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Post triduum hospitis satietas est

Original post date: Saturday, November 24, 2007

In English: Three days is enough of a guest.

Yes, this is a proverb for all of you out there (me inclusa), who had guests in your house over the holidays. Literally the Latin saying reads, "After three days (post triduum) that is enough (satietas est) of a guest (hospitis).

A fuller form of the saying is Post triduum mulieris, hospitis et pluviarum satietas est, "After three days of a woman, of a guest, and of rain, that's enough."

If you are seeking an even more forceful proverb to express your "guest distress," there is also this fine saying: post tres dies, piscis vilescit, et hospes, "After three days, a fish goes bad, as does a guest." This one is immortalized in English in the 1736 edition of Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack: "Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days."

There is also a delightful rhyming English proverb which explores the days one by one: "The first day the man is a guest, the second a burden, the third a pest."

We do not have a good English word equivalent to a 3-day period, but the term triduum was a commonly used Latin word. It achieves a special sacred status in the Vulgate Bible, of course. Jesus, for example, was accused of claiming that he could destroy the temple and raise it up again in three days (Possum destruere templum Dei, et post triduum reaedificare illud), which could be allegorically interpreted in terms of the death and resurrection. Similarly, it was after three days, a triduum, that Mary and Joseph found the lost child Jesus preaching in the temple (post triduum invenerunt illum in templo sedentem in medio doctorum), another symbolic foreshadowing of his later disappearance and return.

Of course, there is nothing especially sacred about the three-day limits for guests, just a matter of practical experience. And I am speaking, ahem, as an expert! :-)

So, hoping you had happy holidays with guests only in moderation, here is today's proverb read out loud:

415. Post triduum hospitis satietas est.

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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