Friday, December 31, 2010

Verbum Hodiernum: ANNUS

In honor of the New Year, I've decided to go out of order and make ANNUS the word for today. We get a lot of English words from this root, such as "annual," "anniversary," "annuity" along with somewhat less obvious words such as "perennial" and "millennium." There are also many Latin compounds using this word; one of my favorites is annosus, "full of years," which is to say "old, elderly."

There is also a Latin word with a similar spelling, anus, meaning a ring or circle, more commonly found in the diminutive form, anulus (the ring you wear on your finger is an anulus in Latin). Some Romans believed that there was a connection between the word anus and annus, since the year is also something like a circle or a ring, a course that goes around and around without end. Here is a passage from Varro to that effect: tempus a bruma ad brumam, dum sol redit, vocatur annus; quod, ut parvi circuli anuli, sic magni dicebantur circites ani, unde annus, "the time from the winter solstice to the winter solstice, when the sun comes back, is called a year, annus, because, like small circles were said to be rings, anuli, so large circuits were said to be years, ani, hence the word annus."

The word Varro invokes here to define the course of the year, bruma, happens to be one of my favorite Latin words, so I will also say something about that here. The word bruma is actually a contraction from the fuller form, brevissima, i.e. brevissima dies, the shortest day of the year, which takes place on the winter solstice. Hence the word bruma also can mean the winter itself. We probably first think of "cold" when we think of winter, because we are used to having artificial lighting available to us all the time - but for the Romans, the shortness of the daylight was also a key feature of winter, hence the use of the term bruma to refer to the wintertime.

So, wishing you all a happy new year, here are some Latin sayings and proverbs with the word annus:

Anno Domini, A.D.

Anno Urbis Conditae, A.U.C.

Annus producit, non ager.

Annus fructificat, non terra.

Annus producit fructum, non arvum.

Annus superior, semper melior.

Semper praestat prior annus.

Non omnibus annis omnia conveniunt.

Candidus et felix proximus annus erit.

Semel in anno licet insanire.

Saepe dat una dies quod non evenit in anno.

Saepe dat una dies quod totus denegat annus.

Accidit in puncto quod non speratur in anno.

Quod donare mora nequit annua, dat brevis hora.

Perditur in puncto quod non reparatur in anno.

Si vestem repares, longum durabit in annum.

Immortalia ne speres, monet annus.

Vita brevis est, licet supra mille annos exeat.

Eunt anni more fluentis aquae.

Anni tacito passu labuntur.

Eheu! fugaces labuntur anni!

Ite, leves menses, alisque fugacibus anni.

Hora fugit, fugiuntque dies, fugit annus et aetas.

Da spatium vitae, multos da, Iupiter, annos!

O mihi praeteritos referat si Iuppiter annos!

Crescunt anni, decrescunt vires.

Cura facit canos, quamvis homo non habet annos.

Si tibi do mannos, numeres ne dentibus annos.

Nihil annis velocius.

A teneris crimen condiscitur annis.

Senecta addit annos, non etiam virtutes.

Senectus non annis computanda, sed factis.

Vulpes annosa non capitur.

Annosae frustra cornici retia tendis.

Annoso prospectandum latrante molosso.

Est annosa canis vix assuefacta catenis.

Annoso leoni vel lepores insultant.

Annosa arbor non transplantatur.

Non annosa uno quercus deciditur ictu.

Parcito saepe cibis et sic annosior ibis.

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