglophone platitudes. Indeed, a surprising number of the best known Latin quotes turn out to be surprisingly appropriate for the journey to work. In no particular order:
1. "perfer et obdura! dolor hic tibi proderit olim" -- or "Be patient and put up with it; one day this pain will pay dividends". That's Ovid (Amores III, XIa) reflecting on the insults of his mistress -- but fits well enough for the rush hour commute.
2 "quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra" -- or "How long Catiline will you abuse our patience?". The famous first line of Cicero's first speech against Catiline, attacking the would-be revolutionary (or innocent stooge), Catiline. But you can substitute any adversary for Catiline.. 'quousque tandem abutere, Boris, patientia nostra?"
3. "arma virumque cano" -- or "Arms and the man I sing". The most famous line in the whole of Latin poetry, the first line of the first book of Virgil's Aeneid. Though Virgil didn't exactly mean the arms of the man digging into your side, as you're stuck in the tunnel between Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
4. "amantium irae amoris integratio est" -- or "Lovers' quarrels are the renewal of love" (that's from Terence's comedy, The Woman of Andros, 555). Something to cheer you up after a bad night.
5. "medio tutissimus ibis" -- or "You'll go safest in the middle", from Ovid, Metamorphoses II, 137. Advice to Phaethon, who was about -- disastrously -- to drive the chariot of the sun. Probably not much better advice on the underground.
6. "audacibus annue coeptis" -- or "Look with favour on a bold start" (as in Virgil, Georgics 1, 40). You could translate as -- make for the tube door first, and dont worry about the elder;y, disabled or women with buggies.
7. "nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanus" -- or "No-one dances sober, unless maybe he's mad" (Cicero, Pro Murena 6, 13). More memories of last night.
8. "nil desperandum" -- or "don't despair about anything" (Horace, Odes I, 7, 27). Self explanatory for the rush hour journey , but hard advice to follow.
9. Better perhaps would be "nunc est bibendum" -- or "Now is the time to drink" (Horace, Odes I, 37, 1 -- in the original celebrating the death of Cleopatra).
10. "capax imperii nisi imperavisset" -- or "capable of ruling if he hadn't ruled " (or roughly, "he had a great future behind him"). This is what Tacitus had to say of Galba after the event. Too soon to tell if that's true of Boris.
I should say that me and my friend, and fellow classicist, Peter Jones each, independently, had an idea to give some suggestions to the underground, for some classical words. You can see his suggestions here. We didn't confer.