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:

Gratia referenda.

Dei gratia sumus quod sumus.

Ars gratia artis.

Gratis accepistis; gratis date.

Quae gratis accepimus, gratis demus.

Gratis dare debemus, quae gratis accepimus.

Dei Gratia.

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.


Immemorable Immoments said...

Hi Laura!

I love this blog, it helps to keep me practising latin when I'm on the go. I have one, very small request! Could you indicate whether a noun is feminine, masculine, neuter, and what declension it's from? That would be awesome!

Tuus Carissimus,

Laura Gibbs said...

Hi Jon, that is a good idea - and just to get people used to using a real Latin dictionary, what I will do instead is link to the Glossa Lewis & Short Dictionary for each word. I did that in the little "word of the day" widget but I have not been consistent about that in the blog entries. If I get time tonight I'll revise the old entries to do that, and I'll make sure to do that in the new entries. Thanks for the suggestion! :-)