Litterarum radices amarae, fructus dulces.
(Ascribed to Cato by Diomedes)

The bitter roots of (work in) literature (produce) sweet fruits.

pron = lit-tehr-AH-room RAH-dee-kays ah-MAH-rae FROOK-toos DOOL-kays.

Comment: Waldo Sweet attributes this proverb to Cato as quoted by
Diomedes. Others attribute it to Cicero. I can find no reference to
it beyond this.

Regardless of its source, it does provide teachers and parents with
something interesting to consider. What is it about work in
literature that is "the bitter roots"? What is the outcome of that
bitter work that is a "sweet fruit"? Those of us who love to read
understand the "sweet fruits" part without hesitation. But, bitter

When our son was in early elementary school, he was in a gifted
program for reading, language arts and math. The teacher for the
program was all that was left in a school system devastated by state
politics. She served 14 schools! That meant that rather than having
time to work with students, she had time to give orders and demand
output. In reading, that meant completing so many "readers" each
month. We watched our son, who had been reading books with delight
since he was 3, begin to say things like: I hate reading, I hate
school. We got notes fromt the gifted-ed teacher about how many
readers he was behind in his "monthly quota".

Literture becomes "bitter" when it becomes a forced feeding. This is
just as bitter as being forced to talk and listen to someone that one
has not chosen to talk and listen to. Literature is another form of
communication between people, and the communication part only really
works when the communication is fairly stress free (choice is involved
and there is no compulsion), is understandable, and is engaging
(read--slightly challenging). (see Stephen Krashen's work)

Add compulsion, incomprehensability, and no personal engagement or
challenge, and the work of literature becomes bitter. Very few
students get past the bitter part to a sweet outcome.

Bob Patrick
(Used with permission)
Latin Proverb of the Day Archive