—C. Pliny. Epist. v, 16
I have the saddest news to tell you. Our friend Fundanus has lost his youngest daughter. I never saw a girl more cheerful, more lovable, more worthy of long life—nay, of immortality. She had not yet completed her fourteenth year, and she had already the prudence of an old woman, the gravity of a matron, and still, with all maidenly modesty, the sweetness of a girl. How she would cling to her father’s neck! how affectionately and discreetly she would greet us, her father’s friends! how she loved her nurses, her attendants, her teachers,—everyone according to his service. How earnestly, how intelligently, she used to read! How modest was she and restrained in her sports! And with what self-restraint, what patience—nay, what courage—she bore her last illness! She obeyed the physicians, encouraged her father and sister, and, when all strength of body had left her, kept herself alive by the vigor of her mind. This vigor lasted to the very end, and was not broken by the length of her illness or by the fear of death; so leaving, alas! to us yet more and weightier reasons for our grief and our regret. Oh the sadness, the bitterness of that death! Oh the cruelty of the time when we lost her, worse even than the loss itself! She had been betrothed to a noble youth; the marriage day had been fixed, and we had been invited. How great a joy changed into how great a sorrow! I cannot express in words how it went to my heart when I heard Fundanus himself (this is one of the grievous experiences of sorrow) giving orders that what he had meant to lay out on dresses, and pearls, and jewels, should be spent on incense, unguents, and spices.
—Tr. Alfred J. Church
TO LESBIA’S SPARROW
Lugete, o Veneres Cupidinesque,
Et quantumst hominum venustiorum.
Passer mortuus est meae puellae,
Passer, deliciae meae puellae,
Quem plus illa oculis suis amabat:
Nam mellitus erat suamque norat
Ipsa tam bene quam puella matrem,
Nec sese a gremio illius movebat,
Sed circumsiliens modo huc modo illuc
Ad solam dominam usque pipiabat.
Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
Illuc unde negant redire quemquam.
At vobis male sit, malae tenebrae
Orci, quae omnia bella devoratis:
Tam bellum mihi passerem abstulistis.
O factum male! io miselle passer!
Tua nunc opera meae puellae
Flendo turgiduli rubent ocelli.