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Aliud ex alio malum

Original post date: Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In English: One bad thing from another.

After yesterday's proverb from Terence's Andria, I thought I would use a saying found in Terence's Eunuchus for today.

The saying means something like the English exclamation, "one bad thing after another!", in the sense that when things start going wrong, all kinds of things start to go wrong. The Latin phrase as cited here does not have a verb, but you can also find variants of the Latin saying that do include a verb: Aliud ex alio malum gignitur, "one bad thing is spawned from another," or Aliud oritur ex alio malum, "one bad thing arises from another," Aliud ex alio malum nascitur, "one bad thing is born from another," etc.

One of the big hurdles that Latin students face as they get started is coming to grips with the Latin demonstrative pronouns and adjectives, like the word aliud here in today's saying. This is the neuter form, agreeing with malum. A word like aliud is distinctively odd in Latin, ending as it does with the letter "d." Yet if you can just remember the familiar neuter pronoun id (made so famous by Freud!), then you will have a good clue for remembering that aliud is a neuter form. You can also remember illud and istud this way. And don't forget quod and quid.

It's always easier to remember things by analogy, so just keep them all these neuter pronouns in mind together: id, quid, quod, illud, istud, aliud. And if you still feel a fundamental hostility to Latin pronouns, just remember today's saying: one bad thing follows another... there are indeed lots of Latin pronouns to learn, one after another!

Meanwhile, here is today's proverb read out loud:

813. Aliud ex alio malum.

The number here is the number for this proverb in Latin Via Proverbs: 4000 Proverbs, Mottoes and Sayings for Students of Latin.

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