When Benjamin Franklin was in Paris in the 1780s as ambassador of his newly independent country, a medal was struck in his honor. On the obverse side, his portrait was encircled with this Latin hexameter, attributed to the French statesman Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot:
Eripuit coelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis.
He snatched the lightning bolt from heaven and the scepter fromtyrants.
(Coelum is an alternative spelling of caelum.)
The references are to Franldins invention of the lightning rod and the role he played in the American War of Independence.
The line was not wholly original, however. It was cleverly modeled on a line from Manilius. In a passage praising ratio (human reason), the poet says this;
Cur imbres ruerent, ventos quae causa moveret pervidit, solvitque animis miracula rerum eripuitque Iovi fulmen viresque tonandi. Astronómica i.xoaff.
It (i.e.; human reason) discerned why rains pour down and what cause sets the winds in motion, and it explained for humanity
(lit., [human] minds) the wonders of the world, and from Jupiter it snatched the lightning bolt and the power to thunder.
Was this article helpful?