Latin Quotations Recalled by Flashman |
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Latin Quotations Recalled by Flashman

In a number of his books in which are recounted the memoirs of Harry Flashman, the bete noir of “Tom Brown’s School Days”, George MacDonald Fraser gives a number of Latin quotations, mostly recounted by the erstwhile and manque scholar, Captain John Charity Spring, whom he first meets as the master of the slave ship ‘Balliol College’. Flashman’s ability to both understand the meaning of these quotations, and indeed to quote them many years later, when writing his memoirs, surely indicates that his classical education at Rugby School was a lot more thorough than is generally supposed, and that he was indeed a credit to the efforts of his former headmaster, Thomas Arnold, despite his expulsion for drunkenness.

These quotations, and their translations, are listed below, together with the titles of the books in which they appear and the relevant page references. Where the source of the quotation is known, it is shown:


“Flash for Freedom!” (1971).

1. ‘Hiatus maxime/ valde deflendus.‘ A want greatly to be deplored. (p.48)

2. ‘Quidquid praecipies, esto brevis.‘ When you moralise, keep it short. (Horace) (p.49)

3. ‘Percunctatorem fugito; nam garrulus idem est.‘ Avoid the inquisitive man, for he is a talker. (Horace) (p.49)

4. ‘privatim et seriatim.‘ Separately and one after another. (p.54)

5. ‘qui male agit odit lucem.‘ The evil-doer hates the light. (Gospel according to St. John) (p.58)

6. ‘paucis carior est fides quam pecunia.‘ Few do not put a higher value on money than on good faith. (Sallust) (p.65)

7. ‘pars sanitatis velle sanari fuit.‘ The wish to be cured is itself a step towards health. (Seneca) (p.66)

8. ‘Gravis ira regum semper.‘ The anger of kings is always severe. (Seneca) (p.67)

9. ‘qui mori didicit servire dedidicit.‘ He who has learned to die has forgotten how to be a slave. (Seneca) (p.78)

10. ‘Quid violentius aure tyranni.‘ What is more dangerous than having the ear of a tyrant. (Juvenal) (p.91)

11. ‘Quo, quo, scelesti, ruitis?‘ Where on earth are you hastening, you fools? (Horace) (p.107)

12. ‘salvo pudore.‘ Without offending modesty. (p.109).

13. ‘Civis Romanus sum. Odi profanum vulgus.‘ I am a Roman citizen. I despise the common throng. (Cicero/ Horace) (p.110)

14. ‘omne capax movet urna nomen.‘ Every name is shaken in death’s great urn. (Horace) (p.118)

15. ‘monstrum horrendum.‘ A terrible monster (Virgil) (p.298)

16. ‘Qui facit per alium facit per se.‘ What a man does through another, he does himself. (p.312)

17. ‘litera scripta manet.‘ The written letter remains (as evidence). (p. 313)

18. ‘recta in curia.‘ Upright in court. (p.313)

19. ‘Post equitem sedet atra cura.‘ Dark care sits behind the horseman. i.e. a guilty man cannot escape himself. (Horace) (p.330)

20. ‘Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.‘ Change the name, and the story is told of yourself. (Horace) (p.331).


“Flashman and the Redskins” (1982).

1. ‘quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.‘ Even the good Homer sometimes nods off. (Horace) (p.24)

2. ‘Omnia mea mecum porto.‘ I carry all my things with me. (Cicero) (p.25)

3. ‘saepe intereunt aliis meditantur necem.‘ Those who plot the destruction of others often destroy themselves. (Phaedrus [Thrace of Macedonia) (p.26)

4. ‘Nulli jactantius maerent, qua, qui laetantur.‘ None mourn with more affectation of sorrow than those who are inwardly rejoicing. (Tacitus re. Tiberius following the death of Germanicus) (p.28)

5. ‘Mea duce tutus eris.‘ With me as your leader, you will be safe. (Ovid) (p.28)

6. ‘Hiatus valde deflendus.‘ A want greatly to be deplored. (p.29)

7. ‘Plura faciunt homines e consutudine, quam e ratione.‘ Men do more from (force of) habit than from reason. (p.29)

8. ‘Qui timide rogat, docet negare.‘ He who asks timidly invites refusal. (p.38)

9. ‘Saevit amor ferri.‘ The passsion for arms is raging. (Virgil) (p.42)

10. ‘Non equidem invideo, miror magis.‘ Indeed, I do not envy your fortune, I rather wonder at it. (Virgil) (p.49)

11. ‘Ver non semper viret.‘ The spring does not always flourish. (p.49)

12. ‘porcus ex grege diaboli.‘ A swine from the devil’s herd. (p.56)

13. ‘video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor.‘ I see and approve the better things, I follow the worse ones. (Ovid) (p.56)

14. ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?‘ Who shall guard the guardians themselves? (Juvenal) (p.325)


“Flashman and the Angel of the Lord.” (1994).

1. ‘gratis superveniet quae non sperabitur hora.‘ The hour which is not expected will prove most gratifying. (Horace) (p.39)

2. ‘nulla pallescere culpa.‘ Not to turn pale at the imputation of guilt. (Horace) (p.39)

3. ‘Fuit Ilium.‘ Troy has been (i.e. the reason for this dispute no longer exists.) (Virgil) (p.39)

4. ‘mortuo leoni et lepores insultant.‘ Even hares can insult a dead lion. (p.40)

5. ‘fronti nulla fides.‘ No faith can be placed on the countenance (i.e. appearance) (p.40)

6. ‘Gaudetque viam fecisse ruina.‘ He rejoices to have made his way by ruin. (Lucan) (p.41)

7. ‘Felicitas habet multos amicos.‘ Happiness (or prosperity) has many friends. (p.42)

8. ‘Ex Africa semper aliquid novi.‘ There is always something new coming out of Africa. (Pliny the Elder) (p.52)

9. ‘quid de quoque viro, et cui dicas, saepe caveto.‘ Take special care what you say of any man and to whom it is said. (Horace) (p.55)

10. ‘quem de Deus esse jussit.‘ What God commanded you to be. (Persius) (p.56)

11. ‘utrum horum mavis accipe.‘ Take whichever of these you prefer. (p.57)

12. ‘homo extra est corpus sum cum irascitur.‘ A man, when he is angry, is beside himself. (Syrus Publilius) (p.57)

13. ‘Raro antecedentem scelestum deseruit pede poena claudo.‘ Justice, though moving slowly, seldom fails to overhaul the fleeing villain. (Horace) (p.59)

14. ‘Vox et praeterea nihil.‘ (You are) a voice and nothing else. (p.60)

15. ‘vitiant artus aegrae contagia mentis.‘ Nor are my limbs impaired by the contagion of a sick man. (Ovid) (p.60)

16. ‘Olim meminisse juvabit.‘ It will be pleasant to remember former troubles. (Virgil) (p.63)

17. ‘dum spiro spero.‘ While I breathe, I hope. (p.66)

18. ‘Flashman monstrum informe ingens et horrendum.‘ The monster Flashman, shapeless, huge and horrible. (adapted from Virgil’s description of the Cyclops Polyphemus) (p.70)

19. ‘omne in praecipiti vitium stetit.‘ Every kind of vice has reached its summit. (p.70)


Flashman and the Tiger (1999).

1. ‘rari nantes in gurgite vasto.‘ Swimming dispersedly in the vasty deep. (Virgil) (p.116)

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