Thursday, June 16, 2005
The First Christian Emperor?
Eugene Ehrlich wrote a book entitled Amo, Amas, and More: How to Use Latin to Your Own Advantage and the Astonishment of Others (New York: Harper & Row, 1985). Despite its cheesy subtitle, it's not a bad book. I did find one howler in it, though, on p. 106, s.vv. diem perdidi:
Paul's disciple Titus, emperor of Rome, having passed an entire day without performing a good deed, is reported to have said, Diem perdidi, literally, "I have lost a day."Paul did have a follower named Titus, and there was a Roman emperor named Titus, but they were definitely not one and the same.
The Latin phrase appears in Suetonius' Life of Titus 8.1 (tr. J.C. Rolfe):
On another occasion, remembering at dinner that he had done nothing for anybody all that day, he gave utterance to that memorable and praiseworthy remark: "Friends, I have lost a day."
atque etiam recordatus quondam super cenam, quod nihil cuiquam toto die praestitisset, memorabilem illam meritoque laudatam vocem edidit: "Amici, diem perdidi."