Desine, serve, librorum nugas stulte tuas nunc.
Tē dare nunc studium fas bene, serve, mihī.
Stop now your nonsense of books, foolish servant.
It is well right and just that you now, servant, pay attention to me.
ˉ = Full beat
˘ = Half beat
° = Either a full or half beat may be used
ˉ ˘ ˘ = D = Dactyl (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˉ = S = Spondee (a metrical foot)
ˉ ˘ = T = Trochee (a metrical foot)
/ = Separator between metrical feet
|| = A hiatus – a pronounced pause
X = Either a dactyl or spondee may be used
Y = Either a spondee or a trochee may be used
Form = Elegiac Couplet
X / X / X / X / D / Y
X / X / ° || D / D / ˉ
Dēsĭnĕ, / sērvĕ, lĭ / brōrūm / nūgās / stūltĕ tŭ / ās nūnc.
( ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˉ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˉ )
Tē dărĕ / nūnc stŭdĭ / ūm || fās bĕnĕ, / sērvĕ, mĭ / hī.
( ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ || ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ ˘ ˘ / ˉ )
The Vocabulary and Grammar
Desine = desino (desino, -sinere, -sii, -situm), verb, 3rd conjugation, 3rd person, singular, present, imperative, meaning = stop.
serve = servus (servus -i), noun, 2nd declension, singular, masculine, vocative (direct address), meaning = male servant.
librorum = liber (liber, -bri), noun, 2nd declension, plural, masculine, genitive (with nugas), meaning = of books.
nugas = nugae (nugae -arum), noun, 1st declension, plural, feminine, accusative, meaning = nonsense. (As noted above, nugas is plural in form but singular in translation, it only exists in plural form. English has the similarly related plural noun “fancies” for “nonsense.”).
stulte = stultus (stultus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, singular, masculine, vocative, modifies serve, meaning = foolish.
tuas = tuus (tuus -a -um), adjective, 1st & 2nd declension, plural, feminine, accusative, modifies nugas, meaning = your.
nunc = adverb, indeclinable, modifies dare, meaning = now.
Tē = tu = tu (tu …), pronoun, irregular, 2nd person, singular, accusative (subject of dare [indirect statement]), meaning = you.
dare = do (do, dare, dedi, datum), verb, irregular (mostly 1st conjugation-ish), present, active, infinitive, meaning = to give. (The construction, “Fas [est] … te dare” is an indirect statement – “It is right… *that* you give.” In an indirect statement, the “that” is understood, the subject is in the accusative case, and the verb is in the infinitive. The same literal construction conveys roughly the same meaning in English – “It is right… [for] you to give.” The indirect statement construction is used whenever it would be used in English: I heard that…, I read that…, I understood that…, It is right that… etc.)
studium = studium (studium, -ii), noun, 2nd declension, singular, neuter, accusative (direct object of dare [indirect statement]), meaning = pursuit, interest.
fas = fas, noun, indeclinable, neuter, meaning = divine law (an “est” – “it is” – is understood here).
bene = adverb, indeclinable, modifies fas (est), meaning = well.
mihī = ego (ego …), pronoun, irregular, 1st person, singular, dative, meaning = to me.
* “Week” is a used here as to specify an undefined length of time, possibly at times equal to an actual week.