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Spoken Latin: What does “Onus Aetna Gravius” mean?

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This week’s episode of our series treat­ing Latin expres­sions and pas­sages is about the phrase Onus Aet­na grav­ius, which comes from Cicero’s work On old age. I dis­cuss the con­text of the phrase, its mean­ing and use. As always, the episode is entire­ly in Latin, so as to pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tice hear­ing com­pre­hen­sion as well as, per­haps, learn new vocab­u­lary and structures. 

Sug­gest­ed watch­ing: Spo­ken Latin: What does in ali­ud tem­pus dif­ferre mean?

If you want to fol­low along in the text I talk about, you will find it below the video.

I high­ly rec­om­mend this par­tic­u­lar work by Cicero as it is not only inter­est­ing but it tends to be eas­i­er than many of his Ora­tions and works on Ora­to­ry, since they con­tain a wide range of legal and rhetor­i­cal ter­mi­nol­o­gy respec­tive­ly. Fur­ther­more, On old age (De senec­tute) is writ­ten as a dia­logue with over­all short­er sentences.

Video in Latin

Latin audio

Lis­ten to the audio of this episode here on Latini­tium or in your pod­cast app.

Cicero’s text

Sci­pio. Saepe numero admi­rari soleo cum hoc C. Lae­lio cum ceter­arum rerum tuam excel­len­tem, M. Cato, per­fec­tamque sapi­en­ti­am, tum vel maxime quod numquam tibi senec­tutem gravem esse senser­im, quae plerisque senibus sic odiosa est, ut onus se Aet­na grav­ius dicant sustinere.

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Cato. Rem haud sane dif­fi­cilem, Sci­pio et Laeli, admi­rari videm­i­ni. Quibus enim nihil est in ipsis opis ad bene beat­eque viven­dum, eis omnis aetas gravis est; qui autem omnia bona a se ipsi petunt, eis nihil malum potest videri quod nat­u­rae neces­si­tas adfer­at. Quo in genere est in prim­is senec­tus, quam ut adip­is­cant­ur omnes optant, ean­dem accu­sant adep­tam; tan­ta est stul­ti­ti­ae incon­stan­tia atque per­ver­si­tas. Obrepere aiunt eam citius, quam putassent. Pri­mum quis coe­git eos fal­sum putare? Qui enim citius adules­cen­ti­ae senec­tus quam pueri­ti­ae adules­cen­tia obrepit? Deinde qui minus gravis esset eis senec­tus, si octin­gen­tes­i­mum annum ager­ent quam si octo­ges­i­mum? Prae­teri­ta enim aetas quamvis lon­ga cum effluxis­set, nul­la con­so­la­tio per­mul­cere pos­set stul­tam senectutem.

Daniel Pettersson

Daniel Pettersson

Teacher and author Daniel Pettersson, M.A., is co-founder of Latinitium and is currently teaching Latin at Stockholm University, where he is also working on his Ph.D. dissertation on Humanist Colloquia. Daniel believes in the importance of Latin literature in the modern world and that you can teach yourself Latin with the right motivation, method, and material.
Written by Daniel Pettersson

Written by Daniel Pettersson

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