The story behind this rhyme is one of the funniest in British literary history
. Circa 1680
, future satirist Thomas Brown
) was a student at Oxford
when he got into some trouble and was brought before the dean, Dr. John Fell
). Fell decided to waive Brown's pending expulsion if Brown could translate
on the spot.
Brown chose this one, substituting Dr. Fell for the person disliked my Martial:
Non amo te, Sabidi, nec possum dicere quare;
Hoc tantum posso dicere, non amo te.
The resulting rhyme immortalized them both and overshadows their literary and academic accomplishments. Brown was not expelled, but eventually left Oxford without graduating.