Avia Pieridum for mixed vocal choir, a cappella, including 2 soprano soloists and 1 alto soloist

text by Lucretius (ca. 95 - ca. 52 B.C.E.), music by Ben S. Jacob (b. 1977 C.E.)

about the text

Titus Lucretius Carus was a poet and philosopher who lived in the Roman Republic during its collapse into an imperial state, a time of chaos and civil war that saw the rise and fall of Julius Caesar.

The text used in this piece is an excerpt from Lucretius's primary work, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). De Rerum Natura is a philosophical epic poem 7400 lines in length and is divided into six books. The work is generally considered to be t he most elegant presentation of the philosophy of Epicurus of Athens (341-271 B.C.E.) and is essentially a poetic enlivening of the ideas discussed therein. Thus, the text is marked by vivid imagery illustrating Epicurean views of all phenomena related t o human existence. Lucretius is especially concerned with the deconstruction of superstitions and beliefs in the immortality of the human soul in favor of the development of a more naturalistic view of existence and a greater appreciation of the mortal l ife. The body of De Rerum Natura consists of careful, detailed descriptions of the physical universe and explanations of every parameter of human existence in these naturalistic (as opposed to metaphysical) terms. The excerpt used here is taken from the opening of Book IV and describes the primary goals of the entire work.

The dictional preference of the composer led to the use of ecclesiastical Latin spelling and pronunciation of the text. The composer has also taken freedom in the translation of the text in order to better portray the intended expressions and moods to be effected during performance.

Latin text poetic translation (by composer)
Avia Pieridum peragro loca nullius ante
trita solo. juvat integros accedere fontis
atque havrire, juvatque novos decerpere flores
insignemque meo capiti petere unde coronam,
unde prius nulli velarint tempora Musae;
primum quod magnis doceo de rebus et artis
religionum animum nodis exsolvere pergo,
deinde quod obscura de re tam lucida pango
carmina, musaeo contingens cuncta lepore.
Alone I travel on unexplored paths, onto the grounds
Of the Muses on which no foot has been set. I love to find undiscovered springs
And drink; I love to gather fresh new flowers
And strive toward the peak and reach for that prized crown
Which the Muses have kept hidden from all until now;
For first, I teach of powerful ideas in order to free
The human spirit from all the world's vices, to untangle that knot;
Then, as these dark matters are made clear through
These verses, the world will be endowed with grace.

© 2002 Ben S. Jacob


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