I recently went to my doctor and we got to talking about A Life’s Work. He asked me if I knew Cicero’s treatise, On Old Age. I didn’t. He paraphrased a passage about trees.
“Oh, that’s good,” I said. “I’m going to use that in my blog.”
When I came home, waiting in my inbox was an e-mail from my kind doctor:
Since I am sure you want to be meticulously precise in what you write, the exact full quote is:
serit arbores qui alteri saeculo prosint (plant trees that will only benefit the next generation)
While the quotation is best known for being published by Cicero in his treatise “Cato Major seu de senectute”, Cicero acknowledged that he derived it from Caecilius Status, a Roman poet who lived about 100 years earlier. Also, as a minor curiosity, this phrase is also used as the motto of the Canberra Arboretum.
The passage that follows “plant trees that will only benefit the next generation” is pretty good, too.
“Nor indeed would a farmer, however old, hesitate to answer any one who asked him for whom he was planting: ‘For the immortal gods, whose will it was that I should not merely receive these things from my ancestors, but should also hand them on to the next generation.'”
I’m pretty sure this quote would please David and Jared Milarch of the organization formerly known as Champion Tree Project. And the other subjects of A Life’s Work as well.
Thanks, Dr. C.
[Note: for a less positive interaction, see my post on Extra Criticum, Letters to a Young Filmmaker.]