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Quercus.

The Oak

XXXII.

Grata Iovi est quercus, qui nos servatque fovetque
Servanti civem querna corona datur.[1]
ALIUD.
Glande aluit veteres,[2] sola nunc proficit umbra,
Sic quoque sic arbos officiosa Iovis.

The oak is pleasing to Jove who preserves and cherishes us. A crown of oak is given to one who preserves a fellow-citizen.
Other.
The oak fed men of old with its acorns. Now it benefits us only with its shade. In this way too the tree of Jove does us service.

Notes:

1.  ‘a crown of oak’, awarded for saving the life of a fellow-soldier; see Pliny, Natural History, 16.3.7.

2.  For the ancient belief that early man fed on acorns see e.g. Lucretius, De Rerum natura, 5.939; Vergil, Georgics, 1.7; Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1.106.


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    Hedera.

    Ivy

    XXXVIII.

    Haudquaquam arescens hederae est arbuscula, Cisso[1]
    Quae puero Bacchum dona dedisse ferunt:
    Errabunda, procax, auratis fulva corymbis,
    Exterius viridis, caetera pallor habet.
    Hinc aptis vates cingunt sua tempora sertis:[2]
    Pallescunt studiis, laus diuturna viret.

    There is a bushy plant which never withers, the ivy which Bacchus, they say, gave as a gift to the boy Cissos. It goes where it will, uncontrollable; tawny where the golden berry-clusters hang; green on the outside but pale everywhere else. Poets use it to wreathe their brows with garlands that fit them well - poets are pale with study, but their praise remains green for ever.

    Notes:

    1.  Κισσός is the Greek word for ‘ivy’. For the story of Cissos, beloved of Bacchus, and his transformation into the ivy, see Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 12.188ff.

    2.  vates cingunt sua tempora, ‘Poets use it to wreathe their brows’. See Pliny, Natural History, 16.62.147: poets use the species with yellow berries for garlands.


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