IN GIRUM IMUS NOCTE ET CONSUMIMUR IGNI
In loving memory of Ciccio Pulvirenti. 16 July 2022.
In girum imus nocte ecce et consumimur igni is a Latin dactylic hexameter, attributed by some to Virgil, by others to a later author due to its palindromic form. Summon moths that circle the candle before burning out.
This hexameter literally means: “We go around at night, and here we are consumed by the fire”. It can refer to moths which, attracted by the flame of a candle, fly and circle around it, until they are burned by the fire. It would then be a Neoplatonic metaphor of sacred love, which transforms the lover into a loved thing, which we find, among others, in Petrarch and Goethe.
“How sometimes, in the hot season, a little butterfly, attracted by the light, comes flying into the eyes, which causes death to her and pain to others; So I run incessantly to my fatal sun […] (Petrarch)
For others it describes the demons who endlessly roam in the fire and night of hell, and refers to the ambitious who, fascinated by the splendors of power, wealth or glory, get too close to the fire of desire.