True Piety

0 genus infelix humanum, talia divis cum tribuit facta atque iras adiunxit acerbas! 1195

quantos turn gemitus ipsi sibi, quantaque nobis vulnera, quas lacrimas peperere minoribus nostris!

nec pietas ulla est velatum saepe videri vertier ad lapidem atque omnis accedere ad aras nec procumbere humi prostratum et pandere palmas 1200

text Tití Lucreti Cari De Rerum Natura, ed. C. Bailey

(Oxford University Press, 1947) meter hexameter [§mi]

ó génüs I infé|lix || hü|mánüm | talla | divis cüm tribü|ít || fác|t(a) || átqu(e) íjrás || ád|iünxít á|cérbás

H94Í. Ó genus infelix hümánum acc. of exclamation [§Gi4], trans. O unhappy human race; the subordinate clauses are introduced by cum (when), which is postponed [§G4]; talia ... facta such actions—in the preceding lines, Lucretius has described features of traditional religion and its all-powerful gods; divis (divus -i m.) to the gods, dat. after tribuit (attributed; tribuó -ere); irás ... acerbas pi. for sg. [§G53] bitter anger; adiunxit added (i.e., to the conception of the gods; adiungo -ere)—as well as creating the universe, the gods were supposed to be capable of conceiving anger against the human race, ngóf. Lucretius speaks of the effect of religious beliefs on those who originally conceived them (and whom he has previously mentioned) and on his own and later generations; quantos ... gemitus (gemitus -üs m.groan)... quanta ... vulnera ... quás lacrimas are governed by peperere (= pepererunt [§g 95],produced; parió -ere), and each introduces an exclamation containing a dative: sibi for them-selves, nobis for us (i.e., Lucretius' generation—the vulnera are emotional wounds), minoribus nostris for our descendants (minores mindrum m.pl.); ipsi [they] themselves, i.e., those who first conceived the attributes of the Roman gods.

1 i98f. nec pietas ulla est (nor is it any piety (pietás pietátis f.)) is followed by six infinitive phrases that describe various practices of traditional Roman religion; vélátum ... videri vertier ad lapidem to be seen veiled (veló -are) turning (lit., to be turning; vertier is an archaic form of vertí, pres. inf. pass, of vertó -ere—the passive is used here in a reflexive sense [§g59]) to a stone (lapis lapidis m.)—the stone is either a statue or a sacred stone of the sort that marked boundaries or was supposed to have magical powers; in praying, a Roman, his head veiled, approached with the cult object on his right and spoke his prayer without facing it; he then turned toward it (vertier) and prostrated himself on the ground with hands spread open (1.1200); omnis ... aras trans, every altar (ara -ae f.)—altars were placed in the open in front of temples, not inside them; accedo -ere (with ad) approach.

1200 prócumbó -ere be in a prone position, lie; humi loc. [§G5i] on the ground (humus -i f.); prostrátus stretched out, flat; pandó -ere spread open; palma -ae f. palm (of the hand).

ante deum delubra nec aras sanguine multo spargere quadrupedum nec votis nectere vota, sed mage pacata posse omnia mente tueri.

<s Lucretius De rerum ndtura 5.1194-1203

i20if. deum = deorum [§g95]; delubrum -I n. shrine, temple—the person praying is in front of the temple (only an elect few were allowed inside); sanguine multo ... quadrupedum instrumental abl. [§g47], lit., with much blood of animals (quadrupes quadrupedis m/f. lit., four-footed animal); spargo -ere sprinkle— when an animal was sacrificed, its neck was cut in such a way that the blood flowed onto the altar; votis nectere vota to join (necto -ere) vows with vows, i.e., to make a large number of vows—a vow was a promise to do something for a divinity in return for a future favor. 12.03 sed mage (= magis) but rather—Epicureans believed that there were gods but that they played no part in human affairs; consequently, true piety toward them consisted in a rational understanding of the universe; pacata posse omnia mente tueri [it is piety] to be able to observe (tueor tueri) everything with a tranquil mind.

proverbiadeproscaenio il-

Proxumus sum egomet mihi. Terence Andria 636

Charity begins at home./I'm taking care of Number Owe; (lit., I'm [the one] nearest to myself.)

Necesse est facere sumptum qui quaerit lucrum.

' ' Plautus Asinaria 217

(lit.; He who seeks profit must make an expenditure.) '

Nemo solus satis sapit, Plautus Miles gloriosus 885

Two heads are better than one. ■

(lit., No man is wise enough by himself.)

Quot homines tot sententiae. Tere.vce Phormid 454

There are as many opinions as there are people. ■ " '' ■

In scirpo nodum quaeris. Plautus ; Menaechmi 247

Nodum in scirpo quaeris. Terence Aridria 941

You're lookingfor trouble where there isn't any. (lit., You're looking for a knot in a bulrush.)

For more proverbs from the plays of Plautus and Terence, seepages 17 and 3 6.

catullus 27

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