Thursday, February 4, 2016

Latin Worth Knowing: Auribus Teneo Lupum / I Have a Wolf by the Ears

The playwright Terence, in his classic (tee hee) play the Phormio, gives us an interesting quote, which was apparently already a quote in his day:

id quod aiunt, auribus teneo lupum
That which they say, "I have a wolf by the ears." 
(Terentius, Phormio 506)

The fact that he prefaces the quote with "that which they say (id quod aiunt)" means this is not just something he is saying, this is current in their culture.

It is parallel to what we might say with "To Have a Tiger by the Tail." In other words, one is in a situation where action and inaction are equally dangerous and un-(forgive the pun)-tenable.

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