Ausonius: On an Image of Opportunity and Regret

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“Sculpture by…?” “Phidias. His was the image of Pallas Minerva.
…….Jove he made, also. And me. I am his Feat Number Three.
I am the goddess Occasio, noticed by few, and those rarely.”
…….“Why do you stand on a wheel?” “Well, I can never stand still.”
“Why do your sandals have wings?” “I am flighty. Though Mercury scatters
…….prizes, it’s I who will choose— guided by whim—which is whose.”
“Why hide your face with your hair?” “I dislike being recognized.” “Hey! You’re
…….bald at the back of your head!” “Thus, I’m not caught when I’ve fled.”
“Who’s your companion?” “Let her do the talking.” “Explain who you are, please.”
…….“I am a goddess whom famed Cicero’s work never named.
I am a goddess who punishes deeds that are done, or are not, by
…….making folks sadly upset. That’s why they call me Regret.”
“Over to you again—why does she join you?” “Whenever I fly from
…….people I’ve passed, she’ll remain. Her, they will have to retain.
Likewise will you. Though you pester and probe, though you stall with your questions,
…….still, I have now slipped away— right through your hands, you will say.


In Simulacrum Occasionis et Paenitentiae

Cuius opus? Phidiae: qui signum Pallados, eius
…….quique Iovem fecit; tertia palma ego sum.
sum dea quae rara et paucis OCCASIO nota.
…….quid rotulae insistis? stare loco nequeo,
quid talaria habes? volucris sum. Mercurius quae
…….fortunare solet, trado ego, cum volui.
crine tegis faciem, cognosci nolo. sed heus tu
…….occipiti calvo es? ne tenear fugiens,
quae tibi iuncta comes? dicat tibi. dic rogo, quae sis.
…….sum dea, cui nomen nec Cicero ipse dedit.
sum dea, quae factique et non facti exigo poenas,
…….nempe ut paeniteat, sic METANOEA vocor.
tu modo dic, quid agat tecum, quandoque volavi,
…….haec manet; hanc retinent, quos ego praeterii.
tu quoque dum rogitas, dum percontando moraris,
…….elapsam dices me tibi de manibus.


Decimus Magnus Ausonius (c. 310 – c. 395 CE) was born in the Roman province of Aquitaine Gaul (southwestern France), in Budigala (modern Bordeaux). He translated several Greek epigrams, and a Greek Anthology piece by Posidippus of Pella (c. 310 – c. 240 BCE) surely inspired this ekphrasis in elegiac couplets, now known as Ausonius’s Epigram 33.

The original elegiac couplets do not use rhyme, but in this English translation, rhyme emphasizes the even-numbered lines’s caesurae.