Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 4.364-374: Shadows, Appearances and Light

“Our shadows seem to us to move in the sun,
To follow our footsteps and imitate our gestures—
If you can believe that air without light moves,
Following the motion and gesture of man,
Since it cannot be anything but air without light,
What we are accustomed to naming ‘shadow’—
But it isn’t a wonder, since certain places on the earth
Are deprived of light in order whenever in our wandering
We block it, and refilled with light again when we leave.
This makes it appear as if the thing that was the shadow
Of our body always follows us in the same place.”

Umbra videtur item nobis in sole moveri
et vestigia nostra sequi gestumque imitari,
aëra si credis privatum lumine posse
indugredi, motus hominum gestumque sequentem;
nam nihil esse potest aliud nisi lumine cassus
aër id quod nos umbram perhibere suëmus.
ni mirum, quia terra locis ex ordine certis
lumine privatur solis qua cumque meantes
officimus, repletur item quod liquimus eius,
propterea fit uti videatur, quae fuit umbra
corporis, e regione eadem nos usque secuta.

Leave a Reply