Following on from Q: Diogenes quote about poisoned honey, how is this quote from Diogenes: "A beautiful whore is like poisoned honey.", to be expressed in Latin?

Here's a guess:

Diogenes dixit pulchram lupam tamquam mel venenatum esse. =

Diogenes said that a beautiful whore is just like honey which has been poisoned.

Is this correct?

  • If you want indirect speech, I recommend including some kind of a governing structure like "he said that". Indirect speech doesn't stand well on its own, but this quote is isolated. I'm not sure why you don't want normal direct speech; converting it to be indirect in a given context should be straightforward.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 11:55
  • Joonas llmavirta: I wasn't sure about this which is why I asked the question. Talking about someone else doing/ being something else is still direct speech? Thanks. Is it better now?
    – tony
    Commented Dec 17, 2022 at 12:43

1 Answer 1


Using tamquam to say “X is like Y” seems to be at least unusual, it is more typically used to form adverbial expressions like sensus in capite tamquam in arce conlocati sunt etc. (Even with esse, e. g. apud eum sic fui, tamquam domi meae.) I'd feel insecure about writing that. Instead, I would rather say similem melis venenati esse (or meli venenato): “to be similar to poisoned honey.”

Aside from that, all looks good to me.

I do remember the story a little different, though. Te fortasse, mi carissime Antoni, delectabit Latine me totam rem referre. Diogenes enim pro lupanari constitit quondam et appetentibus singulis dicebat: pulchram meretricem melis venenati similem esse. Scortatores, quibus scilicet talia verba displicebant, ut taceret, nummos cynico obiecerunt. Qui, simulatque satis pecuniae accepit, sine mora ipse lupanar intravit.

  • Thank you: "as befitting the brothel it cost a certain (amount) and in the strivings for every (penny) Diogenes was saying: a beautiful whore was like poisoned honey. The prostitutes, to whom, naturally, these words were displeasing, in order to achieve peace, they threw coins to the the cynic. Who, when he had received enough money, entered the brothel without delay". How does, "simulat" = "he pretends", come into it? How are you translating, "appetentibus singulis"?
    – tony
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 10:10
  • In addressing me directly, person-to-person, you have chosen indirect speech: "te [...] referre": why indirectly? Shouldn't "delectabit" be a future infinitive, then? tibi gratias ago pro tota re.
    – tony
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 10:24
  • Would Diogenes' ruse have worked on the Reeperbahn? I suppose, there, the pimps would emerge throwing things other than money? These "carers" take a big slice of the girls' earnings and sometimes treat them badly; but, they do protect them from perverts and dangerous nut-cases. Brutal sex-crimes are nothing new (St. Jerome's comments in the 4th C); who protected Rome's "princesses-of-the-streets"?
    – tony
    Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 13:10
  • 1
    @tony I was trying to say: One time Diogenes stood in front of a brothel and told every single person who approached: […] simulatque = simul atque = “as soon as.” And it was the johns (scortatores) not the prostitutes (scorta) who gave him money, although I guess that would make the story even better. Te is just the object of delectare, which goes with an AcI; I could also have written: te delectabit si … rem referam. Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 19:51
  • @tony I for one am not volunteering to find out how this would go down in a modern red-light district. As for the question under what “protection” the Roman lupae, or in case of Diogenes, the pornai of Athens or Corinth stood, I do not know. Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 19:57

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