D. Magni Ausonii Opuscula
Merum mihi gaudium eruditionis tuae scripta tribuerunt, quae Capuae locatus accepi. erat quippe in his oblita Tulliano melle festivitas et sermonis mei non tam vera, quam blanda laudatio. quid igitur magis mirer, sententiae incertus addubito, ornamenta oris an pectoris tui. quippe ita facundia antistas ceteris, ut sit formido rescribere ; ita benigne nostra conprobas, ut libeat non tacere. si plura de te praedicem, videbor mutuum scabere et magis imitator tui esse adloquii quam probator. simul quod ipse nihil ostentandi gratia facis, verendum est genuina in te bona tamquam adfectata laudare. unum hoc tamen a nobis indubitata veritate cognosce, neminem esse mortalium quem prae te diligam ; sic vadatum me honorabili amore tenuisti.
I.—Symmachus to Ausonius
Your learned pages, which I received while staying at Capua, brought me sheer delight. For there was in them a certain gaiety overlaid with honey from Tully’s hive, and some eulogy on my discourse flattering rather than deserved. And so I am at a loss to decide which to admire the more—the graces of your diction or of your disposition. Indeed you so far surpass all others in eloquence that I fear to write in reply; you so generously approve my essays that I am glad not to keep silence. If I say more in your praise, I shall seem to be “scratching your back” and to be copying more than complimenting your address to me. Moreover, since you do nothing consciously for the sake of display, I must beware of praising your natural good qualities as though they were studied. This one thing, however, I must tell you as an absolute fact—that there is no man alive whom I love more than you, so deeply pledged in honest affection have you always held me.