Collectio Distichorum Uulgarus: The Common Collection of Distichs

(The work begins with monostichs (one-liners); the distichs (couplets) proper begin with Book I.)

Cum animaduerterem, quam plurimos grauiter in uia morum errare, succurrendum opinioni eorum et consulendum famae existimaui, maxime ut gloriose uiuerent et honorem contingerent. nunc te, fili karissime, docebo, quo pacto morem animi tui conponas. igitur praecepta mea ita legito, ut intellegas. legere enim et non intellegere neclegere est.

When I noticed how very many go seriously wrong in their manner of living I concluded that I must apply a corrective to their belief and take counsel of the experience of mankind in order that they may live most gloriously and attain honor. Now I will teach thee, dearest son, in what way thou mayest fashion a rule for thy life. Therefore, so read my precepts that thou mayest understand them, for to read and not to-understand is equivalent to not reading.

Deo supplica.
Parentes ama.
Cognatos cole.
Datum serua.
Foro parce.
Cum bonis ambula.
Antequam uoceris, ne accesseris.
Mundus esto.
Saluta libenter.
Maiori concede.
Magistratum metue.
Verecundiam serua.
Rem tuam custodi.
Diligentiam adhibe.
Familiam cura.
Mutuum da.
Cui des, uideto.
Conuiuare raro.
Quod satis est, dormi.

Coniugem ama.
Iusiurandum serua.
Uino tempera.
Pugna pro patria.
Nihil temere credideris.

Meretricem fuge. 
Libros lege.
Quae legeris, memento. 
Liberos erudi. 
Blandus esto. 

Irascere ob rem grauem. 
Neminem riseris. 
In iudicio adesto. 
Ad praetorium stato. 
Consultus esto. 

Virtute utere. 
Trocho lude. 
Aleam fuge. 
Litteras disce. 
Bono benefacito. 
Tute consule. 

Maledicus ne esto. 
Existimationem retine. 
Aequum iudica. 
Nihil mentire. 

Iracundiam rege. 
Parentem patientia uince. 
Minorem ne contempseris. 
Nihil arbitrio uirium feceris. 
Patere legem, quam ipse tuleris. 
Benefici accepti esto memor. 
Pauca in conuiuio loquere. 
Miserum noli inridere. 
Minime iudica. 
Alienum noli concupiscere. 
Illud adgredere, quod iustum est. 
Libenter amorem ferto.
Liberalibus stude. 

Pray to God. 
Love thy parents. 
Cherish those of kin to thee. 
Guard that entrusted to thee. 
Shun the market place. 
Walk with the upright. 
Attack not until you have challenged. 
Be neat. 
Salute freely. 
Yield to him who is older than thou. 
Respect the magistrate. 
Preserve thy sense of shame. 
Guard well thine own interests. 
Practice diligence. 
Care for thy family. 
Return like for like. 
Consider well to whom to make presents. 
Indulge rarely in banquets. 
Sleep enough. 

Love thy wife. 
Keep thy word. 
Be moderate with wine. 
Fight for thy country. 
Be not easily imposed upon. 

Shun the harlot. 
Read books. 
Remember what thou readest. 
See to the instruction of thy children. 
Be kind.

Be angry when the affair requires it. 
Ridicule no one. 
Attend the law court. 
Frequent the residence of the praetor. 
Be conversant with the law. 

Practice virtue. 
Play with a hoop. 
Eschew the dice. 
Learn to read. 
Show favor to the good. 
Give sound counsel. 

Be not abusive. 
Hold to thy opinion. 
Judge fairly. 
Never lie. 

Keep thy temper. 
Overcome thy parent with patience. 
Despise not thy inferior. 
Do nothing under the pressure of force. 
Respect the law thou thyself hast made. 
Be mindful of favor received. 
Say little at banquets. 
Deride not the unhappy. 
Never pass judgment. 
Covet not the possessions of another. 
Seek that which is right. 
Feel affection freely. 
Strive after noble things. 

 The text is from The Distichs of Cato: a famous medieval textbook, tr. Wayland Johnson Chase, Univ. of Wisconsin Studies in the Social Sciences and History, Number 7, 1922 [WID Lc 25 42].