Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Multum in Parvo

   Above is the frontispiece from August Johan Roesel von Roesnhof's 'Historia naturalis Ranarum nostratium' (1758) - 'Natural History of our Frogs' – which describes in great detail all the frog species of Germany. Amongst the teeming marsh life a stone dais sinks into Ozymandian oblivion, engraved into it is a phrase taken from Virgil's Georgics: 'Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum' - 'I'll tell of tiny things that make a show well worth your admiration'.

   Virgil was talking about bees, but natural historians in particular see evidence of this sentiment everywhere. The motto was used to good effect some 200 years ago in the creation of an extraordinary ring now found in the entomological collection of the London Natural History Museum. The words encompass a weevil (Tetrasothynus regalis) from Hispaniola.