Posted by: Tom Triumph | March 23, 2010

83. De rerum natura 2.348-51 and 366-370: Lucretius

This is from the UVM Latin Day program. I do not speak or read Latin, but am a huge proponent of students taking it. Indeed, if I had my way all students would take a year before taking French, Spanish and the like. How else can you learn English without knowing its origins. The University of Vermont has a yearly Latin Day, and a recitation of this poem is part of it in 2010. It is an interesting program worth checking out here.

This is Lucretius’ De rerum natura 2.348-51 and 366-370. In this passage Lucretius celebrates the atomic diversity of nature, noting also the order inherent in that diversity such that different mammals recognize their own offspring by various signs.

Use this when teaching science! Or just observation. Diversity….

De rerum natura 2.348-51 and 366-370
Lucretius

Go, take which one thou wilt,
In any kind: thou wilt discover still
Each from the other still unlike in shape.
Nor in no other wise could offspring know
Mother, nor mother offspring—which we see
They yet can do, distinguished one from other,
No less than human beings, by clear signs. (. . .)
Moreover, tender kids with bleating throats
Do know their horned dams, and butting lambs
The flocks of sheep, and thus they patter on,
Unfailingly each to its proper teat,
As Nature intends.
(trans. by William Ellery Leonard)

invenies tamen inter se differre figuris.
nec ratione alia proles cognoscere matrem
nec mater posset prolem; quod posse videmus
nec minus atque homines inter se nota cluere. ( . . .)
usque adeo quiddam proprium notumque requirit.
praeterea teneri tremulis cum vocibus haedi
cornigeras norunt matres agnique petulci
balantum pecudes; ita, quod natura resposcit,
ad sua quisque fere decurrunt ubera lactis.

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