Thursday, October 02, 2014


Tears of a Goddess

Gods and goddesses aren't supposed to weep, although some do. See "Jesus Wept" for the rule and a list of exceptions. To the exceptions should be added the goddess Lucina in line 5 of an epitaph in verse from Cirta in northern Africa (Carmina Epigraphica Latina, Suppl. 1997 = Inscriptions latines d'Algérie II.809 = Sylloge Inscriptionum Religionis Isiacae et Sarapiacae 789), tr. E. Courtney in Musa Lapidaria (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), number 190, pp. 180-181:
Julia Sidonia, Joy in name only, whose threads (what an abomination!) were snapped by the Fates on the day before her bridegroom lit the hymeneal torch at her wedding; all groaned, the Dryad maidens grieved and Lucina wept at her torches with their fire put out, because she had been a virgin and her parents' only child. She had been a priestess of the rattle-shaking goddess of Memphis; she is buried here silent because of the eternal gift of sleep.

Iulia Sidonia, Felix de nomine tantum,
cui, nefas, ante diem ruperunt stemina Parcae
quam procus, heu, nuptiis hymeneos contigit ignes
(ingemuere omnes, Dryades doluere puellae,
et Lucina facis demerso lumine fleuit,        5
uirgo quod et solum pignus fueratque parentum)—
Memphidos haec fuerat diuae sistratae sacerdos;
hic tumulata silet aeterno munere somni.
Courtney doesn't mention the rule about divine weeping in his notes on this inscription (pp. 391-393).

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