Non viribus aut velocitate aut celeritate corporum res magnae geruntur
sed consilio, auctoritate, sententia.
(M. Tullius Cicer, De Senectute 17)

Neither by force nor by speed nor by swiftness of body are great
things done, but by plan, authority and purpose.

pron = nohn WEE-rih-boos out weh-loh-kih-TAH-tay out
keh-leh-rih-TAH-tay KOR-poh-room rays MAHG-nai geh-ROON-toor sehd
kohn-SEE-lee-oh owk-toh-rih-TAH-tay sehn-TEN-tee-ah.

Comment: Cicero writes this in his essay "On Old Age". So, an old man
is not going to argue in favor of physical strength, swiftness, speed?
He likely is not, because he has found over time that those things
begin to fail. Cicero commends for important things, great things,
what is needed: a plan, authority and purpose. We know from his life
and writings that he valued these things. We also know that in the
end, his love of the Republic, his attempts at preserving the Republic
did not prevail, despite plans, authority he held as Roman Consul and
the exercie of what I am sure he considered good purpose. In the
end, his enemies, and he would say the enemies of State, killed him
and placed his severed head and hands on stakes in public view.

I am not so confident to say that great things happen either by
strength or by honed mental skills or by collected power. Sometimes,
great things happen by all of these things. Sometimes in the presence
of them all, great things don't happen. And someimtes, it seems,
fortune is involved.

So, why bother? What's left? If we have strength, we should use it
well. If we have swiftness and speed of body, we should use them
well. If we have a plan, or authority, or judgment, we should use
them well. And in using all of these things well, let the using of
them and the doing of them be the reward. When we are done, we could
simply let them all go, and the things that will emerge will emerge.

In some respects, Cicero was a failure as a leader of Rome (others
will argue otherwise). But no body of work in oratory, philosophy and
epistelary literature survives as large as his, nor as well-read.

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