Quotes Suitable for Framing: Virgil

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Assume thy greatness, for the time draws nigh,
Dear child of gods, great progeny of Jove!
See how it totters- the world’s orbed might,
Earth, and wide ocean, and the vault profound,
All, see, enraptured of the coming time!
Ah! might such length of days to me be given,
And breath suffice me to rehearse thy deeds,
Nor Thracian Orpheus should out-sing me then,
Nor Linus, though his mother this, and that
His sire should aid- Orpheus Calliope,
And Linus fair Apollo. Nay, though Pan,
With Arcady for judge, my claim contest,
With Arcady for judge great Pan himself
Should own him foiled, and from the field retire.

Virgil, from the Fourth Eclogue (37 BC)

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  1. Oh memoriae linguae Latinae in scola alta!
    Adgredere o magnos—aderit iam tempus—honores,
    cara deum suboles, magnum Iovis incrementum.
    aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum,
    terrasque tractusque maris caelumque profundum;
    aspice, venturo laetantur ut omnia saeclo.
    O mihi tum longae maneat pars ultima vitae,
    spiritus et quantum sat erit tua dicere facta:
    non me carminibus vincat nec Thracius Orpheus
    nec Linus, huic mater quamvis atque huic pater adsit,
    Orphei Calliopea, Lino formosus Apollo.
    Pan etiam, Arcadia mecum si iudice certet,
    Pan etiam Arcadia dicat se iudice victum.

  2. The older I get, the more I have come to appreciate the words of Bl John Henry Newman:-
    “Let us consider, too, how differently young and old are affected by the words of some classic author, such as Homer or Horace. Passages, which to a boy are but rhetorical commonplaces, neither better nor worse than a hundred others which any clever writer might supply, which he gets by heart
    and thinks very fine, and imitates, as he thinks, successfully, in his own flowing versification, at length come home to him, when long years have passed, and he has had experience of life, and pierce him, as if he had never before known them, with their sad earnestness and vivid exactness. Then he comes to understand how it is that lines, the birth of some chance morning or evening at an Ionian festival, or among the Sabine hills, have lasted generation after generation, for thousands of years, with a power over the mind, and a charm, which the current literature of his own day, with all its obvious advantages, is utterly unable to rival. Perhaps this is the reason of the medieval opinion about
    Virgil, as if a prophet or magician; his single words and phrases, his pathetic half lines, giving utterance, as the voice of Nature herself, to that pain and weariness, yet hope of better things, which is the experience of her children in every time.”

  3. The reading of the fourth Eclogue in the Youtube video is beautiful – absolutely beautiful! I cannot read Latin aloud like that. I got a blasphemous Yankee accent I am sure. Thanks for re-posting, Donald. Shared on FB. (My sister will whine at my tormenting her with Latin, but oh well!)

  4. “Possunt, quia posse videntur’” Aeneid, Book V. My book’s translation, “They can who think they can.” I’m no Latin scholar. But. words to live by.

    “Arma virumque cano . . . “

  5. Your paraphrase has merit, T. Shaw, but literally the phrase means:

    “Possunt, quia posse videntur” = “They are able, because they are seen to be able.”

    And if I understand correctly:

    “Arma virumque cano” = “I sing arms [armament] and man [hero].”

  6. My Rolfe Humphries (1951) translation page One: “Arms and the man I sing, the first who came, . . . ” And, “They can because they think they can.” Page 121.

    The Aeneid is taking up space in my bookshelf. I doubt I’ll read it again. IMO, it doesn’t “hold a candle to” The Iliad or The Odyssey. :

  7. I was just being picky, T. Shaw. The translation you gave is perfectly fine. I had once translated the Aeneid in my HS Latin class, and my HS English Literature teacher used my translation (very literal of course) when she was covering ancient poetry in her class. I was able to pass two exams with one stone (or should I say poem?)! (And I was the ONLY Latin student in HS to go into a technical field like nuclear power). But all that was ages ago when I could think straight and not sound like a screeching cat when praying the Pater Noster.

  8. I think the line
    Incipe parve puer risu cognoscere matrem

    from the 4th Eclogue is oneof the most beautiful in any language

  9. It’s been a long time since I did this:

    Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem;
    matri longa decem tulerunt fastidia menses.
    incipe, parve puer, qui non risere parenti,
    nec deus hunc mensa dea nec dignata cubili est.

    Small boy, begin to know mother with laughter;
    Ten long months brought contempt for mother.
    Begin, small boy, who laughed not for parent,
    Neither God nor Goddess thought him worthy of meal [or] bed.

    Reading this in light of the fact that Mary got pregnant while betrothed to Joseph lends prophetic credence to the phrase “matri longa decem tulerunt fastidia menses.” And the fact that there was no room for Jesus and parents in the inn, and he was born in an animal trough, lends prophetic credence to the phrase “nec deus hunc mensa dea nec dignata cubili est.”

    Yes, I think Virgil was prophetic but in a way that he could never have imagined.

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