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Latin Proverbs: Supplementary Materials for Moreland and Fleischer

These files contain proverbs which are graded to the syntax and vocabulary of Moreland and Fleischer's Latin: An Intensive Course. There are 1000 proverbs contained in the files, arranged in sets of 20, unit by unit for Units 1-16. The proverbs were originally designed as daily handouts, each with 20 proverbs; the number of days spent on each unit determined the number of proverbs per unit (4 days for a unit = 80 proverbs). 

The proverbs are arranged according to syntax and morphology:  students should be able to understand the syntax and morphology of each proverb based on the material that has been covered so far in the textbook. 

The vocabulary is also complete:  if a word has not been covered so far in the textbook, a gloss if provided. But be warned:  a word is usually not glossed more than once within each set of 20 proverbs.  As a result, if you are picking and choosing individual proverbs rather than using the set of 20 proverbs, you may find a word has been glossed in a preceding proverb.

Many of the proverbs are taken from Renzo Tosi's excellent handbook: Dizionario delle sentenze latine e greche (Milan: BUR 1991).  Tosi gives a thorough summary of the relevant testimony for each proverb (literary attestations, other ancient citations, comparative Greek and Latin materials, sometimes also examples from other European languages).  Most of the proverbs are in classical Latin, but a few are ecclesiastical or medieval as is clear from the syntax (but in these cases the orthography has been regularized according to classical standards).  If you find a proverb elusive or weird, get in touch with me:  I'm always curious about how people react to proverbs nowadays -- and often the charm of the proverbs lies in their eccentricity!

About long marks:  there are no long marks!  One of my main goals in using these proverbs starting with the first units of Moreland and Fleischer was to keep students from becoming dependent on the macrons.  The point of the proverb often depends on correctly identifying the case of every single word in the proverb (sometimes, in fact, the verb is only implied, with the meaning highly dependent on the case endings:  "asinus lyram," "claudus pilam", etc.). 

About proverbs:  these are really not so much proverbs as they are cliches.  That is, some of these items (especially the items for the early units) are cliched phrases, bits of Latin that convey an important image or idea -- you can call them idioms or slogans or catch-words, etc. Grigorii Permiakov's pioneering work, From Proverb to Folktale: Notes on the general theory of cliche (Moscow: Nauka, 1979) tries very hard to reclaim this word "cliche" as a vital part of what we study in a culture -- except that if I were to call this a collection of 1000 Latin cliches, it would sound like a very trivial business!  But in any case, these materials are very useful in studying Latin -- they provide a clear focus on key aspects of Latin syntax and morphology... and they are fun! 

Laura Gibbs ( Last updated: September 4, 2006 12:35 PM