But if we turn to things that we ourselves
can test and trust, you'll see that any corpse
which-through long lapse of time or else because
of liquefying heat-has decomposed,
is transformed into tiny animals.
If, after precious bulls are sacrificed,
you set their carcasses within a ditch,
you'll see (it's a familiar happening)
that everywhere among the rotting guts,
he pollen-gathering bees will soon spring up;
and like the bulls from which they've sprung, those bees
are fond of fields, work eagerly, and wait
with patience for the fruits their labor brings.
While from the buried body of a horse,
The animal that shows its worth in war,
Is the hornet that is born. Tear off
the curving claws of the shore-loving crab,
and hide the rest of him beneath the sands;
then from the buried part, a scorpion
will come and threaten you with his hooked tail.
And in the countryside, those worms that weave
white threads among the trees (as farmers see)
all change, becoming butterflies--the form
that often is depicted on tombstones.
In Slimy mud, one seeks and finds the seeds
that generate green frogs: they have no feet
at first; but soon enough, the frogs receive
it legs that help them swim; and since they need
to leap, the pair in back is longer than
the pair in front. And at their birth, bear cubs
are nothing more than shapeless flesh-mere lumps--
until the she-bear licks their limbs and gives
to them the shape--however crude--that she
herself, their mother, has. And can't you see
just how the larvae of the honeybees
have bodies without limbs when they are born
within their waxen cells, the hexagons
that shelter them? And only later will
you see the bee get feet and, later still,
get wings. And Juno's sacred bird, whose tail
is graced by many starlike shapes, as well
as that great bird who bears Jove's thunderbolts;
and Cytherea's doves--indeed all birds:
unless one knew, could anyone suspect
that these came from the inside of an egg?
Some even hold that when the spinal bones
rot in the sepulcher, the human marrow
is changed into a snake.

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