aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Hadrian, To his Soul

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Allegedly written by the Emperor Hadrian on his deathbed (“et moriens quidem hos versus fecisse dicitur”) and therefore quite famous, in the original and in translations (by Byron among others). However, we shouldn’t forget that this poem is quoted by the shady character “Aelius Spartianus” (Life of Hadrian 25.9), whom we’ve already encountered, so we can be excused for maybe having doubts about its authenticity.

animula vagula blandula,
hospes comesque corporis,
quae nunc abibis in loca
pallidula rigida nudula,
nec ut soles dabis iocos.

My little soul, inconstant yet charming, my body’s guest and companion, into what regions you are now retiring, a pale, cold, naked little thing; you will not give me the fun you used to.

Aelius Spartianus wasn’t impressed by this effort:

tales autem nec multo meliores fecit et Graecos.

He wrote poems like (and not much better than) this one, as well as Greek ones.

Written by aleatorclassicus

September 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM

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