Friday, May 14, 2004

Omnia Mea Mecum Porto

This is one of my many mottos and maxims. A man without a multitude of mottos and maxims -- what would such a man be worth, and how could he possibly live? I believe I got this one from Schopenhauer, and probably from Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit in the context of a discussion of happiness and its preconditions. He probably borrowed it from one of the Roman Stoics such as Seneca. To be happy, be self-sufficient: carry your all with you. A motto for philosophers and backpackers alike.

It is easy Latin. Start at the end with the verb, porto, 'I carry.' From the infinitive portare, the stem port lives on in numerous words of English and other languages: port, portage, porter, portable, porta-potty, import, export, report (to carry back), deport, comport, transport, abort (ab-port), portmanteau (carry-all), and so on. What about disport? It means to divert or amuse. Someone who disports himself (lasciviously with the ladies, for example) gets carried away.

I carry what? Omnia mea, my all. That mea qualifies omnia is clear from the sameness of their terminal letters. How do I carry it? Mecum, with me. Cum is in use in (non-pornographic) English as a substitute for 'with,' so mecum presents no difficulty.