Tu Qui Consortem
Genre: Men's Chorus (TTBB)
Listen to audio:
The score for Tu Qui Consortem is available through Kefáli Press.
Commissioned by Tod Fish and premiered at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lawrence, KS, this work brings to life one of the war poems by Sextus Propertius (c. 50 – 15 BCE). The story is told from the point of view of a mortally-wounded soldier (Gallus) addressing another wounded soldier who is stumbling down the ramparts. Seeing his wounded comrade recoil in horror at the sight of his wounds, Gallus addresses him as a friend (I am part of your closest armed comrades.).
The poem (and the music) abruptly shift to a sense of urgency as Gallus tells his friend to leave. “Don’t stop! Get out and save yourself!” By leaving Gallus behind, the soldier can make it home to his family. This fate does not await dying soldiers like Gallus, who tells how he almost made it through enemy lines, but was struck by “an unknown hand.”
The final section contains Gallus’ simple, yet powerful, request – to be remembered. The idea of bleached bones lying uncovered is not only disturbing, but it is a permanent disfigurement of the funeral ritual – one that was not lost on the Romans. “…let him know that these bones are MINE.”
Tu, qui consortem properas evadere casum,
miles ab Etruscis saucius aggeribus,
quid nostro gemitu turgentia lumina torques?
pars ego sum vestrae proxima militiae.
sic te servato ut possint gaudere parentes,
haec soror acta tuis sentiat e lacrimis:
Gallum per medios ereptum Caesaris enses
effugere ignotas non potuisse manus;
et quaecumque super dispersa invenerit ossa
montibus Etruscis, haec sciat esse mea.
You, who hurries to avoid our common fate,
wounded soldier from the Etruscan ramparts,
what makes you turn your wide eyes toward my moaning?
I am one of your closest armed comrades.
Thus, save yourself, so that your parents may rejoice,
but let my sister know of my fate through your tears:
that Gallus stole away through the midst of Caesar's swords
but was unable to escape an unknown hand;
and whoever will come upon these scattered bones
on the Etruscan hillside, let him know that these bones are mine.