That Latin on Gus's Sign in Lonesome Dove?

Can anyone translate it for me?

I’d type out the Latin here but my copy of the book is packed away as part of our babyproofing crusade. I thought I’d take a chance that some knowledgeable person had translated it and would recall what it said.


I replied to the first one. All of them have discussions of what the quote means as well:

Googled “lonesome dove” “latin”. Got this:

Here’s a copy of The Hat Creek Cattle Company sign on Ebay.

IMDB’s quotation from Lonesome Dove

[referring to the Hat Creek Cattle Company sign]
Woodrow Call : …and if that ain’t bad enough you got all them Greek words on there, too.
Gus McCrae : I told you, Woodrow, a long time ago it ain’t Greek, it’s Latin.
Woodrow Call : Well what does it say in Latin?
[Gus blusters some gibberish]
Woodrow Call : For all you know it invites people to rob us.
Gus McCrae : Well the first man comes along that can read Latin is welcome to rob us, far as I’m concerned. I’d like a chance t’ shoot at a educated man once in my life.

The phrase is “Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit.”

It’s basically nonsense. It means something like. “A grape seeing a grape becomes ripe.”

I really should preview once in a while.

Apparently I should google - it really never occurred to me to check that way.

Thanks for the info! I so love that book.

What about that proverb, anyway? Is it like “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”? Or is it more positive? (“You will succeed if you follow a good example.”) Or is it about competition? (“One is content to be as one is, until he sees a competitor.”)

“A grape ripens when it sees another grape” seems to mean that one tends to become the example it follows.

Isn’t that Jake’s fate? He becomes the company he keeps.

And here I thought the OP was going to ask about the carving on the hitching post, “TOTI EMUL ESTO”. Which is a bit easier to translate.

pig Latin!! :slight_smile:

Hi all…

Reading “Comanche Moon” now- there is a passage where Inish Scull is caged next to a cliff by the Black Vaquero. To keep his spirits up, he scratches out a large passage in Greek (I think its Homer?)… any clue to what that says?

Can you transcribe it here?

Is it in Greek letters?


Yes, it is in Greek letters- so not able to transcribe. And it is “enough Homer for one day”, which is what Inish is thinking at the end of the chapter.If anyone has the paperback version of the book, its on page 348.

I found the passage by using the Amazon search function
This is what it gave me.

First, I should say that Homeric Greek is earlier and different from the Classical Greek that I’ve studied but by looking at the above, it appears to be gibberish. It’s just random jumbles of Greek letters. It may be a garbled rendering of some actual passage from Homer but it contains a lot of nonsensical spellings and meaningless runs of letters. There is no Greek word, for instance, that would contain five iotas in a row as “IIIIIOI” does above.

Is the character supposed to be addled or delirious during this bit? I think that’s what the passage is conveying. There’s some remembered knowledge of Greek (and maybe Homer) in the scribbling, but it appears to be garbled beyond recognition.


It looks different , although similar in the book- I know nothing about Greek so I don’t know if what Amazon quotes is the “english letter” version of it. But I don’t see any word that looks like "IIIIIOI ".

The character in question is trying (so far successfully) to stay sane in an extreme situation. I would not consider him to be confused at this point… they just cut off his eyelids so maybe that will change- been awhile since I read this book :).

Maybe the Amazon transliteration is garbled. The “IIIIOI” would look the same in Greek letters as in English.