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The swan.

Honor alit artes.

Honour gives sustenance to the arts.

Non canit assueta Cycnus vocalis in unda,
Ni Zephyri spiret mollior aura sibi.
Classica proposito sapientia crescit honore
Speratoque alitur docta Minerva lucro.
Sic tua Mecoenas circunstetit aura Maronem,
Et coepit Clario gratior esse Deo.[1]

The swan, though full of song, does not sing in the waters where it lives [lit. to which it is accustomed] unless the Zephyr’s breeze breathes softly upon it. Higher learning grows in strength when honour is accorded to it, and wisdom that is learnt is sustained by much-needed cash. Even so, Maecenas, did the vital air of your favour surround Vergil, at which he [or it] began the more to please Clarian Apollo.


1.  C. Cilnius Maecenas, friend of youth of the emperor Augustus, played no political role but used his considerable wealth to foster the arts, particularly poets such as Vergil (P. Vergilius Maro). Apollo was known as Clarius from the town of Claros in Ionia, where he had a major temple.

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