vareitates levissimas non curat botanicus?

Bill Purves purves at THUBAN.AC.HMC.EDU
Fri Jan 19 14:04:36 EST 2001

I promise to get off this fascinating topic, but just one more,
because this is (for me, at least) such a refreshing change
from botany...  BTW, Margene Ranieri, at Bob Jones University,
reported to me privately that her Latinist supported my translation.

At 05:13 PM 1/19/01 +0000, Dave Robinson wrote:

>Well, my Latin expert says that "curat" means "to cure" or 'to help"....but
>she is not sure what "levissimas" means....our best interpretation is "Small
>variations do not help the botanist" but we are unsure.

Sounds mostly good to me, especially because it is just a variant
of my inexpert version.

However, I must cross pens with your expert.  "Botanicus" is
nominative case and hence the SUBJECT of the aphorism, not
the object.  "Curat" can definitely be translated as "cure,"
"help," and a number of other things.  But "concern itself
with," or "trouble itself with" are not only valid but also
pretty obviously what Linnaeus had in mind, although he may
have done more muttering in his local language than in Latin ;-)

"Levissimas" is the superlative of "levis," which again has
several meanings, including "light," "insubstantial," etc.
"Trivial" or "trifling" or "petty" are all a-ok for
"levissimas," and, again, it seems obvious that they are
what Mr. von Linne had in mind.  Obvious to me, that is ;-)

THANKS for putting the question to the group, because this
has been fun for me and a pleasant break from other things.
Perhaps we can turn next to, say, geography or sculpture--
just no American politics!


William K. Purves      Vice President/Editorial Director
The Mona Group LLC                     West Coast Office
2817 N. Mountain Avenue              phone: 909.626.4859   
Claremont, CA 91711-1550               fax: 909.626.7030
              e-mail: purves at


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