Saturday, April 8, 2017

Latin Quotes Worth Knowing About: Lucullus Dines with Lucullus!

This Latin Quote is actually originally from Greek, but it's about a Roman and a Latin translation has been used literarily.

Plutarch, writing about the Roman Lucullus, a politician of the Late Republic, reports the following delightful anecdote about this man, known for his love of lavish meals.

He was brought a meager meal while dining alone. The slave who prepared it had assumed that Lucullus would not want a rich and expensive meal, since he didn't have even one guest. To this, Lucullus states:

οὐκ ᾔδειςὅτι σήμερον παρὰ Λουκούλλῳ δειπνεῖ Λούκουλλος;’
Don't you know that today Lucullus dines with Lucullus? (Plut. Luc. 41.2)

The statement "to dine Lucullus cum Luculo" can be used to describe enjoyment with eating alone. Note, for instance, Charles Lever:

"...[T]here have been times when I have enjoyed these Lucullus cum Lucullo festivals more than convivial assemblages."
(Lever, A Day's Ride: A Life's Romance, p. 206 [1876])

Yet more delightful is this usage by the erudite Rev. Joseph Farrell:

"I have dined alone, Lucullus cum Lucullo or Lazarus cum Lazaro, it boots not which..."
(Farrell, "Lectures by a Certain Professor," The Irish Monthly Magazine, Vol. 1, p. 134 [1873])

Nota Bene, Father Farrell here augments the phrase with a coinage implying "to eat alone on meager fare" (cf. Luke 16:19-31), that very thing that Lucullus was unwilling to do!

Fun Fact: Lucullus was once married to the sister of the woman thought to be Catullus' lover Lesbia!

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