In the (rather good) progressive rock album "Thick as a Brick" by the British band Jethro Tull in 1978, there are some lines:

So! Where the hell was Biggles When you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen Who always pulled you though?
They're all resting down in Cornwall Writing up their memoirs
For a paper-back edition Of the Boy Scout Manual

I have a vague memory that there is a Latin saying, equivalent to this in some sense, perhaps involving Horatio Cocles, but I can find no trace of this online. Can anyone help please? I have tried hard to find this, but cannot. If no-one has a direct hit, is there an online compendium of Latin epigrams which might contain this?

I think the point of the Tull quote is that a person (particularly a boy) can't rely on fictional or historical characters, sportsmen or other celebrities: but must make his own decisions in this world. Since "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes and various earlier equivalent sayings) it's not surprising if there was an earlier equivalent of this observation.

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    Biggles is a fictional character - it's no surprise he didn't turn up "last Saturday" when you "needed him"...! Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 18:15
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    Personally, I expect there is a lot of colourful equivalents in many languages and many times - it's after all, a universal human experience to discover that back up didn'tvturn up at the right time, if at all. Is there any reason why you would want to connect this to Jethro Tull - were they classicists by any chance interested in that era of Roman history? Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 18:39
  • I see literature is no different from other se sites: drive-by downvoting of the newcomer with no explanation :)
    – Laska
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 18:54
  • @Mozibur Ullah - I really appreciate your responses - I will add what I think is the meaning
    – Laska
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 18:57
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    Sorry about that; I guess someone misunderstood what your question is about. The latin-literature tag is for questions about literature originally written in Latin, but it seems you are seeking something originally in Latin, namely some sort of quote or saying, rather than your question being directly about the quoted song lyrics. I've removed the song-lyrics tag and added latin-literature and identification-request.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 19:43


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