For example, a tattoo can semi-permanently mark two people, indicating their relationship. Human relationships and individual behavior are unpredictable compared to the permanence of tattoos. Of course there's laser, but it's neither cheap nor perfect.

What would be an appropriate way to warn someone that the results of a decision can far outlast the foresight of the decision maker, that some things can't be easily undone and one might want to think about this a while longer?

"Bonus points" for a reference to decisions made in youth.


It's somewhat more general than the question, but there's a famous Latin saying:

Quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem.
In everything you do, act wisely and consider the end.

It is from the Gesta Romanorum, a late medieval collection of fables, chapter 103. It's actually one of three “wisdoms” sold by a merchant to a just ruler for mille florenis, which I take is a lot of gold.

Independent from this relatively obscure tale, the saying has become a well-known exhortation not to act too rash.

(The other wisdoms are not so universally useful: Never leave the public road to walk on a footpath, and never sleep in a house where the owner is old and his wife is young. Each wisdom ends up saving the king's life from assassins at some point, so the money was well spent. When the story is over, a turgid moralizatio follows where we learn that the merchant was Jesus Christ, the porter who let him in is the free will and whatnot.)

  • 4
    This is an excellent suggestion, not only because it is stylishly in hexameter!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Sep 16 '20 at 12:30
  • @JoonasIlmavirta I never notice these things! Sep 16 '20 at 17:46
  • If you wanted to make this a pithy tattoo, you could probably shorten it to just "RESPICE FINEM"
    – Nickimite
    Sep 16 '20 at 18:59
  • @SebastianKoppehel Having spent quite a bit of time reading and especially writing hexameter, it has become impossible for me to not notice. My mind just involuntarily starts trying to scan when I read.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Sep 16 '20 at 19:03
  • 2
    @Sebastian Koppehel Then I will get another tattoo for "Respice initium" ;)
    – Nickimite
    Sep 16 '20 at 23:44

From the Temple of Apollo, at Delphi, the pithy aphorism: "nosce te ipsum" = "learn to know yourself".

(The simplistic use of imperative, "nosce" (from "nosco" = "learn to know"), with accusative direct object, "te", intensified with a part of "ipse" = "self", the accusative "ipsum".)

In my experience of life, such that it's been, the man who knows himself makes fewer mistakes--long-term, or otherwise.

As for lovers and tattoos, adapting the well-known "caveat emptor" = "(let the) buyer beware"; how about: "caveat amator" = "(may the) lover beware"?

This expression using the present subjunctive, "caveat", in the context of a command "let the"/ "may".

it conjures up the amusing image of an arm, festooned with the crossed-out names of ex-partners, from wrist to shoulder.

  • 1
    For the bonus points, caveat luventor (young/youth)? Quite possible I wrote that in the wrong form.
    – Mast
    Sep 16 '20 at 11:55

Not directly related to youth, but there's a phrase I was told was a common Latin saying when I studied Latin: "Properate lente", i.e. "make haste slowly".

  • 2
    Another well-known version of this is Festina lente! (when directed at several persons: Festinate, but that's not the usual form). Sep 16 '20 at 19:14
  • @SebastianKoppehel My Latin dictionary translated both "properate" and "festinate" as "make haste". I'd guess there's a difference in connotation, but my Latin is far from good enough to know what! (Like someone looking up English words in a dictionary might be confused what the difference is between, say, "like", "love" and "lust"!)
    – Jay
    Sep 17 '20 at 13:55

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