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[18arg] The meaning of Marcus Cato's phrase “betwixt mouth and morsel.”

THERE is a speech by Marcus Cato Censorius On the Improper Election of Aediles. In that oration is this passage: 1 “Nowadays they say that the standing-grain, still in the blade, is a good harvest. Do not count too much upon it. I have often heard that many things may come inter os atque offam, or 'between the mouth and the morsel'; but there certainly is a long distance between a morsel and the blade.” Erucius Clarus, who was prefect of the city and twice consul, a man deeply interested in the customs and literature of early days, wrote to Sulpicius Apollinaris, the most learned man within my memory, begging and entreating that he would write him the meaning of those words. Then, in my presence, for at that time I was a young man in Rome and was in attendance upon him for purposes of instruction, Apollinaris replied to Clarus very briefly, as was natural when writing to a man of learning, that “between mouth and morsel” was an old proverb, meaning the same as the poetic Greek adage:
'Twixt cup and lip there's many a slip.

[p. 461]

1 lxv. 1, Jordan.

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