De ilice

Ilex arbor est, ut dicit Ysidorus, cuius fructum homines primum ad victum sibi elegerunt. Prius enim quam frumenti usus esset, antiqui glande vixerunt. Unde poeta:

Mortales primi ructabant gutture glandem.

About the holm-oak tree. The holm-oak is a tree, as Isidorus says, the fruit of which the men first plucked for food for themselves. For before there was the use of grain, the ancients lived on the acorn. Whence the poet (said):

The first mortals belched the acorn from the throat.

frumentum, i adj. grain

glans, glandis f. acorn

guttur, uris n. throat

ructo, ructare, ructavi, ructatis 1 belch

utor, uti, usus sum 3 dep. use; make use of; enjoy

victus, us m. living; way of life; food


ut dicit Ysidorus : In the 6th century C.E., Isidorus of Seville wrote many books describing the nature of the world. The original writings of Isidorus can be found in the  Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, translated by Stephen A. Barney and Lewis W.J. Beach.

Prius…quam : introduces a temporal clause and takes the subjunctive, following sequence of tenses.

Vivo : with the ablative, or de + abl., vivo means “to live on” something.

Mortales…glandem : Juvenal, a late poet in the first and second century, wrote in dactylic hexameter. Do not accept this line as strictly factual, rather as satirical. Juvenal wrote sixteen known poems and they are scattered among five books. This particular line comes from Satire Six, referencing women and how they were often more unkempt than the men who belched acorns.