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   Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations.  1989.
 
 
NUMBER:376
AUTHOR:Tacitus (c. 55–c. 117)
QUOTATION:As for myself, may the “sweet Muses,” as Virgil says, bear me away to their holy places where sacred streams do flow, beyond the reach of anxiety and care, and free from the obligation of performing each day some task that goes against the grain. May I no longer have anything to do with the mad racket and the hazards of the forum, or tremble as I try a fall with white-faced Fame. I do not want to be roused from sleep by the clatter of morning callers or by some breathless messenger from the palace; I do not care, in drawing my will, to give a money-pledge for its safe execution through anxiety as to what is to happen afterwards; I wish for no larger estate than I can leave to the heir of my own free choice. Some day or other the last hour will strike also for me, and my prayer is that my effigy may be set up beside my grave, not grim and scowling, but all smiles and garlands, and that no one shall seek to honour my memory either by a motion in the senate or by a petition to the Emperor.
ATTRIBUTION:TACITUS, “A Dialogue on Oratory,” section 13, Dialogus, Agricola, Germania, trans. William Peterson, p. 51 (1914).

  Excerpts from this passage, in a different translation, were read at the funeral of Justice Hugo L. Black, September 28, 1971, as they were found underlined in his books and were said to be a favorite passage:

  “Let the sweet Muses lead me to their soft retreats, their living fountains, and melodious groves, where I may dwell remote from care, master of myself … let me no more be seen in the wrangling forum, a pale and odious candidate for precarious fame … let me live free from solicitude … and when nature shall give the signal to retire may I possess no more than I may bequeath to whom I will. At my funeral let no token of sorrow be seen, no pompous mockery of woe. Crown me with chaplets; strew flowers on my grave, and let my friends erect no vain memorial to tell where my remains are lodged.”—The Works of Tacitus, Oxford trans., rev., vol. 2, pp. 408–9 (1854). The printed version differs from the above only in the beginning, “Me let the sweet Muses lead,” and in using “anxious” for “odious.”

  The reference to Virgil is to The Georgics, book 2, line 476.
SUBJECTS:Death
 
 
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