lacrimae rerum [ˈlækrɪmaɪ rɛərəm] n.
1.) With reference to Virgil, Aeneid i. 462: the sadness of life; tears shed for the sorrows of men (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).
Etymology: Latin, literally tears (for the nature) of things.
"Constitit, et lacrimans, 'Quis iam locus' inquit 'Achate,
quae regio in terris nostri non plena laboris?
En Priamus! Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi;
sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
Solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem'" (Aeneis, Publius Vergilius Maro, 19 BCE).
"Aeneas came to a halt and wept, and 'Oh, Achates,'
he cried, 'is there anywhere, any place on earth
not filled with our ordeals? There's Priam, look!
Even here, merit will have its true reward…
even here, the world is a world of tears
and the burdens of morality touch the heart.
Dismiss your fears. Trust me, this fame of ours
will offer us some haven'" (The Aeneid, Robert Fagles (trans.), 2006).
I know this doesn't obey my rule of giving a quotation in English by a famous author. But I thought it would be cool to look at the actual origin of the phrase. (I could have given one, by the way: Thomas Carlyle, Aldous Huxley, and W. H. Auden are all quoted in the OED's entry.)