Propertius, Elegies

LCL 18: 284-285



qua iacet et Troiae tubicen Misenus harena, et sonat Herculeo structa labore via; 5hic ubi, mortalis dexter cum quaereret urbes, cymbala Thebano concrepuere deo — at nunc invisae magno cum crimine Baiae, quis deus in vestra constitit hostis aqua? — Marcellus Stygias vultum demisit in undas, 10errat et inferno spiritus ille lacu.

quid genus aut virtus aut optima profuit illi mater, et amplexum Caesaris esse focos? aut modo tam pleno fluitantia vela theatro, et per maternas omnia gesta manus? 15occidit, et misero steterat vicesimus annus: tot bona tam parvo clausit in orbe dies. i nunc, tolle animos et tecum finge triumphos, stantiaque in plausum tota theatra iuvent; Attalicas supera vestes, atque ostra smaragdis 20gemmea sint Indis: ignibus ista dabis.

sed tamen huc omnes, huc primus et ultimus ordo: est mala, sed cunctis ista terenda viast. exoranda canis tria sunt latrantia colla, scandendast torvi publica cumba senis.

  • 9Marcellus Phillimore (>***pessus): his pressus Ω
  • 10inferno Housman: in vestro Ω
  • 19ostra smaragdis Housman: omnia magnis Ω
  • 20Indis Housman: ludis Ω

Book III

both the Trojan trumpeter Misenus lies buried in the sand and the causeway built by the toil of Hercules resounds; here, where cymbals clashed to greet the god of Thebes 50 when on a kindly errand he visited the cities of mankind—but, Baiae, now detested for your heinous crime, what malign deity has settled in your bay?—Marcellus 51 has lowered his gaze to the waters of the Styx, and his noble spirit wanders about the infernal lake.

What availed him his lineage, his worth, the best of mothers? 52 What availed him his union with the house of Caesar, or the rippling awnings of the theatre but now so thronged and all that his mother’s influence had procured? He is dead, and the poor boy’s twentieth year was his fated term: within so brief a span did time confine such excellence. You may indulge your heart’s desire and dream of triumphs; imagine whole theatres rising to their feet to cheer; outdo the golden cloth of Attalus and bejewel your fine apparel with emeralds from Ind: you will surrender all to the pyre.

Yet hither all shall come, hither the highest and the lowest class: evil it is, but it is a path that all must tread; all must assuage the three heads of the barking guard-dog and embark on the grisly greybeard’s boat that no one misses.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.propertius-elegies.1990