Thursday, March 23, 2017


Talking Rashly and Without Foresight

Erasmus, Adagia I v 72, in Collected Works of Erasmus, Vol. 31: Adages I i 1 to I v 100, translated by Margaret Mann Phillips, annotated by R.A.B. Mynors (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), p. 447, with note:
72 Quicquid in buccam venerit
Whatever came into his mouth

Whatever came into his mouth. Used whenever we speak of people talking freely and in security, without premeditation, saying whatever comes into their heads. This is what we do in the company of our loyal friends, with whom we can joke and that with confidence. Cicero to Atticus, book 14: 'If there is nothing special, write to me whatever comes into your mouth.' Again in book 12, 'When we are together, and chatter away with whatever comes into our mouths.' This is applicable to those who talk rashly and without forethought, just as if their words were born not in their hearts but in their throats.

72 Taken, it seems, directly from Cicero Ad Atticum 14.7.2; 12.1.2. Otto 273 gives many more examples from Greek as well as Latin. We are more likely to say 'whatever comes into our heads.'
The Latin:
Quicquid in buccam venerit. Quoties libere quospiam ac tuto loqui significamus, incircumspecte et quicquid forte fortuna in animum inciderit. Quemadmodum apud fidos amiculosfacere solemus, apud quos impune quiduis nugamur atque effutimus. M. Tullius ad Atticum libro decimoquarto: Aut si nihil erit, quod in buccam venerit scribes. Idem libro duodecimo: Quid cum coram sumus et garrimus quicquid in buccam venit. Recte torquebitur et in eos, qui temere atque inconsiderate loquuntur, perinde quasi sermo illis non in pectore nascatur, sed in faucibus.
A. Otto, Die Sprichwörter und sprichwörtlichen Redensarten der Römer (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1890), p. 59:

I'm reminded of a schoolyard taunt from my childhood: "You have diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain."

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