Since everlasting possession is given to no one, and one heir follows the heir of yet another heir like water flowing over water, what good are estates and storehouses? What good are pastures in Lucania joined to pastures in Calabria, if Death harvests the great along with the small and cannot be bribed by gold?
sic quia perpetuus nulli datur usus, et heres
heredem alterius velut unda supervenit undam,
quid vici prosunt aut horrea? quidve Calabris
saltibus adiecti Lucani, si metit Orcus
grandia cum parvis, non exorabilis auro?
Here are some ancient variations on the same theme:
- Theognis 726: No one comes to the house of Hades with his possessions.
- Propertius 3.5.13-14: You won't carry any riches to the waters of Acheron: fool, you will ride naked in the hellish boat. (haud ullas portabis opes Acherontis ad undas: / nudus in infera, stulte, vehere rate.)
- Ovid, Tristia 5.14.12: The rich man's shade will carry nothing to his grave. (nil feret ad Manes divitis umbra suos.)
- Martial 8.44.9: Snatch, heap up, carry off, possess: it must be left behind. (rape, congere, aufer, posside: reliquendum est.)
- 1 Timothy 6.7: For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.