To Nepotianus, both grammarian and rhetorician

Decimius Magnus Ausonius
c. 310 – c. 395


Old with a young heart, witty, kind, whose mind,
dipped in much honey with now gall,
imparted nothing bitter in your whole life.
Nepotianus, comfort to my heart,
partaking as much in games as serious work:
when silent, you’d outdo Amyclas in speechlessness:
Ulysses—who left the Sirens singing their enchantments—
could not leave you when you were talking:
honest and modest, moderate, thrifty, abstemious,
eloquent, in style yielding place to no orator:
debater approaching the Stoic Cleanthes:
knowing well by heart Scaurus and Probus,
your memory greater than Cineas’s of Epirus:
friend table-companion and frequent guest—
too seldom, for you stimulated my mind.
No one gave counsel with so pure a heart
or hid confidences with deeper secrecy.
With the honor of an illustrious governorship conferred,
having lived through the changes of ninety years,
leaving two children, you meet your death,
with much grief to your family, as to me.


Translation by Deborah Warren

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