Rutilius Claudius Namatianus

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Rutilius Claudius Namatianus (fl. 5th century AD) was a Roman Imperial poet, best known for his Latin poem, De reditu suo, in elegiac metre, describing a coastal voyage from Rome to Gaul in 417. The poem was in two books; the exordium of the first and the greater part of the second have been lost. What remains consists of about seven hundred lines.

Whether Rutilius had converted to Christianity (the state church of the Roman Empire during his time) has been a matter of scholarly debate, but as of the early 21st century the consensus is that he had not. Alan Cameron, a leading scholar of Late Antiquity, agrees that he probably remained unconverted from Rome's traditional religious practices, but that his hostility was not to Christianity as it was practiced by the vast majority of citizens of the Empire, but rather against the total renunciation of public life advocated by the ascetics.


Text and translation: J. W. Duff, Minor Latin Poets II, L434 (1934)
  • Exaudi, regina tui pulcherrima mundi,
      inter sidereos Roma recepta polos,
    exaudi, genetrix hominum genetrixque deorum,
      non procul a caelo per tua templa sumus.
    • Listen, O fairest queen of thy world, Rome, welcomed amid the starry skies, listen, thou mother of men and mother of gods, thanks to thy temples we are not far from heaven.
      • De Reditu Suo, 47
  • Fecisti patriam diversis gentibus unam:
      profuit iniustis te dominante capi.
    dumque offers victis proprii consortia iuris,
      urbem fecisti quod prius orbis erat.
    • For nations far apart thou hast made a single fatherland; under thy dominion captivity hath meant profit even for those who knew not justice: and by offering to the vanquished a share in thine own justice, thou hast made a city of what was erstwhile a world.
      • De Reditu Suo, 63
        • Other translations:
          Of alien realms thou hast made one fatherland;
          The lawless found their gain beneath thy sway;
          Sharing thy laws with those thou hast subdued,
          Thou hast made a city of the once wide world.
          —E. F. Jacob, The Holy Roman Empire, Benn's Sixpenny Library (1928), p. 76
  • Quod regnas minus est quam quod regnare mereris:
      excedis factis grandia fata tuis.
    • That thou reignest is less than that thou deservest to reign: thy deeds surpass thine exalted destiny.
      • De Reditu Suo, 91
  • Percensere labor densis decora alta tropaeis
      ut si quis stellas pernumerare velit;
    confunduntque vagos delubra micantia visus:
      ipsos crediderim sic​ habitare deos.
    • To review thy high honours amid crowded trophies were a task like endeavouring to reckon up the stars. The glittering temples dazzle the wandering eyes: I could well believe such are the dwelling-places of the very gods.
      • De Reditu Suo, 93
        • Other translations:
          It would be wearisome to tell over the crowded eminences, as if one sought to count the stars. Thy glittering fanes dazzle my roving gaze: such, methinks, are the abodes of the gods themselves.
          —Gilbert Norwood, "Rutilius Claudius Namatianus", Phoenix, vol. 1 (1947), p. 37
  • Atque utinam numquam Iudaea subacta fuisset
      Pompeii bellis imperiisque Titi!
    latius excisae pestis contagia serpunt,
      victoresque suos natio victa premit.
    • And would that Judaea had never been subdued by Pompey's wars and Titus' military power. The infection of this plague, though excised, still creeps abroad the more: and 'tis their own conquerors that a conquered race keeps down.
  • Impulsus furiis homines terrasque reliquit
      et turpem latebram credulus exsul adit,
    infelix putat illuvie caelestia pasci
      seque premit laesis saevior ipse deis.
    num, rogo, deterior Circaeis secta venenis?
      tunc mutabantur corpora, nunc animi.
    • He was impelled by madness to forsake mankind and the world, and made his way, a superstitious exile, to a dishonourable hiding-place. Fancying, poor wretch, that the divine can be nurtured in unwashen filth, he was himself to his own body a crueller tyrant than the offended deities. Surely, I ask, this sect is not less powerful than the drugs of Circe? In her days men's bodies were transformed, now 'tis their minds.
      • De Reditu Suo, 521