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Divitiae inutiles.

Useless riches

Quae celebris fama cunctorum per volat ora
Est Platanus Xerxis, nulla cicada latet.[1]
Aurea quid prosunt, si non pandantur in usum,
Atque ferant miseris subsidiumque malis?
Non ego delitias reputo, nec munera rara
Condita sint, imis si lateantque locis.
Ex opibus tantis cur nolim parte sodalem,
Et notum cana iure levare fide?
Heu stultos, qui se invisos fecere negando,
Magnus enim qui dat, si capit inde nihil.
Viscera si terrae scruteris copia quanta
Se offeret, indign qum premit omne specus?

Xerxes’ plane-tree is Fame, who flies across the lips of all: not a cicada lies hidden. What use is gold that is not opened to use, and brings help to painful sufferings? I do not think that pleasures or rare gifts are well preserved if they lie hidden in deep places. From such great riches why should I not desire to help my fellow man and lighten the load of a man I know with white-haired friendship? Alas for those fools who make themselves hated by saying “no”; for a man is great who gives and receives not. If you examine the bowels of the earth, how much wealth offers itself, the burden of every mineshaft?


1. An allusion to the plane-tree encountered by Xerxes on his campaigns in Phrygia, by which he was so taken, he decorated it with jewels and gold and entrusted it to a guardian (Herodotus, Histories, 7.31). It is this same plane-tree to whom Handel’s Serse addresses one of the composer’s most famous arias, “Ombra mai f”.

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