Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 3-7-11
March 7, 2011
What’s more entertaining as well as more daunting, forbidding, creepy, chilling and terrifying than the mindless claptrap that oozes from the assorted political scenes? Positively boggles the mind. Why do I bring up this subject – something obvious to all?
Partly because the well of igneous global gorp that runs nations, states, cities, towns, tribes, clubs – all the way down the scale to mid-morning coffee-klatches – never runs dry. Check out any century. The moment humans emerged from the swamp, established themselves on two feet instead of four and began “settling” the earth, the squabbles, the insults, the illogical, the unreasonable conflicts began.
Here’s an offering of heckling from poets and playwrights of old Rome – remember those folks? They spoke Latin. I culled the abusive phrases from a small volume titled “How To Insult Abuse and Insinuate in Classical Latin” by Michelle Lovric and Nikiforos Doxiadis Mardas. Yes, those are real names. They wrote the book, they claim, with the “best possible motives.” They encourage the reader to “express your outrage in the words of the Great.”
Quicumque Ubi Sunt, Qui Fuerunt Quique Futuri Sunt, Posthac Stulti, Stolidi, Fatui, Fungi, Bardi, Benni, Bucones … Of all the past, present and future fatheads, idiots, imbeciles, mushrooms, morons, hare-brains and chipmunk-cheeks! (Plautus, Mnesilochus).
Ah, Lassitudinem Hercle Verba Tua Mihi Addunt, Enicas. Everything you say is so unbearably boring, by Hercules, that it’s murder by monotony. (Plautus, Mercator).
Certo Scio, Occisam Saepe Sapere Plus Multo Suem. I’m quite sure that a stuck pig is regularly more discerning than you. (Plautus, Miles Gloriosus).
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Vastus Animus. His mind is one vast wasteland. (Sallust, Bellum Catilinae).
Merus Stupor. Quintessential cretin! (Catullus, poem 20)
Non Tu Tibi Istam Praetruncari Linguam Largiloquam Iubes? Do me a favor and get that twaddle-talking tongue of your surgically removed from your mouth. (Plautus, Miles Gloriosus).
Vaecors Et Amens. Besotted and brain-dead! (Cicero, In Pisonnem).
Insulissimus Est Homo. This man is the king of the morons. (Catullus, poem 20).
Vin Iam Faciam, Ut Stultividum Esse Tu Te Fateare? Shall I force you to admit yourself that you have all the foresight of a fathead? (Plautus, Miles Gloriosus).
Quod Minimum Specimen In Te Ingenii? What microscopic evidence of wit can be found in you? (Cicero, In Pisonem).
In Alio Peduclum Vides, In Te Ricinum Non Vides. You can see the lice on others, but not the bugs on yourself. (Petronius, Satyricon).
Ad Mandata Claudus Caecus Mutus Mancus Debilis. When it comes to following orders you’re a lame, blind, mute, maimed wreck of a man. (Plautus, Mercator).
Si Decem Habeas Linguas, Mutum Esse Addecet. Even if you had 10 tongues, you ought to hold them all. (Plautus, Mnesilochus).
Odiosus Mihis. You’re just a bad smell as far as I’m concerned. (Plautus, Mnesilochus).
Nemo Congresu, Nemo Aditu, Nemo suffragio, Nemo Civitate, Nemo Luce Dignum Putet. No one thinks you’re worth his attention, his time, a vote, a place in society, or even the light of day. (Cicero, In Vatinium).
Curris, Stupes, Satagis, Tanquam Mus In Matella. All you do is run back and forth with a stupid expression, jittery as a rat in a roasting pot. (Petronius, Satyricon).
Scorpionem Prae Morum Acritudine Vulgus Appellat. The people call him Scorpion, on account of his poisonous personality. (Apuleius, Metamorphoses IX).
Genus, Aucte, Lurcri Divites Habent Iram: Odisse Quam Donare Vilius Constat. The rich, Auctus, see their irritability as just another industry: hating is more cost-effective than giving. ( Marital, Epigrams XII.13).
And finally, to sum it all up: Quin Tu Istanc Orationem Hinc Veterem Atque Antiquam Amoves? Oh, do stop using that obsolete language! (Plautus Miles Gloriosus).
Feel free to sling the above invectives at your friends to get a laugh, but quote them to your enemies in all sincerity.