Archive for December, 2006

snobby greek phrase of the semester

December 12, 2006

My friend Scott Caplan has long ago suggested that we, along with our mutual friends, do a rotating feautre on our blogs known as “snobby Latin phrase of the month.” The name is pretty self-explanatory. We should also try to use said snobby phrase in conversation as much as possible.

Being a lazy bum, I didn’t actually get around to finding a snobby Latin phrase until now. Also, it’s not Latin, but Ancient Greek, which I suppose is equally snobby. The phrase (transliterated) is:

Oid’ ho theleis, syka theleis.

Which means: “I know what you want, you want figs!”

The phrase, supposedly, comes from an old Greek story (whose author was not mentioned in my source), “about a man from Sicily who had undergone a shipwreck while carrying a cargo of figs, and another time sits on the beach and sees before him the sea lying gentle and calm, as if wanting to entice him to take another voyage. Thereupon he expresses his unseduceability in these words… [the phrase follows]” (Blumenberg 1997, pp. 56-57) Goethe once used this phrase in a consolation letter to a friend, comparing life itself to the fickle sea in the sailor’s lament. So yeah, pretty snobby:)

Enjoy, use in consolation letters, or utter dramatically when life just plain sucks. Also, if you ever happen to be shipwrecked with some figs… but in that case you may have other priorities.

Everyone have a good holiday season!