Ille dolet vere qui sine teste dolet

By JaimeB, in 'Latin Mottoes', Sep 13, 2010.

  1. JaimeB Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    San Francisco, CA
    Ille dolet vere qui sine teste dolet. "He grieves truly who grieves without a witness."

    —Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial, ca. 38—102 CE) Epigrammaton Liber

    Here's the full form of the epigram:

    Amissum non flet cum sola est Gellia patrem,
    si quis adest, iussae prosiliunt lacrimae.
    non luget quisquis laudari, Gellia, quaerit;
    ille dolet vere qui sine teste dolet.

    In private she mourns not the late-lamented;
    If someone’s by her tears leap forth on call.
    Sorrow, my dear, is not so easily rented.
    They are true tears that without witness fall.

    This is Martial 1.33, not precisely a joke, but neatly translated by J. V. Cunningham. The meter is elegiac couplets.

    My own, more literal, translation:

    When alone, Gellia does not weep for her lost father;
    if someone is there, tears spring forth as bidden.
    The one who seeks to be praised, Gellia, does not mourn.
    He grieves truly who grieves without a witness.

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