Here Lies Anicia, Too Young to Die

Omnia quae longo vitae cupiuntur in aevo

ante quater plenum consumpsit Anicia lustrum.

infans lactavit, pubes et virgo adolevit,

nupsit concepit peperit iam mater obivit.

quis mortem accuset, quis non accuset in ista?

aetatis meritis anus est, aetate puella.

Ausonius, Epigrammata, 13

I saw this mosaic at Piazza Armerina, in Sicily, which happens to be in the most beautiful place on Earth, the region of Enna. I awoke, that March afternoon, to see that the bus was stopped for a herd of cattle to cross the narrow, dirt road; we were surrounded by a sea of green. I will never see that color green again.

I saw this mosaic at Piazza Armerina, in Sicily, which happens to be in the most beautiful place on Earth, the region of Enna. I awoke, that March afternoon, to see that the bus was stopped for a herd of cattle to cross the narrow, dirt road; we were surrounded by a sea of green. I will never see that color green again.

All things that are desired in the length of life

Anicia enjoyed before her twentieth year.*

A babe, she nursed, a girl and maid grew up,

Was bride, conceived, and bore, now died a mother.

Who’d Death accuse? who’d not, in her, accuse Him?

In the merits of age she’s old; in age a girl.

Ausonius, Epigrams, 13

*the lustrum was either a 4-year or a 5-year period. As Ausonius live after Domitian, it seemed to me more likely she was under 20 (ante quater lustrum = before the quadruple lustrum) than that she was under 16, but the latter is also possible. –Philokalos

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There was an ancient Roman epitaph that I gave to a class come years ago which this reminded me of, but I can’t find it in my files. Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being my gadfly.

Philokalos

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About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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