• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 16 years ago


HOME | Phaedrus: Previous Page - Next Page


III.17. Arbores Deorum


Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 508.


Olim quas vellent esse in tutela sua

divi legerunt arbores. Quercus Iovi,

at myrtus Veneri placuit, Phoebo laurea,

pinus Cybebae, populus celsa Herculi.

Minerva admirans quare steriles sumerent

interrogavit. Causam dixit Iuppiter:

"Honorem fructu ne videamur vendere."

"At mehercules narrabit quod quis voluerit,

oliva nobis propter fructum est gratior."

Tum sic deorum genitor atque hominum sator:

"O nata, merito sapiens dicere omnibus.

Nisi utile est quod facimus, stulta est gloria."

Nihil agere quod non prosit fabella admonet.


Here is the poem in a more prose-like word order for easy reading:


Olim divi legerunt arbores

quas vellent esse in sua tutela.

Quercus placuit Iovi,

at myrtus placuit Veneri,

laurea placuit Phoebo,

pinus placuit Cybebae,

celsa populus placuit Herculi.

Minerva admirans interrogavit

quare sumerent steriles.

Iuppiter dixit causam:

"Ne videamur vendere honorem fructu."

"At mehercules narrabit quis quod voluerit,

oliva est gratior nobis propter fructum."

Tum genitor deorum atque sator hominum sic:

"O nata, merito dicere sapiens omnibus.

Nisi quod facimus est utile,

gloria est stulta."

Fabella admonet agere nihil quod non prosit.


Here is the poem with meter marks:


Olim ~ quas vel~lent es~s(e) in tu~tela ~ sua

divi ~ lege~runt ar~bores. ~ Quercus ~ Iovi,

at myr~tus Ven~ri pla~cvit, Phoe~bo lau~rea,

pinus ~ Cybe~bae, po~pulus ~ cels(a H)e~rculi.

Mine~rv(a) admi~rans quare ~ steri~les su~merent

inter~roga~vit. Cau~sam dix~it Iup~piter:

"Hono~rem fruc~tu ne ~ vid'a~mur ven~dere."

"At m(eh)er~cules ~ narra~bit quod ~ quis vol~verit,

oli~va no~bis prop~ter fruc~t(um) est gra~tior."

Tum sic ~ deo~rum gen'~tor at~qu(e h)om'num ~ sator:

"O na~ta, mer'~to sap~jens di~cer(e) om~nibus.

Nis(i) u~til(e) est ~ quod fac'~mus, stul~t(a) est glo~ria."

N(ih)il ag'~re quod ~ non pro~sit fa~bell(a) ad~monet.




Once upon a time, the gods selected the trees which they wished to be under their protection. Jupiter chose the oak tree, while Venus chose the myrtle tree, Apollo chose the laurel, and Cybebe chose the pine, while Hercules chose the lofty poplar. Minerva was surprised and asked them why they had chosen trees without fruit. Jupiter explained the reason: "We do not want to appear to bestow honor in exchange for fruit." Minerva said, "For heaven's sake, let anybody say what he wants, but the olive tree is more pleasing to me because of its fruit." Then the father of gods and begetter of mortals said, 'O my daughter, you are rightly called wise by all: unless what we do is useful, glory is foolish." The story warns us to do nothing which is not productive.


[This translation is meant as a help in understanding the story, not as a "crib" for the Latin. I have not hesitated to change the syntax to make it flow more smoothly in English, altering the verb tense consistently to narrative past tense, etc.]


The Trees Protected (trans. C. Smart)

The gods took certain trees (th' affair

Was some time since) into their care.

The oak was best approved by Jove,

The myrtle by the queen of love;

The god of music and the day

Vouchsafed to patronise the bay;

The pine Cybele chanced to please,

And the tall poplar Hercules.

Minerva upon this inquired

Why they all barren trees admired ?

" The cause," says Jupiter, "is plain,

Lest we give honour up for gain."

" Let every one their fancy suit,

I choose the olive for its fruit."

The sire of gods and men replies,

" Daughter, thou shalt be reckon'd wise

By all the world, and justly too;

For whatsover things we do,

If not a life of useful days,

How vain is all pretence to praise !"

Whate'er experiments you try,

Have some advantage in your eye.




Here is an image of an olive harvest.




Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.