Ausonius Gregorio Filio Sal.
En umquam vidisti tabulam1 pictam in pariete? vidisti utique et meministi. Treveris quippe in triclinio Zoili fucata est pictura haec: Cupidinem cruci adfigunt mulieres amatrices, non istae de nostro saeculo, quae sponte peccant, sed illae heroicae, quae sibi ignoscunt et plectunt deum. quarum partem in lugentibus campis Maro noster enumerat. hanc ego imaginem specie et argumento miratus sum. deinde mirandi stuporem transtuli ad ineptiam poetandi. mihi praeter lemma nihil placet; sed commendo tibi errorem meum: naevos nostros et cicatrices amamus, nec soli nostro vitio peccasse contenti, adfectamus ut amentur. verum quid ego huic eclogae studiose patrocinor? certus sum, quodcumque meum scieris, amabis; quod magis spero, quam ut laudes. vale et dilige parentem.
Ausonius to his Son Gregorius,1 Greeting
“Pray, have you ever seen a picture painted on a wall?” To be sure you have, and remember it. Well, at Trèves, in the dining-room of Zoïlus, this picture is painted: Cupid is being nailed to the cross by certain love-lorn women—not those lovers of our own day, who fall into sin of their own freewill, but those heroic lovers who excuse themselves and blame the gods. Some of these our own Virgil2 recounts in his description of the Fields of Mourning. I was greatly struck by the art and the subject of this picture. Subsequently I translated my amazed admiration into insipid versification. Nothing in it satisfies me except the title; nevertheless I commit my failure to your care: we love our own warts and scars, and, not satisfied with erring by ourselves through our folly, seek to make others love them also. But why am I at such pains to plead the cause of this eclogue? I know well that you will welcome whatever you know to be mine; and it is for this I hope, more than for your praise. Farewell, and think kindly of your father.