Gesta Romanorum Vol. I (1871)/Of want of Charity

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Valerius records, (40) that there once stood in the city of Rome a very lofty column, on which a certain person inscribed four letters, three times repeated. Three P's, three S's, three R's, and three F's. When the letters had attracted attention, he exclaimed, "Woe, woe, to the eternal city." The nobles, hearing what had been done, said to him, "Master, let us understand thy conceit." He answered, the meaning of the inscription is this: "Pater patriæ perditur." [The father of his country is lost.] "Sapientia secum sustollitur." [Wisdom has departed with him.] "Ruunt reges Romæ." [The kings of Rome perish.] "Ferro, flamma, fame." [By the sword, by fire, by famine.] The event afterwards fully approved the veracity of the prediction.


My beloved, spiritually speaking, the father of his country is Charity, which is the result of love to God; when that is lost, wisdom also departs. Hence, the kings of the earth fall; and the sword, fire, and dearth, devour mankind.

Note 40.Page 152.

There is no foundation in Valerus Maximus for this story.