Funerary altar of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus and Aconia Fabia Paulina

Splendor parentum nil mihi maius dedit
quam quod marito digna iam tum visa sum,
sed lumen omne vel decus nomen viri,
Agori, superbo qui creatus germine
patriam senatum coniugemque inluminas
probitate mente moribus studiis simul,
virtutis apicem quis supremum nanctus es.
tu namque, quidquid lingua utraque est proditum
cura soforum, porta quis caeli patet,
vel quae periti condidere carmina,
vel quae solutis vocibus sunt edita,
meliora reddis quam legendo sumpseras.
sed ista parva: tu pius mystes sacris
teletis reperta mentis arcano premis
divumque numen multiplex doctus colis,
sociam benigne coniugem nectens sacris
hominum deumque consciam ac fidam tibi.
quid nunc honores aut potestates loquar
hominumque votis adpetita gaudia,
quae tu caduca ac parva semper autumans
divum sacerdos infulis celsus clues?
tu me, marite, disciplinarum bono
puram et pudicam sorte mortis eximens
in templa ducis ac famulam divis dicas;
te teste cunctis imbuor mysteriis;
tu Dindymenes Atteosque antistitem
teletis honoras taureis consors pius;
Hecates ministram trina secreta edoces
Cererisque Graiae tu sacris dignam paras.
te propter omnis me beatam, me piam
celebrant, quod ipse me bonam disseminas
totum per orbem: ignota noscor omnibus:
nam te marito cur placere non queam?
exemplum de me Romulae matres petunt
subolemque pulchram, si tuae similis, putant;
optant probantque nunc viri, nunc feminae,
quae tu magister indidisti insignia.
his nunc ademptis maesta coniunx maceror
felix, maritum si superstitem mihi
divi dedissent, sed tamen felix, tua
quia sum fuique postque mortem mox ero.
(Aconia Fabia Paulina, ILS 1259 = CIL VI.1779)

The splendor of my kinship granted me
no greater gift than this: that I seemed fit
to be your wife. For in my husband’s name,
Agorius, I find my light and grace.
You, created from proud seed, have shone
on fatherland, on senate, and on spouse
with rightness of conduct, of learning, and of mind.
You won the crown of virtue in this way.
Whatever has been penned in either tongue
by sages free to enter heaven’s door
(whether poetry composed in expert lines,
or prose that’s uttered with a looser voice),
you’ve read, and left it better than you found.
But these are little things. You piously
in mind’s most secret parts had hid away
the mysteries you learned of sacred rites.
The many-faceted numen of the gods
you knew to worship; and your faithful spouse
you bound to you as colleague in the rites,
now sharing what you knew of gods and men.
Why speak of earthly powers, public praise,
and joys men seek with sighs? You called
them fleeting, counted them as small,
while you won glory in the priestly garb.
The goodness of your teaching, husband, freed
me from death’s lot; you took me, pure,
to temples, made me servant to the gods,
stood by while I was steeped in mystery.
Devoted consort, you honored me with blood
of bull, baptized me priestess of Cybele
and Attis; readied me for Grecian Ceres’ rites;
and taught me Hecate’s dark secrets three.
On your account, all praise me as devout;
because you spread my name throughout the world,
I, once unknown, am recognized by all.
How could my husband’s spouse not win applause?
Rome’s matrons look to me as paradigm,
and if their sons resemble yours they think
them handsome. Women and men alike
now long to be upon the honor roll
which you, as master, introduced of old.
Now all these things are gone, and I, your wife,
am wasting in my grief. I had been blest
if gods had granted me the sooner grave.
But, husband, even so I’m blest: for yours
I am, and was, and after death will be.
(tr. Peter Donnelly)

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