Sunday, December 11, 2011

Scripta volant, verba manent.

A very interesting situation: the Latin proverb everybody knows is (supposed to be) verba volant, scripta manent, which means, the spoken words fly away, the written words remain.
This conclusion is probably false. I remember what my Latin teacher told me more than 30 years ago, and the exact proverb was exactly the opposite. Scripta volant, verba manent. The exact meaning being: written words (on parchment) are ephemeral and literally fly away (many texts have been lost that way) while the spoken words (very often, the legends, the stories being told) are kept through generations of people. I remember my teacher explaining the details based on a very serious thesis. This explanation seems much more logical to me, considering the context (Antiquity). Amazing to see that one of the most popular proverbs in the world might be completely wrong.