Among the parts of the body, eyes are the ones which probably play the most important role. In fact they are the instrument of our sight, but they are also connected with knowledge: that is why in ancient Greek the past tense of the verb to see means “I saw”, but also “I know” (I know now what I saw before). Through your eyes you can know the world and the rest of the world can know you: as Italian people say, “gli occhi sono lo specchio dell’anima” (eyes are the window of one’s soul).

Let’s see together some of the most common expressions about eyes!

Occhio per occhio, dente per dente – (“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”). The Law of the Talion is not something our society is used to anymore. Yet, we still use this expression, even if now the contest is different; in fact now its use is more connected to revenge rather than to a principle of justice.

Lontano dagli occhi, lontano dal cuore – (“out of sight, out of mind”). Distance is the topic of this expression. This is the contemporary evolution of the Latin version “quantum oculis, animo tam procul ibit amor”, a famous statement written by Seneca that expresses all the negative influence that distance has on every kind of relationship and on the memory of friends or lovers. Actually not everybody agree on this statement, and somebody even thinks that distance is the wind that blows out superficial relationships but that also makes the fire of love bigger and bigger.

Occhio non vede, cuore non duole – (literally “what the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve over”). This expression and the previous one have in common the elements and the structure, but the meaning is completely different. Here “occhio” represents the semantic sphere of knowledge, as the meaning of this idiom is more or less the following: people cannot suffer for things they are not aware of.

Se occhio non mira, cuor non sospira – (literally “if the eye doesn’t see, the heart cannot sigh”). This expression, also known in the version “anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte”, underlines how important the sense of sight is in order to feel a real attraction towards somebody or something, because you automatically like something beautiful.

Have you noticed the common characteristic among all these expressions? They are full of meaning, and they give implicit advice about how to behave.

What about your language? Do you have similar expressions?


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