ATTICUS: I recognize that clump of trees and also this oak* which belongs to the people of Arpinum; I have often read about it in Marius. If that oak still survives, this must be it; and indeed it's a very old tree.
QUINTUS: It does survive, my dear Atticus, and it always will; for it was sown by the imagination. No stem tended by a farmer can last as long as one planted by a poet's verses.
ATTICUS: And how, may I ask, is that, Quintus? What kind of a thing is it that poets plant? I suspect you are flattering your brother to solicit support for yourself!*
QUINTUS: No doubt you're right. But as long as Latin literature has a voice, this place will have an oak-tree called after Marius; and, as Scaevola* says about my brother's poem, 'it will grow grey o'er countless centuries'. Or perhaps the Athens you love has managed to keep the olive-tree* on the Acropolis alive for ever? Or the tall young palm which they point out today on Delos is the very one that Homer's Ulysses* said he had seen there? Many other things in many places have survived longer by virtue of tradition than they could possibly have lasted in the course of nature. So let this now be that 'acorn-laden oak'* from which 'the tawny messenger of Jove in wondrous form' once flew. But when weather or old age has destroyed it, there will still be a tree in this place which they can call Marius' oak.
ATTICUS: I've no doubt about that. But here's a question I want to put--not to you, Quintus, but to the poet himself. Was it your verses that planted this oak, or were you told that this episode was witnessed by Marius as you describe it?
MARCUS: I'll answer that, Atticus; but first you must answer this for me: is it a fact that after his death Romulus walked up and
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Publication information: Book title: The Republic and The Laws. Contributors: Cicero - Author, Niall Rudd - Translator. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 97.
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