Saturday, February 5, 2022

I Think I Love My Wife: Roman Masculinity and Conjugal Love. Ausonius XL

 Catullus has his Lesbia.

Ovid has his Corinna.

Propertius has his Cynthia.

Tibullus has his Delia.

Since a majority of Roman love poetry deals with the relationship between a male narrator and his puella [girlfriend] or puer [boyfriend], it might be difficult for modern readers to imagine a healthy relationship existing between a Roman man and his uxor [wife]. However, primary sources suggest that Roman men were capable of nurturing deep, meaningful relationships with their spouses, as this following poem by Ausonius attests:

Uxor, vivamusque ut viximus et teneamus

nomina, quae primo sumpsimus in thalamo

nec ferat ulla dies, ut commutemur in aevo

quin tibi sim iuvenis tuque puella mihi.

Nestore sim quamvis provectior aemulaque annis

vincas Cumanam tu quoque Deiphoben,

nos ignoremus quid sit matura senectus.

scire aevi meritum, non numerare decet.

--Ausonius XL   

Wife, let us live as we have lived

And let us keep the nicknames

That we made up for each other on our honeymoon. 

May no day pass that changes us ever

When I am not yours and you are not mine.

Although I am older than Nestor*,

And you rival the Sibyl Deiphobe** in years

Let’s not dwell on our old age.

It’s proper to know the benefits of old age, but not the number.

* Nestor was an elderly hero of the Trojan War

**Deiphobe, the Sibyl of Cumae, had eternal life but not eternal youth [similar to Eos/Aurora's lover Tithonus]



Name:  Decimius Magnus Ausonius

Date:  4th century CE

Works:  Letters, Mosella





 Ausonius was a Roman poet from Aquitania, Gaul [modern France] who lived during the 4th century CE. He is best known for his epic poem Mosella, which describes the Moselle River, and his Epistles, a series of literary poems between himself and the Christian poet Paulinus.


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