After my first set of exams at university, there was one morning where I woke early, couldn’t get back to sleep (pre-dawn, just), and so decided I would go for a walk. It was March. My university had a beautiful riverside setting, so I went for a walk beside it and eventually settled on the riverside bench. The sun came up with a beautiful pinky-gold and the morning was cool enough that a light mist rose from the river, the birds started to emerge, and for a moment I felt like I was in a poem. Then, several years later, I re-read one of the texts I actually had to study for those exams, and it brought back that lovely dawn walk. So here it is, the exquisite description from the opening of Aeneid VII (25-36) as Aeneas sails peacefully into the Tiber at sunrise:
“And now Aurora was creating blush on the sea, and she was gleaming in
saffron-gold from the high heaven in her rosy chariot; when the winds settled,
and every breeze calmed, and the oars were plied in the marble-smooth surface.”
So, why have I chosen this for a sententia cotidiana? Some of you may have read my previous pieces on the ancients’ lovely descriptions of nature that still resonate today, whether it is a silvery moonlight, or a bird of prey circling majestically. Being human is about loving and appreciating the natural beauties of the world, not just politics or conflict. Do we need the ancients to remind us of the finer points of life that give us joy and hope? Maybe, yes. The natural artistry of nature was captured beautifully by ancient authors. These scenes have not changed as things we should admire.