Propertius 1.21, read in Latin by Kathleen M. Coleman


1997. “Propertius 1.21, read in Latin by Kathleen M. Coleman.” Cambridge, MA: Department of the Classics, Harvard University.

Full Text

Tu, qui consortem properas evadere casum,

miles ab Etruscis saucius aggeribus,

quid nostro gemitu turgentia lumina torques?

pars ego sum vestrae proxima militiae.

sic te servato possint gaudere parentes,    5

ne soror acta tuis sentiat e lacrimis:

Gallum per medios ereptum Caesaris enses

effugere ignotas non potuisse manus;

et quicumque super dispersa invenerit ossa

montibus Etruscis, haec sciat esse mea.

Notes by Kathleen M. Coleman

Line 1 'Tu': The speaker, the deceased 'Gallus' referred to in line 7, is addressing a fellow-soldier who escaped from the siege of Perusia (modern Perugia) during the battle between Octavian (later Augustus) and L. Antonius (Mark Antony's brother) in 41 BC. The address to a passer-by is a typical format for a tomb-inscription, exploiting the pathos (as at the end of this poem) whereby the deceased reveals his (or her) own identity to posterity.

Line 6 'soror': The text here is corrupt, but it appears that 'Gallus' is asking his companion to take a message home to his sister to tell her of his death.

Line 6 'Caesaris': As Julius Caesar's adopted son, Octavian took his adoptive parent's name and was formally known as 'C. Iulius Caesar Octauianus'. He avoided the 'Octauianus' that betrayed his origins; hence, significantly, Propertius here refers to him by his preferred name of 'Caesar'.

Recorded: July 14, 1997. Boylston Hall, Harvard University
Audio Engineer: Jeff Martini
See also: Latin poetry
Last updated on 09/09/2015