Monday, April 11, 2011


A Tree in the Villa of Manilius Vopiscus

Statius, Silvae 1.3, describes the villa of Manilius Vopiscus at Tibur. Statius praises Vopiscus for sparing a tree and building his villa around it (lines 57-63, tr. D.R. Shackleton Bailey):
Why now should I wonder at connecting structures or those distanced in separate stories? Why at the tree preserved in the dwelling's midst, rising through ceilings and doorways to emerge in the open, sure to suffer the cruel axe under any other master? But now it may be that some little Nymph or Hamadryad owes you unbroken years, to you unknown.

               Quid nunc iungentia mirer
aut quid partitis distantia tecta trichoris?
quid te, quae mediis servata penatibus arbor
tecta per et postes liquidas emergis in auras,
quo non sub domino saevas passura bipennes?
et nunc ignaro forsan vel lubrica Nais
vel non abruptos tibi demet Hamadryas annos.


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