There are many sayings used in the Roman world which are
and fun to know. Many reflect the attitude of the culture at that
time, and of the person who was quoted. Knowing these quotes can
assist in getting immersed in the culture of a game, and for those
interested, in role playing.
Greetings and Goodbyes
This is fairly simple to remember. The most common of Roman
greetings was “Salve!”, which literally meant “welcome”, though it was
different by class
Slaves, for example, said “servus sum”,
meaning “I am your slave.
Goodbye was often said as “Vade en pace” which means “go in peace”,
though that was a bit lengthy and formal. Vale! is a shorter way
to say good bye, but later developed to mean "good evening" when
parting. The hello to go with the shorter Vale was Ave.
"Avate" is yet another short version of goodbye, without the "evening"
connotations of Vale. Another expression was "Ave atque
vale", literally meaning Hello and Goodbye, but used more to mean "Hail
and be well".
Proverbs of the time
The people of the time of the Roman republic and empire had a gift with
words. I think the most interesting thing when reading Roman
proverbs and sayings is just how many of these are still known and used
in modern times.
"Deos fortioribus adesse."
Meaning "The gods are on the side of the stronger", translate it to
mean you should make your own fortune.
"Pecunia non olet"
- "Money has
smell", implying that regardless of how you get money, it all spends
- "Make haste
slowly". Simply put, make sure to plan even when you need to act
"Una salus victis nullam sperare
- "The one well being of the defeated is to not
hope for well being." By Virgil, this particular proverb means if
your defeated, hope you don't live
"Caelum, non animum, mutant, qui trans
- By Horace. It translates as "Those who run off
to sea change their climate but not their mind." Basically your
troubles will follow you.
"Optimum est pati quod emendare non
- "It is best
to endure what you cannot change.", by Seneca. If you cannot
change something, don't try to, concentrate on what you can change.
"Do ut des"
- a motto of
prechristian Roman religion, meaning "I give so that you might
give". Roman religion at the time was a give and take kind of
thing with ones gods, in many ways.
"Si vis pacem, para bellum."
This one is a little after the Roman Republic, but still good stuff,
from Flavius Vegetius Renatus. It means "If you wish for peace,
prepare for war."
- Obviously quite
familiar, Horace said this, meaning "seize the day", imploring that
when the time is right, take action.
"Quod scripsi, scripsi."
"What I have written, I have written." By Pilate, I could not
a definitive translation for this, but I personally believe it means
"What's done is done."
"Murum aries attigit"
"The ram has touched the wall." Romans had the policy that held
that once an assault has begun, accept no mercy or quarter. The
ram touching the wall referred to the battering ram in an
assault. Take it to mean "Grant no mercy!"
"Quemadmoeum gladis nemeinum occidit,
occidentis telum est"
- By Seneca (he was a big provider
of quotes and proverbs), it means "a sword is never a killer, it is a
tool in a killer's hand". Simply enough, it is the Roman version
of "people kill people, not gun's kill people".
"Malum consilium quod mutari non
This is another quote which I have taken from after Rome's republic,
though very good. It means "It is a bad plan that can't be
"Flamma fumo est proxima."
"Where there is smoke, there is fire". or literally, "Flame follows
"Quidquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona
. Virgil wrote this, meaning "Whatever it is, I
fear Greeks, even bearing gifts." Really this is more of a quote,
it has changed in time to "beware strangers bearing gifts".
famam, conscientiam pauci verentur."
- "Many fear their
reputation, few their conscience" By Pliny, it basically says
people often just care about appearances.
Famous Quotes of The Time
et decorum est pro patria mori"
- by Horace,
meaning "It is a sweet and seemly thing to die for ones country".
"Veni, vidi, vici."
- "I came,
saw, I conquered". It seems a bit like bragging, spoken by Gaius
"Silent enim leges inter arma"
"Laws are silent in
times of war" spoken by Cicero. I don't call it a proverb, since
while known, it never seems to have passed up into our modern lexicon
"Roma locuta est. Causa finita est"
- I am afraid I don't have a person to credit for this quote, though it
is from imperial Rome. Simply put, it translates as "Rome has
spoken, the cause has finished". Basically it means what the
emperor says goes.
"Nos morituri te salutant!"
- "We, who are about to die, salute you". Used by
gladiators about to enter battle when speaking to the Roman
emperor. Frankly my comment would be a bit more virulent, but
evidently the gladiators of the time were good sports. There is
no direct person to credit for this quote.
"Multa ferunt anni venientes commoda
Multa recedentes adimiunt."
- "The years as
they come bring many agreeable
things with them; as they go, they take many away." Horace wrote
this, and while more or less obvious, I included this because it sounds
omnia possumus omnes."
- "We all
cannot do everything". Something of a proverb, it means you can't
be good at every skill.
"Exegi monumentum aere perennius."
"I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze". By Horace,
it refers to more than physical legacies.
- "The die
is cast". Contributed to Gaius Julius Caesar as he cross the
rubicon during his bid for emporership of Rome.
"Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem
- "These are the tears of things, and our
mortality cuts to the heart." - By Virgil, from the Aeneid.
Another cool sounding but unexciting quote.
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