Monday, February 11, 2013


Proverbs on the Preference for Old Things

Thanks very much to Ian Jackson for sending me some material related to an earlier post: Give Me the Old.

Archer Taylor, "An Old Friend is the Best Friend," Romance Philology 9.2 (November 1955) 201-205, cites (at 204) what seems to be the earliest Spanish version of a proverb on the preference for old things, from Melchor de Santa Cruz de Dueñas, Floresta de apotegmas o sentencias (1574). I don't have access to the 1574 edition, but here is the proverb from Melchor de Santa Cruz, Floresta española (Madrid: Ediciones Cátedra, 1996), p. 173 (Segunda parte, Capítulo primero = De reyes, § XX):
El mismo [Alonso de Aragon] decía que cinco cosas le agradaban mucho: Leña seca, para quemar; caballo viejo, para cabalgar; vino añejo, para beber; amigos ancianos, para conversar; y libros antiguous, para leer.
In English:
The same [Alonso of Aragon] said that five things pleased him much: dry wood, to burn; an old horse, to ride; old wine, to drink; old friends, to chat; and old books, to read.
American book collector Frank Brewer Bemis (1861-1935) had a bookplate with the following version of the proverb, perhaps altered in deference to the temperance or prohibition movement:

Three things to me
God lends,
Old Place, old books, old friends

There is an ancient Greek proverb ἀεὶ τὰ πέρυσι βελτίω, which means "always the things of last year [were] better." For a rich collection of references from the paroemiographers and other parallels, see Maria Spyridonidou-Skarsouli, Der Erste Teil der fünften Athos-Sammlung griechischer Sprichwörter: Kritische Ausgabe mit Kommentar (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995 = Texte und Kommentare, 18), pp. 193-197. I don't see this proverb in Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010). I owe my knowledge of the Greek proverb to Laura Gibbs.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?