This week’s idiom is “ne uccide più la penna che la spada”.
Although an idiom, it’s better known as a proverb, which is English is “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
This proverb has some variants in Italian, for example the word “language/la lingua” can replace “the pen/ la penna”.
The Italian proverb literally translates to “the pen kills more than the sword”. This concept of knowledge overpowering brute strength has been expressed throughout history as early as Euripides in Ancient Greece. It is the variation found in the Old Testament of the Bible is what some Italian’s consider to be the origin of their proverb.
The English rendition has the same historical origin conceptually speaking, but the exact words found in the English proverb are extracted from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s play “Richelieu” written in 1839.
While only the Italian idiom uses the rather violent verb “to kill/uccidere”, both idioms still refer to the “sword/spada” and as such this proverb has lost allegorical effectiveness as sword-wielding warfare has gone into decline. Still the concept remains that knowledge is power and in both languages this idiom is used to express that idea.
For those readers that agree that knowledge is power and want to enhance their intelligence, why not take an Italian class at Sentieri? Spring classes are available for registration until March 15. Uncap your pens e venite a studiare l’italiano con noi!