A motto in Latin about grapes and the meaning of life brought a touch of class to "Lonesome Dove" even if Gus McCrae didn't know what it meant and Latin scholars have differing interpretations.
"It's a motto. . . . It just says itself," McCrae explained to his partner, Woodrow F. Call, in Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.But that didn't satisfy the public, which has been clamoring for an explanation ever since the book was turned into a hit CBS-TV miniseries, broadcast last week.
"We got about 15 to 20 calls the day after the final episode," Dallas Public Library researcher Marilyn Jackson said Friday. The four-day series wound up Wednesday.
The motto, "Uva uvam vivendo varia fit," appeared on the sign for the Hat Creek Cattle Company and Livery Emporium. McCrae thought that whatever it meant, it would lend some dignity to the sign.
Jackson said researcher Carl Perkins translated the motto as: "The grape is made manifold by living."
Two Latin scholars offered different views.
Isaac Tennison, a lecturer at the University of Texas-Arlington ,says it's "A grape becomes mature by living only as a grape."
Bruce MacQueen of the University of Dallas translates it as "A grape becomes a different kind of grape by living - or in the process of living."