(for Marissa Amador)
Maxima ornamenta esse matronis liberos, apud Pomponium Rufum collectorum libro sic invenimus: Cornelia Gracchorum mater, cum Campana matrona apud illam hospita ornamenta sua pulcherrima illius saeculi ostenderet, traxit eam sermone, donec e schola redirent liberi, et ‘haec’ inquit ‘ornamenta sunt mea.’
–Valerius Maximus, Factorum et Dictorum Memorabilium, Liber 4.4
The matrons in receipt of all the riches
That Rome could grant a gal in that great day
Were thrice offended – imperceptive witches –
By beautiful Cornelia’s noble way
Of being free. For her, no bright display
Of ornament, no boundless decoration:
Her pulchritude was there, and there to stay,
Admitting no adornment. For her station
Was lofty, and her spirit’s aspiration
Exceeded all that craftsman’s art could add.
Her presence was sufficient celebration.
Her smile could drive a jealous goddess mad.
Oh, all that ostentation was for fools!
She nodded toward her kids: “These are my jewels.”
30 September 2013