27 May 2008

Don't forget!

Back in the day, the Ancient Roman day, conquering Generals enjoyed a triumph. This was more or less a victory parade down the main street involving much ritual. It so happens on such occasions that the General in question had a slave standing behind him the whole time whose specific task was to whisper in his ear, "memento mori." Remember you are mortal.

Good advice and such a practical way to put paid to hubris. It is not something you see much of these days mind you. Hopefully, said slave also offered other useful reminders such as, "lactis legate," or "quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur."

I remembered 'memento mori' while I was meditating the other night. It struck the poet in me that when we are victorious in the inner world, it is the soul that observes us and proclaims, "memento vivi." Remember you are immortal.

We all know that the victory of the General is prefaced upon destruction. This is the outer world of death or mortality. How can we triumph in the inner world? To be victorious in the inner world is to travel the road to God's house. This is about opening up the heart, crying for, discovering and adoring the truth. My feeling is that it means just being there within, getting to know yourself. The inner world is the source of life or immortality.

Some notes about my Latin:
  • As 'mori' means literally you will die, i chose 'vivi,' meaning you will live to mean immortality. There is a perfectly good word, 'immortalis' that means immortality.
  • I am pretty sure that the Ancient Romans didn't use capitals, despite everything on the internet. I might be wrong.
  • I also seem to remember that the noun comes before the verb. You can probably guess what 'lactis' is, I am hopeful that 'legate' is the imperative form of the verb 'to pick up.'
  • Go Google if you want to discover the meaning 0f, 'quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.'


Sumangali Morhall said...

Alf, you're right that everything in Latin sounds profound (yes, I went Google).

I so wanted to study Latin at school but it was considered snobbish, for which I would have had to bear the brunt of a certain amount of teen violence. Erring on the side of pacifism, I took metalwork instead. Thus all that got beaten was a copper coffee spoon, which still survives. (abundans cautela non nocet)

Never mind the Latin, I had to Google the English word “hubris”, which is equally delightful in sound, spelling and definition.

Alf said...


John said...

It seems as if I've had a slave whispering hubris-defeating realities in my ear all my life, and I've yet to have a “triumph.”

“Quis es vos iens efficio super is?”

Alf said...

You've got me there. I can't find a direct translation of your phrase in google, and the best i can come up with is, "Who gets to declare the winner?"