I'm writing an essay in which I'd like to use the expression "ut poësis pictura" with the intent of flipping the original expression by Horace "ut pictura poësis". I never studied Latin so I'm asking if using this formula is formally correct.

More precisely I intend to use the expression according to the following logic (with my tentative translation):

ORIGINAL: ut pictura poësis: as it is in painting should be in poetry

REINVENTED: ut poësis pictura: as it is in poetry should be in painting

Is this correct? Does this makes sense?

Thanks in advance!

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    The quote of Horace is the beginning of De arte poetica v. 361; the scansion is: - x - uu - u (where "x" is the replacement of an uu by an -). The reversement of the word order wpuld destroy the hexameter. BTW, the length of the e in poesis is due to the Eta in the underlying greek word ποίησις. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 18:15
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    Yep, as a motto of sorts, you can reverse them with no other change in grammar.
    – cmw
    Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 23:14

1 Answer 1


Ut poesis pictura literally means 'as poetry, [so] painting'. Since both nouns occupy the same syntactic spot, it is semantically and grammatically sound to reverse the phrase to ut pictura poesis 'as painting, [so] poetry'.

And, logically, it is a tautological necessity that, if ut poesis pictura, so too ut pictura poesis.

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