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Anyone read Latin?


To Latin-reading members:

“Friends, Romans, Orchidians, lend me your ears…er, eyes…”

I could use the help of those members who can read/write Latin.

I had just about exhausted my resources for this idea, when it
occurred to me, where else could I find a collection of such
well-read, multiply-talented, and philosophically inclined
individuals as on Orchid?

I am making an etched metal project for which I want to incorporate
some text in Latin. My smattering of Latin is inadequate for the

The piece deals with time, specifically lost time. It is a type of
water-clock and also incorporates (as a smaller, decorative element)
a sundial. Latin mottoes have long been used on sundials, but I
don’t want to use just “Tempus fugit”. I want about 10-12 Latin
expressions, all pertaining to lost time, fleeting time,
insufficient time, wasted time, etc., which will be etched in
various places on the piece. Ideally, these should be phrases that
are not too esoteric in language, so that the non-Latin reader
should be able to figure out the sense.

I did a Google search for sundial mottoes, and found some in English
which I would like to have in Latin:

“Yesterday returneth not, mayhap tomorrow cometh not, there is
today, misuse it not” ; and “You cannot kill time without injuring
eternity”. “Behold, and be gone about your business”.

And I found these in Latin, for which I want to be sure I understand
the meaning fully before I consider using them:

“Cum tempus non existent tunc morior”. “Cursum peregi”. “Cito pede
labitur aetas”. “Dum spectas fugio”

I found a terrific site that gave me many mottoes organized into
themes: but unfortunately, the Latin was translated into French. My
high school French only goes so far. I don’t want to clog up Orchid
with all those. So if anyone is up to translating the above, or
feels like tackling the longer (but really interesting!)
Latin-French list, please e-mail me off list. I would very much
appreciate the help.

With thanks,
Lin Lahlum


try these pages to translate Latin to English

for French to English



Have you tried visiting your local Catholic priest.

I am not Catholic but don’t they have to learn Latin while they are
in se minary? at the very lest he should be able to get you in touch
with someone who can help you.



There are some interesting quotes on this page:

“Raptus regaliter” would be good on a sundial… especially one used
at work (for when the deadlines go flying by)

I’ve always wanted to make some large crystal-centric chunk of
jewelry and put the following quote on it: “Nihil curo de ista tua
stulta superstitione” (I’m not interested in your dopey religious

Ubi fumus, ubi raku.


“Cum tempus non existent tunc morior”- When Time is not, then only
shall I pass away

“Cursum peregi” - I have finished my course

“Cito pede labitur aetas” -

One website translated it as: The Bird of Time has but a little way To
fly - and Lo! The Bird is on the Wing

The full expression seems to be: UTENDUM EST AETATE, CITO PEDE
LABITUR AETAS ! Try to use all the time we have, since it passes so
quickly !

“Dum spectas fugio” - While you watch, I fly

For more time-related sayings, go to

where some of this translations came from.

Jerry T.


Lin, I would also be interested in what was found. Please share. I
do a series of sculptures using Time as a central theme. What
"terrific" site did you find? I don’t care if it’s Latin, French,
English, Farsi, or any other language. Time is a concept that every
culture has grappled with.

Doug Zaruba


Would you be more correct if you were to use caps and no spaces?

I’ll ask Ruth my closest Latin scholar.



even in inscriptions there are spaces–just not necessarily other
punctuation…there are also rustic scripts used for note-taking
which of course include miniscule letters in any case the magiscule
letters were primarily used in inscriptions because of the ease of
use on stone or marble

Kitchener, ON


I’ve been on the road so I didn’t see the beginning of this thread,
but I couldn’t resist an attempt My latin has faded amost to zero,
but it’s either correct or wrong. There’s no “more correct”. The
caps make no difference. If I recall my suffixes the statement would
be divided thus, but I can’t translate without research. For what
it’s worth:


Not a Latin proverb, but a great one about time;

“The best time to plant a tree is(was) twenty years ago, the next
best time is now”

I’ve seen it quoted as an African and a Chinese proverb, but I don’t
think it matters.



Sundials-Latin to French

Sundials and quotations about time

For Doug and those others who were interested in quotations about

Here is the site where I found the Latin quotations translated into

I found it through a link from a sundial society. They are sorted
into categories, which is very convenient (although it’s impossible
not to read all of them).

If anyone wants to put some of these into English, let me know! The
theme for my waterclock piece is, specifically, “lost time”, or; no
time, irretrievable time, etc. I can approximately grasp the meaning
in French, but any subtleties are beyond me. I don’t want to use a
phrase with some connotation I do not recognize, only to have people
snickering later.

Thanks to those who translated the ones I listed, as well as to
those who have suggested translation sites: so far the ones I’ve
tried work only on individual words, not sentences. Stringing
together the translated words one by one loses sense.

Lin Lahlum


Lin, This might be a late reply, I haven’t been following this
particular thread due to time contstraints. If you need some
assistance you might try a very good friend of mine, Karen Gorst, at She is an absolutely top-notch
calligraphy and illuminator working in mostly traditional medieval
techniques. She is quite wonderful, extremely helpful and an
awesome teacher. And she is or was the head of the New York Society
of Scribes. If she can’t help translate, she can probably point you
at someone or some source that can. The only drawback is email
response is sometimes slow depending on her workload. Joel