Ausonius, Epigrams VIII – Exhortation to Modesty

There is an old tale, that Agathocles dined with earthenware, and would burden his serving tray with Samian mud. He set the most dreadful plates next to jewel-studded cups, and would mix riches and poverty together. When someone asked him the reason for this, he responded: “I, who am now the Sicilian king, was the son of a potter: if you step forth from poor exile with riches, bear your fortune with modesty.”

Fama est, fictilibus coenasse Agathoclea regem,

atque abacum Samio saepe onerasse luto.

Fercula gemmatis cum poneret horrida vasis,

et misceret opes pauperiemque simul:

quaerenti causam, respondit: ‘Rex ego qui sum

Sicaniae, figulo sum genitore satus.

Fortunam reverenter habe, quicumque repente

dives ab exili progrediere loco.

3 thoughts on “Ausonius, Epigrams VIII – Exhortation to Modesty

    1. It may be worth throwing Lucan in the mix! All of them demonstrate the detrimental effects of rhetorical training on poetic composition. Interestingly, the Greeks were just as obsessed with rhetoric as the Romans, yet it does not seem to have had such a singularly detrimental effect on their major poets.

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