Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113). Letters.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
LXII. To Albinus
I WAS lately at Alsium, where my mother-in-law has a villa which once belonged to Verginius Rufus. The place renewed in my mind the sorrowful remembrance of that great and excellent man. He was extremely fond of this retirement, and used to call it the nest of his old age. Whichever way I looked, I missed him, I felt his absence. I had an inclination to visit his monument; but I repented having seen it, afterwards: for I found it still unfinished, and this, not from any difficulty residing in the work itself, for it is very plain, or rather indeed slight; but through the neglect of him to whose care it was entrusted. I could not see without a concern, mixed with indignation, the remains of a man, whose fame filled the whole world, lie for ten years after his death without an inscription, or a name. He had, however, directed that the divine and immortal action of his life should be recorded upon his tomb in the following lines:“Here Rufus lies, who Vindex’ arms withstood,Not for himself, but for his country’s good.”
But faithful friends are so rare, and the dead so soon forgotten, that we shall be obliged ourselves to build even our very tombs, and anticipate the office of our heirs. For who is there that has no reason to fear for himself what we see has happened to Verginius, whose eminence and distinction, while rendering such treatment more shameful, so, in the same way, make it more notorious? Farewell.