This well-known sixth-century Latin distich (poem of two verses) is commonly referred to as Virgil’s Epitaph. For its meaning to be clearly perceived, it should be read horizontally in three columns and four lines.
'pastor arator eques
pavi colui superavi
capras rus hostes
fronde ligone manu.'
As shepherd farmer knight
I pastured tilled conquered
goats soil foes
with leafage mattock hand
Bearing in mind the humanist curriculum offered in sixteenth-century Cambridge, the presence of these verses in a medical book by the famous sixteenth-century Swiss physician, Paracelsus, is unsurprising. In addition to the study of medicine, students of that subject followed a course encompassing the liberal arts, including Latin grammar and rhetoric, Greek, history and moral philosophy.
Title: De restituta utriusque medicinae vera praxi (London, 1578)
Shelfmark: H.19.17 (catalogue record)
16th century17th centuryH.19.17ParacelsusVirgilannotations