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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Tempus fugit


Time flies


This common phrase has been around a very, very long time. Many of you have been out there, living your life, quoting Virgil without knowing it. From wiki:

Tempus fugit is a Latin phrase, usually translated into English as “time flies“. The expression comes from line 284 of book 3 of Virgil‘s Georgics, where it appears as fugit inreparabile tempus: “it escapes, irretrievable time”. The phrase is used in both its Latin and English forms as a proverb that “time’s a-wasting”.

Tempus fugit is typically employed as an admonition against sloth and procrastination (cf. carpe diem) rather than an argument for licentiousness (cf. “gather ye rosebuds while ye may“); the English form is often merely descriptive: “time flies like the wind”, “time flies when you’re having fun”.

The phrase is a common motto, particularly on sundials and clocks. It also has been used on gravestones.

Some writers have attempted rebuttals: Time goes, you say? Ah, no! alas, time stays, we go. by H(enry) Austin Dobson 1840–1921. ‘Hêd Amser! / Meddi Na! / Erys Amser / Dyn Â’ on sundial at Univ of Bangor, North Wales. says the sundial was commissioned by Sir William Henry Preece, and offers an English equivalent: Time flies, thou sayest – Nay! Man flies; Time still doth stay. Another English version is: Time Flies, Say Not So: Time Remains,’Tis Man Must Go.

The phrase’s full appearance in Virgil’s Georgics is:

Omne adeo genus in terris hominumque ferarumqueThus every Creature , and of every Kind ,
The secret Joys of sweet Coition find :
Not only Man’s Imperial Race ; . . .
Nay, every race on earth of men, and beasts,
et genus aequoreumpecudes pictaeque volucres,            . . . but they
That wing the liquid Air ; or swim the Sea ,
Or haunt the Desart , . . .
And ocean-folk, and flocks, and painted birds,
in furias ignemque ruuntamor omnibus idem. …            . . . rush into the flame :
For Love is Lord of all ; and is in all the same .
Rush to the raging fire: love sways them all.
Sed fugit intereafugit inreparabile tempus,But time is lost , which never will renew ,Fast flies meanwhile the irreparable hour,
singula dum capti circumvectamur amore.While we too far the pleasing Path pursue ;
Surveying Nature , with too nice a view .

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