The Trees Under The Protection of The Gods

Each of the gods picked a tree for protection. Minerva, wisest, picked the olive tree on account of its fruit which can be put to good use.

Do what is useful.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

The gods, according to an ancient legend, made choice of certain trees to be under their special protection. Jupiter chose the oak, Venus the myrtle, Apollo the laurel, Cybele the pine, and Hercules the poplar. Minerva, wondering why they had preferred trees not yielding fruit, inquired the reason for their choice. Jupiter replied, “It is lest we should seem to covet the honor for the fruit.” But said Minerva, “Let anyone say what he will the olive is more dear to me on account of its fruit.” Then said Jupiter, “My daughter, you are rightly called wise; for unless what we do is useful, the glory of it is vain.”

JBR CollectionJBR Collection (Minerva’s Olive)

The gods, according to the heathen mythologists, had each of them their favourite tree. Jupiter preferred the oak, Venus the myrtle, Apollo the laurel, Cybele the pine, and Hercules the poplar. Minerva, surprised they should choose barren trees, asked Jupiter the reason. “It is,” said he, “to prevent any suspicion that we confer the honour we do them from an interested motive.” “Let folly suspect what it pleases,” returned Minerva, “I shall not scruple to acknowledge that I make choice of the Olive for the usefulness of its fruit.” “O daughter,” replied the father of the gods, “it is with justice that men esteem thee wise, for nothing is truly valuable that is not useful.”

1001Minerva et Olea

Divi olim legebant sibi quisque arborem. Quercum sibi legit Iuppiter; myrtus Veneri placuit; laurus Phoebo; Herculi populus. Minerva, rem admirata, “Cur,” inquit, “steriles arbores in tutelam sumitis?” Causam Iuppiter dixit, “Scilicet indignum deo est tutelam suam fructu vendere.” “Mihi quidem,” respondit Minerva, “olea gratior est propter fructum.” Tum Pater deorum atque hominum “O nata,” inquit, “merito sapiens esse diceris. Stulta enim est gloria, nisi id, quo gloriamur, utile est.”

Perry #508