Alius est amor, alius cupido
Original post date: Friday, April 13, 2007
In English: Love is one thing, desire another.
I thought this would be a good follow-up to the previous proverb - Aliud cupido, mens aliud suadet, "Desire urges one thing, reason another" - for various reasons, both thematical and grammatical.
In terms of theme, the previous proverb set up an opposition between cupido, "Cupid, desire," and mens, "the mind, reason." Today's proverb sets up a different kind of opposition, that between desire and amor, "love." Both terms, love and desire, amor and cupido, are widely used in Latin, and are part of very productive semantic systems. With amor goes the verb amare, "to love," the noun amator, "lover," and so on. With cupido goes the verb cupere, "to long for, desire," the adjective cupidus, "desirous, passionate," etc.
Given that the English words "love" and "desire" do a very good job of expressing this different, the meaning of this Latin saying comes through quite clearly for us. Yet it is worth pointing out that the English word "desire" comes to us by way of a different Latin verb, desiderare. The word "desire" and its related forms is far more important in English than any of the words derived from Latin cupido, such as English cupidity, concupiscence, etc.
In terms of grammar, it is definitely worth noting how the word alius, masculine, is being used in today's proverb, as opposed to the use of aliud, neuter, in yesterday's saying. In today's saying, alius is in the predicate, agreeing with the nouns amor and cupido. Because these are both masculine nouns, the masculine form alius is used in the predicate. In yesterday's proverb - Aliud cupido, mens aliud suadet, "Desire urges one thing, reason another" - the word aliud, meaning "another thing," is the neuter object of the verb, suadet.
So, as a result, in one proverb you get alius cupido and in the other proverb you find aliud cupido. This is because word order and proximity do not mean anything in terms of Latin grammar. In alius cupido you are dealing with a noun and a predicate pronoun that stand next to each other in the sentence. In aliud cupido, you are dealing with a noun and a direct object that stand next to each other in the sentence. The fact that the words stand next to each other does not mean anything in terms of grammar. Instead, you have to use the word endings and the syntax to reveal what the actual grammatical structure is in each instance.
So, hoping you experience some sweet love today instead of just the sting of Cupid's arrows, here is today's proverb read out loud:
810. Alius est amor, alius cupido.
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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