Huic in tanta fidem petimus, quam saepe volucres
accipiunt trepidaeque suo sub pectore fibrae.
an minus est sacris rationem ducere signis
quam pecudum mortes aviumque attendere cantus?
atque ideo faciem caeli non invidet orbi
ipse deus vultusque suos corpusque recludit
volvendo semper seque ipsum inculcat et offert,
ut bene cognosci possit doceatque videntis,
qualis eat, cogatque suas attendere leges.
ipse vocat nostros animos ad sidera mundus
nec patitur, quia non condit, sua iura latere.
quis putet esse nefas nosci, quod cernere fas est?
nec contemne tuas quasi parvo in pectore vires:
quod valet, immensum est. sic auri pondera parvi
exsuperant pretio numerosos aeris acervos;
sic adamas, punctum lapidis, pretiosior auro est;
parvula sic totum pervisit pupula caelum,
quoque vident oculi minimum est, cum maxima cernant;
sic animi sedes tenui sub corde locata
per totum angusto regnat de limite corpus.
materiae ne quaere modum, sed perspice vires,
quas ratio, non pondus, habet: ratio omnia vincit.
ne dubites homini divinos credere visus,
iam facit ipse deos mittitque ad sidera numen,
maius et Augusto crescet sub principe caelum.
(Manilius, Astr. 4.911-935)
I ask for heaven a faith as great as that so oft accorded birds and entrails that quiver beneath their native breast. Is it then a meaner thing to derive reason from the sacred stars than to heed sacrifice of beast and cry of bird? God grudges not the earth the sight of heaven but reveals his face and form by ceaseless revolution, offering, nay impressing, himself upon us to the end that he can be truly known, can teach his nature to those who have eyes to see, and can compel them to mark his laws. Of itself the firmament summons our minds to the stars, and in not concealing its ordinances shows that it would have them known. Who then would deem it wrong to understand what it is right for us to see? Scorn not your powers as if proportionate to the smallness of the mind: its power has no bounds. Thus a small amount of gold exceeds in value countless heaps of brass; thus the diamond, a stone no bigger than a dot, is more precious than gold; thus the tiny pupil of the eye takes in the whole of heaven, and eyes owe their vision to that which is so very small, whilst what they behold is so very large; thus the seat of the mind, though set within the puny heart, exercises from its constricted abode dominion over the whole body. Seek not to measure the material, but consider rather the power which reason has and mere substance not: reason is what triumphs over all. Be not slow to credit man with vision of the divine, for man himself is now creating gods and raising godhead to the stars, and beneath the dominion of Augustus will heaven grow mightier yet. (tr. George Patrick Goold)