Virgil - Felix Qui Potuit Rerum Cognoscere Causas

Virgil - Felix Qui Potuit Rerum Cognoscere Causas

Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas - Wikipedia

Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas” is verse 490 of Book 2 of the "Georgics" (29 BC), by the Latin poet Virgil (70 - 19 BC). It is literally translated as: “Fortunate, who was able to know the causes of things”. ] Virgil may have had in mind the Roman philosopher Lucretius, of the Epicurean school.


The verse on display in the Catacombs of Paris

This sentence is often written with a present tense instead of the past tense: “Felix, qui potest rerum cognoscere causas” (“Fortunate is he, who is able to know the causes of things”). Translators have also often added the adjective "hid" or "hidden" to qualify the causes.

The latter half of the phrase, "rerum cognoscere causas", is the motto of the London School of Economics, the University of Sheffield, Bruce Hall (residential college of the Australian National University), Humberside Collegiate, the University of Guelph, Hill Park Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario, the IVDI lecture hall of the University of Debrecen, the Science National Honor Society, the Royal Military College of Science,[2] the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and the Romanian National Defense College [ro].[3]

Comments 3

  • So I like this one almost literally but in present tense:

    Happy is he who is able to know the causes of things,

    And all fear, and inexorable fate, he tramples underfoot, along with the roar of greedy hell.

    So in this brief verse you've got a great summary of the Epicurean worldview:

    1. Pleasure/happiness
    2. Brought about by Knowledge of Nature
    3. Rejecting fear
    4. Rejecting fate
    5. And rejecting - violently! - the threats of religion, including fear of death.

    For me this one is probably more complete and clear as a summary of the most important elements of Epicurean philosophy than is the Tetrapharmakon.

    And better yet than the Tetrapharmakon? It's in LATIN and therefore easier for more modern westerners to memorize and see the meaning! ;)

    Unfortunately for me when I look at many of the remaining texts it's still "Greek to me." But when I look at these Latin words I can almost imagine Lucretius / Virgil saying them, and me be actually able to understand him as he's saying it. - The only words being really foreign probably the metus and strepitum.

  • From

    felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas
    felix, felicis (gen.), felicior -or -us, felicissimus -a -umhappy; blessed; fertile; favorable; lucky; successful, fruitful
    cognosco, cognoscere, cognovi, cognitusbecome acquainted with/aware of; recognize; learn, find to be; inquire/examine
    causa, causae Fcause/reason/motive; origin, source, derivation; responsibility/blame; symptom
    atque metus omnis et inexorabile fatum
    atqueand, as well/soon as; together with; and moreover/even; and too/also/now; yet
    metus, metus Mfear, anxiety; dread, awe; object of awe/dread
    inexorabilis, inexorabilis, inexorabileinexorable, relentless
    fatum, fati Nutterance, oracle; fate, destiny; natural term of life; doom, death, calamity
    subiecit pedibus strepitumque Acherontis auari:
    subjicio, subjicere, subjeci, subjectusthrow under, place under; make subject; expose
    pes, pedis Mfoot
    strepo, strepere, strepui, strepitusmake a loud noise; shout confusedly; resound
    avarus, avara -um, avarior -or -us, avarissimus -a -umavaricious, greedy; stingy, miserly, mean; covetous, hungry for
    fortunatus et ille deos qui nouit agrestis
    fortuno, fortunare, fortunavi, fortunatusmake happy, bless, prosper
    nosco, noscere, novi, notusget to know; learn, find out; become cognizant of/acquainted/familiar with
    agrestis, agrestis, agresterustic, inhabiting countryside; rude, wild, savage; of/passing through fields
    Panaque Siluanumque senem Nymphasque sorores.
    Pan, Panos/is MPan; Greek god of shepherds
    silvanus, silvani Mgods associated with forest and uncultivated land
    senex, senis (gen.), senior -or -us, -aged, old
    nymphe, nymphes Fnymph; water; bride; young maiden
    soror, sororis Fsister
  • Here's a link to the English translation at the Perseus Digital Library:…eus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0058

    "Happy, who had the skill to understand
    Nature's hid causes, and beneath his feet
    All terrors cast, and death's relentless doom,
    And the loud roar of greedy Acheron."

    Like 2