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Shakespeare knew Latin

Or, How to write Your Own Aphorism, Maxim or Epigram and hope it becomes a Saw

Knowledge exceeds Man’s currency.

I wrote that maxim several years ago. It’s my translation of Job 28:18, “The price of wisdom is above rubies”. I write them when I can find dual meanings in the words: currency may either mean coin or paper currency; or, archaically used, it may represent worth.

Yes,— Anyone can do this.

Read the footnotes of Shakespeare’s entries in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations and you will notice that many of his famous lines were taken from Antiquity. Read Bartlett’s footnote’s and you will notice that many famous aphorisms have been taken from Antiquity.

Here’s a simple example.

Sophocles [c. 495-429 B.C.] has the attribution of offering “Time eases all things.” in Oedipus Rex. That aphorism became “Diem adimere aegritudinem hominibus” years later. Variants are found in History. Most languages have their individual translation for this saw Time heals all wounds which—Eventually—became an oft used malaprop from Jane Ace: “Time wounds all heels”.

All one needs to do is remember a saying that should be rewritten in a more elegant form or with contemporary word usage. And, rewrite it.

[Note: I’ve used dual meanings before. XHTML’s Gift has a different meaning in German.]

Sean Fraser posted this on September 15, 2007 07:18 PM.

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