Friday, January 14, 2011
Verbum Hodiernum: PUBLICUS
Today's word is the adjective PUBLICUS, which is actually a contraction of the word populicus, an adjectival form of the noun populus. Since we use the word "public" in English, this is a very familiar word.
One thing to watch out for, as with any Latin adjective, is the idiomatic meaning the adjective can have when it is used substantively. For example, a publicus can be some sort of public official or a magistrate. The neuter publicum, "the public (thing)," can refer to public funds or state property of some sort.
One of the most common uses of this adjective is in combination with the noun res, as in: res publica (and hence, our English word "republic").
You can see a trace of Latin also in the English phrase "notary public," which is a rendering of the Latin notarius publicus. Normally in English, the adjective would come before the noun ("public notary") but in this phrase, English imitates the Latin and French order used for this phrase.
Here are some examples of today's word in Latin sayings and proverbs:
Pro bono publico.
Non sibi, sed bono publico.
Publicum bonum privato est praeferendum.
Utilitas publica praefertur privatae.
Ius publicum privatorum pactis mutari non potest.
Salus publica, salus mea.
Salus publica suprema lex esto.
Publica fama non semper vana.
Honesta semper publico gaudeant, scelera secreta sint.
Nemo quemquam ire prohibet publica via.
Qui tranquille volet vivere, nec privatim agat multa, nec publice.
Onus est honos qui sustinet rem publicam.