Dogs’ Memorials… from Ancient Rome

A dog’s tomb: her name was Helena

Every so often a discovery is made that brings the past to life. Its people speak to us; and we understand. We feel what they felt.

The inscription on Helena’s tomb reads, “To Helena, foster child, soul without comparison and deserving of praise.”

And an unknown Roman, some two thousand years ago, wrote this:

“My eyes were wet with tears, our little dog, when I bore you [to the grave]. So, Patricus, never again shall you give me a thousand kisses. Never can you be contentedly in my lap. In sadness, I buried you, as you deserve. In a resting place of marble, I have put you for all time by the side of my shade. In your qualities, you were sagacious, like a human being. Ah, what a loved companion we have lost!”

We know, whoever you were–we know.

I  cannot read this post aloud.

[Source: Biblical Archaeological Review, May/June 2019, “Dogs in the Biblical World,” pg. 48]

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

3 responses to “Dogs’ Memorials… from Ancient Rome

  • Phoebe

    If you really want to weep for pets who have died — and, off course, for all beautiful things that have passed, which is what we do when we weep for each beautiful thing that passes — I recommend Louis MacNeice’s poem, “The Death of a Cat.” He even speaks of the ancients who mourned their own pets:
    “… The Greek Anthology
    Laments its pets (like you and me, darling),
    Even its grasshoppers; dead dogs bark
    On the roads of Hades where poets hung
    Their tiny lanterns to ease the dark.”

    I found a link to the whole poem here:


    • leeduigon

      Plutarch speaks of a hard-bitten old general he knew, who, when his dog died, “was almost killed by grief.”
      And I don’t think I can read that poem today–one tear-up is enough for me.


  • unknowable2

    The most grievous loss I’ve ever experienced was a pet. I know just how this person felt.


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