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Название: The Routledge dictionary of latin quotations
Автор: Stone J.R.
In a recent airing of a PBS travel program, a group of San Francisco-area
college students were filmed visiting China, their ancestral home. After arriving
in a wayside village, one of the women students quoted the ancient proverb,
“When you drink water, remember the source,” and then asserted, “That’s
very Chinese!” There is a similar Chinese aphorism that rebukes those who
would drink from a fountain without first giving thought to the ancestor who
had dug the well. In both instances, the notion is the same: we owe our lives,
but also our daily conveniences, to those who came before us. Whether Chinese
or American, Asian or Western, the proverb aptly applies to all. Our
ancestors planted the trees whose fruits we now eat; they built the roads and
bridges over which we now drive. Indeed, it is they who handed down to us
the storehouse of folk wisdom that we draw upon daily to guide, enrich, and
inform our lives.
For those of us who study cultural history, much of what we find in ancient
proverbial wisdom centers around themes of memory and connection.
Ancient wisdom encourages us to be ever mindful of our ties, as well as our
obligations, to the past. The way we go in this life follows after those who came
before us. “Via trita, via tuta,” the old Roman adage asserts, “The beaten path
is the safe path.” There is a certain comfort and assurance in knowing that the
road we travel upon is a familiar one and that it will not lead us astray. The
image that emerges, then, is of one generation after another following a trail
blazed by revered ancestors—of following and then of passing on a tradition
set down in custom as well as in word.