A young man in ancient dress is seen from the side raising his hand to bid farewell while looking slightly downwards, a grave look shrouding his face.
Ave atque vale, usually rendered as “Hail and Farewell,” are the last words of the following poem by Catullus, here in Beardsley’s own translation:
By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb:
Since she who now bestows and now denies
Hath ta’en thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell,
Take them, all drenched with a brother’s tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!