THERE are three epitaphs of famous poets, Gnaeus Naevius, Plautus and Marcus Pacuvius, composed by themselves and left to be inscribed upon their tombs, which I have thought ought to be included among these notes, because of their distinction and charm. The epitaph of Naevius, although full of Campanian 1 arrogance, might have been regarded as a just estimate, if he had not written it himself: 2
If that immortals might for mortals weep,We should be inclined to doubt whether the epitaph of Plautus was really by his own hand, if it had not been quoted by Marcus Varro in the first book of his work On Poets: 4 [p. 111]
Then would divine Camenae 3 weep for Naevius.
For after he to Orcus as treasure was consigned,
The Romans straight forgot to speak the Latin tongue.
Since Plautus has met death, Comedy mourns,Pacuvius' epitaph is the most modest and simple, worthy of his dignity and good taste: 7
Deserted is the stage; then Laughter, Sport and Wit,
And Music's countless numbers 5 all together wept. 6
Young man, although you haste, this little stone
Entreats thee to regard it, then to read its tale.
Here lie the bones of Marcus, hight Pacuvius.
Of this I would not have you unaware. Good-bye.