The Other Cicero

2014 has arrived, and brought with it enthusiasm and excitement! I kicked off the year by leafing through my copy of The Oxford Book of Latin Verse, and stumbled upon a short piece by Quintus Tullius Cicero, brother of the famed (and slightly arrogant) orator, philosopher and politician, Marcus Tullius Cicero.  The piece, given the title An Astronomical Fragment caught my eye, since, as you will have noticed from my post regarding the Latin HiRISE project ( ), I have long had a fascination with stars, astronomy and mysterious cosmic bodies.  Firstly, it was interesting to see how the Romans considered the movements of the stars and the cosmos (or rather, the movement of the earth relative to the rest of the night sky) to be linked with changes to the Earth throughout the year. For example, Summer is compared to 'savage Leo blowing out sluggish heat from his mouth'.  Secondly, I enjoyed reading something by 'The Other Cicero', who seemed always to be overshadowed by his brother in my Latin studies at school, and indeed at university.  It gave me hope that the rest of the Cicero family were not so preoccupied with praeteritio and hyperbole as their most famous son!  Thirdly, the simplicity of the Latin itself meant that this little piece provided a short, entertaining distraction from my day to day activities, without me getting a headache while reading!

For those of you who may be interested in reading this fragment in your own time...

flumina uerna cient obscuro lumine Pisces
curriculumque Aries aequat noctisque diique,
cornua quem condunt florum praenuntia Tauri;
aridaque aestatis Gemini primordia pandunt,
longaque ian minuit praeclarus lumina Cancer,
languificosque Leo proflat ferus ore calores.
post modium quatiens Virgo fugat orta uaporem:
autumni reserat portas aequatque diuerna
tempora nocturnis dispenso sidere Libra:
effetos ramos denudat flamma Nepai:
pigra Sagittipotens iaculatur frigora terris:
bruma gelu glaciat iubarem spirans Capricorni,
quem sequitur nebulas rorans liquor altus Aquari.
tanta supra circaque uigescunt lumina mundi;
at dextra laeuaque ciet rota fulgida Solis
mobile curriculum et Lunae simulacra feruntur.


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