Thursday, September 06, 2007


Death Far From Home

Vergil, Aeneid 10.782:
And dying he remembers sweet Argos.

dulcis moriens reminiscitur Argos.
"He" is Antores, originally from Argos, who dies in battle on Italian soil. T.E. Page ad loc. says, "The beautiful thought et dulces...Argos needs no illustration." I'll provide some anyway.

Jasper Griffin, Homer on Life and Death (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), pp. 106 ff., gives Homeric variations on the theme of "death far from home," including Iliad 17.300-301 (on Hippothous, killed by Ajax over Patroclus' corpse):
He fell close to him, prone upon the corpse, far from deep-soiled Larisa.

ὃ δ᾽ ἄγχ᾽ αὐτοῖο πέσε πρηνὴς ἐπὶ νεκρῷ
τῆλ᾽ ἀπὸ Λαρίσης ἐριβώλακος.
Richmond Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1962), pp. 200-202, also discusses this theme. Among his examples is this lament by Ovid in exile (Letters from Pontus 1.2.57-58):
Often I pray for death, but also I pray to avoid death, lest Sarmatian soil cover my bones.

saepe precor mortem, mortem quoque deprecor idem,
    ne mea Sarmaticum contegat ossa solum.

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