Monumentum

Roberto Bompiania, Il triclinio, ca. 1887 (detail 2)
Roberto Bompiania, Il triclinio (ca. 1887; detail)

Respiciens deinde Habinnam: “quid dicis,” inquit, “amice carissime? aedificas monumentum meum quemadmodum te iussi? valde te rogo, ut secundum pedes statuae meae catellam pingas et coronas et unguenta et Petraitis omnes pugnas, ut mihi contingat tuo beneficio post mortem vivere; praeterea ut sint in fronte pedes centum, in agrum pedes ducenti. omne genus enim poma volo sint circa cineres meos, et vinearum largiter. valde enim falsum est vivo quidem domos cultas esse, non curari eas, ubi diutius nobis habitandum est. et ideo ante omnia adici volo: “hoc monumentum heredem non sequitur”. ceterum erit mihi curae, ut testamento caveam ne mortuus iniuriam accipiam. praeponam enim unum ex libertis sepulcro meo custodiae causa, ne in monumentum meum populus cacatum currat. te rogo, ut naves etiam facias plenis velis euntes, et me in tribunali sedentem praetextatum cum anulis aureis quinque et nummos in publico de sacculo effundentem; scis enim, quod epulum dedi binos denarios. faciatur, si tibi videtur, et triclinia. facies et totum populum sibi suaviter facientem. ad dexteram meam pones statuam Fortunatae meae columbam tenentem; et catellam cingulo alligatam ducat; et cicaronem meum, et amphoras copiosas gypsatas, ne effluant vinum. et urnam licet fractam sculpas, et super eam puerum plorantem. horologium in medio, ut quisquis horas inspiciet, velit nolit, nomen meum legat. inscriptio quoque vide diligenter si haec satis idonea tibi videtur: “C. Pompeius Trimalchio Maecenatianus hic requescit. huic seviratus absenti decretus est. cum posset in omnibus decuriis Romae esse, tamen noluit. pius, fortis, fidelis, ex parvo crevit, sestertium reliquit trecenties, nec unquam philosophum audivit. vale: et tu.” haec ut dixit Trimalchio, flere coepit ubertim. flebat et Fortunata, flebat et Habinnas, tota denique familia, tanquam in funus rogata, lamentatione triclinium implevit. immo iam coeperam etiam ego plorare, cum Trimalchio: “ergo”, inquit, “cum sciamus nos morituros esse, quare non vivamus? sic nos felices videam, coniciamus nos in balneum, meo periculo, non paenitebit. sic calet tanquam furnus.” —”vero, vero,” inquit Habinnas, “de una die duas facere, nihil malo” nudisque consurrexit pedibus et Trimalchionem gaudentem subsequi <coepit>.
(Petronius, Sat. 71.5-72.4)

Then looking at Habinnas, he said: “What have you to say, my dear old friend? Are you building my monument the way I told you? I particularly want you to keep a place at the foot of my statue and put a picture of my pup there, as well as paintings of wreaths, scent-bottles, and all the contests of Petraites, and thanks to you I’ll be able to live on after I’m dead. And another thing! See that it’s a hundred feet facing the road and two hundred back into the field. I want all the various sorts of fruit round my ashes and lots and lots of vines. After all, it’s a big mistake to have nice houses just for when you’re alive and not worry about the one we have to live in for much longer. And that’s why I want this written up before anything else:
‘THIS MONUMENT DOES NOT GO TO THE HEIR’.
But I’ll make sure in my will that I don’t get done down once I’m dead. I’ll put one of my freedmen in charge of my tomb to look after it and not let people run up and shit on my monument. I’d like you to put some ships there too, sailing under full canvas, and me sitting on a high platform in my robes of office, wearing five gold rings and pouring out a bagful of money for the people. You know I gave them all a dinner and two denarii apiece. Let’s have in a banqueting hall as well, if you think it’s a good idea, and show the whole town having a good time. Put up a statue of Fortunata on my right, holding a dove, and have her leading her little dog tied to her belt—and my little lad as well, and big wine-jars tightly sealed up so the wine won’t spill. And perhaps you could carve me a broken one and a boy crying over it. A clock in the middle, so that anybody who looks at the time, like it or not, has got to read my name. As for the inscription now, take a good look and see if this seems suitable enough:
‘HERE SLEEPS
GAIUS POMPEIUS TRIMALCHIO
MAECENATIANUS
ELECTED TO THE AUGUSTAN COLLEGE IN HIS ABSENCE
HE COULD HAVE BEEN ON EVERY BOARD IN ROME
BUT HE REFUSED
GOD-FEARING BRAVE AND TRUE
A SELF-MADE MAN
HE LEFT AN ESTATE OF 30,000,000
AND HE NEVER HEARD A PHILOSOPHER
FAREWELL
AND YOU FARE WELL, TRIMALCHIO'”
As he finished Trimalchio burst into tears. Fortunata was in tears, Habinnas was in tears, in the end the whole household filled the dining-room with their wailing, like people at a funeral. In fact, I’d even begun crying myself, when Trimalchio said: “Well, since we know we’ve got to die, why don’t we live a little. I want to see you enjoying yourselves. Let’s jump into a bath—you won’t be sorry, damn me! It’s as hot as a furnace.” “Hear! Hear!” said Habinnas. “Turning one day into two – nothing I like better.” He got up in his bare feet and began to follow Trimalchio on his merry way. (tr. John Patrick Sullivan)

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