Listen and learn with Latin audio proverbs.

Quam cito transit gloria mundi

Original post date: Thursday, May 03, 2007

In English: How quickly the glory of the world passes by.

I thought I would post another saying about the "world" as a follow-up to yesterday's proverb about Athanasius contra mundum. Today's saying reminds us that while the world might seem massive and mighty, so big and so permanent, that is really not the case at all. The world and all its glories are just passing through.

The particular form of this saying comes from the Christian writer, Thomas a Kempis, the author of the famous treatise, De Imitatione Christi, "On the Imitation of Christ." You can read more about Thomas a Kempis and the gloria mundi in a previous blog post.

What I thought I would focus on in my comments today is how the Latin word mundus is another one of those sneaky homographs that I wrote about a few days ago. The Latin word mundus is not just one word, but several.

First, there is the adjective mundus (munda, mundum), which means "clean."

Then there is the noun mundus, meaning "cosmetics, adornment," and then, presumably by metaphorical extension, "the universe, the world" (a similar metaphor seems to be at work in the Greek word "kosmos").

Even linguists are not sure whether the Latin words spelled mundus ultimately come from the same root or whether they go back to multiple roots. What is clear, however, is that in classical Latin usage mundus means two, or even three, quite different things: "clean," on the one hand, and "world" and "adornment" on the other hand.

Given that both the adjective mundus and the noun mundus are extremely common in Latin, it's something to watch out for you in your reading!

So, thinking thoughts of worldliness rather than of cleanliness, here is today's proverb about the gloria mundi read out loud:

2234. Quam cito transit gloria mundi.

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

If you are reading this via RSS: The Flash audio content is not syndicated via RSS; please visit the Latin Audio Proverbs blog to listen to the audio. You can also hear a variant of this saying, sic transit gloria mundi, read aloud at a Polish website: Wladyslawa Kopalinskiego Slownik wyraz?w obcych i zwrot?w obcojezycznych (weblink).
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