Umbra

Nec coiere pares. alter vergentibus annis
in senium longoque togae tranquillior usu
dedidicit iam pace ducem, famaeque petitor
multa dare in vulgus, totus popularibus auris
impelli, plausuque sui gaudere theatri,
nec reparare novas vires, multumque priori
credere fortunae. stat magni nominis umbra;
qualis frugifero quercus sublimis in agro
exuvias veteres populi sacrataque gestans
dona ducum nec iam validis radicibus haerens
pondere fixa suo est, nudosque per aëra ramos
effundens trunco, non frondibus, efficit umbram;
et quamvis primo nutet casura sub Euro,
tot circum silvae firmo se robore tollant,
sola tamen colitur.
(Lucan, Bell. Civ. 1.129-143)

The two rivals were ill-matched. The one was somewhat tamed by declining years; for long he had worn the toga and forgotten in peace the leader’s part; courting reputation and lavish to the common people, he was swayed entirely by the breath of popularity and delighted in the applause that hailed him in the theatre he built; and trusting fondly to his former greatness, he did nothing to support it by fresh power. The mere shadow of a mighty name he stood. Thus an oak-tree, laden with the ancient trophies of a nation and the consecrated gifts of conquerors, towers in a fruitful field; but the roots it clings by have lost their toughness, and it stands by its weight alone, throwing out bare boughs into the sky and making a shade not with leaves but with its trunk; though it totters doomed to fall at the first gale, while many trees with sound timber rise beside it, yet it alone is worshipped.

(tr. James Duff Duff)

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