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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces some of the
Carmina Minora


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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From the Shorter Poems

 p197  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXI (LXXX)
Of Theodore and Hadrian.​1

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Manlius Theodorus sleeps night and day; the sleepless Egyptian steals alike from gods and men. Peoples of Italy, be this your one prayer — that Manlius keep awake and the Egyptian sleep.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXII (XXXIX)
Apology to Hadrian.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Must the violence of thine anger last so long? Are my tears never to cease to flow? Dost thou thus suddenly turn thy favour to hatred? Where, then, is that leniency that knows not to harm any, that loving-kindness? Shall envy have such licence? Has the clamour of calumny so prevailed?

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] What though rash wrath, though heedless youth tempted me, though pride urged, though passion led me astray, yet shouldst thou be above meeting me with like weapons. Human murmurs never touch the gods nor do the loose railings of man disturb the peace of heaven. My punishment has  p199 been too severe; spare a fallen foe. Behold me; I confess my faults and ask pardon for my sin.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Fierce Achilles showed mercy to the shade of Hector, Orestes appeased his mother's avenging furies, Hercules restored to Priam the cities which he had taken. A king's overthrow won the pity of Pella's youthful monarch, who wept, men say, for the death of Darius at a slave's hand, and consoled his ghost with a lofty mausoleum. To captive Porus Alexander gave back an ampler kingdom. 'Twas thus the founder of our country​2 spared his conquered foes. Thine own nobility demands that thou shouldst follow his example. If it is one of the gods that I have insulted let him send down punishment upon me and sate his anger.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Now that I have lost thy favour I am become a prey to grinding poverty, my house is desolate, my friends reft from me. Death with torture is the fate of one, exile of another. What further losses can I suffer? What more cruel plagues can befall me?

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] The power to despoil and kill softens anger. Wild beasts turn away from their stricken prey, and fierce lions, eager to destroy, abandon the dead victim, and with a nobler hunger riot only in the flesh of the warlike steer. Envy has snapped the thread of my prosperity and turned my happiness into mourning. I am fordone with punishment and my pride is broken; look on me again with favour. Is a humble client worth so heavy a weight of anger? Aeolus makes not trial of himself where the sea's waters are shallow; no lowly hill encounters Boreas' blasts; 'tis the Alps he shakes, the summit of Rhodope he harasses. Never doth the lightning  p201 strike the humble willows nor do the modest shrubs deserve the Thunderer's angry bolt; lofty oaks and agèd ashes are his victims.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] Instead of the suppliant's branch plucked from Minerva's sacred olive, instead of incense, I offer thee this poem. Have mercy on thy servant. Restore me, even me, to my former state, heal my cruel wounds, bid life and honour return to me. Do thou, who didst overthrow my fortune, build it upon again. Telephus came back cured by the magic of Achilles.​3 The same hand dealt death and healing — an enemy restoring him to health by the assuagement of the very pains he had inflicted.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] But if neither my prayers nor my tears can soften thee, spurn the Muses with thy foot and take away my unlucky decorations, deprive me of my rank, cast me aside who was once thy companion. A noteworthy victory this thou hast won over a poor poet; redoubtable indeed the spoils that will grace such a triumph. Let a fellow-countryman's power overwhelm his wretched fellows.​4 Be my fate told to our common fatherland and to Pharos, known of all who sail the distant seas, and let Father Nile raise his weeping head from out the flood and mourn my cruel case along the banks of all his seven mouths.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 For M. see XVI and note (and Introduction, p. xv). H. was comes sacrarum largitionum in the East in 395, magister officiorum in 397, praetorian prefect of Italy 401. This epigram was probably written in 396; the apology (next poem) perhaps the same year.

2 Alexander is called the founder of Claudian's country (Egypt) because the first Ptolemy was one of his generals and became king of Egypt on Alexander's death.

3 Telephus, wounded by Achilles' spear, could only be cured by his "wounder." In return for such information about Troy as should lead to its capture, Achilles cured Telephus by means of the rust on the spear that had inflicted the wound.

Herbis must here mean simply magic (cf. Prop. IV.7.72), but it is curious, and hasta(e) is tempting.

4 Both Hadrian and Claudian were Egyptians.

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Page updated: 24 Jul 07