For dolts admire and love everything more which they see hidden amid distorted words

Lucretius (1.641-44), speaking of Heraclitus but applicable to many of us:

omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amantque,

inversis quae sub verbis latitantia cernunt,

veraque constituunt quae belle tangere possunt

auris et lepido quae sunt fucata sonore.

The Loeb (Rouse, smith revision) gives:

For dolts admire and love everything more which they see hidden amid distorted words, and set down as true whatever can prettily tickle the ears and all that is varnished over with fine-sounding phrases.

The verb in the final line – fucare – is mainly used of painting or the application of cosmetics (which in Roman usage had a negative sense, often with associations of trickery and deceit). That the metaphor is a mixing of senses – sight (fucata) and sound (sonore) – allows Lucretius to first mock Heraclitus’ style in imitation and then indulge in its poetic richness to his own benefit.

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