“Quod me nutrit, me destruit”
A dead language, but raises too much controversy.
This Latin quote has a lot of mystery surrounding it and people have been very confused as to what it actually entails. It has been interpreted by many all in different ways. It’s honestly been driving me crazy and it’s all I could think of the past couple of weeks so I went straight to writing.
“Quod me nutrit, me destruit,” translates to “what nourishes me, destorys me.” It is generally interpreted as “what really motivates me can also consume me from within.” That too much of anything is destructive; confidence can easily turn into arrogance and dependency can ultimately turn into weakness. But this is pretty basic, and I like to dig deeper.
From one point.
Youth love to spout that phrase because they relate the idea of “nourishment” to alcohol, drugs, sex, love and at one point, Rock & Roll, which are all often being linked to “destruction,” basically substance dependency and sex addictions. Many even immortalise it in ink on their skin. So is there cold human comfort offered in these quotes about destruction? Do people ever question the validity of these quotes?
From a second point.
Pro anorexia forums -who say anorexia is a lifestyle of choice not an illness- have taken it as a motive to continue reminding themselves that no matter how much they are hurt, starvation is far more important and being skinny is the ultimate goal. I cannot stress enough how wrong and destructive it is if you actually take it in this way. Eating disorders are not beautiful and they should stop being advocated and romanticized. This is a disorder. Not a lifestyle. This is self-harm. Not a lifestyle. This is self-tormenting. Not a lifestyle!
From a third point.
If you delve deeper and deeper, you will eventually find it implemented on the far left corner of the only surviving and known portrait of famous playwright, Christopher Marlowe. The portrait is surrounded by a lot of mystery; the intense critical gaze Marlowe holds along with his crossed arms and his hands tucked away hidden frim the world which are often read as defensive and secretive by body language scholars. It’s not everyday you find such a strange quote written on a students portrait that once hung at his school, with this much questions around it. So what is this peculiar motto that the playwright associated himself with and might have been living by? Are we simply provoking meaning or are we pretending to honour memory?
Knowledge. Learning. They’re one of the biggest blessings I can ever think of. Reading and understanding events surrounding me, and events that brought me to where I currently stand has always been a big part of my life, it’s something I love doing. It was nourishment. So, as soon as I concluded that, my mind immediately went back to, “quod me nutrit, me destruit.” It might feel great reading about history, but history is filled to the brim with massacres and civil wars and invasions and hate and anger and killing and oppression and inequality. History is filled with liars and backstabbers and barbaric, brutal characters that would do anything to get where they want to be. The world as we’ve read about it -and as we see it- is undoubtedly cruel. And as much as I’m passionate about it, I found it draining and it eventually affected me and how I feel, negatively. And so I repeat my question, is it actually the nourishment that is destructive as Marlow has been trying to hint at us?
So is it true that nourishment destroys, or is that phrase now merely a convenient platitude? Can it only be famous because it’s tattooed on Angelina Jolie’s lower abdomen alongside a semiotic cross or is there a deeper and much more sentimental value Marlowe wanted us to be aware of?