This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.
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)
This is part 2 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.
An cuiquam genitos, nisi caelo, credere fas est
esse homines? proiecta iacent animalia cuncta
in terra vel mersa vadis, vel in aere pendent,
omnibus una quies venter<que Venusque voluptas,
mole valens sola corpus> censumque per artus,
et, quia consilium non est, et lingua remissa.
unus in inspectus rerum viresque loquendi
ingeniumque capax variasque educitur artes
hic partus, qui cuncta regit: secessit in urbes,
edomuit terram ad fruges, animalia cepit
imposuitque viam ponto, stetit unus in arcem
erectus capitis victorque ad sidera mittit
sidereos oculos propiusque aspectat Olympum
inquiritque Iovem; nec sola fronte deorum
contentus manet, et caelum scrutatur in alvo
cognatumque sequens corpus se quaerit in astris.
(Manilius, Astr. 4.896-910)
Are we to believe that man is born of aught but heaven? All the other animals lie prostrate on the earth or submerged in water, or else hover in the air; all alike have only sleep and food and sex for their delights; the strength of an animal is measured only by its size and its value by its limbs, and since it has no intelligence it lacks speech, too. The breed of man, who rules all things, is alone reared equal to the inquiry into nature, the power of speech, breadth of understanding, the acquisition of various skills: he has left the open air for city-life, tamed the land to yield him its fruits, made the beasts his slaves, and laid a pathway on the sea; he alone stands with the citadel of his head raised high and, triumphantly directing to the stars his star-like eyes, looks ever more closely at Olympus and inquires into the nature of Jove himself; nor does he rest content with the outward appearance of the gods, but probes into heaven’s depths and, in his quest of a being akin to his own, seeks himself among the stars. (tr. George Patrick Goold)
This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.
Sed quid tam tenui prodest ratione nitentem
scrutari mundum, si mens sua cuique repugnat
spemque timor tollit prohibetque a limine caeli?
“conditur en” inquit “vasto natura recessu
mortalisque fugit visus et pectora nostra,
nec prodesse potest quod fatis cuncta reguntur,
cum fatum nulla possit ratione videri.”
quid iuvat in semet sua per convicia ferri
et fraudare bonis, quae nec deus invidet ipse,
quosque dedit natura oculos deponere mentis?
perspicimus caelum, cur non et munera caeli?
<mens humana potest propria discedere sede>
inque ipsos penitus mundi descendere census
seminibusque suis tantam componere molem
et partum caeli sua per nutricia ferre
extremumque sequi pontum terraeque subire
pendentis tractus et toto vivere in orbe
[quanta et pars superet rationem discere noctis.]
iam nusquam natura latet; pervidimus omnem
et capto potimur mundo nostrumque parentem
pars sua perspicimus genitique accedimus astris.
an dubium est habitare deum sub pectore nostro
in caelumque redire animas caeloque venire,
utque sit ex omni constructus corpore mundus
aëris atque ignis summi terraeque marisque
hospitium menti totum quae infusa gubernet,
sic esse in nobis terrenae corpora sortis
sanguineasque animas animo, qui cuncta gubernat
dispensatque hominem? quid mirum, noscere mundum
si possunt homines, quibus est et mundus in ipsis
exemplumque dei quisque est in imagine parva?
(Manilius, Astr. 4.866-895)
But what avail is it to search out the secrets of the shining firmament with such subtle reasoning, if a man’s spirit resists and fear banishes confidence and bars access to the gate of heaven ? “See,” he objects, “nature is buried in deep concealment and lies beyond our mortal gaze and ken; it cannot profit us that all is governed by fate, since the rule of fate cannot by any means be seen.” What boots it to assail oneself with self-reproach, to deprive oneself of benefits ungrudged by God himself, and to renounce that mental vision which nature has bestowed? We perceive the skies, then why not the skies’ gifts too? The mind of man has the power to leave its proper abode and penetrate to the innermost treasures of the sky; to construct the mighty universe from its component seeds; to transport the offspring of heaven about the places from which it came; to make for Ocean’s farthest horizon, descend to the inverted parts of the Earth, and inhabit the whole wide world. Now nature holds no mysteries for us; we have surveyed it in its entirety and are masters of the conquered sky; we perceive our creator, of whom we are part, and rise to the stars, whose children we are. Can one doubt that a divinity dwells within our breasts and that our souls return to the heaven whence they came? Can one doubt that, just as the world, composed of the elements of air and fire on high and earth and water, houses an intelligence which, spread throughout it, directs the whole, so too with us the bodies of our earthly condition and our life-blood house a mind which directs every part and animates the man? Why wonder that men can comprehend heaven, when heaven exists in their very beings and each one is in a smaller likeness the image of God himself? (tr. George Patrick Goold)
Quid tam sollicitis vitam consumimus annis
torquemurque metu caecaque cupidine rerum
aeternisque senes curis, dum quaerimus, aevum
perdimus et nullo votorum fine beati
victuros agimus semper nec vivimus umquam,
pauperiorque bonis quisque est, quia plura requirit
nec quod habet numerat, tantum quod non habet optat,
cumque sibi parvos usus natura reposcat
materiam struimus magnae per vota ruinae
luxuriamque lucris emimus luxuque rapinas,
et summum census pretium est effundere censum?
solvite, mortales, animos curasque levate
totque supervacuis vitam deplete querellis.
fata regunt orbem, certa stant omnia lege
longaque per certos signantur tempora casus.
nascentes morimur, finisque ab origine pendet.
hinc et opes et regna fluunt et, saepius orta,
paupertas, artesque datae moresque creatis
et vitia et laudes, damna et compendia rerum.
nemo carere dato poterit nec habere negatum
fortunamve suis invitam prendere votis
aut fugere instantem: sors est sua cuique ferenda.
(Manilius, Astr. 4.1-22)
Oh, why do we spend the years of our lives in worry, tormenting ourselves with fears and senseless desires; grown old before our time with anxieties which never end; forfeiting length of days by our very quest for it; setting no limit to our wishes, so that their fulfilment leaves us still unblest, but ever playing the part of men who mean to live but never do? Everyone is the poorer for his possessions because he looks for more: none counts his blessings, but only lusts for what he lacks. Though nature needs only modest requirements, we build higher and higher the peak from which to fall, and purchase luxury with our gains, and with love of luxury the fear of dispossession, until the greatest boon that wealth can confer is the squandering of itself. So set free your minds, o mortals, and rid your lives of all this vain complaint! Fate rules the world, all things stand fixed by its immutable laws, and the long ages are assigned a predestined course of events. At birth our death is sealed, and our end is consequent upon our beginning. Fate is the source of riches and kingdoms and the more frequent poverty; by fate are men at birth given their skills and characters, their merits and defects, their losses and gains. None can renounce what is bestowed or possess what is denied; no man by prayer may seize fortune if it demur, or escape if it draw nigh: each one must bear his appointed lot. (tr. George Patrick Goold)