Wednesday, July 04, 2012

"Tears in Things"

In Book I of Virgil’s epic poem Aeneid, the character of Aeneas travels to find a new home after his family and friends have perished in the battle of Troy. In the course of his travels, Aeneas finds himself in Carthage.
While walking the streets of the city, Aeneas and his friend come to a Carthaginian temple in which there is a large mural. The mural is a depiction of the Trojan War which Aeneas had fought in and in which many of his countrymen had perished.

As Aeneas stands in the temple gazing upon the depiction, he begins to cry and says, “sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangent" (“There are tears for events and mortal things touch the soul.”) Also translated, “There are tears in things, and mortality touches the mind”, Aeneas’ reaction is a lasting reminder of the power that things have to affect us deeply.

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