There's an adage I've heard about grief: look back and be happy about the time you had, rather than regret what might have been.

The Roman lyricists seem to have poems for every possible aspect of love and heartbreak. Are there any that express this particular sentiment? (Greek lyric poetry also works, I'm just focusing on Latin because more of it survives.)

P.S. The most famous English example I can think of is Tennyson: 'tis better to have loved and lost / than never to have loved at all. Something along those lines.

1 Answer 1


I can't come up with an exact match now, but I think Ovid would be a good candidate to start looking for. He wrote a lot about love. He also wrote Tristia ("Sorrows"), which he write after going into exile, but after a brief search I didn't find something expression the "no regrets, look back happy" sentiment. Homer, Sappho and Catullus would be other candidates I would look into. Although, all Catullus' poems I've read after the break-up with Lesbia are more revengeful in tone or have a great deal of pathos (assuming the autobiographical interpretation).

There is also a book called No Regrets: Remorse in Classical Antiquity by Laurel Fulkerson, which could be something you are looking for.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.