Posted by Brian Sandine on November 22, 2002
In response to your question, I offer the following excerpt from a speech by Leo Melamed. You may find the full text of his speech at http://www.leomelamed.com/Speeches/82-nec.htm
"Today, I will speak of change, of need, but mostly of "necessity, the mother of invention". Victor Hugo succinctly expressed it in 1852 in his History of Crime: "A stand can be made against invasion by an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an idea." Hugo did not invent the thought, rather he inherited it from a long line of literary stars beginning with the original version Mater Artium Necessitas an undated anonymous Latin saying of ancient Rome. The Latin poet, Pesius Flaccus, was the first known author to use it in literature, circa 50 A.D. He put it, "the stomach is the teacher of the arts and the dispenser of invention." The saying took one form or another throughout the ensuing history of great literary thought until some 1500 years later when Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, "Necessity is the mistress and guardian of nature." William Shakespeare in his Julius Caesar wrote, "Nature must obey necessity," and the English dramatist, William Wycherly, in 1671, said it in the form we know it today. However it is said, it is no less true. Necessity will produce the indicated invention."