7

The phrase As above, so below was first attested in Arabic, and has a medieval Latin translation:

Quod est superius est sicut quod inferius, et quod inferius est sicut quod est superius.

That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above.

While a very literal translation, I find this lengthy and it loses the charm of the shortened English phrase. I could shorten to just the first half of the sentence, but I feel this could be made even shorter. Is there a way to say this in a more succinct way in Classical Latin?

Edit: There is an additional translation given by Hugo of Santalia in the Wikipedia entry listed above:

Superiora de inferioribus, inferiora de superioribus

I would still like to know if there's an even more succinct way to say this, or if it would be different in Classical Latin.

0
13

The phrase you are looking for is either of these:

Ut supra, sic infra.

Ut supra, ita infra.

They both mean the same thing. I think the first one sounds better.

I just searched a bit for these on Google Books and was surprised not to find many hits. I thought I'd first encountered this phrase in descriptions of the medieval worldview, as a well known way to summarize it. I thought I'd encountered it numerous times, actually. Maybe it's not as well known as I thought.

1
  • I was expecting to find more readily available translations as well, although to be fair I didn't Google that hard after reading the Wikipedia entry.
    – Adam
    Apr 4 at 17:26
5

As...so... can be represented in a few ways, but I like tam...quam... for it:

  • tam de superiis, quam de inferiis.
  • Just as from above, so too from below.

This also gets to the Arabic better, if the Wikipedia article is accurate.

3
  • It was actually @tony's post about as...as and the answer to that which got me thinking about this phrase. I wasn't sure if tam...quam could be used like this so I left it out of my question. It's great that it more closely parallels the original Arabic!
    – Adam
    Apr 4 at 17:23
  • 2
    @Adam I should note that the de is what the Arabic has that the original Latin doesn't. What comes from above.... That said, I'm relying on Wikipedia for that information, as I don't know Arabic.
    – cmw
    Apr 4 at 17:59
  • 1
    @C.M.Weimer The "من" of the Arabic does indeed have a basic meaning of "from" (though it can have other meanings too).
    – psmears
    Apr 6 at 10:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.