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ars est celare artem
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1993
From: Barbara Weiden Boyd
Subject: help

It's late in the day at the end of the week, so I hope you don't mind if I turn to you for some help. Perhaps one of you is working with PHI even as we speak (so to speak), and so can search for this. A colleague in philosophy has asked for the source of "Ars est celare artem." It's not Ovid; but are there any other good guesses out there? I should note that my colleague wasn't exactly sure about word order.

Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1993
From: "Andrew S. Becker"
Subject: Re: help

Not exactly it, but close is Quintilian 9.3.102: ubicumque ars ostendatur, veritas abesse videatur. Cf. a modern version from Howard Felperin, Beyond Deconstruction p.182: "The referential value of language must, as modernist poetics is well aware, decrease in proportion to its self-referentiality." I disagree profoundly with both statements, I must add: much of my own work is an attempt to show that attention to the artistry of the medium can enhance our engagement with the referent.

Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1993
From: "James A. Arieti"
Subject: ars est celare artem

The sentiment, if not the exact words do occur in Ovid (Ars. am. 2.313): si latet ars, prodest.

Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1993 10:00:29
From: Barbara Weiden Boyd
Subject: ars est celare artem?

The plot thickens (interesting metaphor, isn't it?) . . . The bad news is, I have yet to find the source (if there is one) for the line 'ars est celare artem'; and R. Kaster has confirmed the negative results of my owm skimming of the Ovid concordance and TLL with his own searches of PHI, which turned up only Quintilian 1.11.3 "nam si qua in his ars est dicentium, ea prima est ne ars esse videatur". A. Becker also offered the also-nice but not-cigar-like "ubicumque ars ostendatur, veritas abesse videatur" (Quint. 9. 3. 102). As several others have noted, Ovid of course does say something VERY similar at Ars 2. 313: si latet ars, prodest. But what I've got sounds more like a paraphrase, a scholiast's restatement of Ovid. A post-classical source, perhaps? Or could my friend simply have made it up? He's an Irishman with an incredible memory, particularly for the verse, quips, and mnemonic devices he learned growing up. Further indication that he didn't just "make it up" is provided by that dubious tome "Amo, Amas, Amat and More: How to use Latin to Your Own Advantage and to the Astonishment of Others," by [sic] Eugene Ehrlich (harper and Row 1985), brought to my attn. by T. McGinnis/D. Wigtil. This book gives the line "ars est celare artem" (p. 56), and then identifies it by saying, Ovid's maxim in Ars Amatoria . . . "! How did this so-close- and yet-so-wrong pseudo-reference find its way to Ehrlich? Sorry to go on about this at such length, but isn't this just the sort of thing we philologists love to do?

Date: Mon, 21 Jun 1993
From: David Meadows
Subject: Re: ars est celare artem?

Count me among those who were misled by Amo, Amas, Amat etc. plus a Penguin translation which added to the confusion and figured the phrase was from Ovid, Ars Amatoria. While gnashing my teeth when I discovered that I had, once again, jumped the gun on this one a thought did occur: could this perhaps come from some scholiast or perhaps, is a Greek line rendered into Latin?

Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1993
From: PMW Matheson
Subject: Re: ars est celare artem?

If you need more evidence that he "didn't just make it up," the phrase is given (without attribution) in H.P.Jones' _Dictionary of Foreign Phrases and Classical Quotations_ (Edinburgh 1923). This means it is treated on a par with "Editio princeps" and "Dum spiro, spero", i.e., as gnomic. Though his attributions are scanty: usually just the author's name, and the preface admits that attributions are often omitted, particularly in cases where the phrase quoted is part of a longer quotation, in which case the attribution occurs with the longer quotation. No attribution either for "Non sum qualis eram," for instance. I didn't find "ars est .." flipping through the attributed quotes (rari nantes -- no attribution for that either!).

Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1993
Subject: Re: ars est celare artem? I really haven't been following this entire exchange, but the phrase is reminiscent of Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.252 (Pygmalion's statue): ars adeo latet arte sua. Perhaps "ars est celare artem" is a restatement of this.

Wed, 23 Jun 1993
Subject: Re: ars est celare artem?

A.P. Herbert (I think) on the best way to conduct a feud: Mars est celare Martem. Malcolm Heath
Culled from classics.log9306
Copyright © 2001 David Meadows
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