Is there a Latin idiom for praising oneself in classical Latin? In English one can blow one's own horn (there are variants of this saying), but I doubt tuba sua ludere is likely mean the right thing. I am looking for a colorful way to put this, not just "to praise or promote oneself", but colorless suggestions are also welcome if more vivid idioms are nowhere to be found.

Ideally, I would like something that could be considered an idiom — attested several times in a similar meaning. But if there is only a single occurrence of a juicy parable in Cicero, no need to resist sharing it…

  • In English, it's usually toot your own horn these days, as "blowing your own horn/trumpet" has unintended (or sometimes intended) comical connotations.
    – cmw
    Apr 18 '17 at 5:10
  • @C.M.Weimer Good to know. I added a note in the question. Asking about idioms through a foreign language has its risks...
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 18 '17 at 5:14

Smith gives four options. The standard option is gloriari. This has a long and gloried history (groan) throughout Classical Latin, and Cicero seems especially fond of it. As usual, check Lewis & Short for details on usage.

However, gloriari isn't really an idiom for 'boast', but a fairly direct correspondence. One potential idiom is se iactare. This is a true idiom, because it could also mean to "actively devote oneself". It also gave the present participle a meaning of "boastful." Pliny the Younger writes (Ep. 3.9):

miserat etiam epistulas Romam ad amiculam quandam, iactantes et gloriosas, his quidem verbis: 'Io io, liber ad te venio; iam sestertium quadragiens redegi parte vendita Baeticorum.

He had also sent letters to Rome to a certain friend, boastful and vainglorious, with these words...

For a casual idiom, this is what I would go with.

Iste Ionias qui se semper iactat propter viginti milia punctorum...

Some other options are to use ostentare + acc. (whence 'ostentatious'), which I would translate as "to show off"; or praedicare, but that's a very rare sense, if at all (Smith has it, L&S doesn't really).

  • I'm not sure who you are referring to. Ionas, perhaps? :-) (And, to toot my own horn, it's almost 22 by now!)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 18 '17 at 6:28

Se iactare seems a fairly literal translation of "show off." If you want a more colorful image, Ovid offers us a wonderful little phrase addressed to Galatea by Polyphemus:

Saevior indomitis eadem Galatea iuvencis,
durior annosa quercu, fallacior undis,
lentior et salicis virgis et vitibus albis,
his inmobilior scopulis, violentior amne,
laudato pavone superbior, acrior igni,
asperior tribulis, feta truculentior ursa,
surdior aequoribus, calcato inmitior hydro.... (Ov. M 13:798-804)

Laudato pavone superbior even has a great English translation:

Prouder than a praised peacock

It's not quite the same as "tooting one's own horn," but it definitely is a great way of conveying the image of pride!

  • 1
    That's a wonderful English translation! For once, the translated idiom competes with the original.
    – ktm5124
    Apr 18 '17 at 16:21
  • Nice one. I might start using that myself.
    – cmw
    Apr 19 '17 at 4:16

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