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Latin Phrase: While I can, I will

by Jean
(E. Sussex, U.K.)

Dear Latin Teacher,


How would you translate 'While I can, I will'.
Dum possum persto?

A friend with cancer wishes to take this phrase as her watchword.

Sincerely,

Jean



Dear Jean,

May this watchword give your friend strength for many years to come.

Your phrase is well put.


Dum possum, persto means 'While I can, I persist'. There is no need to change it at all.

But since you asked a Latin teacher....

There are several Latin phrases from Roman authors that also may inspire one facing cancer.

Perhaps most famously, Cicero:

Dum spiro, spero. While I breathe, I hope. He hoped for the survival of the Roman republic until his death in 43 BC.

Also Terence in the Andria:

Facile omnes, cum valemus, recta consilia aegrotatis damus. Easily we all, when we are well, give good advice to the sick. In the play Terence is referring to love sickness, but the point is taken for all illness. His next line drives home the point, with sharp words for the flippant advisor:

Tu, si hic sis, aliter sentias. You, if you were in my place, would feel otherwise.

Or this anonymous truth:

in angustis, amici boni apparent. In tough times, good friends appear.

Thanks for asking a Latin teacher,

Sincerely,

John

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