Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Verbum Hodiernum: ANIMUS

Today's word is the wonderful ANIMUS in Latin, a word that is almost impossible to translate into English. A good place to start is with the origin of the word itself; it is cognate with the Greek word ἄνεμος, meaning "wind" (an anemometer in English measures wind speed). In Latin, the word animus doesn't mean wind that blows in the world but instead the "breath" or "spirit," as opposed to the physical body, corpus. By metaphorical extension, animus comes to mean "consciousness" and "understanding." It also means the "willful intentions" of the mind, or "desire." Since there is no simple way to translate this word into English, what you need to do is pay attention every time you find the word animus in Latin and see what the context and usage add to your understanding of the word.

Be aware also of the relate word anima. This feminine noun can refer literally to a breeze, or to the air itself. By metaphorical extension, anima also refers to the spirit of life, to the animating breath that moves through all living bodies, and to life itself. Yet it can also refer to the soul or spirit that has departed a living body, what we would call a "ghost" in English.

Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs; for more information, see the page at the Scala Sapientiae, which contains notes on some of the proverbs cited below, as well as additional proverbs:

Bonum habe animum.

Bono animo esto.

Forti animo esto.

Consilio et animo.

Nosce te; nosce animum tuum.

Animo cupienti nihil satis festinatur.

Vina parant animos.

Animum Fortuna sequitur.

Animus facit nobilem.

Oculus animi index.

Vinum animi speculum.

Corpus vas animi.

Oratio cibus est animi.

Oratio imago animi.

Oratio vultus animi est.

Sermo index animi.

Vultus animi ianua est.

Vultus imago animi.

Vultus est index animi.

In oculis animus habitat.

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