XI[11arg] The derivation and meaning of the word mature, and that it is generally used improperly; and also that the genitive of praecox is praecocis and not praecoquis.
MATURE in present usage signifies “hastily” and “quickly,” contrary to the true force of the word; for mature means quite a different thing. Therefore Publius Nigidius, a man eminent in the pursuit of all the liberal arts, says: 1 “Mature means neither 'too soon' nor 'too late,' but something between the two and intermediate.” Publius Nigidius has spoken well and properly. For of grain and fruits those are called matura, or “mature,” which are neither unripe and hard, nor falling and decayed, but full-grown and ripened in their proper time. But since that which was not done negligently was said to be done mature, the force of the word has been greatly extended, and an act is now said to be done mature which is done with some haste, and not one which is done without negligence; whereas such things as are immoderately hastened are more properly called inmatura, or “untimely.” That limitation of the word, and of the action itself, which was made by Nigidius was very elegantly expressed by the deified Augustus with two Greek words; for we are told that he used to say in conversation, and write in his letters, σπεῦδε βραδέως, that is, “make haste slowly,” 2 by which he recommended that to accomplish a result we should use at once the promptness of energy and the delay of carefulness, and it is from these two opposite qualities that maturitas springs. Virgil also, to one [p. 241] who is observant, has skilfully distinguished the two words properare and maturare as clearly opposite, in these verses: 3
Whenever winter's rains the hind confine,Most elegantly has he distinguished between those two words; for in rural life the preparations during rainy weather may be made at leisure, since one has time for them; but in fine weather, since time presses, one must hasten. But when we wish to indicate that anything has been done under too great pressure and too hurriedly, then it is more properly said to have been done praemature, or “prematurely,” than mature. Thus Afranius in his Italian play called The Title says: 4
Much is there that at leisure may be done (maturare),
Which in fair weather he must hurry on (properanda).
With madness premature (praemature) you seek a hasty power.In this verse it is to be observed that he says praecocem and not praecoquem; for the nominative case is not praecoquis, but praecox.