Gemitus

bartolomeo pinelli
Bartolomeo Pinelli, The head of Pompey offered to Caesar by the rhetorician Teodato.

Sic fatus opertum
detexit tenuitque caput. iam languida morte
effigies habitum noti mutaverat oris.
non primo Caesar damnavit munera visu
avertitque oculos; voltus, dum crederet, haesit;
utque fidem vidit sceleris tutumque putavit
iam bonus esse socer, lacrimas non sponte cadentes
effudit gemitusque expressit pectore laeto,
non aliter manifesta potens abscondere mentis
gaudia quam lacrimis, meritumque immane tyranni
destruit et generi mavolt lugere revolsum
quam debere caput. qui duro membra senatus
calcarat voltu, qui sicco lumine campos
viderat Emathios, uni tibi, Magne, negare
non audet gemitus.
(Lucan, Bell. Civ. 9.1032-1046)

With these words he took off the covering from the head, and held it in his hands. By now the features, relaxed by death, had changed the aspect of that familiar face. When Caesar first saw it, he did not condemn the gift nor turn away: his eyes were fixed upon the face till he could be sure. Then, when he saw the proof of the crime, and thought it safe at last to be the loving kinsman, he shed crocodile tears and forced out groans while his heart rejoiced. By tears alone was he able to hide his obvious delight; and thus he belittles the king’s horrid service, preferring to mourn the severed head of his kinsman rather than owe obligation for it. Though he had trampled on corpses of senators with face unmoved, and had beheld dry-eyed the field of Pharsalia, to Magnus alone he dares not deny the tribute of tears. (tr. James Duff Duff)

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