Listen and learn with Latin audio proverbs.

Discipulus est prioris posterior dies

Original post date: Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In English: The following day is the student of the previous day.

Like yesterday's proverb about school and learning, I thought this would be a good selection for those of you who are embarking on a new school year this week, as I am. You could call today's proverb the motto of lifelong learning in Latin!

You can see this motto accompanied by a very cute bunny rabbit from an unusual pack of Tarot cards, the The Fairy Tarots by Antonio Lupatelli.

The person commenting on the card at that webpage makes a bit of a muddle of the Latin: "Prioris refers to the first of two things - but it is the genitive case (belonging to the first of two things). Posterior is the later of two things and is an adjective modifying Dies = day. So I think it means something like - discipline is the first priority at the end of the day. But I am not secure in that."

The problem is that while the Latin word discipulus looks something like the English word "discipline," it is actually the Latin word for "student" (and also the origin of the English word "disciple"). So no, the motto does not mean that "discipline is the first priority at the end of the day." Instead, it means simply that the posterior dies, "the following day" discipulus est, "is the student" prioris "of the preceding day."

In other words, yesterday is the teacher of tomorrow!

There is an even more simple version of this saying, but one that is so simple as to be a bit enigmatic: Dies diem docet, "Day teaches day."

So, hoping that in the course of your day today you have learned a good lesson that you can put to use tomorrow, here is today's proverb read out loud:

581. Discipulus est prioris posterior dies.

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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At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This site is great, but the audio part hurts my ears. The voice is obviously that of an Anglo-Saxon. Stop rolling the Rs! It's especially painful with the word "posterior".

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Laura Gibbs said...

I'm not going to stop reading Latin bsaed on a rude anonymous comment, but you are certainly free to put your own audio online and I hope you will do so: Audacity is free software for Mac and Windows that allows you to do that. Then, you too can enjoy the experience of people leaving rude anonymous comments for you at your website! :-)

If you tag your website with the tags latin+audio it will be easy for people to find. That is also a good way for you to find other people's audio online so that you leave rude anonymous comments for many other people too! I wouldn't want to be the only one receiving your special attention.

At 5:33 AM, Anonymous Cristian Marza said...

This really is a nice site. Honestly. I have some books containing Latin adages and proverbs, but there's just something about being surprised with new ones the way you do here. It's why I have it bookmarked.

I never said you should stop reading Latin, but to someone who comes from a country whose language and traditions were greatly influenced by Rome, it does hurt to hear that pronunciation. The way the letter R is pronounced in English is very different to the way Romance language speakers do it (and how the Romans used to). Except for the French, perhaps, who use their throats. I know it can be difficult for native English-speakers, but it would greatly improve the audio part of this website. Don't take this as an insult, but there are websites providing help on how to pronounce this so-called "double Spanish R".

Now, you've taken the effort to mention that my comment was not only anonymous but also rude three times. I'm sorry about the latter. Maybe it was a bit harsh, but I though of it as constructive criticism. I hope I've fixed the other issue via this post.

All the best.

At 6:05 AM, Blogger Laura Gibbs said...

Since you have not left an email address, I cannot correspond with you directly, but I await hearing your audio online. Will it be forthcoming? For all the people who complain about other people's Latin, precious few are willing to put forth the time and effort to contribute their efforts online.

I still find your comment narrow-minded and intolerant, but I am glad you had the honesty to at least put a name to it this time. If you subscribe to the LatinTeach listserv, you will see recurrent discussions about Latin pronunciation, with a group of people who dismiss other people's pronunciation as being incorrect, unnatural, etc. - but there is also a group of us who are really not interested in the phonology and are just doing our best to help give our students some sense of Latin read aloud - it's comments like yours that make students absolutely phobic about daring to pronounce anything in Latin, knowing there are plenty of people (like yourself) just waiting in the wings to POUNCE. At least you did not pounce anonymously this time. Thank you.

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Cristian Marza said...

Would you prefer it if visitors remained silent? How was my comment narrow-minded? Was it incorrect? I know there are a lot of discussions on syntax and morphology, but the pronunciation of the letter R has never been the subject of controversy! I'm sure you know this, since you sometimes pronounce it correctly. As far as pronunciation goes, I think Latin is a pretty straightforward language, save for a few sounds. If the teachers (such as yourself, from what I gather) would do their utter best to pronounce correctly they'd do the students a world of good. This is especially true when it comes to dead languages - it's not like they have any way to come in contact with native speakers. Plus, it's less embarrassing to be wrong in front of a teacher and other students than amongst several connoisseurs of the language. And I do appreciate this website, it's a commendable initiative. I haven't met a lot of Latin teachers, but I have come in contact with teachers of the French language at US universities. And, for instance, to hear one pronounce "bonne idée" as "bunny day" was disheartening and sadly amusing. It was something I wouldn't have expected from an elementary school teacher. I don't want to enter a discussion on Americans and their (your) take on foreign languages, as it would probably make me appear even more intolerant, but in Europe the key-word when it comes to studying languages is perfectionism.

Again, I'm not trying to "pounce", flame or troll. There's no doubt in my mind that your knowledge of Latin is far superior to mine, but I couldn't help noticing that one mistake. It was a mere opinion and I appreciate it that you took the time to answer. :)

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Laura Gibbs said...

Latin is a dead language, and that makes it IMPOSSIBLE to cultivate a 'true accent.' I simply do not agree with people who feel it is worth the time and effor to worry about that - I do not dispute your right to worry about it (good for you! everybody needs something to worry about). I worry about other things - vocabulary, morphology, syntax, etc. That is my choice.

I speak Polish fluently, and I speak Italian fluently. I have a terrible accent in both languages - but that doesn't matter, because I speak clearly, vividly, and consistently, and I have a large vocabulary and use correct syntax. Even with living languages, I consider cultivation of the 'accent' to be the absolutely least important element of conversation. People will understand you even if your accent is not good, provided that you speak clearly and with confidence.

With Latin, I find discussions of accent to be frivolous. That is simply my opinion. It is a dead language: there are no native speakers. NONE. The point of reading Latin out loud is to improve your own reading fluency; there is no other point in reading out loud except in order to cultivate your own understanding of the language.

That is why I find it rather strange that some people spend a lot of time worrying about pronunciation. I don't worry about it; you do. If you do, I suggest you put some audio online to share your talents with others.

I put enormous amounts of Latin teaching materials online because I think people need a LOT of help in learning how to read Latin fluently and with confidence. I know my materials are making a positive difference for students; if you would like to contribute to that effort, please begin your own blog and publish your own contributions online. That will be a big help!

On the other hand, complaining to me about my pronunciation of Latin will not do you any good at all: my Latin is going to sound the same, just as my Polish accent and my Italian accent sound the same - it never caused me any trouble in Poland or in Italy, and I would gladly go to Rome, with my "bad" accent and all, since I would have lots to talk about with those ancient Romans. I am quite confident we could make ourselves understood; I have never had any problem making myself understood in Italian in Rome, bad accent and all.


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