A very famous verse from Virgil, Sunt lacrimae rerum, et mentem mortalia tangunt, it tends to come out in the face of those who read with a double envelope of meaning according to the preposition: there are tears for things and there are tears for things. It occurs in the Aeneid I, 462: Aeneas has returned to Carthage and at the doors of a temple to the goddess Juno he sees scenes from the Trojan War where he fought reproduced; in the images he recognizes friends, enemies, himself. Then says the verse. There are the versions that I have on hand. From E. de Ochoa: “Here too there are tears for misfortunes and human misfortunes move the heart.” From A. Espinosa: “There are tears for our things, and souls / That in the face of death and pain are unmoved”. From R. Bonifaz Nuño: “There are tears of things, and the mortal touches the mind.”
In English, by P. Dickinson: “Even here there is compassion / for human destinies; … Touched by the common fate of mortal men ”. From R. Fagles: “Even here, the world is a world of tears / and the burdens of mortality touch the heart.” From D. Ferry: “These are tears of things for what they were / and for what they have become; the history of the mortality of the men hits to the heart ”.
The verse came to me again. On The hare with amber eyes Edmund de Waal tells the story of his family: the Ephrussi, of Jewish origin, once as wealthy as the Rothschilds, and great collectors. Great-grandfather Viktor Ephrussi had to leave everything in Vienna when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938. He lost his collections. In England he told his grandsons about Aeneas’ return to Carthage. For him Sunt lacrimae rerum would allude, clearly, to tears not for but of things. Your lost collections. Among them one of classic books: the Aeneid that the Nazis snatched from him would not fail to contain the famous verse of the tears of things; but (I think) through that copy one could speak, strangely and for once, of the tears of the books.
Luis Miguel Aguilar