Fas mihi sanctorum venia dixisse parentum,
tuque, oro, Natura, sinas, cui prima per orbem
iura animis sancire datum: non omnia sanguis
proximus aut serie generis demissa propago
alligat: interius nova saepe adscitaque serpunt
pignora conexis. natos genuisse necesse est,
elegisse iuvat. tenero sic blandus Achilli
semifer Haemonium vincebat Pelea Chiron,
nec senior Peleus natum comitatus in arma
Troica, sed claro Phoenix haerebat alumno.
(Statius, Silv. 2.1.82-91)

By permission of sacred parenthood, and by your leave, Nature,
Who dictate the whole world’s primal laws, may I be allowed
To say: consanguinity and natural descent via a line of offspring,
Are not the only bonds; adopted children are often dearer to us
Than kin. Legitimate sons are a necessity, but those we choose
Are a joy. So Achilles meant more to that kindly centaur Chiron,
Than to Haemonian Peleus. Nor did the aged Peleus accompany
His son to the Trojan War, but Phoenix clung to his dear pupil.
(tr. Tony Kline)


Non est grande, mi Domnion, garrire per angulos et medicorum tabernas, ac de mundo ferre sententiam; hic bene dixit, ille male; iste Scripturas novit, ille delirat; iste loquax, ille infantissimus est. ut de omnibus iudicet, cuius hoc iudicio meruit? contra quemlibet passim in triviis strepere, et congerere maledicta, non crimina, scurrarum est, et paratorum semper ad lites. moveat manum, figat stilum, commoveat se, et quidquid postest scriptis ostendat. det nobis occasionem respondendi disertitudini suae. possum remordere, si velim; possum genuinum laesus infigere; et nos didicimus litteras,
“et nos saepe manum ferulae subtraximus” [Juvenal, Sat. 1.15].
(Jerome, Ep. 50.5)

It is no difficult matter, my dear Domnio, to chatter at street corners or in apothecaries’ shops and to pass judgment on the world. “So-and-so has made a good speech, so-and-so a bad one; this man knows the Scriptures, that one is crazy; this man talks glibly, that never says a word at all.” But who considers him worthy thus to judge every one? To make an outcry against a man in every street, and to heap, not definite charges, but vague imputations, on his head, is nothing. Any buffoon or litigiously disposed person can do as much. Let him put forth his hand, put pen to paper, and bestir himself; let him write books and prove in them all he can. Let him give me a chance of replying to his eloquence. I can return bite for bite, if I like; when hurt myself, I can fix my teeth in my opponent. I too have had a liberal education. As Juvenal says, “I also have often withdrawn my hand from the ferule.” (tr. William Henry Fremantle, George Lewis and/or William Gibson Martley)


Non est meum, si mugiat Africis
malus procellis, ad miseras preces
decurrere et votis pacisci
ne Cypriae Tyriaeque merces

addant avaro divitias mari.
tunc me biremis praesidio scaphae
tutum per Aegaeos tumultus
aura feret geminusque Pollux.

(Horace, Carm. 3.29.57-64)

It is not my way, if the mast creaks in an African gale, to resort to piteous prayers, and, by making promises, to strike a bargain that will save my Cyprian and Tyrian goods from increasing the wealth of the greedy sea. In that situation, the breeze along with Pollux and his twin will carry me serenely though the Aegean’s storm in my two-oared dinghy. (tr. Niall Rudd)


Omnia mihi studia, omnes curas, omnia avocamenta exemit excussit eripuit dolor, quem ex morte Iuni Aviti gravissimum cepi. latum clavum in domo mea induerat, suffragio meo adiutus in petendis honoribus fuerat; ad hoc ita me diligebat, ita verebatur, ut me formatore morum, me quasi magistro uteretur. rarum hoc in adulescentibus nostris. nam quotus quisque vel aetati alterius vel auctoritati ut minor cedit? statim sapiunt, statim sciunt omnia, neminem verentur, neminem imitantur, atque ipsi sibi exempla sunt. sed non Avitus, cuius haec praecipua prudentia, quod alios prudentiores arbitrabatur, haec praecipua eruditio quod discere volebat.
(Pliny Minor, Epist. 8.23.1-3)

Work, cares and distractions – all are interrupted, cut short, and driven out of my mind, for the death of Junius Avitus has been a terrible blow. He had assumed the broad stripe of the senator in my house and had my support when standing for office, and such moreover was his affectionate regard for me that he took me for his moral guide and mentor. This is rare in the young people of today, few of whom will yield to age or authority as being their superior. They are born with knowledge and understanding of everything; they show neither respect nor desire to imitate, and set their own standards. Avitus was not like this. His wisdom consisted in his belief that others were wiser than himself, his learning in his readiness to be taught. (tr. Betty Radice)


Et quis hanc mihi solitudinem imposuit? adulescens omni libidine impurus et sua quoque confessione dignus exilio, stupro liber, stupro ingenuus, cuius anni ad tesseram venierunt, quem tamquam puellam conduxit etiam etiam qui virum putavit. quid ille alter? qui die togae virilis stolam sumpsit, qui ne vir esset a matre persuasus est, qui opus muliebre in ergastulo fecit, qui postquam conturbavit et libidinis suae solum vertit, reliquit veteris amicitiae nomen et, pro pudor, tamquam mulier secutuleia unius noctis tactu omnia vendidit. iacent nunc amatores adligati noctibus totis, et forsitan mutuis libidinibus attriti derident solitudinem meam.
(Petronius, Sat. 81.3-6)

And who put this loneliness on me? A guy who’s filthy with every form of lust, who’s worthy of exile by his own confession; free by means of sex crime, freeborn by means of sex crime; whose youth was sold by a roll of the dice; people rented him as a girl even when they knew he was a man. And what about the other one? On the day he was supposed to put on the man’s toga, he put on a woman’s dress; he was talked out of becoming a man by his own mother; he did woman’s work in the slave prison; and after he went broke and lit out for a new territory of lust, he abandoned the name of his old friendship and, for shame, sold everything for the touch of a single night, like some groupie. And now they lie, the lovers, entwined all night, and maybe when they’re worn out by their mutual lusts they laugh at my loneliness. (tr. Amy Richlin)



Τὴν τρίβον ὃς παράγεις, ἂν πως τόδε σῆμα νοήσῃς,
μή, δέομαι, γελάσῃς, εἰ κυνός ἐστι τάφος·
ἐκλαύσθην· χεῖρες δὲ κόνιν συνέθηκαν ἄνακτος,
ὅς μου καὶ στήλῃ τόνδε ἐχάραξε λόγον.
(CIG 6310 = IG 14.2128)

You who go along this road, if you should notice this memorial, I beg you, do not laugh because this is a dog’s grave. I was lamented; the hands of my master heaped dust over me, and he inscribed these words into my gravestone. (tr. David Bauwens)


hector & andromache
Sergey Postnikov, Farewell of Hector and Andromache (1863)

Εὖ γὰρ ἐγὼ τόδε οἶδα κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν·
ἔσσεται ἦμαρ ὅτ’ ἄν ποτ’ ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ
καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς ἐυμμελίω Πριάμοιο.
ἀλλ’ οὔ μοι Τρώων τόσσον μέλει ἄλγος ὀπίσσω,
οὔτ’ αὐτῆς Ἑκάβης οὔτε Πριάμοιο ἄνακτος
οὔτε κασιγνήτων, οἵ κεν πολέες τε καὶ ἐσθλοὶ
έν κονίῃσι πέσοιεν ὑπ’ ἀνδράσι δυσμενέεσσιν,
ὅσσον σεῦ, ὅτε κέν τις Ἀχαιῶν χαλκοχιτώνων
δακρυόεσσαν ἄγηται, ἐλεύθερον ἦμαρ ἀπούρας.
(Homer, Il. 6.447-455)

For in my heart and soul I also know this well:
the day will come when sacred Troy must die,
Priam must die and all his people with him,
Priam who hurls the strong ash spear…
Even so,
it is less the pain of the Trojans still to come
that weighs me down, not even of Hecuba herself
or King Priam, or the thought that my own brothers
in all their numbers, all their gallant courage,
may tumble in the dust, crushed by enemies –
That is nothing, nothing beside your agony
when some brazen Argive hales you off in tears,
wrenching away your day of light and freedom!
(tr. Robert Fagles)