(St. Jerome, Epistulae ad Ephesios)
The teeth of a donated horse are not inspected.
(pron = AY-kwee doh-NAH-tee DEHN-tays nohn in-spi-kee-OON-toor)
Comment: This is the more proverbial "don't look a gift-horse in the mouth."
The emphasis, as it is used in English, is that gratitude is the only response
one can have for a gift. If one accepts that generosity only flows downhill in
a hierarchical fashion, there may be no response left when one is given a gift
but gratitude--or feigned gratitude.
Herein is the problem. When the focus is always on the response of the
recipient of the gift, one forgets that there are almost always motives that
prompt the giver. This proverb might provoke another question: why would
anyone give a sick horse to someone who was in need? Have they not now
compounded the recipients problems? Ah, unless keeping the recipient beholden
to the giver is the key, such a gift makes no sense, and regardless, is really
more an insult than a gracious act.
One need not look a gift horse in the mouth when it is given by someone who
gives out of pure generosity. Add to that: if one has no expectations of
anyone at anytime, one can display gratitude for everything that comes one's
way even a sick old horse. If I am given a sick old horse by someone
pretending to be generous to me, I can be grateful that this person has shown
me his/her true self at the moment. And, I can begin looking for a retirment
home for old horses who have bad teeth!
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day is now available on the web.