The following poem is from De Rerum nature Book 5:715-725 :

labitur omnimodis occursans officiensque, nec potis est cerni, quia cassum lumine fertur. versarique potest, globus ut, si forte, pilai dimidia ex parti candenti lumine tinctus, versandoque globum variantis edere formas, donique eam partem, quae cumque est ignibus aucta, ad speciem vertit nobis oculosque patentis; inde minutatim retro contorquet et aufert

The poem is translated into English, why is the word "ignibus" translated as "illuminated", Book(pg 219) enter image description here

1 Answer 1


It's actually not ignibus that's translated as "illuminated", but ignibus aucta.

One of the meanings of augeō is to supply something (accusative) abundantly with something (ablative). So the part quae est ignibus aucta is the part "which is abundantly supplied with light"—or, more freely, "which is illuminated". What exactly is doing the supplying or illuminating isn't stated.

Lewis and Short actually use this passage as an example for this meaning of augeō, but I don't like their translation as much: they say it's "the part that is entirely filled with fire". But especially in poetry, ignis can mean any sort of light (since, of course, fire was the primary light source for the Romans). Horace, for example, uses ignīs lūnae to mean "moonlight" (at the end of IV.2). So I think "light" is a better translation here than "fires".

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