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[24arg] Three epitaphs of three early poets, Naevius, Plautus and Pacuvius, composed by themselves and inscribed upon their tombs.

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,
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.
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]
Since Plautus has met death, Comedy mourns,
Deserted is the stage; then Laughter, Sport and Wit,
And Music's countless numbers 5 all together wept. 6

Pacuvius' epitaph is the most modest and simple, worthy of his dignity and good taste: 7

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.

1 This has been regarded as evidence that Naevius was a native of Campania; but Campanian arrogance was proverbial.

2 The authorship of all these epitaphs is questioned: Gudeman thought they came from Varro's Imagines; see Trans. Amer Phil. Assoc. xxv, 150 ff.; cf p. 296. 3, Bährens.

3 The Latin equivalent of the Greek Muses.

4 p. 296. 4, Bährens.

5 Numeri innumeri was formerly rendered “unrhythmic measures” and applied to Plautus' supposed irregularities in scansion; it rather refers to the variety of his metres.

6 The metre of the Latin is dactylic hexameter; final a in deserta is lengthened, and s in ludus is suppressed.

7 p. 296, 5, Bährens.

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