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Cum larvis non luctandum.[1]

Do not wrestle with the dead

LVII.

Aeacidae[2] moriens percussu cuspidis Hector[3],
Qui toties hosteis vicerat ant suos,
Comprimere haud potuit vocem insultantibus illis,
Dum curru & pedibus nectere vincla parant,
Distrahite ut libitum est: sic cassi luce leonis
Convellunt barbam vel timidi lepores.[4]

When he was dying from the wound dealt by the spear of Aeacus’ descendant, Hector, who had so often before defeated his own enemies, could not keep silent as they triumphed over him, while preparing to tie the ropes to chariot and feet. Tear me as you will, he said; when the lion is deprived of the light of life, even cowardly hares pluck his beard.

COMMENTARIA.

Hector ille omnium Troianorum fortissi-
mus Priami Regis filius, qui postquam pluries
hostes suos vicerat, solus ille Grecorum copias
fugaverat, & patriam servaverat, tandem ab Aea-
cide, id est, Achille (sic dictus ab avo pater-
no) Graecorum praestantissimo Duce, ex im-
proviso lancea transfossus ac semiperemptus
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [g1v p98]ad currum religatus, circum Troiae moenia
raptatus fuit, ut apud Homerum & Vergilium lib. 1.
Aeneidos iamque moriens Graecis exultantibus
illumque miser lacerantibus, dixit, trahite & cru
ciate me nunc pro libidine vestra. Sic enim
saepe vel etiam timidi lepores obcaecati & sup-
pressi Leonis barbam evellere ausi sunt. Im
Achillem, bigis alligatum Hectorem traxisse non
vivum, sed mortuum eius corpus iam nihil sen-
tiens, eleganter disserit Cicero lib. 1. Tusculanae quaestionum.
Ignavum autem & ridiculum est, nihilque in-
dignius bellicoso atque ingenuo viro, qum
insectari & pugnare cum eis qui iam extincti
sunt, quos, si viverent, vix inspicere ausus esset,
mortui quippe non mordent.

Notes:

1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia 153, Cum larvis luctari.

2. ‘of Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. ‘of Achilles’. Textual variant: Aeacidae.

3. Hector was the greatest warrior on the Trojan side in the Trojan War, killed in single combat by Achilles, the Greek champion. See Homer, Iliad 22.367ff. and 24.14ff. for Achilles’ desecration of Hector’s body, dragging it, tied by the feet behind his chariot, round the tomb of Patroclus.

4. The last two lines are a translation of the two-line epigram Anthologia graeca 16.4, where, in Planudes’ text, the words are attributed to Hector in the heading.


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