8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC / Italy

Bki:Xxiv A Lament For Quintilius

What limit, or restraint, should we show at the loss
of so dear a life? Melpomene, teach me, Muse,
a song of mourning, you, whom the Father granted
a clear voice, the sound of the lyre.

Does endless sleep lie heavy on Quintilius,
now? When will Honour, and unswerving Loyalty,
that is sister to Justice, and our naked Truth,
ever discover his equal?

Many are the good men who weep for his dying,
none of them, Virgil, weep more profusely than you.
Piously, you ask the gods for him, alas, in vain:
not so was he given to us.

Even if you played on the Thracian lyre, listened
to by the trees, more sweetly than Orpheus could,
would life then return, to that empty phantom,
once Mercury, with fearsome wand,

who won’t simply re-open the gates of Fate
at our bidding, has gathered him to the dark throng?
It is hard: but patience makes more tolerable
whatever wrong’s to be righted.
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