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Appendix 15. Vidua et miles

 

Parallels: For parallel versions, see Perry 543.

 

Per aliquot annos quaedam dilectum uirum

amisit et sarcophago corpus condidit;

a quo reuelli nullo cum posset modo

et in sepulchro lugens uitam degeret,

claram assecuta est famam castae coniugis.

Interea fanum qui compilarant Iouis,

cruci suffixi luerunt poenas numini.

Horum reliquias ne quis posset tollere,

custodes dantur milites cadauerum,

monumentum iuxta, mulier quo se incluserat.

Aliquando sitiens unus de custodibus

aquam rogauit media nocte ancillulam,

quae forte dominae tunc adsistebat suae

dormitum eunti; namque lucubrauerat

et usque in serum uigilias perduxerat.

Paulum reclusis foribus miles prospicit,

uidetque egregiam facie pulchra feminam.

Correptus animus ilico succenditur

oriturque sensim ut impotentis cupiditas.

sollers acumen mille causas inuenit,

per quas uidere posset uiduam saepius.

Cotidiana capta consuetudine

paulatim facta est aduenae submissior,

mox artior reuinxit animum copula.

Hic dum consumit noctes custos diligens,

desideratum est corpus ex una cruce.

Turbatus miles factum exponit mulieri.

At sancta mulier "Non est quod timeas" ait,

uirique corpus tradit figendum cruci,

ne subeat ille poenas neglegentiae.

Sic turpitudo laudis obsedit locum.

 

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Translation:

 

A woman had lost her beloved husband of many years and had laid his body in the ground. It was impossible to tear her away from his grave, and she filled her days with weeping. Everyone repeated glowingly that this woman was an example of a truly faithful wife. Meanwhile, some men who had pillaged the temple of Jupiter were condemned to death for their crime against the god. After they had been crucified, soldiers were stationed by the crosses so that the families of the executed criminals could not recover their bodies. This all took place next to the tomb where the woman had secluded herself. One of the guards happened to be thirsty and asked the woman's maidservant to bring him some water in the middle of the night. As it happened, the maid had been helping her mistress prepare for bed, as the widow had maintained her vigil long into the night and was still sitting up by the light of the lamp. The door was open just a crack and when the soldier peeped inside, he saw a woman of exceptional beauty. He was immediately enthralled and inflamed with lust, and an irresistible desire began gradually to well up inside him. His crafty ingenuity found a thousand reasons to see the widow again and again. Acquiescing to this regular daily contact, the widow slowly but surely became more and more inclined towards her guest, and soon an even closer bond united her heart to his. While the guard was spending his nights in the widow's embrace, one of the corpses was spirited away from the cross. The soldier was upset and told the woman what had happened. That exemplary woman said, 'Don't worry!' and with these words, she handed over her husband's corpse to be nailed to the cross, so that the soldier would not be punished for dereliction of duty.

That is how debauchery besieges a bastion of fair repute.

 

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