Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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Lupus In Fābulā


Wolf in the tale

This phrase is an ancient idiom meaning something akin to “speak of the devil.” There is an interesting article at AncientOrigins about the phrase and its origins (article excerpt below.)

Lupus in fabula or perhaps more accurately in historia , given that historically the figure of the wolf is not marginal at all. The undisputed symbol of the forest, the wolf has always been strongly present in the collective imagination of all ancient civilizations. Its symbolism has a dichotomous aspect because it has forever been admired for its pride, the orderly social hierarchy and discipline of command. But it has also been viewed with suspicion and fear and often associated with demoniacal aspects, because of the nighttime thefts and the destruction of herds, heritage and perhaps the wealth of the ancient man.

Wolves were said to have the sharpest sight of all animals, able to see even during the moonless nights, that’s why the time of night when only wolves can see was called λύκοφως, lykofos, “the wolf’s light”.

Etymologically it’s difficult to determine the exact form of the original Indo-European word to name this animal, even if it’s usually represented as * wlkwos, where the Greek “λύκος” ( lykos) and the Latin ” lupus” words derive from.

The etymologically remains in the Italian “lupo”, German “wolf”, English “wolf”, Russian “волк” ( volk) and so on. The idea of evil seems to have remained in the modern Irish language, where olc means “bad”, while the word for wolf as an animal is completely different: ” mac tíre “.

The rest of the article is also quite interesting and I highly recommend reading it by clicking the link above.