Saturday, June 22, 2024


Borrowed Glory

Sallust, The War Against Jugurtha 85.21-23 (Marius speaking; tr. William W. Batstone):
Furthermore, when they speak before you or in the Senate, most of their speech is taken up with praising their ancestors: they think that by recalling those brave deeds they themselves become more glorious. But the converse is true. For the more glorious the life of their ancestors is, the more shameful their own cowardice becomes. Certainly this is the truth of the matter: the glory of their ancestors is like a light which does not allow their virtues or faults to be hidden.

atque etiam, quom apud vos aut in senatu verba faciunt, pleraque oratione maiores suos extollunt: eorum fortia facta memorando clariores sese putant. quod contra est; nam quanto vita illorum praeclarior, tanto horum socordia flagitiosior. et profecto ita se res habet: maiorum gloria posteris quasi lumen est, neque bona neque mala eorum in occulto patitur.
Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.140-141 (tr. Frank Justus Miller, rev. G.P. Goold):
For as to race and ancestry and the deeds that others than ourselves have done, I call those in no true sense our own.

nam genus et proavos et quae non fecimus ipsi,
vix ea nostra voco.

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