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Casus interdum natura [=naturam] supplet.[1]

Chance sometimes helps nature.

Dicite mortales si quid mirabile dictu
Vidistis, vel visuros vos creditis unqum.
Multa ferunt casus, naturae impletur & ordo,
Quo sit cunque modo. Porcam venatibus urgens
Quidam consequitur, transfigit cuspide acuta.
Vulnere de medio labuntur pignora, onustam
Interimens matrem foetus deliberat alvo.
Atque ita quod nixu vix effecisset anhelo,
Porca suam sobolem dat casu mortua vivam.
Sic genitus fertur materno funere Bacchus,
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [H6r p123]Sic licet ille bimater, at hi gemina quoque foetus
Eduntur matre, & gravida, & qui perforat hasta.
Sic pariter lucem mitti sus, datque soluta.
Ubera sic dolitura Atalantae praebuit ursa:
Lethiferum & casu mox commoda portat utrique.

Tell, me, mortals, whether you have ever seen some kind of miracle, or think you ever will. They tell of many chance occurrences, and the order of nature is fulfilled in many ways. A hunter among many pursues a sow and spits her on his sharp lance: from the middle of the wound come forth her little ones. The dying offspring freed its mother from her belly’s weight, and so the mother, with gasping effort did what she could hardly do, and gave birth, by chance, in death to living piglets. This, they say, was how Bacchus was born from his mother’s corpse and thus he can have two mothers; but these litters of piglets are born from a double mother: from the one pregnant, and the one who stabbed her with his spear, and thus gave to the pig at the same time the chance to be sent into the light. So the bear, doomed to suffer, gave her teats to Atalanta, and with the help of blind chance brought benefits to both.


1. The correction to ‘naturam’ is made on the authority of the later Latin editions, as well as the French of 1567. The motto could also be construed as it stands, with ‘casus’ in the plural: ‘Nature sometimes helps chance’.

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