Radix malorum est cupiditas
This Latin phrase is a translation of the original Greek manuscripts of the Bible. The most reliable Greek manuscripts cite "ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία (1Ti 6:10 BGT)". This is literally translated into English, "Root for all the evil is the love of money." Daniel Wallace states that ῥίζα (root) is qualitative, since it lacks an article.  A more idiomatic understanding of this phrase is, "For every possible kind of evil can be motivated by the love of money." Meaning, greed can lead to any number of different kind of evils, not that all evil is rooted in the love of money.
The original biblical quotation means "the love of money is the root of all evil" (or all kinds of evil), and has been translated into English as such since the King James Version. However it has frequently been mistranslated as "money is the root of all evil", and the latter has become well-known malapropism.
The original source is 1 Timothy 6:10 (St Jerome's Vulgate translation). The word cupiditas is ambiguous, as it may also mean cupidity, or strong desire. However, the Latin phrase is itself a translation from Greek, where the original word philarguria can only mean love of money.
The Modern English word cupidity is described by OED as etymologically cognate with Latin cupidus, grammatically feminine, Eagerly Desirous. There can be no ambiguity nor misunderstanding of the force of the word as used by Catullus:
Sed mulier cupido quod dicit amanti
In vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua
The OED definition of cupidity is Ardent desire, inordinate longing or lust; covetousness, placing the weight firmly on the lecherous side of the reference of this word, which came into our language from Latin, and perhaps through French.
That its biblical reference is to the desire of filthy lucre seems established, but to the Latin-literate medievals the other cultural reference, to the desires of the flesh, must have been an alternative pasture of meaning.
- Wallace, Daniel (1996). "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics". Zondervan. p. 265. Retrieved 5/8/12. Check date values in:
- "Oxford Dictionaries entry for "cupidity"". Oxford University Press.
- "Wikiquotes entry for Gaius Valerius Catullus". Wikimedia.