Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Beauty of 'De Rerum Natura' - Lucretius

While reading about 'The Nature of All Things', again and again we are told that the Humanists of the 15th century were struck by it's poetic beauty.  My Latin is not very good but I was curious if I could still detect that beauty.  Here are the first ten lines of the poem:
Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas,
alma Venus, caeli subter labentia signa
quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentis
concelebras, per te quoniam genus omne animantum
concipitur visitque exortum lumina solis:               5
te, dea, te fugiunt venti, te nubila caeli
adventumque tuum, tibi suavis daedala tellus
summittit flores, tibi rident aequora ponti
placatumque nitet diffuso lumine caelum.
nam simul ac species patefactast verna diei et reserata viget genitabilis aura favoni, aeriae primum volucris te, diva, tuumque significant initum perculsae corda tua vi.

And here are how they come out in the translation I read:
Mother of Rome, delight of Gods and men,
Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars
Makest to teem the many-voyaged main
And fruitful lands - for all of living things
Through thee are risen to visit the great sun-
Before thee, Goddess, and they coming on,
Flee stormy wind and massy could away,
For thee the daedal Earth bears scented flowers,
For thee waters of the unvexed deep
smile and the hollows of the serene sky
Glow with diffused radiance for thee!
I don't see it, but that is doubtlessly due to my own ignorance of Latin. 

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