Saturday, September 10, 2011

prevalent quotes in the aenied

I'm always amazed by how many everyday phrases come from literature - especially ancient literature. My parents and grandparents both use the phrase, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Also, I liked speculating the origin of "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." I never realized it referred to the trojan horse. Has anyone else seen any popular quotes?


Mallory said...

I found it interesting that he stated that the most important quote in the Aeneid was "dont look a gift horse in the mouth." I do not commonly hear that phrase but after understanding the context it makes complete sense that the quote came from the Aeneid.

sara pendleton said...

I never got "never look a gift horse in the mouth" either. I always thought it meant you should accept something free or something that was a gift with out complaning about it. For example if you inherit a 15 year old car that isnt the car of your dreams but that still runs fairly well, then you are sopposed to blindly accept it uncomplaining because its free and its avalible. Now that I know what "dont look a gift horse in the mouth" really means, I feel like it's maybe a little more sinister, like maybe your new car's crappy but its also going to break down. I feel like getting a "gift horse" doesnt seem like a good thing anymore. Whenever I used to think about that saying I'd picture some little farmer giving someone a sickly horse very cheaply and the recipient was soposed to be excited because a thin horse is better than no horse. I guess I used to think the "look it in the mouth" part had to do with complaining about how it wasnt what you wanted. Well I guess I was pretty far off on that one...

msking said...

Sara, Your first impression/interpretation of the saying--"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth"--was actually correct. As I mentioned in class the other day, I simply wondered if the story of the Trojan horse might be the origin of the cliche. However, I did a little research, and here's what I found on

You can determine the relative age of a horse by inspecting its teeth.

Back in the day, a horse was commonly given as a gift.

If a man received a horse as a gift, and then inspected inside its mouth, he was trying to assess the value of the gift he received. So, the saying means that you should not assess the value of any gift that you receive; rather you should be thankful for the thoughtfulness of the gift-giver

So, I was wrong in my speculation that the phrase might have originated with the Trojan horse, but it's clear that my question has sparked an interesting discussion.

According to Crump, the most famous line in the Aeneid is when Laocoon says, "I fear the Greeks, . . . even bringing gifts," which has been morphed into "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

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