Aconia Fabia Paulina: For Her Dead Husband (From Latin)

Aconia Fabula Paulina, and her husband Agorius Vettius Praetextatus were among the most illustrious of Rome's pagans at a time when the old religion was on the wane in the face of an ascendant and incrementally more intolerant Christianity. Praetextatus in particular was famous among his contemporaries for his material support for, and participation in, numerous cults. This poem is inscribed on Praetextatus' funerary monument. Whether it is actually by his wife or simply placed into her mouth post mortem is probably undecidable. There are, however, metrical as well as stylistic reasons to think that the portion of the inscription containing this poem was composed by a different hand than the rest of it. For it is notably different in tone from the sort of dry formulaic prose-in-meter one usually finds in Roman epitaph inscriptions. In fact, the verse dedication that immediately precedes the poem translated here, which describes Paulina in the third person, is just such a cookie-cutter composition. If this poem is not her work, then it presumably at least summarizes or paraphrases statements of hers (such as perhaps the funeral speech.)  

For Her Dead Husband
By Aconia Fabula Paulina (4th cent. AD)
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

My ancestry bequeathed no brighter glory
Than to be a fit wife for you that day
In whose light we were joined, but now I find
All light and grace lie in my husband's name: 
Agorius! Born of illustrious seed,
A beacon to your land, your wife, your senate,
Aglow with your integrity of mind,
Your actions and your scholarship together,
By which you stand at virtue's pinnacle.
All that has been set down in Greek or Latin
By sages to whom heaven's gate stands open,
Be it in rhythmed song of well-versed men
Or prose in looser speech, you have transmitted,
Leaving it better than you found in reading.
But these are trifling things. Loyal to holy
Mysteries, you sealed their insights in your thought;
The manifold divine you knew to worship,
And generously made your faithful wife
Into a comrade of the mind, a colleague 
Sharing with you the rites of gods and men. 
Why speak of earthly power, of public honor,
Such joys as men pray for with every breath? 
Such things you always reckoned short-lived, small
Beside the holy splendor of the priesthood. 
Dear Husband, by the great gift of your learning,
You have redeemed me from the bonds of death,
Led me into temples, dedicated me
In service to the Sacred Ones, stood by me
In love as I partook of mystery.
Devoted consort, with the blood of bulls
You honored me, anointed me a priestess
To fertile Cybele and fruitful Attis,
Prepared me for Demeter's liturgy
And taught me moon-dark Hekaté's three secrets,
And you have made of me a woman famed
Across the lands as blessed and devoted. 
What wife of yours could fail to win acclaim?       
Rome's matrons find their paragon in me,
And count their sons handsome who look like you.
Now men and women yearn to earn the honors
That you my teacher have bequeathed to me. 
Robbed of all that, I'm now a wife in mourning 
Wasting away. Had the gods but given me
A husband who'd outlive me, I'd have died
Happy. But I am happy. For yours I am
As I have been, as I in death shall be.

The Original:

Splendor parentum nīl mihī maius dedit,
quam quod marītō digna iam tum vīsa sum.
Sed lūmen omne vel decus nōmen virī,
Agorī, superbō quī creātus germine
patriam, senātum coniugemque illūminās
probitāte mentis, mōribus, studiīs simul,
virtūtis apicem quis suprēmum nānctus es.
Tū namque quidquid linguā utrāque est prōditum
cūrā sophōrum, porta quis caelī patet,
vel quae perītī condidēre carmina
vel quae solūtis vōcibus sunt ēdita,
meliōra reddis quam legendō sūmpserās.
Sed ista parva. Tū pius mystēs sacrīs
teletis reperta mentis arcānō premis
dīvumque nūmen multiplex doctus colis,
sociam benignē coniugem nectēns sacrīs
hominum deumque cōnsciam ac fidam tibi.
Quid nunc honōrēs aut potestātēs loquar
hominumque vōtīs adpetīta gaudia?
Quae tū cadūca ac parva semper autumās
dīvum sacerdōs īnfulīs celsus cluēs.
Tū mē, marīte, disciplīnārum bonō
pūram ac pudīcam sorte mortis eximēns
in templa dūcis ac famulam dīvīs dīcās.
Tē teste cūnctīs imbuor mystēriīs,
tū Dindymēnēs Atteōsque antistitem
teletīs honōrās taureīs cōnsors pius.
Hecatēs ministram trīnā sēcrētā ēdocēs
Cererisque Graiae tū sacrīs dignam parās.
Tē propter omnēs mē beātam, mē piam
celebrant, quod ipse mē bonam dissēminās,
tōtum per orbem ignōta nōscor omnibus,
nam tē marītō cūr placēre nōn queam?
Exempla dē mē Rōmulae mātrēs petunt
subolemque pulchram, sī tuae similis, putant.
Optant probantque nunc virī nunc fēminae
quae tū magister indidistī īnsignia.
Hīs nunc adēmptīs maesta coniūnx māceror,
fēlīx, marītum sī superstitem mihi
dīvī dedissent, sed tamen fēlīx, tua
quia sum fuīque postque mortem mox erō.

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