Latin Proverb # 10 – Sus Minervam docet

Latin Proverb: Sus Minervam docet – Cicero, Ac., 1.18.8

English equivalent: Teach your grandmother to suck eggs, or the older less known To teach our dame to spin.

Translation: A sow teaching Minerva.

Meaning: This rather cheeky proverb tells us not offer advice to someone who has more experience than you – that would just be as foolish as a pig trying to teach the goddess Minerva guardian of the arts and talents.

Curiosities: Erasmus discusses this proverb in his Adagia (see: I, i, 40) but spends most of his article (about a page or so) writing about pigs and how the pig is the lowliest, filthiest and dumbest of animals. He even uses Pliny, Cicero and Varro to get his point, nay hatred, for dung-loving pigs across.

Turning to modern times some fun versions of the English equivalent proverb has turned up during the years, like: Don’t teach your grandmother how to milk ducks, or, Don’t teach you grandmother to steal sheep.


Sus Minervam docet in other languages? 

Español: Vas a enseñar a tu padre a tener hijos.

Português (Brasil): Ensinar o padre a rezar a missa.

What would you say in your language(s)? Or do you have some fun new versions of this proverb? Let us know in the comments below!

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