Silius Italicus

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Make haste! The flood-tide of Fortune soon ebbs.
He had the folly to believe that to be feared is glory.
Doubt not a woman's hardihood; no danger is too great for wedded love to face.
Men leave arms and legs behind, severed by the frost, and the cruel cold cuts off the limbs already broken.
Groundless superstition ill becomes an army; Valour is the only deity that rules in the warrior's breast.
Inaction is safety in peril.
Victorious Carthage measures the downfall of Rome by all the heap of gold that was torn from the left hands of the slain.

Silius Italicus (c. 28 – c. 103) was a Roman consul, orator, and Latin epic poet. His only surviving work is the 17-book Punica, an epic poem about the Second Punic War.

Quotes[edit]

Punica[edit]

Silius Italicus, Punica, trans. J. D. Duff (Loeb Classical Library, 1934)
  • Ordior arma, quibus caelo se gloria tollit
    Aeneadum, patiturque ferox Oenotria iura
    Carthago.
    • Here I begin the war by which the fame of the Aeneadae was raised to heaven and proud Carthage submitted to the rule of Italy.
      • Book I, lines 1–3
  • Metui demens credebat honorem.
    • He had the folly to believe that to be feared is glory.
      • Book I, line 149
  • Primus sumpsisse laborem.
    • He was ever first to undertake hardship.
      • Book I, line 242
  • Ad limina sanctae
    contendit Fidei secretaque pectora temptat.
    arcanis dea laeta polo tum forte remoto
    caelicolum magnas uoluebat conscia curas.
    quam tali adloquitur Nemeae pacator honore:
    'Ante Iouem generata, decus diuumque hominumque,
    qua sine non tellus pacem, non aequora norunt,
    iustitiae consors...'
    • He took his way to the abode of sacred Loyalty, seeking to discover her hidden purpose. It chanced that the goddess, who loves solitude, was then in a distant region of heaven, pondering in her heart the high concerns of the gods. Then he who gave peace to Nemea accosted her thus with reverence: "Goddess more ancient than Jupiter, glory of gods and men, without whom neither sea nor land finds peace, sister of Justice..."
      • Book II, lines 479–486
  • Crede vigori
    femineo. Castum haud superat labor ullus amorem.
    • Doubt not a woman's hardihood; no danger is too great for wedded love to face.
      • Book III, lines 112–113
  • Quoque magis subiere iugo atque euadere nisi
    erexere gradum, crescit labor. ardua supra
    sese aperit fessis et nascitur altera moles.
    • The higher they climbed in their struggle to reach the top, the harder grew their toil. When one height had been mastered, a second opens and springs up before their aching sight.
      • Book III, line 528–530
  • Abscisa relincunt
    membra gelu, fractosque asper rigor amputat artus.
    • Men leave arms and legs behind, severed by the frost, and the cruel cold cuts off the limbs already broken.
      • Book III, line 552–553
  • Blandoque veneno
    desidiae virtus paulatim evicta senescit.
    • And their manliness is slowly sapped and weakened by the seductive poison of indolence.
      • Book III, lines 580–581
  • Caeruleas Ticinus aquas et stagna uadoso
    perspicuus seruat turbari nescia fundo
    ac nitidum uiridi lente trahit amne liquorem.
    uix credas labi: ripis tam mitis opacis
    argutos inter uolucrum certamine cantus
    somniferam ducit lucenti gurgite lympham.
    • That crystal river keeps its pools of blue water free from all stain above its shallow bed, and slowly draws along its fair stream of greenish hue. One would scarce believe it was moving; so softly along its shady banks, while the birds sing sweet in rivalry, it leads along in a shining flood its waters that tempt to sleep.
      • Book IV, lines 82–87
  • Explorant adversa viros, perque aspera duro
    nititur ad laudem virtus interrita clivo.
    • Manhood is tested by trial, and valour climbs unterrified the rocky path and difficult ascent that leads to glory.
      • Book IV, lines 603–604
  • Pelle moras! Brevis est magni Fortuna favoris.
    • Make haste! The flood-tide of Fortune soon ebbs.
      • Book IV, line 732
  • Deforme sub armis
    vana superstitio est: dea sola in pectore Virtus
    bellantum viget.
    • Groundless superstition ill becomes an army; Valour is the only deity that rules in the warrior's breast.
      • Book V, lines 125–127
  • Aegris
    nil mouisse salus rebus.
    • Inaction is safety in peril.
      • Book VII, lines 395–396
  • Mantua, Musarum domus atque ad sidera cantu
    evecta Aonio et Smyrnaeis aemula plectris.
    • Mantua, the home of the Muses, raised to the skies by immortal verse, and a match for the lyre of Homer.
      • Book VIII, lines 593–594
  • Congesto laevae quodcumque avellitur auro
    metitur Latias victrix Carthago ruinas.
    • Victorious Carthage measures the downfall of Rome by all the heap of gold that was torn from the left hands of the slain.
      • Book VIII, lines 675–676
      • Note: This refers to the mass of rings Hannibal plundered from the Roman knights slain in the Battle of Cannae.
  • Stat nulla diu mortalibus usquam,
    Fortuna titubante, fides.
    • Nowhere do men remain loyal for long when Fortune proves unstable.
      • Book XI, lines 3–4
  • At patulo surgens iam dudum ex aequore late
    nauticus implebat resonantia litora clamor,
    et simul adductis percussa ad pectora tonsis
    centeno fractus spumabat verbere pontus.
    • Then the shouting of the sailors, which had long been rising from the open sea, filled all the shore with its sound; and, when the rowers all together brought the oars back sharply to their breasts, the sea foamed under the stroke of a hundred blades.
      • Book XI, lines 487–490
  • Pax optima rerum
    quas homini novisse datum est, pax una triumphis
    innumeris potior.
    • Peace is the best thing that man may know; peace alone is better than a thousand triumphs.
      • Book XI, lines 592–594
So, when a pebble breaks the surface of a motionless pool, in its first movements it forms tiny rings; and next, while the water glints and shimmers under the growing force, it swells the number of the circles over the rounding pond, until at last one extended circle reaches with wide-spreading compass from bank to bank.
  • Sic, ubi perrupit stagnantem calculus undam,
    exiguos format per prima volumina gyros,
    mox tremulum uibrans motu gliscente liquorem
    multiplicat crebros sinuati gurgitis orbes,
    donec postremo laxatis circulus oris
    contingat geminas patulo curuamine ripas.
    • So, when a pebble breaks the surface of a motionless pool, in its first movements it forms tiny rings; and next, while the water glints and shimmers under the growing force, it swells the number of the circles over the rounding pond, until at last one extended circle reaches with wide-spreading compass from bank to bank.
      • Book XIII, lines 24–29. Compare:
        • As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake:
          The centre moved, a circle straight succeeds,
          Another still, and still another spreads.
  • Ipsa quidem virtus sibimet pulcherrima merces.
    • Virtue is indeed its own noblest reward.
      • Book XIII, line 663
  • Subito cum pondere victus,
    insiliente mari, summergitur alveus undis.
    scuta virum cristaeque et inerti spicula ferro
    tutelaeque deum fluitant.
    • She gave way under the sudden weight, the sea rushed in, and the lo sank beneath the wave. Shields and helmets float on the water, images of tutelary gods and javelins with useless points.
      • Book XIV, lines 540–543
  • [Virtutis] dispar habitus: frons hirta nec umquam
    composita mutata coma, stans vultus, et ore
    incessuque viro propior laetique pudoris
    celsa umeros niveae fulgebat stamine pallae.
    • The appearance of [Virtue] was far different: her hair, seeking no borrowed charm from ordered locks, grew freely above her forehead; her eyes were steady; in face and gait she was more like a man; she showed a cheerful modesty; and her tall stature was set off by the snow-white robe she wore.
      • Book XV, lines 28–31
  • Mecum Honor ac Laudes et laeto Gloria vultu
    et Decus ac niveis Victoria concolor alis.
    • My attendants are Honour and Praise, Renown and Glory with joyful countenance, and Victory with snow-white wings like mine.
      • Book XV, lines 98–99; spoken by Virtue.

Quotes about Silius[edit]

[Virgil's] birthday he celebrated with more solemnity than his own, especially at Naples, where he used to approach his tomb with as much reverence as if it had been a temple.
~ Pliny the Younger
  • Scribebat carmina maiore cura quam ingenio.
    • He wrote poetry with greater diligence than talent.
  • [Virgil's] birthday he celebrated with more solemnity than his own, especially at Naples, where he used to approach his tomb with as much reverence as if it had been a temple.
  • Finished Silius Italicus; for which Heaven be praised! [...] Pope must have read him before me. In the 'Temple of Fame,' and the 'Essay on Criticism,' are some touches plainly suggested by Silius.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, note dated December 24, 1835, in The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, ed. G. Otto Trevelyan, Vol. I (1875), Appendix, p. 410

External links[edit]