Janus Vitalis Panormitanus: Ancient Rome (From Latin)

This is a poem which spawned a veritable micro-genre of imitations and free translations into French, Spanish, Polish, Russian, English and other languages, including this sonnet by Quevedo as well as this one by Du Bellay. Though the poem has done quite well in its cross-linguistic journeys, the original does much that the imitators do not seek to capture. The implication of the use of the term Albula, for example (coupled with the nōmen rōmānum which is the Tiber) is quite impossible to carry over into another language and in any case requires a knowledge of Roman lore to appreciate. (Albula is the mythical "original" name of the river, supposedly renamed Tiber after one of Rome's kings.)
This left me with a peculiar position as a translator. Do I attempt to further the tradition of imitative adaptation? I could do so. And maybe someday I will. But why not try to treat it like any other text, and see what shakes out in the process?


Ancient Rome
By Janus Vitalis Panormitanus (16th cent.)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Newcomer seeking Rome here in rome's midst,  
You who find naught of Rome amidst all rome. 
See the heaped walls, tall sundered stones, vast empty   
Theaters with horrid ruin overrun. 
This. This is Rome. See how so great a City  
Breathes threats of empire even from its corpse, 
The conqueror who conquered her own self   
That nothing be unconquered by her force.  
Now that Unconquerable Rome lies tombed  
In conquered rome: victim of victory.  
The Tiber now remains of what is Roman   
Even as its fleet waters flee to sea.  
Know Fortune's power: the immovable gives way.    
Only what moves unceasingly can stay. 

The Original:

Rōma Prīsca

Quī Rōmam in mediā quaeris novus advena Rōmā,  
  Et Rōmae in Rōmā nil reperis mediā,
Aspice mūrōrum mōlēs, praeruptaque saxa,  
  Obrutaque horrentī vasta theātra sitū:
Haec sunt Rōma.  Viden velut ipsa cadāvera, tantae  
  Urbis adhūc spīrent imperiōsa minās.
Vīcit ut haec mundum, nixa est sē vincere; vīcit,  
  Ā sē nōn victum nē quid in orbe foret.
Nunc victā in Rōmā Rōma illa invicta sepulta est,  
  Atque eadem victrīx victaque Rōma fuit.
Albula Rōmānī restat nunc nōminis index,  
  Quīn etiam rapidīs fertur in aequor aquīs.
Disce hinc, quid possit fōrtūna; immōta labāscunt,  
  Et quae perpetuō sunt agitāta manent.

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