Lessus in funere Raphaelis Thorei Medici & Poetae praestantissimi, Londini peste extincti (1626)

This lament was originally published as Lessus in funere Raphaelis Thorii (London, 1626) and commemorates the death of Raphael Thory (d.1625), a Flanders-born physician and poet whose practice was based in London from the early 1590s until his death. Thory was a graduate of Oxford and Leiden (receiving his MD at the latter in 1590) and a poet of minor distinction. His published works include a memorial volume for John Barclay (In obitum Jo. Barclaii elegia, London, 1621), and two books of hexameter on the virtues of tobacco (Hymnus Tabaci, completed 1610; published Leiden, 1625), to which a 142-line hexameter piece on winter ('Hyems') was appended in several later editions. A further MS (BL Sloane MS 1768) contains a range of miscellaneous poems by him and his father. For details of his life and his friendship with Ayton, see Gulllans (ed.), Ayton, pp. 41-44; Ole Peter Grell, 'Thorius, Raphael (d. 1625)', ODNB; and Robert M. Cummings, 'The poet as hero: Sir Robert Ayton on Thomas Reid and Raphael Thory', in Kevin J. McGinley and Nicola Royan (eds), The Apparelling of Truth: Literature and Literary Culture in the Reign of James VI (Newcastle, 2010, pp. 207-222). Metre: hexameter.

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LESSUS in funere Raphaelis Thorei Medici et Poetae praestantissimi, Londini peste extincti

1Tene Thori obscuris clarum caput abdidit umbris
pestiferi vis saeva mali? Non absque querelae
et tanto invidiae cummulo saevire profanam
in plebem, et solo magnos abdomine Patres
5caeca lues poterat? Cur tu pars maxima cladis?
Cur de te tantum licuit? 1 Te maxime vatum
te medici Coriphaee gregis? Certe illa nocentem
plus fecit se morte tua quam mille potentum
funeribus, quam si totam grassante veneni
10profluvio ignavis vacuasset civibus urbem.
Amusae levis est turbae jactura, resurgit
absque labore filix, loliumque renascitur agris
semine non jacto: sed si Narcissus ab ima
evulsus radice fuit, si frigore adusta
15vel rosa, vel violae, vel mollis amaracus, aegre
nec nisi post multum veniunt exculta laborem.

Quae nobis nunc gleba dabit, quae cura secundum
substituet Thorium? Potis est natura beare
ingenio, Genium ingenio superaddere curtas
20naturae transcendit opes, 2 Heroica virtus
raro habet haeredem, doctos dat quaelibet aetas,
non quaevis Thorios, concurrant sydera oportet
omnia, conjunctis pariant ut viribus unum
vel Medicum insignem, vel plenum Numine vatem.
25At Thorius fuerat tam foelix, unus utraque
ut pariter foret arte potens, promittere vitam
Paeonia, Aonia poterat promittere famam.

Rarus honos paucisque datus producere vitae
fila vel invitis (si fas est dicere) Parcis:
30et mage rarus honos, Parcam exarmare secantem
cum medicina nequit, pereuntis stamina vitae
supplere aeterno famae subtemine, et istam
quae pars est melior, vivendi et causa, perennem
transferre in telam, quam nec livoris iniqui
35stigmata, nec possunt senii corrodere dentes.

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Hoc aliis, hoc ipse sibi praestare valebat
versipotens Thorius: quod erat mortale sub umbras
ante diem si permisit descendere, fati
crimen erat, non artis iners vel culpa, vel error
40artificis, quem Naturae non ulla latebant
arcana; herbarum cunctas cum nomine vires
noverat, omnigenum rixas et foedera rerum,
quicquid et ad Medicos Chymicus calor excoquit usus:
quin etiam aetheriis quicquid descripta maniplis
45lumina mortales influxu operantur in artus.

Vos animae, vos o animae, quas ille minaci
eripuit monstro cum grassaretur Erynnis,
spargeret et totam virus ferale per urbem,
vos testor, meministis enim et memorare potestis, 3
50quam bene de vobis meruit, quam fortiter aegris
adfuit, et quoties Libitinam elusit hiantem.

Non Cous plus ipse senex devinxit Athenas
afflictas contage gravi, et lethalibus auris,
unde gravem tulit ex auro radiante coronam, 4
55quam Thorius Luddi 5 dictos de nomine cives:
et cunctatur adhuc tanto defuncta periclo
reddere protractae statuam pro munere vitae
plumbea gens? Certe talem si prisca tulissent
saecla virum, non effigies, satis una fuisset,
60non umbris satis ullus honos, mortalibus addi
consuetus, certe Thorius superaddita bustis
templa et fumantes habuisset odoribus aras. 6

Sed saecli vitio nec sint sua praemia vivis
nec morte ereptis, jaceat sine vindice virtus:
65non ingrata tamen penitus nostra audiet aetas
chare Thori, non haec omnes infamia tanget:
nos tibi, queis tecum communia sacra fuerunt,
symmystae Aonii, tibi nos aeterna laborum
praemia, mansuras et consecrabimus aras,
70non structas mortali opera, sed Numinis arte,
quo plenum tibi pectus erat, dum ingente cothurno
aut Magnum infami trajectum pectora ferro,
ereptum aut nobis crudeli funere Daphnin, 7
Link to an image of this page  [p63] aut caneres laeti ludens miracula fumi. 8

75Ipse ego de tanto minimus grege carmen ad aras
appendam, leget appensum sic forte viator:
'nil opus est hospes bijuges exquirere clivos,
ut Phoebi afflatum captes per somnia; Divus
hic colitur Thorius, totum qui pectore toto
80et Phoebum et Phoebi natum 9 congesserat, istas
tantum aras ornare velis violisque rosisque, 10
et Maneis placare pios: his functus abibis
et medicus faelix, et anhelus Apolline vates.'

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A lament upon the death of Raphael Thory, a doctor, and a most outstanding poet, who died in London of the plague

1Has the vicious power of the pestilent evil carried you off, Thory, our bright chief, to the dark shades? Could the indiscriminate plague not vent its rage against the profane commoners without such a heap of malevolence, and against the great Fathers a without a bellyful of illness? Why are you the greatest casualty of the disaster? Why was such a thing allowed to happen to you? You, the greatest of the poets! You, the captain of the society of doctors! Indeed it has caused greater harm with your death than by a thousand deaths of powerful people, than if it had emptied the entire city of its listless citizens with the creeping effusion of its poison. The loss of the unrefined mob is not great: without their labour ferns rise up, and unseeded weeds are generated across the fields. Yet if a narcissus has been plucked up from its deepest root, if a rose has been frozen by the frost, or a violet, or soft marjoram, they will scarcely grow again even after much care.

17What now will the earth produce for us? What will its care bequeath to us after Thory? Nature can enrich with its own essence; it can create a Genius b through this essence - and its heroic virtue surpasses nature's scanty powers; rarely does it have a successor. Each age provides learned men, but every age does not provide men like Thory. For this to happen, all the stars must align to bring forth through their conjoined powers one man, whether an outstanding doctor, or a divinely-inspired poet. But Thory had been so blessed that he was skilled in both fields: he was able to extend life with his Paeonian skill, and to extend his fame with his Aonian skill. c

28It is a rare honour given to few to prolong the threads of life - even to the unwelcome fates (if it is right to say so). And it is a very great honour, when healing cannot prevent Fate cutting short life, to supplement the cloth of fleeing life with the eternal thread of fame, and to convey that which is its greatest part, the reason for living, into an everlasting text, which neither the blemishes of bruising envy, nor the bites of bitter old age can wear out.

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36Through this Thory himself, powerful in verse, was able to stand out from the rest: if he allowed anything mortal to descend to the shades before its time, it was the doing of fate: not a sluggish defect in his art, nor his expertise's error. For none of nature's secrets were concealed from him: he knew all the powers of herbs by name, debates of all types, and the laws of nature; even those things chemical heat concocted for medicinal employment - indeed even those things that the stars effect through their influence on mortal bodies, as described by the troops of heaven-watchers.

46You spirits, o you spirits, whom he tore from the clutches of the menacing monster when Erinys d was roaming far and wide, and scattering beastly poison through every city, I call you as witnesses; since you remember and can recall what great service he did you, how bravely he stood ready amid the sick, and how often he cheated Death and the grave!

52The aged man of Cos e himself commanded the gratitude of Athens, which had been afflicted by the oppressive plague and deadly winds, no more (for his services here he wore a weighty crown of radiant gold) than Thory did from the citizens called after the name of Ludd. f Yet still this cheap race, although discharged from such peril, resist repaying him with a statue for his gift of having prolonged their life! Indeed if the ancient world had produced such a man, neither one statue would have been enough, nor any honour customarily given to a deceased mortal; indeed Thory would have had altars smoking with incense, and temples abounding in his busts!

63But in accordance with our age's defects, let neither the living nor those snatched by death have their just rewards! Let virtue lie dejected without a champion! However, our age will not be thought completely ungrateful, dear Thory, for this dishonour does not stain everyone. We, who worshipped together with you, the Aonian initiates, g we will dedicate to you eternal rewards for your labours, and altars that will endure, not built with mortal effort, but by the skill of the Divinity, with which your heart was full, while in grand style you used to sing playfully of the great one run through in his heart by an infamous sword, h or our Daphnis torn from us by a cruel death, i Link to an image of this page  [p63]or the wonders of a pleasant puff. j

75I myself, the least of our great flock, shall dedicate a song at your altar, and the passer-by will perhaps read the dedication thus: 'It is not necessary that you groups of passers-by seek out the mountains in order to obtain Phoebus' divine breath through priestly visions; divine Thory is worshipped here - he who had brought together all of Phoebus and Phoebus' son k in his entire heart; may you only decorate this altar with violets and roses, and appease the pious spirits of the dead. After you have performed these rites, you will depart a blessed doctor, and a poet exhaling the words of Apollo.'



1: Virgil, Aeneid VI.502

2: The allusion is to Epicurus: Lucretius, De Rerum Natura I.62-71.

3: Virgil, Aeneid VII.546

4: Allusion to the myth of the crowning of Hippocrates. See Pliny, Natural History VIII.123.

5: King Lud: metonymy for London. For etymology of London/Ludd, see Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae III.20.

6: Cf. Sannazaro, De Partu Virginis I.23-4

7: Virgil, Eclogues V.20

8: Thorius, De Paeto, seu Tabaco I.2

9: Linus, who, as the inventor of melody, stands here for poetry. See Virgil, Eclogues IV.57.

10: Statius, Silvae I.2.22-3


a: Presumably the 'fathers of the nation', so the nobility and academic and professional elites.

b: The natural inborn spirit of tutelary deity of a person.

c: Paeon (Paean, Paian): a Greek god of healing, but also refers to the healing aspect of Apollo; Aonia: region of Boeotia in ancient Greece containing Mount Helicon, sacred to the Muses. Both references thus emphasise the dual aspect of Thory's abilities as doctor and poet.

d: Another name for the Furies.

e: See note to Latin text.

f: See note to Latin text.

g: See note c above.

h: Probably a reference to Thory's poem on Henri IV of France (r.1589-1610), who was stabbed to death by François Ravaillac; see Grell, ODNB.

i: James VI and I, who died on 27 March 1625.

j: A reference to Thory's most famous work, the Hymnus Tabaci (London, 1610).

k: See note to Latin text.