Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings

LCL 492: 404-405

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Book IV

save you from extinction you could look upon the light of day. And to be sure you had earlier made trial of your parents’ affection.2

A meaner victim of unkind Fortune than Gracchus, though a man of senatorial rank, was C. Plautius Numida, but in similar love an equal example. When he heard of his wife’s death, he could not bear his grief and stabbed himself in the breast. Then, prevented by his servants’ interference from going through with his intention and bound up, he seized the first opportunity to tear off the bandages and pull open the wound, with resolute hand drawing his life-breath mingled with bitterness of mourning from around his heart and vitals. By so violent a death he testified how mighty a conjugal flame was hidden in that breast of his.3

The same name, the same love. M. Plautius4 was bringing a fleet of allies, sixty ships, back to Asia by command of the senate and put in at Tarentum. There his wife Orestilla, who had followed him so far, fell sick and died. At her funeral, when she was placed on the pyre and during the ceremony of anointing and kissing, he fell on his drawn sword. His friends placed him beside his wife’s body, just as he was, in gown and shoes, and then put torches below and cremated both together. Their tomb was made there and is even now seen in Tarentum and called “The two lovers’ tomb.” Nor do I doubt that if the dead have any consciousness Plautius and Orestilla brought to the shades countenances rejoicing in their shared fate. Surely where love is

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.valerius_maximus-memorable_doings_sayings.2000