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Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Saint Jerome (ca. 34730 September 420), full name Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. Jerome's edition, the Vulgate, is still the official biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church. He is canonized in all Christianity and recognized by the Vatican as a Doctor of the Church.



  • Amicum qui diu quaeritur, vix invenitur, difficile servatur.
    • A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept.
      • Letter 3
  • Caritas non potest conparari; dilectio pretium non habet.
    • Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price.
      • Letter 3
  • Amicitia quae desinere potest vera numquam fuit.
    • The friendship that can cease has never been real.
      • Letter 3
  • Facilius enim neglegentia emendari potest quam amor nasci.
    • It is easier to mend neglect than to quicken love.
      • Letter 7
  • Libet, sarcina corporis abiecta, ad purum aetheris evolare fulgorem. Paupertatem times? sed beatos Christus pauperes appellat. Labore terreris? at nemo athleta sine sudore coronatur. De cibo cogitas? sed fides famem non timet. Super nudam metuis humum exesa ieiuniis membra collidere? sed Dominus tecum iacet. Squalidi capitis horret inculta caesaries? sed caput tuum Christus est. Infinita eremi vastitas te terret? sed tu paradisum mente deambula. Quotiescumque illuc cogitatione conscenderis, toties in eremo non eris.
    • Sweet it is to lay aside the weight of the body and to soar into the pure bright ether. Do you dread poverty? Christ calls the poor blessed. (Luke 6:20) Does toil frighten you? No athlete is crowned but in the sweat of his brow. Are you anxious as regards food? Faith fears no famine. Do you dread the bare ground for limbs wasted with fasting? The Lord lies there beside you. Do you recoil from an unwashed head and uncombed hair? Christ is your true head. Does the boundless solitude of the desert terrify you? In the spirit you may walk always in paradise. Do but turn your thoughts there and you will be no more in the desert.
      • Letter 14, 10; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [1]
  • Si rivus tenuiter fluit, non est alvei culpa, sed fontis.
    • If there is but little water in the stream, it is the fault, not of the channel, but of the source.
      • Letter 17
  • Asino quippe lyra superflue canit.
    • It is idle to play the lyre for an ass.
      • Letter 27; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [2]
  • Everything must have in it a sharp seasoning of truth.
    • Letter 31
  • Ita se natura habet, ut amara sit veritas, blanda vitia existimentur.
    • Yet such is the order of nature. While truth is always bitter, pleasantness waits upon evildoing.
      • Letter 40
  • The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.
    • Letter 48
  • Do not let your deeds belie your words, lest when you speak in church someone may say to himself, "Why do you not practice what you preach?"
    • Letter 52
  • No one cares to speak to an unwilling listener. An arrow never lodges in a stone: often it recoils upon the sender of it.
    • Letter 52
  • That clergyman soon becomes an object of contempt who being often asked out to dinner never refuses to go.
    • Letter 52
  • Negotiatorem clericum, et ex inope divitem, ex ignobili gloriosum quasi quandam pestem fuge.
    • A clergyman who engages in business, and who rises from poverty to wealth, and from obscurity to a high position, avoid as you would the plague.
  • It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance.
    • Letter 53
  • Bruta quoque animalia et vagae aves, in easdem pedicas retiaque non incidunt.
    • Even brute beasts and wandering birds do not fall into the same traps or nets twice.
  • Sometimes the character of the mistress is inferred from the dress of her maids.
    • Letter 54
  • Alius vulnus, nostra sit cautio.
  • Plenus venter facile de ieiuniis disputat.
    • When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.
      • Letter 58
  • Grandes materias ingenia parva non sufferunt.
    • Small minds can never handle great themes.
      • Letter 60
  • O mors quae fratres dividis, et amore societos, crudelis ac dura dissocias.
    • O death that dividest brothers knit together in love, how cruel, how ruthless you are so to sunder them!
      • Letter 60; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [3]
  • Quotidie morimur, quotidie commutamur, et tamen aternos nos esse credimus.
    • Every day we are changing, every day we are dying, and yet we fancy ourselves eternal.
      • Letter 60; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [4]
  • Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness?
    • Letter 107
  • Proclivis est enim malorum aemulatio, et quorum virtutes assequi nequeas, cito imitaris vitia.
    • We are always ready to imitate what is evil; and faults are quickly copied where virtues appear inattainable.
      • Leter 107
  • Let your daughter have first of all the book of Psalms for holiness of heart, and be instructed in the Proverbs of Solomon for her godly life.
    • Letter 107
  • The tired ox treads with a firmer step.
    • Letter 112
  • Athletes as a rule are stronger than their backers; yet the weaker presses the stronger to put forth all his efforts.
    • Letter 118
  • Audio religiosam habere te matrem, multorum annorum viduam, quae aluit, quae erudivit infantem et post studia Galliarum, quae vel florentissima sunt, misit Romam non parcens sumptibus et absentiam filii spe sustinens futurorum, ut ubertatem Gallici nitoremque sermonis gravitas Romana condiret nec calcaribus in te sed frenis uteretur, quod et in disertissimis viris Graeciae legimus, qui Asianum tumorem Attico siccabat sale et luxuriantes flagellis vineas falcibus reprimebant, ut eloquentiae toreularia non verborum pampinis, sed sensuum quasi uvarum expressionibus redundarent.
    • I am told that your mother is a religious woman, a widow of many years' standing; and that when you were a child she reared and taught you herself. Afterwards when you had spent some time in the flourishing schools of Gaul she sent you to Rome, sparing no expense and consoling herself for your absence by the thought of the future that lay before you. She hoped to see the exuberance and glitter of your Gallic eloquence toned down by Roman sobriety, for she saw that you required the rein more than the spur. So we are told of the greatest orators of Greece that they seasoned the bombast of Asia with the salt of Athens and pruned their vines when they grew too fast. For they wished to fill the wine-press of eloquence not with the tendrils of mere words but with the rich grape-juice of good sense.
    • Letter 125 (Ad Rusticum Monachum)
  • It is no fault of Christianity that a hypocrite falls into sin.
    • Letter 125
  • The charges we bring against others often come home to ourselves; we inveigh against faults which are as much ours as theirs; and so our eloquence ends by telling against ourselves.
    • Letter 125
  • Neither Britain, a province fertile in tyrants, nor the people of Ireland, knew Moses and the prophets.
    • Letter 133
  • A dreadful rumor reached us from the West. We heard that Rome was besieged, that the citizens were buying their safety with gold, and that when they had been thus despoiled they were again beleaguered, so as to lose not only their substance but their lives. ...The speaker's voice failed and sobs interrupted his utterance. The city which had taken the whole world was itself taken; nay, it fell by famine before it fell by the sword, and there were but few to be found to be made prisoner.
    • Letter to Lady Principia (412) bewailing the sack of Rome by the Visigoths Aug 24, 410; as quoted by John Freely in Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe (2012)


Old Testament[edit]

  • Privilegia paucorum non faciunt legem.
    • The privileges of a few do not make common law.
    • Exposition on Jona

New Testament[edit]

De Viris Illustribus[edit]

De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men) – full English version (trans. E. C. Richardson)
  • A quo et affixus cruci, martyrio coronatus est, capite ad terram verso, et in sublime pedibus elevatis: asserens se indignum qui sic crucifigeretur ut Dominus suus.
    • At [Nero's] hands [Peter] received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.
      • Chapter 1
  • Hic ergo quarto decimo Neronis anno, eodem die quo Petrus Romae, pro Christo capite truncatur, sepultusque est in via Ostiensi, anno post passionem Domini tricesimo septimo.
    • [Paul] then, in the fourteenth year of Nero on the same day with Peter, was beheaded at Rome for Christ's sake and was buried in the Ostian way, the twenty-seventh year after our Lord's passion.
      • Chapter 5

Adversus Jovinianum[edit]

Adversus Jovinianum (Against Jovinianus) – full English version (trans. W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley)
  • Just as divorce according to the Saviour's word was not permitted from the beginning, but on account of the hardness of our heart was a concession of Moses to the human race, so too the eating of flesh was unknown until the deluge. But after the deluge, like the quails given in the desert to the murmuring people, the poison of flesh-meat was offered to our teeth. … At the beginning of the human race we neither ate flesh, nor gave bills of divorce, nor suffered circumcision for a sign. Thus we reached the deluge. But after the deluge, together with the giving of the law which no one could fulfil, flesh was given for food, and divorce was allowed to hard-hearted men, and the knife of circumcision was applied, as though the hand of God had fashioned us with something superfluous. But once Christ has come in the end of time, and Omega passed into Alpha and turned the end into the beginning, we are no longer allowed divorce, nor are we circumcised, nor do we eat flesh.
    • Book I, 18
  • Dicæarchus in his book of Antiquities, describing Greece, relates that under Saturn, that is in the Golden Age, when the ground brought forth all things abundantly, no one ate flesh, but every one lived on field produce and fruits which the earth bore of itself.
    • Book II, 13
  • Orpheus in his song utterly denounces the eating of flesh. I might speak of the frugality of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Antisthenes to our confusion: but it would be tedious, and would require a work to itself. At all events this is the Antisthenes who, after teaching rhetoric with renown, on hearing Socrates, is related to have said to his disciples, «Go, and seek a master, for I have now found one.» He immediately, sold what he had, divided the proceeds among the people, and kept nothing for himself but a small cloak. … His most famous follower was the great Diogenes, who was mightier than King Alexander in that he conquered human nature.
    • Book II, 14

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