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Men's Opinions



51. Cornelia's noble nature. Misenum, 2nd cent. B.C.
(Plutarch, Life of Gaius Gracchus 4.3, 19.1-3. G)

4.3. The people of Rome honoured her not less for her children than for her father, and in later times set up a bronze statue of her with the inscription, 'Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi'.

19.1-3. Cornelia is said to have borne these and all her misfortunes nobly and magnanimously, and to have said about the shrines where they were buried that their bodies had received worthy tombs. She herself spent her days in the area called Misenum, and did not change her customary way of life. She had many friends and entertained her friends, and there were always Greeks and learned men in her company, and all the kings exchanged gifts with her. She particularly enjoyed discussing with visitors and friends the life and habits of her father Scipio Africanus, and she was most admirable because she did not grieve for her sons and talked to her audience without weeping about their sufferings and their accomplishments, as if she were telling stories to them about the ancient heroes of Rome.

Some thought that she had lost her mind because she was old and had suffered so greatly, and that she had become insensible because of her misfortunes, but these people were themselves insensible of how much nobility and good birth and education can help people in times of sorrow, and that for all the attempts of virtue to prevent it, she may be overcome by fortune, but in her defeat she cannot be deprived of the power of rational endurance.