Thursday, January 6, 2011
Verbum Hodiernum: GRATIA
Today's word is the lovely feminine first-declension noun GRĀTIA, which is notoriously difficult to render in English. One basic meaning is "favor, liking, love," the positive affection that one person can show to another. By metaphorical extension, grātia can also mean the quality itself which provokes this positive feeling, so that it can be rendered as "loveliness" or "charm" in English. In addition, grātia can also be the outward sign that one feels favor or affection for someone, in which case it can be rendered as "thankfulness" or "thanks." This meaning of "thanks" leads to the special usage of gratia in the ablative with a genitive complement to mean "thanks to" or "for the sake of," as in the phrase exemplī grātiā, "for the sake of an example," a Latin phrase often abbreviated e.g. This is also the construction in the phrase Ars grātiā artis, "Art for the sake of art."
There are quite a few English words which are derived from this Latin root. When you say "grace" before dinner, you are offering thanks. Something that is "graceful" or "gracious" has the quality of loveliness or charm. You can "ingratiate" yourself to try to get into someone's good "graces," so to speak. We also say "gratis," in English, a contracted form of gratiis, the ablative plural of gratia, meaning "(with) thanks" or "(as a) favor," without cost.
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:
Dei gratia sumus quod sumus.
Ars gratia artis.
Gratis accepistis; gratis date.
Quae gratis accepimus, gratis demus.
Gratis dare debemus, quae gratis accepimus.
Vere amat qui gratis amat.
Nemo dat gratis.
Mecum facile redeo in gratiam.
Si diligitis eos qui vos diligunt, quae vobis est gratia?
Apud paucos post rem manet gratia.
Gratia namque cum fieri properat, gratia grata magis.
Gratia gratiam parit.
Non gladio, sed gratia.
Cum inimico nemo in gratiam tuto redit.
Super argentum et aurum gratia bona.
Vile donum, vilis gratia.
Deus superbis resistit; humilibus autem dat gratiam.
Gratia nulla datur, si munere munus ematur.