I. A. Lucus quidem ille et haec Arpinatium quercus agnoscitur saepe a me lectus in Mario. si manet illa quercus, haec est profecto; etenim est sane vetus.
Q. Manet vero, Attice noster, et semper mane bit; sata est enim ingenio. nullius autem agricolae cultu stirps tam diuturna quam poetae versu seminari potest.
A. Quo tandem modo, Quinte, aut quale est istuc, quod poetae serunt? mihi enim videris fratrem laudando suffragari tibi.
Q. Sit ita sane; verum tamen, dum Latinae loquentur litterae, quercus huic loco non deerit, quae Mariana dicatur, eaque, ut ait Scaevola de fratris mei Mario,
Canescet saeclis innumerabilibus;
I. Atticus. Surely I recognize that grove yonder and this oak tree of Arpinum as those of which I have read so often in the “Marius”;1 if that famous oak still lives, this is certainly the same; and in fact it is a very old tree.
Quintus. That oak lives indeed, my dear Atticus, and will live for ever; for it was planted by the imagination. No tree nourished by a farmer’s care can be so long–lived as one planted by a poet’s verses.
A. How is that, Quintus? What sort of planting is it that poets do? It seems to me that while praising your brother you are putting in a word for yourself as well.2
Q. You may be right; but for all that, as long as Latin literature shall live, there will not fail to be an oak tree on this spot, called the “Marian Oak,” and this tree, as Scaevola says of my brother’s “Marius,”3 will
Through countless ages come to hoary eld.
- 1A poem of Cicero, written in or previous to 59, if, as seems probable, the verse in Ep. ad Att. II. 15, 3 (April 59) is quoted from it.
- 2Quintus was also a poet, being known particularly as a writer of tragedies after Greek models. In 54 b.c., while serving under Caesar in Gaul, he composed four tragedies in sixteen days (Ep. ad Quintum Fr. III. 6, 7).
- 3This may mean that a Scaevola (see II, 47 and Index) actually made this statement about Cicero’s poem, or that Scaevola, a character in Cicero’s “Marius,” spoke these words. Therefore the quotation may be from the “Marius,” or possibly from an epigram of Scaevola’s.