A mighty army of besieging mice!

From Rutilius Namatianus’ Going Home (De Reditu Suo) in Martha Malamud’s translation.  Her intro – to another late antique poet I’d never heard of until recently – was excellent but I would have liked to have a facing Latin text as well – though admittedly, as she points out, there are good parallel editions in French, Italian, and German if you’re inclined to pursue them.

Absurdity aside, these lines on Cosa caught my attention because it was the first Roman settlement whose founding, layout, and development I studied in depth – I think my Professor had been involved in one of the excavation phases (Univ. of Michigan-led, I think).

We now see Cosa’s ancient ruins, rotting walls
that lie abandoned and without a guard.
Because it makes me laugh, I’ll tell the silly cause
of its demise, though it’s embarrassing.
What caused the Cosans long ago to leave their homes?
A mighty army of besieging mice!
The bitter losses of the Pygmy troops and Cranes
allied against them are more credible

cernimus antiquas nullo custode ruinas
et desolatae moenia foeda Cosae.
ridiculam cladis pudet inter seria causam
promere, sed risum dissimulare piget.
dicuntur cives quondam migrare coacti
muribus infestos deseruisse Lares!
credere maluerim Pygmaeae damna cohortis
et coniuratos in sua bella grues.

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