History of Literature










Juvenal


"Satires"



Illustrations  by Aubrey Beardsley



 



Juvenal


 

Juvenal

Roman poet
Latin in full Decimus Junius Juvenalis

born ad 55, –60?, Aquinum, Italy
died probably in or after 127

Main
most powerful of all Roman satiric poets. Many of his phrases and epigrams have entered common parlance—for example, “bread and circuses” and “who will guard the guards themselves?”

Life
The one contemporary who ever mentions Juvenal is Martial, who claims to be his friend, calls him eloquent, and describes him as living the life of a poor dependent cadging from rich men. There are a few biographies of him, apparently composed long after his death; these may contain some nuggets of fact, but they are brief, ill-proportioned, and sometimes incredible.

From these sparse sources it can be inferred that Juvenal’s family was well-to-do, and he became an officer in the army as a first step to a career in the administrative service of the emperor Domitian (ad 81–96) but failed to obtain promotion and grew embittered. He wrote a satire declaring that court favourites had undue influence in the promotion of officers, and for this he was banished—possibly to the remote frontier town of Syene, now Aswān, in Egypt—and his property was confiscated. In 96, after Domitian’s assassination, Juvenal returned to Rome; but, without money or a career, he was reduced to living as a “client” on the grudging charity of the rich. After some years his situation improved, for autobiographical remarks in Satire 11 show him, now elderly, living in modest comfort in Rome and possessing a farm at Tibur (now Tivoli) with servants and livestock. Still pessimistic, the later Satires show a marked change of tone and some touches of human kindness, as though he had found some consolation at last. Though no details of his death exist, he probably died in or after 127.






The Satires
Juvenal’s 16 satiric poems deal mainly with life in Rome under the much-dreaded emperor Domitian and his more humane successors Nerva (96–98), Trajan (98–117), and Hadrian (117–138). They were published at intervals in five separate books. Book One, containing Satires 1–5, views in retrospect the horrors of Domitian’s tyrannical reign and was issued between 100 and 110. (The historian Tacitus, a contemporary of Juvenal, was also embittered by the suspicion and fear of that epoch.) Book Two, the single, enormous Satire 6, contains topical references to the year 115. The third Book, with Satires 7, 8, and 9, opens with praise of an emperor—surely Hadrian, who endowed a literary institute to assist deserving authors—whose generosity makes him the sole hope of literature. There is no datable allusion in Book Four, which comprises Satires 10–12. Book Five, made up of Satires 13, 14, 15, and 16, has two clear references to the year 127.

The Satires attack two main themes: the corruption of society in the city of Rome and the follies and brutalities of mankind. In the first Satire, Juvenal declares that vice, crime, and the misuse of wealth have reached such a peak that it is impossible not to write satire, but that, since it is dangerous to attack powerful men in their lifetime, he will take his examples from the dead. He does not maintain this principle, for sometimes he mentions living contemporaries; but it provides a useful insurance policy against retaliation, and it implies that Rome has been evil for many generations. Male homosexuals are derided in two poems: passives in Satire 2, actives and passives together in Satire 9. In the third Satire a friend of Juvenal explains why, abandoning the humiliating life of a dependent, he is determined to live in a quiet country town and leave crowded and uncomfortable Rome, which has been ruined by Greeks and other foreign immigrants; while in the fifth Juvenal mocks another such dependent by describing the calculated insults he must endure on the rare occasions when his patron invites him to dinner. The fourth relates how Domitian summoned his cringing Cabinet to consider an absurdly petty problem: how to cook a turbot too large for any ordinary pan.

Satire 6, more than 600 lines long, is a ruthless denunciation of the folly, arrogance, cruelty, and sexual depravity of Roman women. The seventh Satire depicts the poverty and wretchedness of the Roman intellectuals who cannot find decent rewards for their labours. In the eighth, Juvenal attacks the cult of hereditary nobility. One of his grandest poems is the 10th, which examines the ambitions of mankind—wealth, power, glory, long life, and personal beauty—and shows that they all lead to disappointment or danger: what mankind should pray for is “a sound mind in a sound body, and a brave heart.” In Satire 11, Juvenal invites an old friend to dine quietly but comfortably and discourses on the foolishly extravagant banquets of the rich. The 12th is a quiet little poem distinguishing between true and mercenary friendship. In the 13th Juvenal offers sarcastic consolation to a man who has been defrauded of some money by a friend, telling him that such misdeeds are commonplace; while in the 14th he denounces parents who teach their children avarice. Satire 15 tells of a riot in Egypt during which a man was torn to pieces and eaten: a proof that men are crueler than animals. In the 16th Juvenal announces that he will survey the privileges of professional soldiers, an important theme; but the poem breaks off at line 60 in the middle of a sentence: the rest was lost in ancient times.

Technically, Juvenal’s poetry is very fine. The structure of the individual Satires is—with a few exceptions—clear and forceful. They are full of skillfully expressive effects in which the sound and rhythm mimic and enhance the sense; and they abound in trenchant phrases and memorable epigrams, many known to people who have never heard of Juvenal: “bread and circuses”; “slow rises worth, by poverty oppressed”; “who will guard the guards themselves?”; “the itch for writing”; “the greatest reverence is due to a child.” Vivid, often cruelly frank, remarks appear on almost every page: after describing a rich woman’s efforts to preserve her complexion with ointments, tonics, donkey’s milk, and poultices, Juvenal asks, “Is that a face, or an ulcer?” He describes striking and disgusting scenes with a clarity that makes them unforgettable: we see the statues of the emperor’s discarded favourite melted down to make kitchenware and chamber pots; the husband closing his disgusted eyes while his drunken wife vomits on the marble floor; the emperor Claudius (poisoned by his consort) “going to heaven” with his head trembling and his lips drooling long trains of saliva; the impotent bridegroom whimpering while a paid substitute consoles his wife. Juvenal is not a poet to be relished by soft hearts or optimists, but he has power.


Influence
His work was forgotten for a time after his death. Later it began to be read and quoted, first by the Christian propagandist Tertullian—who lived and wrote about ad 200 and was as full of passionate indignation as Juvenal—then by other Christian authors and also by pagan students of literature. A commentary on the Satires (which survives) was compiled at some time between 350 and 420, and two editions of the text were produced, based on one master copy: apparently the only copy that had been preserved until then. Thenceforward Juvenal has never ceased to be studied and admired, and he has been imitated by many satirists; for instance, by Giovanni Boccaccio, Nicolas Boileau, and Lord Byron. The term “Juvenalian satire” still denotes any criticism of contemporary persons and institutions in Juvenal’s manner.

Gilbert Highet

 

 


Snare of Vintage (suppressed)    
 




Satires



Translated by G. G. Ramsay
 

 


Satire 1.
 

Difficile est Saturam non Scribere

What? Am I to be a listener only all my days? Am I never to get my word in----I that have been so often bored by the Theseid 1 of the ranting Cordus? Shall this one have spouted to me his comedies, and that one his love ditties, and I be unavenged? Shall I have no revenge on one who has taken up the whole day with an interminable Telephus,2 or with an Orestes,2 which, after filling the margin at the top of the roll and the back as well, hasn't even yet come to an end? No one knows his own house so well as I know the groves of Mars, and the cave of Vulcan near the cliffs of Aeolus. What the winds are brewing; whose souls Aeacus 3 has on the rack; from what country another worthy 4 is carrying off that stolen golden fleece; how big are the ash trees which Monychus 5 tosses about: these are the themes with which Fronto's 6 plane trees and marble halls are for ever ringing until the pillars quiver and quake under the continual recitations; such is the kind of stuff you may look for from every poet, greatest or least. Well, I too have slipped my hand from under the cane; I too have counselled Sulla to retire from public life and sleep his fill 7; it is a foolish clemency when you jostle against poets at every corner, to spare paper that will be wasted anyhow. But if you can give me time, and will listen quietly to reason, I will tell you why I prefer to run in the same course over which the great nursling ol Aurunca 8 drove his steeds.

When a soft eunuch takes to matrimony, and Maevia, with spear in hand and breasts exposed, to pig-sticking; when a fellow under whose razor my stiff youthful beard used to grate 9 challenges, with his single wealth, the whole nobility; when a guttersnipe of the Nile like Crispinus 10----a slave-born denizen of Canopus 11----hitches a Tyrian cloak on to his shoulder, whilst on his sweating finger he airs a summer ring of gold, unable to endure the weight of a heavier gem----it is hard not to write satire. For who can be so tolerant of this monstrous city, who so iron of soul, as to contain himself when the brand-new litter of lawyer Matho comes along, filled with his huge self; after him one who has informed against his noble patron and will soon despoil our pillaged nobility of what remains to them----one whom Massa 12 dreads, whom Carus 12 propitiates by a bribe, and to whom Thymele 13 was made over by the terrified Latinus;13 when you are thrust on one side by men who earn legacies by nightly performances, and are raised to heaven by that now royal road to high preferment----the favours of an aged and wealthy woman? Each of the lovers will have his share; Proculeius a twelfth part, Gillo eleven parts, each in proportion to the magnitude of his services. Let each take the price of his own blood, and turn as pale as a man who has trodden upon a snake bare-footed, or of one who awaits his turn to orate before the altar at Lugdunum.14

Why tell how my heart burns hot with rage when I see the people hustled by a mob of retainers attending on one who has defrauded and debauched his ward, or on another who has been condemned by a futile verdict----for what matters infamy if the cash be kept? The exiled Marius 15 carouses from the eighth hour of the day and revels in the wrath of Heaven, while you, poor Province, win your cause and weep!

Must I not deem these things worthy of the Venusian's 16 lamp? Must I not have my fling at them? Should I do better to tell tales about Hercules, or Diomede, or the bellowing in the Labyrinth, or about the flying carpenter 17 and the lad 18 who splashed into the sea; and that in an age when the compliant husband, if his wife may not lawfully inherit,19 takes money from her paramour, being well trained to keep his eyes upon the ceiling, or to snore with wakeful nose over his cups; an age when one who has squandered his family fortunes upon horse flesh thinks it right and proper to look for the command of a cohort? See him dashing at break-neck speed, like a very Automedon,20 along the Flaminian way, holding the reins himself, while he shows himself off to his great-coated mistress!

Would you not like to fill up a whole note-book at the street crossings when you see a forger borne along upon the necks of six porters, and exposed to view on this side and on that in his almost naked litter, and reminding you of the lounging Maecenas: one who by help of a scrap of paper and a moistened seal has converted himself into a fine and wealthy gentleman?

Then up comes a lordly dame who, when her husband wants a drink, mixes toad's blood with his old Calenian,21 and improving upon Lucusta 22 herself, teaches her artless neighbours to brave the talk of the town and carry forth to burial the blackened corpses of their husbands. If you want to be anybody nowadays, you must dare some crime that merits narrow Gyara 23 or a gaol; honesty is praised and starves. It is to their crimes that men owe their pleasure-grounds and high commands, their fine tables and old silver goblets with goats standing out in relief. Who can get, sleep for thinking of a money-loving daughter-in-law seduced, of brides that have lost their virtue, or of adulterers not out of their teens? Though nature say me nay, indignation will prompt my verse, of whatever kind it be----such verse as I can write, or Cluvienus! 24

From the day when the rain-clouds lifted up the waters, and Deucalion climbed that mountain in his ship to seek an oracle----that day when stones grew soft and warm with life, and Pyrrha showed maidens in nature's garb to men----all the doings of mankind, their vows, their fears, their angers and their pleasures, their joys and goings to and fro, shall form the motley subject of my page. For when was Vice more rampant? When did the maw of Avarice gape wider? When was gambling so reckless? Men come not now with purses to the hazard of the gaming table, but with a treasure-chest beside them. What battles will you there see waged with a steward for armour-bearer! Is it a simple form of madness to lose a hundred thousand sesterces, and not have a shirt to give to a shivering slave? Which of our grandfathers built such numbers of villas, or dined by himself off seven courses? Look now at the meagre dole set down upon the threshold for a toga-clad mob to scramble for! The patron first peers into your face, fearing that you may be claiming under someone else's name: once recognised, you will get your share. He then bids the crier call up the Trojan-blooded nobles----for they too besiege the door as well as we: "The Praetor first," says he, "and after him the Tribune." "But I was here first," says a freedman who stops the way; "why should I be afraid, or hesitate to keep my place? Though born on the Euphrates----a fact which the little windows in my ears would testify though I myself denied it----yet I am the owner of five shops which bring me in four hundred thousand sesterces.25 What better thing does the Broad Purple 26 bestow if a Corvinus 27 herds sheep for daily wage in the Laurentian country, while I possess more property than either a Pallas or a Licinus?" 28 So let the Tribunes await their turn; let money carry the day; let the sacred office 29 give way to one who came but yesterday with whitened 30 feet into our city. For no deity is held in such reverence amongst us as Wealth; though as yet, O baneful money, thou hast no temple of thine own; not yet have we reared altars to Money in like manner as we worship Peace and Honour, Victory and Virtue, or that Concord 31 that twitters when we salute her nest.

If then the great officers of state reckon up at the end of the year how much the dole brings in, how much it adds to their income, what shall we dependants do who, out of the self-same dole, have to find ourselves in coats and shoes, in the bread and fire of our homes? A mob of litters comes in quest of the hundred farthings; here is a husband going the round, followed by a sickly or pregnant wife; another, by a clever and well-known trick, claims for a wife that is not there, pointing, in her stead, to a closed and empty chair: "My Galla's in there," says he; "let us off quick, will you not?" "Galla, put out your head!" "Don't disturb her, she's asleep! "

The day itself is marked out by a fine round of business. First comes the dole; then the courts, and Apollo 32 learned in the law, and those triumphal statues among which some Egyptian Arabarch 33 or other has dared to set up his titles; against whose statue more than one kind of nuisance may be committed! Wearied and hopeless, the old clients leave the door, though the last hope that a man relinquishes is that of a dinner; the poor wretches must buy their cabbage and their fuel. Meanwhile their lordly patron will be devouring the choicest products of wood and sea, lying alone upon an empty couch; for off those huge and splendid antique dinner-tables he will consume a whole patrimony at a single meal. Ere long no parasites will be left! Who can bear to see luxury so mean? What a huge gullet to have a whole boar----an animal created for conviviality----served up to it! But you will soon pay for it, my friend, when you take off your clothes, and with distended stomach carry your peacock into the bath undigested! Hence a sudden death, and an intestate old age; the new and merry tale runs the round of every dinner-table, and the corpse is carried forth to burial amid the cheers of enraged friends!

To these ways of ours Posterity will have nothing to add; our grandchildren will do the same things, and desire the same things, that we do. All vice is at its acme;34 up with your sails and shake out every stitch of canvas! Here perhaps you will say, "Where find the talent to match the theme? Where find that freedom of our forefathers to write whatever the burning soul desired? 'What man is there that I dare not name? What matters it whether Mucius forgives my words or no?35'" But just describe Tigellinus 36 and you will blaze amid those faggots in which men, with their throats tightly gripped, stand and burn and smoke, and you 37 trace a broad furrow through the middle of the arena.

What? Is a man who has administered aconite to half a dozen uncles to ride by and look down upon me from his swaying cushions? "Yes; and when he comes near you, put your finger to your lip: he who but says the word, 'That's the man!' will be counted an informer. You may set Aeneas and the brave Rutulian 38 a-fighting with an easy mind; it will hurt no one's feelings to hear how Achilles was slain, or how Hylas 39 was searched for when he tumbled after his pitcher. But when Lucilius roars and rages as if with sword in hand, the hearer, whose soul was cold with crime, grows red; he sweats with the secret consciousness of sin. Hence wrath and tears. So turn these things over in your mind before the trumpet sounds; the helmet once donned, it is too late to repent you of the battle." Then I will try what I may say of those worthies whose ashes lie under the Flaminian and Latin 40 roads.

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1. 1 An epic poem.
2. 2 Names of tragedies.
3. 3 One of the judges in Hades.
4. 4 Jason.
5. 5 A Centaur, alluding to the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapithae.
6. 6 A rich patron who lends his house for recitations.
7. 1 Referring to the retirement of Sulla from public life in B.C. 79. Such themes would be prescribed to schoolboys as rhetorical exercises, of the kind called suasoriae. See Mayor's n. and Sat. vii. 150-170.
8. 2 Lucilius, the first Roman satirist, B.C. 148-103.
9. 3 Some barber who had made a fortune. The line is repeated in x. 226.
10. 4 A favourite aversion of Juvenal's as a rich Egyptian parvenu who had risen to be princeps equitum. See iv. 1, 31, 108.
11. 5 A city in the Nile Delta.
12. 6 Notorious informers under Domitian.
13. 7 Both actors: the allusion is not known.
14. 1 Alluding to a rhetorical contest instituted at Lyons by Caligula (Suet. Cal. 20). Severe and humiliating punishments were inflicted on those defeated in these contests.
15. 2 Condemned for extortion in Africa in A.D. 100.
16. 3 Horace was born at Venusia B.C. 65.
17. 4 Daedalus.
18. 5 Icarus.
19. 6 i.e. be legally incapacitated from taking an inheritance.
20. 7 The charioteer of Achilles.
21. 1 Calenian and Falernian were two of the most famous Roman wines.
22. 2 A notorious poisoner under Nero.
23. 3 A small island in the Aegean Sea on which criminals were confined.
24. 4 Unknown; some scribbler of the day.
25. 1 The fortune required of a knight (the census equestris) was 400,000 sesterces.
26. 2 The broad purple stripe (latus clavus) on the tunic of senators.
27. 3 One of an ancient Roman family.
28. 4 Pallas and Licinus were wealthy freedmen.
29. 5 The persons of the Tribunes of the Plebs were sacrosanct.
30. 6 Slaves imported for sale had white chalk-marks on their feet.
31. 1 The temple of Concord, near the Capitol. Storks built their nests on the temple.
32. 2 A statue of Apollo in the Forum Augusti.
33. 3 Probably an allusion to Julius Alexander, a Jew who was Prefect of Egypt A.D. 67-70.
34. 1 The phrase is difficult. Duff translates ''Vice always stands above a sheer descent," and therefore soon reaches its extreme point.
35. 2 Apparently a quotation from Lucilius, being an attack on P. Mucius Scaevola.
36. 3 An infamous favourite of Nero's.
37. 4 i.e. "your body." The passage refers to the burning of the early Christians, and the dragging of their remains across the arena.
38. 1 Turnus, king of the Rutulians.
39. 2 A favourite of Hercules, who was drawn into a well by the Naids.
40. 3 The sides of the great roads leading out from Rome were lined with monuments to the dead.

 




  
Messalina Going to the Lupanar  





Satire 2.

 

Moralists without Morals

I would fain flee to Sarmatia and the frozen Sea when people who ape the Curii 1 and live like Bacchanals dare talk about morals. In the first place, they are unlearned persons, though you may find their houses crammed with plaster casts of Chrysippus 2; for their greatest hero is the man who has bought a likeness of Aristotle or Pittacus,3 or bids his shelves preserve an original portrait of Cleanthes.4 Men's faces are not to be trusted; does not every street abound in gloomy-visaged debauchees? And do you rebuke foul practices, when you are yourself the most notorious of the Socratic reprobates? A hairy body, and arms stiff with bristles, give promise of a manly soul: but the doctor grins when he cuts into the growths on your shaved buttocks. Men of your kidney talk little; they glory in taciturnity, and cut their hair shorter than their eyebrows. Peribomius 5 himself is more open and more honest; his face, his walk, betray his distemper, and I charge Destiny with his failings. Such men excite your pity by their frankness; the very fury of their passions wins them pardon. Far worse are those who denounce evil ways in the language of a Hercules; and after discoursing upon virtue, prepare to practise vice. "Am I to respect you, Sextus," quoth the ill-famed Varillus, "when you do as I do? How am I worse than yourself? " Let the straight-legged man laugh at the club-footed, the white man at the blackamoor: but who could endure the Gracchi railing at sedition? Who will not confound heaven with earth, and sea with sky, if Verves denounce thieves, or Milo 6 cut-throats? If Clodius condemn adulterers, or Catiline upbraid Cethegus 7; or if Sulla's three disciples 8 inveigh against proscriptions? Such a man was that adulterer 9 who, after lately defiling himself by a union of the tragic style, revived the stern laws that were to be a terror to all men----ay, even to Mars and Venus----at the moment when Julia was relieving her fertile womb and giving birth to abortions that displayed the similitude of her uncle. Is it not then right and proper that the very worst of sinners should despise your pretended Scauri,10 and bite back when bitten?

Laronia could not contain herself when one of these sour-faced worthies cried out, "What of your Julian Law? 11 Has it gone to sleep?" To which she answered smilingly," O happy times to have you for a censor of our morals! Once more may Rome regain her modesty; a third Cato has come down to us from the skies! But tell me, where did you buy that balsam juice that exhales from your hairy neck? Don't be ashamed to point out to me the shopman! If laws and statutes are to be raked up, you should cite first of all the Scantinian 12: inquire first into the things that are done by men; men do more wicked things than we do, but they are protected by their numbers, and the tight-locked shields of their phalanx. Male effeminates agree wondrously well among themselves; never in our sex will you find such loathsome examples of evil.

"Do we women ever plead in the courts? Are we learned in the Law? Do your court-houses ever ring with our bawling? Some few of us are wrestlers; some of us eat meat-rations: you men spin wool and bring back your tale of work in baskets when it is done; you twirl round the spindle big with fine thread more deftly than Penelope, more delicately than Arachne,13 doing work such as an unkempt drab squatting on a log would do. Everybody knows why Hister left all his property to his freedman, why in his life-time he gave so many presents to his young wife; the woman who sleeps third in a big bed will want for nothing. So when you take a husband, keep your mouth shut; precious stones 14 will be the reward of a well-kept secret. After this, what condemnation can be pronounced on women? Our censor absolves the crow and passes judgment on the pigeon!"

While Laronia was uttering these plain truths, the would-be Stoics made off in confusion: for what word of untruth had she spoken? Yet what will not other men do when you, Creticus, dress yourself in garments of gauze, and while everyone is marvelling at your attire, launch out against the Proculae and the Pollittae? Fabulla is an adulteress; condemn Carfinia of the same crime if you please; but however guilty, they would never wear such a gown as yours. "O but," you say, "these July days are so sweltering!" Then why not plead without clothes? Such madness would be less disgraceful. A pretty garb yours in which to propose or expound laws to our countrymen flushed with victory, and with their wounds yet unhealed; and to those mountain rustics who had laid down their ploughs to listen to you? What would you not exclaim if you saw a judge dressed like that? Would a robe of gauze sit becomingly on a witness? You, Creticus, you, the keen, unbending champion of human liberty, to be clothed in a transparency! This plague has come upon us by infection, and it will spread still further, just as in the fields the scab of one sheep, or the mange of one pig, destroys an entire herd; just as one bunch of grapes takes on its sickly colour from the aspect of its neighbour.

Some day you will venture on something more shameful than this dress; no one reaches the depths of turpitude all at once. In due time you will be welcomed by those who in their homes put fillets round their brows, swathe themselves with necklaces, and propitiate the Bona Dea with the stomach of a porker and a huge bowl of wine, though by an evil usage the Goddess warns off all women from the door; none but males may approach her altar. 15 "Away with you! profane women" is the cry; "no booming horn, no she-minstrels here!" Such were the secret torchlight orgies with which the Baptae 16 wearied the Cecropian 17 Cotytto. One prolongs his eyebrows with some damp soot on the edge of a needle, and lifts up his blinking eyes to be painted; another drinks out of an obscenely-shaped glass, and ties up his long locks in a gilded net; he is clothed in blue checks, or smooth-faced green; the attendant swears by Juno like his master. Another holds in his hand a mirror like that carried by the effeminate Otho: a trophy of the Auruncan Actor,18 in which he gazed at his own image in full armour when he was just ready to give the order to advance----a thing notable and novel in the annals of our time, a mirror among the kit of Civil War! It needed, in truth, a mighty general to slay Galba, and keep his own skin shaved; it needed a citizen of highest courage to ape the splendours of the Palace on the field of Bebriacum,19 and plaster his face with dough! Never did the quiver-bearing Samiramis 20 the like in her Assyrian realm, nor the despairing Cleopatra on board her ship at Actium. No decency of language is there here: no regard for the manners of the table. You will hear all the foul talk and squeaking tones of Cybele; a grey-haired frenzied old man presides over the rites; he is a rare and notable master of the art of gluttony, and should be hired to teach it. But why wait any longer when it were time in Phrygian fashion to lop off the superfluous flesh?

Gracchus has presented to a cornet player----or perhaps it was a player on the straight horn----a dowry of four hundred thousand sesterces. The contract has been signed; the benedictions have been pronounced; the banqueters are seated, the new made bride is reclining on the bosom of her husband. O ye nobles of Rome! is it a soothsayer that we need, or a Censor? Would you be more aghast, would you deem it a greater portent, if a woman gave birth to a calf, or an ox to a lamb? The man who is now arraying himself in the flounces and train and veil of a bride once carried the quivering shields 21 of Mars by the sacred thongs and sweated under the sacred burden!

O Father of our city, whence came such wickedness among thy Latin shepherds? How did such a lust possess thy grandchildren, O Gradivus? Behold! Here you have a man of high birth and wealth being handed over in marriage to a man, and yet neither shakest thy helmet, nor smitest the earth with thy spear, nor yet protestest to thy Father? Away with thee then; begone from that broad Martial Plain 22 which thou hast forgotten!

"I have a ceremony to attend," quoth one, "at dawn to-morrow, in the Quirinal valley." "What is the occasion?" "No need to ask: a friend is taking to himself a husband; quite a small affair." Yes, and if we only live long enough, we shall see these things done openly: people will wish to see them reported among the news of the day. Meanwhile these would-be brides have one great trouble: they can bear no children wherewith to keep the affection of their husbands; well has nature done in granting to their desires no power over their bodies. They die infertile; naught avails them the medicine-chest of the bloated Lyde, or to hold out their hands to the blows of the swift-footed Luperci! 23

Greater still the portent when Gracchus, clad in a tunic, played the gladiator, and fled, trident in hand, across the arena----Gracchus, a man of nobler birth than the Capitolini, or the Marcelli, or the descendents of Catulus or Paulus, or the Fabii: nobler than all the spectators in the podium 24; not excepting him who gave the show at which that net 25 was flung.

That there are such things as Manes, and kingdoms below ground, and punt-poles, and Stygian pools black with frogs, and all those thousands crossing over in a single bark----these things not even boys believe, except such as have not yet had their penny bath. But just imagine them to be true----what would Curius and the two Scipios think? or Fabricius and the spirit of Camillus? What would the legion that fought at the Cremera 26 think, or the young manhood that fell at Cannae; what would all those gallant hearts feel when a shade of this sort came down to them from here? They would wish to be purified; if only sulphur and torches and damp laurel-branches were to be had. Such is the degradation to which we have come! Our arms indeed we have pushed beyond Juverna's 27 shores, to the new-conquered Orcades and the short-nighted Britons; but the things which we do in our victorious city will never be done by the men whom we have conquered. And yet they say that one Zalaces, an Armenian more effeminate than any of our youth, has yielded to the ardour of a Tribune! Just see what evil communications do! He came as a hostage: but here boys are turned into men. Give them a long sojourn in our city, and lovers will never fail them. They will throw away their trousers and their knives, their bridles and their whips, and carry back to Artaxata the manners of our Roman youth.

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1. 4 A famous family of early Rome.
2. 5 The eminent Stoic philosopher, pupil of Cleanthes.
3. 6 One of the seven wise men of Greece, b. circ. B.C. 652.
4. 1 Pupil and successor of Zeno, founder of the Stoic School, from about B.C. 300 to 220. Famous for his poverty and iron will.
5. 2 Some villainous character of the day.
6. 3 Alluding to the faction fights between Clodius and Milo, B.C. 52. Clodius violated the rites of the Bona Dea; see vi. 314-341.
7. 4 A partner in the Catilinarian conspiracy, B.C. 63.
8. 5 i.e. the second triumvirate (Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus) who followed the example of Sulla's proscriptions.
9. 6 The emperor Domitian. Domitian was a lover of his niece Julia, daughter of his brother Titus.
10. 1 One of the most famous families of the later Republic.
11. 2 In reference to the law passed by Augustus for encouraging marriage (Lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus).
12. 3 A law against unnatural crime.
13. 1 A Lydian maiden who challenged Athene in spinning and was turned into a spider.
14. 2 Cylindrus, a cylinder, is here used for a precious stone cut in that shape.
15. 1 None but women could attend the rites of the Bona Dea. Hence the scandal created in B.C. 62 by Clodius when he made his way into the house of Caesar, where the rites were being celebrated, disguised as a woman. Hence Caesar put away his wife Pompeia, as " Caesar's wife must be above suspicion." In the present passage Juvenal refers to some real or imaginary inversion of the old rule, by which none but males, clothed in female dresses, were to be admitted to the worship of the Goddess.
16. 2 Worshippers of the Thracian deity Cotytto.
17. 3 i.e. Athenian, Cecrops being the first king of Athens.
18. 4 The words Actoris Aurunci spolium are a quotation from Virg. Aen. xii. 94. The suggestion seems to be that Otho was as proud of his mirror as if it had been a trophy of war, like the spear which King Turnus captured from Actor.
19. 1 The battle in which Otho was defeated by Vitellius.
20. 2 Mythical founder of the Assyrian empire with her husband Ninus.
21. 3 Gracchus was one of the Salii, priests of Mars who had to carry the sacred shields of Mars (ancilia) in procession through the city.
22. 1 i.e. the Campus Martius.
23. 2 The Luperci were a mysterious priesthood who on certain days ran round the pomoerium clad in goat-skins and struck at any woman they met with goat-skin thongs in order to produce fertility.
24. 3 The podium was a balustrade, or balcony, set all round the amphitheatre, from which the most distinguished of the spectators witnessed the performance.
25. 4 For the disgrace incurred by Gracchus in fighting as a retiarius against a secutor, see the fuller passage viii. 199----210 and note.
26. 1 The battle in which 300 Fabii were killed.
27. 2 Ireland.

 




Satire 3.

 

Quid Romae Faciam?
 

Though put out by the departure of my old friend, I commend his purpose to fix his home at Cumae, and to present one citizen to the Sibyl. That is the gate of Baiae, a sweet retreat upon a pleasant shore; I myself would prefer even Prochyta 1 to the Saburra! 2 For where has one ever seen a place so dismal and so lonely that one would not deem it worse to live in perpetual dread of fires and falling houses, and the thousand perils of this terrible city, and poets spouting in the month of August!

But while all his goods and chattels were being packed upon a single wagon, my friend halted at the dripping archway of the old Porta Capena. 3 Here Numa held his nightly assignations with his mistress; but now the holy fount and grove and shrine are let out to Jews, who possess a basket and a truss of hay for all their furnishings. For as every tree nowadays has to pay toll to the people, the Muses have been ejected, and the wood has to go a-begging. We go down to the Valley of Egeria, and into the caves so unlike to nature: how much more near to us would be the spirit of the fountain if its waters were fringed by a green border of grass, and there were no marble to outrage the native tufa!

Here spoke Umbritius:----" Since there is no room," quoth he, "for honest callings in this city, no reward for labour; since my means are less to-day than they were yesterday, and to-morrow will rub off something from the little that is left, I purpose to go to the place where Daedalus put off his weary wings while my white hairs are recent, while my old age is erect and fresh, while Lachesis has something left to spin, and I can support myself on my own feet without slipping a staff beneath my hand. Farewell my country! Let Artorius live there, and Catulus; let those remain who turn black into white, to whom it comes easy to take contracts for temples, rivers or harbours, for cleansing drains, or carrying corpses to the pyre, or to put up slaves for sale under the authority of the spear.4 These men once were horn-blowers, who went the round of every provincial show, and whose puffed-out cheeks were known in every village; to-day they hold shows of their own, and win applause by slaying with a turn of the thumb 5 whomsoever the mob bids them slay; from that they go back to contract for cesspools, and why not for any kind of thing, seeing that they are of the kind that Fortune raises from the gutter to the mighty places of earth whenever she wishes to enjoy a laugh?

What can I do at Rome? I cannot lie; if a book is bad, I cannot praise it, and beg for a copy; I am ignorant of the movements of the stars; I cannot, and will not, promise to a man his father's death; I have never examined the entrails of a frog; I must leave it to others to carry to a bride the presents and messages of a paramour. No man will get my help in robbery, and therefore no governor will take me on his staff: I am treated as a maimed and useless trunk that has lost the power of its hands. What man wins favour nowadays unless he be an accomplice----one whose soul seethes and burns with secrets that must never be disclosed? No one who has imparted to you an innocent secret thinks he owes you anything, or will ever bestow on you a favour; the man whom Verres loves is the man who can impeach Verres at any moment that he chooses. Ah! Let not all the sands of the shaded Tagus, and the gold which it rolls into the sea, be so precious in your eyes that you should lose your sleep, and accept gifts, to your sorrow, which you must one day lay down, and be for ever a terror to your mighty friend! "And now let me speak at once of the race which is most dear to our rich men, and which I avoid above all others; no shyness shall stand in my way. I cannot abide, Quirites, a Rome of Greeks; and yet what fraction of our dregs comes from Greece? The Syrian Orontes has long since poured into the Tiber, bringing with it its lingo and its manners, its flutes and its slanting harp-strings:6 bringing too the timbrels of the breed, and the trulls who are bidden ply their trade at the Circus. Out upon you, all ye that delight in foreign strumpets with painted headdresses! Your country clown, Quirinus, now trips to dinner in Greek-fangled slippers,7 and wears niceterian 7 ornaments upon a ceromatic 7 neck! One comes from lofty Sicyon, another from Amydon or Andros, others from Samos, Tralles or Alabanda; all making for the Esquiline, or for the hill that takes its name from osier-beds 8; all ready to worm their way into the houses of the great and become their masters. Quick of wit and of unbounded impudence, they are as ready of speech as Isaeus,9 and more torrential. Say, what do you think that fellow there to be? He has brought with him any character you please; grammarian, orator, geometrician; painter, trainer, or rope-dancer; augur, doctor or astrologer:----

'All sciences a fasting monsieur knows,
And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes!' 10

In fine, the man who took to himself wings 11 was not a Moor, nor a Sarmatian, nor a Thracian, but one born in the very heart of Athens!

"Must I not make my escape from purple-clad gentry like these? Is a man to sign his name before me, and recline upon a couch above mine, who has been wafted to Rome by the wind which brings us our damsons and our figs? Is it to go so utterly for nothing that as a babe I drank in the air of the Aventine, and was nurtured on the Sabine berry?

"What of this again, that these people are experts in flattery, and will commend the talk of an illiterate, or the beauty of a deformed, friend, and compare the scraggy neck of some weakling to the brawny throat of Hercules when holding up Antaeus 12 from the earth; or go into ecstasies over a squeaky voice not more melodious than that of a cock when he pecks his spouse the hen? We, no doubt, can praise the same things that they do; but what they say is believed. Could any actor do better when he plays the part of Thais, or of a matron, or of the nude Doris? You would never think that it was an actor that was speaking, but a very woman, complete in all her parts. Yet, in their own country, neither Antiochus 13 nor Stratocles,13 neither Demetrius 13 nor the delicate Haemus,13 will be applauded: they are a nation of play-actors. If you smile, your Greek will split his sides with laughter; if he sees his friend drop a tear, he weeps, though without grieving; if you call for a bit of fire in winter-time, he puts on his cloak; if you say 'I am hot,' he breaks into a sweat. Thus we are not upon a level, he and I; he has always the best of it, being ready at any moment, by night or by day, to take his expression from another man's face, to throw up his hands and applaud if his friend spit or hiccup nicely, or if his golden basin make a gurgle when turned upside down.

"Besides all this, there is nothing sacred to his lusts: not the matron of the family, nor the maiden daughter, not the as yet unbearded son-in-law to be, not even the as yet unpolluted son; if none of these be there, he will debauch the grandmother. These men want to discover the secrets of the family, and so make themselves feared. And now that I am speaking of the Greeks, pass on to the schools, and hear of a graver crime; the Stoic 14 who informed against and slew his own young friend and disciple 15 was born on that river bank 16 where the Gorgon's winged steed fell to earth. No: there is no room for any Roman here, where some Protogenes, or Diphilus, or Hermarchus rules the roast----one who by a defect of his race never shares a friend, but keeps him all to himself. For when once he has dropped into a facile ear one particle of his own and his country's poison, I am thrust from the door, and all my long years of servitude go for nothing. Nowhere is it so easy as at Rome to throw an old client overboard.

"And besides, not to flatter ourselves, what value is there in a poor man's serving here in Rome, even if he be at pains to hurry along in his toga before daylight, seeing that the praetor is bidding the lictor to go full speed lest his colleague should be the first to salute the childless ladies Albina and Modia, who have long ago been awake. Here in Rome the son of free-born parents has to give the wall to some rich man's slave; for that other will give as much as the whole pay of a legionary tribune to enjoy the chance favours of a Calvinal or a Catiena,17 while you, when the face of some gay-decked harlot takes your fancy, scarce venture to hand her down from her lofty chair. At Rome you may produce a witness as unimpeachable as the host of the Idaean Goddess 18----Numa himself might present himself, or he who rescued the trembling Minerva from the blazing shrine 19----the first question asked will be as to his wealth, the last about his character: 'how many slaves does he keep?' 'how many acres does he own?' 'how big and how many are his dinner dishes?' A man's word is believed in exact proportion to the amount of cash which he keeps in his strong box. Though he swear by all the altars of Samothrace or of Rome, the poor man is believed to care naught for Gods and thunderbolts, the Gods themselves forgiving him.

"And what of this, that the poor man gives food and occasion for jest if his cloak be torn and dirty; if his toga be a little soiled; if one of his shoes gapes where the leather is split, or if some fresh stitches of coarse thread reveal where not one, but many a rent has been patched? Of all the woes of luckless poverty none is harder to endure than this, that it exposes men to ridicule. 'Out you go! for very shame,' says the marshal; 'out of the Knights' stalls, all of you whose means do not satisfy the law.' Here let the sons of panders, born in any brothel, take their seats; here let the spruce son of an auctioneer clap his hands, with the smart sons of a gladiator on one side of him and the young gentlemen of a trainer on the other: such was the will of the numskull Otho who assigned to each of us his place.20 Who ever was approved as a son-in-law if he was short of cash, and no match for the money-bags of the young lady? What poor man ever gets a legacy, or is appointed assessor to an aedile? Romans without money should have marched out in a body long ago!

"It is no easy matter, anywhere, for a man to rise when poverty stands in the way of his merits: but nowhere is the effort harder than in Rome, where you must pay a big rent for a wretched lodging, a big sum to fill the bellies of your slaves, and buy a frugal dinner for yourself. You are ashamed to dine off delf; but you would see no shame in it if transported suddenly to a Marsian or Sabine table, where you would be pleased enough to wear a cape of coarse Venetian blue.

"There are many parts of Italy, to tell the truth, in which no man puts on a toga until he is dead. Even on days of festival, when a brave show is made in a theatre of turf, and when the well-known farce steps once more upon the boards; when the rustic babe on its mother's breast shrinks back affrighted at the gaping of the pallid masks, you will see stalls and populace all dressed alike, and the worshipful aediles content with white tunics as vesture for their high office. In Rome, everyone dresses above his means, and sometimes something more than what is enough is taken out of another man's pocket. This failing is universal here: we all live in a state of pretentious poverty. To put it shortly, nothing can be had in Rome for nothing. How much does it cost you to be able now and then to make your bow to Cossus? Or to be vouchsafed one glance, with lip firmly closed, from Veiento? One of these great men is cutting off his beard; another is dedicating the locks of a favourite; the house is full of cakes----which you will have to pay for. Take your cake,21 and let this thought rankle in your heart: we clients are compelled to pay tribute and add to a shaved menial's perquisites.22

"Who at cool Praeneste, or at Volsinii amid its leafy hills, was ever afraid of his house tumbling down? Who in modest Gabii, or on the sloping heights of Tivoli? But here we inhabit a city propped up for the most part by slender flute-players:23 for that is how the bailiff patches up the cracks in the old wall, bidding the inmates sleep at ease under a roof ready to tumble about their ears. No, no, I must live where there are no fires, no nightly alarms. Ucalegon 24 below is already shouting for water and shifting his chattels; smoke is pouring out of your third-floor attic above, but you know nothing of it; for if the alarm begins in the ground-floor, the last man to burn will be he who has nothing to shelter him from the rain but the tiles, where the gentle doves lay their eggs. Codrus possessed a bed too small for the dwarf Procula, a marble slab adorned by six pipkins, with a small drinking cup, and a recumbent Chiron below, and an old chest containing Greek books whose divine lays were being gnawed by unlettered mice. Poor Codrus had nothing, it is true: but he lost that nothing, which was his all; and the last straw in his heap of misery is this, that though he is destitute and begging for a bite, no one will help him with a meal, no one offer him board or shelter.

"But if the grand house of Asturicus be destroyed, the matrons go dishevelled, your great men put on mourning, the praetor adjourns his court: then indeed do we deplore the calamities of the city, and bewail its fires! Before the house has ceased to burn, up comes one with a gift of marble or of building materials, another offers nude and glistening statues, a third some notable work of Euphranor or Polyclitus,25 or bronzes that had been the glory of old Asian shrines. Others will offer books and bookcases, or a bust of Minerva, or a hundredweight of silver-plate. Thus does Persicus, that most sumptuous of childless men, replace what he has lost with more and better things, and with good reason incurs the suspicion of having set his own house on fire.

"If you can tear yourself away from the games of the Circus, you can buy an excellent house at Sora, at Fabrateria or Frusino, for what you now pay in Rome to rent a dark garret for one year. And you will there have a little garden, with a shallow well from which you can easily draw water, without need of a rope, to bedew your weakly plants. There make your abode, mattock in hand, tending a trim garden fit to feast a hundred Pythagoreans.26 It is something, in whatever spot, however remote, to have become the possessor of a single lizard!

"Most sick people here in Rome perish for want of sleep, the illness itself having been produced by food lying undigested on a fevered stomach. For what sleep is possible in a lodging? Who but the wealthy get sleep in Rome? There lies the root of the disorder. The crossing of wagons in the narrow winding streets, the slanging of drovers when brought to a stand, would make sleep impossible for a Drusus 27 ----or a sea-calf. When the rich man has a call of social duty, the mob makes way for him as he is borne swiftly over their heads in a huge Liburnian car. He writes or reads or sleeps as he goes along, for the closed window of the litter induces slumber. Yet he will arrive before us; hurry as we may, we are blocked by a surging crowd in front, and by a dense mass of people pressing in on us from behind: one man digs an elbow into me, another a sedan-pole; one bangs a beam, another a wine-cask, against my head. My legs are be-plastered with mud; huge feet trample on me from every side, and a soldier plants his hobnails firmly on my toe.

"See now the smoke rising from that crowd which hurries for the daily dole: there are a hundred guests, each followed by a kitchener of his own.28 Corbulo 29 himself could scarce bear the weight of all the big vessels and other gear which that poor little slave is carrying with head erect, fanning the flame as he runs along. Newly-patched tunics are torn in two; up comes a huge log swaying on a wagon, and then a second dray carrying a whole pine-tree, towering aloft and threatening the people. For if that axle with its load of Ligurian marble breaks down, and pours its spilt contents on to the crowd, what is left of their bodies? Who can identify the limbs, who the bones? The poor man's crushed corpse disappears, just like his soul. At home meanwhile the folk, unwitting, are washing the dishes, blowing up the fire with distended cheek, clattering over the greasy flesh-scrapers, filling the oil-flasks and laying out the towels. And while each of them is thus busy over his own task, their master is already sitting, a new arrival, upon the bank, and shuddering at the grim ferryman: he has no copper in his mouth to tender for his fare, and no hope of a passage over the murky flood.

"And now regard the different and diverse perils of the night. See what a height it is to that towering roof from which a potsherd comes crack upon my head every time that some broken or leaky vessel is pitched out of the window! See with what a smash it strikes and dints the pavement! There's death in every open window as you pass along at night; you may well be deemed a fool, improvident of sudden accident, if you go out to dinner without having made your will. You can but hope, and put up a piteous prayer in your heart, that they may be content to pour down on you the contents of their slop-pails!

"Your drunken bully who has by chance not slain his man passes a night of torture like that of Achilles when he bemoaned his friend, lying now upon his face, and now upon his back; he will get no rest in any other way, since some men can only sleep after a brawl. Yet however reckless the fellow may be, however hot with wine and young blood, he gives a wide berth to one whose scarlet cloak and long-retinue of attendants, with torches and brass lamps in their hands, bid him keep his distance. But to me, who am wont to be escorted home by the moon, or by the scant light of a candle whose wick I husband with due care, he pays no respect. Hear how the wretched fray begins----if fray it can be called when you do all the thrashing and I get all the blows! The fellow stands up against me, and bids me halt; obey I must. What else can you do when attacked by a madman stronger than yourself? 'Where are you from?' shouts he; 'whose swipes, whose beans have blown you out? With what cobbler have you been munching cut leeks 30 and boiled sheep's head?----What, sirrah, no answer? Speak out, or take that upon your shins! Where is your stand? In what prayer-shop 31 shall I find you?' Whether you venture to say anything, or make off silently, it's all one: he will thrash you just the same, and then, in a rage, take bail from you. Such is the liberty of the poor man: having been pounded and cuffed into a jelly, he begs and. prays to be allowed to return home with a few teeth in his head!

"Nor are these your only terrors. When your house is shut, when bar and chain have made fast your shop, and all is silent, you will be robbed by a burglar; or perhaps a cut-throat will do for you quickly with cold steel. For whenever the Pontine marshes and the Gallinarian forest are secured by an armed guard, all that tribe flocks into Rome as into a fish-preserve. What furnaces, what anvils, are not groaning with the forging of chains? That is how our iron is mostly used; and you may well fear that ere long none will be left for plough-shares, none for hoes and mattocks. Happy were the forbears of our great-grandfathers, happy the days of old which under Kings and Tribunes beheld Rome satisfied with a single gaol!

"To these I might add more and different reasons; but my cattle call, the sun is sloping and I must away: my muleteer has long been signalling to me with his whip. And so farewell; forget me not. And if ever you run over from Rome to your own Aquinum 32 to recruit, summon me too from Cumae to your Helvine 33 Ceres and Diana; I will come over to your cold country in my thick boots to hear your Satires, if they think me worthy of that honour."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. 1 A small island off Misenum.
2. 2 The noisiest street in Rome.
3. 3 The Porta Capena was on the Appian Way, the great S. road from Rome. Over the gate passed an aqueduct, carrying the water of the Aqua Marcia. Hence " the dripping archway."
4. 1 A spear was set up at auctions as the sign of ownership.
5. 2 Vertere pollicem, to turn the thumb up, was the signal for dispatching the wounded gladiator; premere pollicem, to turn it down, was a sign that he was to be spared.
6. 1 Referring to the sambuca, a kind of harp, of triangular shape, producing a shrill sound.
7. 2 Trechedipna, "a run-to-dinner coat"; ceromaticus, from ceroma, oil used by wrestlers; and niceterium, "a prize of victory"----all used to ridicule the use of the Greek forms.
8. 3 i.e. the Mons Viminalis, from vimen, " an osier."
9. 4 An Assyrian rhetorician: not the Greek orator Isaeus.
10. 5 From Johnson's London.
11. 1 Daedalus.
12. 2 Hercules slew Antaeus by raising him from the ground, till when he was invincible.
13. 3 Names of Greek actors.
14. 1 Publius Egnatius Celer. See Tac. Ann. xvi. 30-32 and Hist. iv. 20 and 40.
15. 2 For the accusation and death of Barea Soranus, see Tac. Ann. xvi. 23 and 33.
16. 3 i.e. at Tarsus on the river Cydnus.
17. 1 Ladies of rank.
18. 2 P. Cornelius Scipio received the image of Cybele when brought from Phrygia, B.C. 204.
19. 3 L. Caecilius Metellus, in B.C. 241.
20. 1 The law of Otho (B.C. 67) reserved for knights the first fourteen rows in the theatre behind the orchestra where senators sat. The knights (equites) were the wealthy middle class, each having to possess a census of 400,000 sesterces.
21. 1 The rendering is uncertain. Duff translates, "Take your money and keep your cake."
22. 2 At this feast cakes (liba) are provided; but the guests are expected to give a tip to the slaves. According to Duff, the client pays the slave, but is too indignant to take the cake.
23. 3 i.e. statues used by way of props.
24. 4 Borrowed from Virgil, Aen. ii. 311, of the firing of Troy, iam proximus ardet= Vcalegon. Juvenal's friend inhabits the third floor, and the fire has broken out on the ground floor.
25. 1 Celebrated Greek sculptors.
26. 2 i.e.. vegetarians.
27. 1 Probably the somnolent Emperor Claudius is meant.
28. 2 The hundred guests are clients; each is followed by a slave carrying a kitchener to keep the dole hot when received.
29. 3 The great Roman general under Claudius and Nero, famed for his physical strength.
30. 1 See note on xiv. 133.
31. 2 Proseucha, a Jewish synagogue or praying-house.
32. 1 Aquinum was Juvenal's birthplace.
33. 2 The origin of this name of Ceres is unknown.

 




 
Messalina Returning    





Satire 4.


 

A tale of a turbot.

Crispinus once again! a man whom I shall often have to call on to the scene, a prodigy of wickedness without one redeeming virtue; a sickly libertine, strong only in his lusts, which scorn none save the unwedded. What matters it then how spacious are the colonnades which tire out his horses, how large the shady groves in which he drives, how many acres near the Forum, how many palaces, he has bought? No bad man can be happy: least of all the incestuous seducer with whom lately lay a filleted 1 priestess, doomed to pass beneath the earth with the blood still warm within her veins.

To-day I shall tell of a less heinous deed, though had any other man done the like, he would fall under the censor's lash: for what would be shameful in good men like Seius or Teius sat gracefully on Crispinus. What can you do when the man himself is more foul and monstrous than any charge you can bring against him? Crispinus bought a mullet for six thousand sesterces----one thousand sesterces for every pound of fish, as those would say who make big things bigger in the telling of them. I could commend the man's cunning if by such a lordly gift he secured the first place in the will of some childless old mail, or, better still, sent it to some great lady who rides in a close, broad-windowed litter. But nothing of the sort; he bought it for himself: we see many a thing done nowadays which poor niggardly Apicius 2 never did. What? Did you, Crispinus----you who once wore a strip of your native papyrus round your loins----give that price for a fish? A price bigger than you need have paid for the fisherman himself, a price for which you might buy a whole estate in some province, or a still larger one in Apulia. What kind of feasts are we to suppose were guzzled by our Emperor himself when all those thousands of sesterces----forming a small fraction, a mere side-dish of a modest entertainment----were belched up by a purple-clad parasite of the august Palace----one who is now Chief of the Knights, and who once used to hawk, at the top of his voice, a broken lot of his fellow-countrymen the sprats? Begin, Calliope! let us take our seats. This is no mere fable, but a true tale that is being told; tell it forth, ye maidens of Pieria, and let it profit me that I have called you maids!

What time the last of the Flavii was flaying the half-dying world, and Rome was enslaved to a bald-headed Nero,3 there fell into a net in the sea of Hadria, in front of the shrine of Venus that stands in Dorian Ancona, a turbot of wondrous size, filling up all its meshes,----a fish no less huge than those which the lake Maeotis conceals beneath the ice till it is broken up by the sun, and then sends forth, torpid through sloth and fattened by long cold, to the mouths of the Pontic sea. This monster the master of the boat and line designs for the High Pontiff 4; for who would dare to put up for sale or to buy so big a fish in days when even the sea shores were crowded with informers? The inspectors of sea-weed would straightway have taken the law of the poor fisherman, ready to affirm that the fish was a run-away that had long feasted in Caesar's fishponds; escaped from thence, he must needs be restored to his former master. For if Palfurius 5 is to be believed, or Armillatus,5 every rare and beautiful thing in the wide ocean, in whatever sea it swims, belongs to the Imperial Treasury. The fish therefore, that it be not wasted, shall be given as a gift.

And now death-bearing Autumn was giving way before the frosts, fevered patients were hoping for a quartan,6 and bleak winter's blasts were keeping the booty fresh; yet on sped the fisherman as though the South wind were at his heels. And when beneath him lay the lake where Alba, though in ruins, still holds the Trojan fire and worships the lesser Vesta,7 a wondering crowd barred his way for a while; as it gave way, the gates swung open on easy hinge, and the excluded Fathers gazed on the dish that had gained an entrance. Admitted to the Presence, "Receive," quoth he of Picenum, "a fish too big for a private kitchen. Be this kept as a festive day; hasten to fill out thy belly with good things, and devour a turbot that has been preserved to grace thy reign. The fish himself wanted to be caught." Could flattery be more gross? Yet the Monarch's comb began to rise: there is nothing that divine Majesty will not believe concerning itself when lauded to the skies! But no platter could be found big enough for the fish; so a council of magnates is summoned: men hated by the Emperor, and on whose faces sat the pallor of that great and perilous friendship. First to answer the Ligurian's call "Haste, haste! he is seated!" was Pegasus, hastily catching up his cloak----he that had newly been appointed as bailiff over the astonished city. For what else but bailiffs were the Prefects 8 of those days? Of whom Pegasus was the best, and the most righteous expounder of the law, though he thought that even in those dread days there should be no sword in the hand of Justice. Next to come in was the aged, genial Crispus, 9 whose gentle soul well matched his style of eloquence. No better adviser than he for the ruler of lands and seas and nations had he been free, under that scourge and plague, to denounce cruelties and proffer honest counsels. But what can be more dangerous than the ear of a tyrant on whose caprice hangs the life of a friend who has come to talk of the rain or the heat or the showery spring weather? So Crispus never struck out against the torrent, nor was he one to speak freely the thoughts of his heart, and stake his life upon the truth. Thus was it that he lived through many winters and saw his eightieth solstice, protected, even in that Court, by weapons such as these.

Next to him hurried Acilius, of like age as himself, and with him the youth 10 who little merited the cruel death that was so soon hurried on by his master's sword. But to be both young and noble has long since become a prodigy; hence I would rather be a giant's 11 little brother. Therefore it availed the poor youth nothing that he speared Numidian bears, stripped as a huntsman upon the Alban arena. For who nowadays would not see through patrician tricks? Who would now marvel, Brutus, at that old-world cleverness of yours? 12 'Tis an easy matter to befool a king that wears a beard.

No more cheerful in face, though of ignoble blood, came Rubrius, condemned long since of a crime that may not be named, and yet more shameless than a reprobate who should write satire. There too was present the unwieldy frame of Montanus; and Crispinus, reeking at early dawn with odours enough to out-scent two funerals; more ruthless than he Pompeius,13 whose gentle whisper would cut men's throats; and Fuscus,14 who planned battles in his marble halls, keeping his flesh for the Dacian vultures. Then along with the sage Veiento came the death-dealing Catullus,15 who burnt with love for a maiden whom he had never seen----a mighty and notable marvel even in these days of ours: a blind flatterer, a dire courtier from a beggar's stand, well fitted to beg at the wheels of chariots and blow soft kisses to them as they rolled down the Arician hill. None marvelled more at the fish than he, turning to the left as he spoke; only the creature happened to be on his right. In like fashion would he commend the thrusts of a Cilician gladiator, or the machine which whisks up the boys into the awning.

But Veiento was not to be outdone; and like a seer inspired, O Bellona, by thine own gadfly, he bursts into prophecy: "A mighty presage hast thou, O Emperor! of a great and glorious victory. Some King will be thy captive; or Arviragus 16 will be hurled from his British chariot. The brute is foreign-born: dost thou not see the prickles bristling upon his back?" Nothing remained for Fabricius but to tell the turbot's age and birthplace.

"What then do you advise?" quoth the Emperor. "Shall we cut it up?" "Nay, nay," rejoins Montanus; "let that indignity be spared him. Let a deep vessel be provided to gather his huge dimensions within its slender walls; some great and unforeseen Prometheus is destined for the dish! Haste, haste, with clay and wheel! but from this day forth, O Caesar, let potters always attend upon thy camp!" This proposal, so worthy of the man, gained the day. Well known to him were the old debauches of the Imperial Court, which Nero carried on to midnight till a second hunger came and veins were heated with hot Falernian. No one in my time had more skill in the eating art than he. He could tell at the first bite whether an oyster had been bred at Circeii, or on the Lucrine rocks, or on the beds of Rutupiae;17 one glance would tell him the native shore of a sea-urchin.

The Council rises, and the councillors are dismissed: men whom the mighty Emperor had dragged in terror and hot haste to his Alban castle, as though to give them news of the Chatti, or the savage Sycambri,18 or as though an alarming despatch had arrived on wings of speed from some remote quarter of the earth.

And yet would that he had rather given to follies such as these all those days of cruelty when he robbed the city of its noblest and choicest souls, with none to punish or avenge! He could steep himself in the blood of the Lamiae; 19 but when once he became a terror to the common herd he met his doom.20

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1. 3 The vitta, or fillet, was worn round the hair by Vestal Virgins.
2. 1 A celebrated gourmand.
3. 1 i.e. the emperor Domitian.
4. 2 The Pontifex Maximus, i.e. Domitian himself.
5. 3 These were two lawyers.
6. 4 i.e. a fever recurring every fourth day----an improvement upon a "tertian," one recurring every third day.
7. 5 i.e. as compared with the larger temple of Vesta in Rome.
8. 1 The Praefectus Urbi, under the Emperors, was the head magistrate in Rome, and exercised many important functions.
9. 2 Vibius Crispus; see Tac. Hist. ii. 10.
10. 1 Acilius Glabrio the younger was exiled, and afterwards put to death by Domitian.
11. 2 i.e. " son of a clod." Giants were supposed to be sprung from earth (γηγενεῖς).
12. 3 Brutus feigned madness to elude the suspicion of Tarquin. A simple " bearded " monarch was easily imposed upon.
13. 4 Evidently an informer.
14. 5 Cornelius Fuscus, prefect of the Praetorian Guard. He was killed in Domitian's Dacian wars, A. D. 86-88.
15. 6 Fabricius Veiento and Catullus Messalinus, informers under Domitian.
16. 1 A British prince, as in Cymbeline.
17. 1 Richborough.
18. 2 The Chatti and the Sycambri were two of the most powerful German tribes, between the Rhine and the Weser.
19. 3 Taken as a type of the ancient noble families of Rome.
20. 4 Domitian was murdered, as the outcome of a conspiracy, by the hand of a freedman, Stephanus, on September 18, A.D. 96.

 




 



The Scarlet Pastorale 






Satire 5.

 

How Clients are Entertained
 

If you are still unashamed of your plan of life, and still deem it to be the highest bliss to live at another man's board----if you can brook indignities which neither Sarmentus nor the despicable Gabba 1 would have endured at Caesar's ill-assorted table----I should refuse to believe your testimony, even upon oath. I know of nothing so easily satisfied as the belly; but even granted that you have nothing wherewith to fill its emptiness, is there no quay vacant, no bridge? Can you find no fraction of a beggar's mat to stand upon? Is a dinner worth all the insults with which you have to pay for it? Is your hunger so importunate, when it might, with greater dignity, be shivering where you are, and munching dirty scraps of dog's bread?

First of all be sure of this----that when bidden to dinner, you receive payment in full for all your past services. A meal is the return which your grand friendship yields you; the great man scores it against you, and though it come but seldom, he scores it against you all the same. So if after a couple of months it is his pleasure to invite his forgotten client, lest the third place on the lowest couch 2 should be unoccupied, and he says to you, "Come and dine with me," you are in the seventh Heaven! what more can you desire? Now at last has Trebius 3 got the reward for which he must needs cut short his sleep, and hurry with shoe-strings untied, fearing that the whole crowd of callers may already have gone their rounds, at an hour when the stars are fading or when the chilly wain of Bootes is wheeling slowly round.

And what a dinner after all! You are given wine that fresh-clipped wool would refuse to suck up,4 and which soon converts your revellers into Corybants. Foul words are the prelude to the fray; but before long tankards will be flying about; a battle royal with Saguntine crockery will soon be raging between you and the company of freedmen, and you will be staunching your wounds with a blood-stained napkin.

The great man himself drinks wine bottled in the days when Consuls wore long hair; the juice which he holds in his hand was squeezed during the Social Wars,5 but never a glass of it will he send to a friend suffering from dyspepsia! To-morrow he will drink a vintage from the hills of Alba or Setia whose date and name have been effaced by the soot which time has gathered upon the aged jar----such wine as Thrasea 6 and Helvidius 6 used to drink with chaplets on their heads upon the birthdays of Cassius and the Bruti.

The cup in Virro's 7 hands is richly crusted with amber and rough with beryl: to you no gold is entrusted; or if it is, a watcher is posted over it to count the gems and keep an eye on your sharp finger-nails. Pardon his anxiety; that fine jasper of his is much admired! For Virro, like so many others, transfers from his fingers to his cups the jewels with which the youth 8 preferred to the jealous Iarbas used to adorn his scabbard. To you will be given a cracked cup with four nozzles that takes its name from a Beneventine cobbler,9 and calls for sulphur wherewith to repair its broken glass.

If my lord's stomach is fevered with food and wine, a decoction colder than Thracian hoar-frosts will be brought to him. Did I complain just now that you were given a different wine? Why, the water which you clients drink is not the same. It will be handed to you by a Gaetulian groom, or by the bony hand of a blackamoor whom you would rather not meet at midnight when driving past the monuments on the hilly Latin Way. Before mine host stands the very pink of Asia, a youth bought for a sum bigger than the entire fortune of the warlike Tullus or Ancus, more valuable, in short, than all the chattels of all the kings of Rome. That being so, when you are thirsty look to your swarthy Ganymede. The page who has cost so many thousands cannot mix a drink for a poor man: but then his beauty, his youth, justify his disdain! When will he get as far as you? When does he listen to your request for water, hot or cold? It is beneath him to attend to an old dependent; he is indignant that you should ask for anything, and that you should be seated while he stands. All your great houses are full of saucy slaves. See with what a grumble another of them has handed you a bit of hard bread that you can scarce break in two, or lumps of dough that have turned mouldy----stuff that will exercise your grinders and into which no tooth can gain admittance. For Virro himself a delicate loaf is reserved, white as snow, and kneaded of the finest flour. Be sure to keep your hands off it: take no liberties with the bread-basket! If you are presumptuous enough to take a piece, there will be someone to bid you put it down: "What, Sir Impudence? Will you please fill yourself from your proper tray, and learn the colour of your own bread?" "What?" you ask, "was it for this that I would so often leave my wife's side on a spring morning and hurry up the chilly Esquiline when the spring skies were rattling down the pitiless hail, and the rain was pouring in streams off my cloak? "

See now that huge lobster being served to my lord, all garnished with asparagus; see how his lordly breast distinguishes the dish; with what a tail he looks down upon the company, borne aloft in the hands of that tall attendant! Before you is placed on a tiny plate a crab hemmed in by half an egg----a fit banquet for the dead. The host souses his fish in Venafran oil; the sickly greens offered to you, poor devil, will smell of the lamp; for the stuff contained in your cruets was brought up the Tiber in a sharp-prowed Numidian canoe----stuff which prevents anyone at Rome sharing a bath with Bocchar, and which will even protect you from a black serpent's bite.

My lord will have a mullet dispatched from Corsica or the Rocks of Tauromenium:10 for in the rage for gluttony our own seas have given out; the nets of the fish-market are for ever raking our home waters, and prevent Tyrrhenian fish from attaining their full size. And so the Provinces supply our kitchens; from the Provinces come the fish for the legacy-hunter Laenas to buy, and for Aurelia to send to market.11

Virro is served with a lamprey, the finest that the Straits of Sicily can purvey; for so long as the South wind stays at home, and sits in his prison-house drying his dank wings, Charybdis has no terrors for the daring fisherman. For you is reserved an eel, first cousin to a water-snake, or perchance a pike mottled with ice-spots; he too was bred on Tiber's banks and was wont to find his way into the inmost recesses of the Subura, battening himself amid its flowing sewers.

And now one word with the great man himself, if he will lend his ear. "No one asks of you such lordly gifts as Seneca, or the good Piso or Cotta, used to send to their humble friends: for in the days of old, the glory of giving was deemed grander than titles or fasces. All we ask of you is that you should dine with us as a fellow-citizen 12: do this and remain, like so many others nowadays, rich for yourself and poor to your friends."

Before Virro is put a huge goose's liver; a capon as big as a goose, and a boar, piping hot, worthy of yellow-haired Meleager's 13 steel. Then will come truffles, if it be spring-time and the longed-for thunder have enlarged our dinners.14 "Keep your corn to yourself, O Libya!" says Alledius; "unyoke your oxen, if only you send us truffles!"

During all this time, lest any occasion for disgust should be wanting, you may behold the carver capering and gesticulating with knife in air, and carrying out all the instructions of his preceptor: for it makes a mighty difference with what gestures a hare or a hen be carved! If you ever dare to utter one word as though you were possessed of three names,15 you will be dragged by the heels and thrust out of doors as Cacus was, after the drubbing he got from Hercules. When will Virro offer to drink wine with you? or take a cup that has been polluted by your lips? Which one of you would be so foolhardy, so lost to shame, as to say to your patron "A glass with you, Sir"? No, no: there's many a thing which a man whose coat has holes in it cannot say! But if some God, or god-like manikin more kindly than the fates, should present you with four hundred thousand sesterces,16 O how great a personage would you become, from being a nobody; how dear a friend to Virro! "Pray help Trebius to this!" "Let Trebius have some of that!" "Would you like a cut just from the loin, good brother?" O money, money! It is to you that he pays this honour, it is you that are his brother! Nevertheless, if you wish to be yourself a great man, and a great man's lord, let there be no little Aeneas playing about your halls, nor yet a little daughter, more sweet than he; nothing will so endear you to your friend as a barren wife.17 But as things now are, though your Mycale pour into your paternal bosom three boys at a birth, Virro will be charmed with the chattering brood, and will order cuirasses of green rushes to be given them, and little nuts, and pennies too if they be asked for, when the little parasites present themselves at his table.

Before the guests will be placed toadstools of doubtful quality, before my lord a noble mushroom, such a one as Claudius ate before that mushroom of his wife's 18----after which he ate nothing more. To himself and the rest of the Virros he will order apples to be served whose scent alone would be a feast----apples such as grew in the never-failing Autumn of the Phaeacians, and which you might believe to have been filched from the African sisters;19 you are treated to a rotten apple like those munched on the ramparts by a monkey equipped with spear and shield who learns, in terror of the whip, to hurl a javelin from the back of a shaggy goat.

You may perhaps suppose that Virro grudges the expense; not a bit of it! His object is to give you pain. For what comedy, what mime, is so amusing as a disappointed belly? His one object, let me tell you, is to compel you to pour out your wrath in tears, and to keep gnashing your molars against each other. You think yourself a free man, and guest of a grandee; he thinks----and he is not far wrong----that you have been captured by the savoury odours of his kitchen. For who that had ever worn the Etruscan bulla 20 in his boyhood,----or even the poor man's leather badge----could tolerate such a patron for a second time, however destitute he might be? It is the hope of a good dinner that beguiles you: "Surely he will give us," you say, "what is left of a hare, or some scraps of a boar's haunch; the remains of a capon will come our way by and by." And so you all sit in dumb silence, your bread clutched, untasted, and ready for action. In treating you thus, the great man shows his wisdom. If you can endure such things, you deserve them; some day you will be offering your head to be shaved and slapped: nor will you flinch from a stroke of the whip, well worthy of such a feast and such a friend.

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1. Sarmentus and Gabba are representatives of the lowest parasite class.
2. i.e. the least honourable place on the least honourable of the three couches of the triclinium.
3. The name of the client whom he is addressing.
4. i.e. the wine was not good enough to be used even for fomentations.
5. The Social Wars, after which the Italians gained the Roman franchise, were fought between B.C. 91 and 88.
6. Two famous Stoics whose outspoken freedom cost them their lives under Nero and Vespasian respectively.
7. The patron who gives the dinner.
8. Aeneas. Aen. iv. 36.
9. Vatinius, a man with a long nose.
10. Tauromenium, on the E. coast of Sicily.
11. Juvenal and other Roman writers are full of allusions to captatores, legacy-hunters, who showered presents of all kinds upon rich and childless old men or women. Aurelia sells the fish she has received as a present from Laenas.
12. The word civiliter, from which our word "civil" comes, meant " as a citizen and an equal."
13. The Aetolian hero who slew the Calydonian boar.
14. Thunder was supposed to be favourable to the growth of truffles.
15. i.e., as if you were a free-born Roman with the three necessary names----the praenomen, the nomen, and the cognomen.
16. i e. the fortune of an eques. See note on iii. 154-5.
17. It was the childless that were courted for their money.
18. Agrippina the younger. She poisoned her husband, the emperor, with a mushroom.
19. The Hesperides.
20. The golden bulla, enclosing a charm, was the sign of free birth (ingenuitas).

 





Dreams





Satire 6.


 

The Ways of Women
 

In the days of Saturn,1 I believe, Chastity still lingered on the earth, and was to be seen for a time ----days when men were poorly housed in chilly caves, when one common shelter enclosed hearth and household gods, herds and their owners; when the hill-bred wife spread her silvan bed with leaves and straw and the skins of her neighbours the wild beasts----a wife not like to thee, O Cynthia,2 nor to thee, Lesbia,3 whose bright eyes were clouded by a sparrow's death, but one whose breasts gave suck to lusty babes, often more unkempt herself than her acorn-belching spouse. For in those days, when the world was young, and the skies were new, men born of the riven oak,4 or formed of dust, lived differently from now, and had no parents of their own. Under Jove, perchance, some few traces of ancient modesty may have survived; but that was before he had grown his beard, before the Greeks had learned to swear by someone else's head, when men feared not thieves for their cabbages or apples, and lived with unwalled gardens. After that Astraea 5 withdrew by degrees to heaven, with Chastity as her comrade, the two sisters taking flight together.

To set your neighbour's bed a-shaking, Postumus, and to flout the Genius of the sacred couch,6 is now an ancient and long-established practice. All other sins came later, the products of the age of Iron; but it was the silver age that saw the first adulterers. Nevertheless, in these days of ours, you are preparing for a covenant, a marriage-contract and a betrothal; you are by now getting your hair cut by a master barber; you have also perhaps given a pledge to her finger. What! Postumus, are you, you who once had your wits, taking to yourself a wife? Tell me what Tisiphone, what snakes are driving you mad? Can you submit to a she-tyrant when there is so much rope to be had, so many dizzy heights of windows standing open, and when the Aemilian bridge offers itself to hand? Or if none of all these modes of exit hit your fancy, how much better to take some boy-bedfellow, who would never wrangle with you o' nights, never ask presents of you when in bed, and never complain that you took your ease and were indifferent to his solicitations!

But Ursidius approves of the Julian Law.7 He purposes to bring up a dear little heir, though he will thereby have to do without the fine turtles, the bearded mullets, and all the legacy-hunting delicacies of the meat-market. What can you think impossible if Ursidius takes to himself a wife? if he, who has long been the most notorious of gallants, who has so often found safety in the corn-bin of the luckless Latinus,8 puts his head into the connubial noose? And what think you of his searching for a wife of the good old virtuous sort? O doctors, lance his over-blooded veins. A pretty fellow you! Why, if you have the good luck to find a modest spouse, you should prostrate yourself before the Tarpeian threshold, and sacrifice a heifer with gilded horns to Juno; so few are the wives worthy to handle the fillets of Ceres, or from whose kisses their own father would not shrink! Weave a garland for thy doorposts, and set up wreaths of ivy over thy lintel! But will Hiberina be satisfied with one man? Sooner compel her to be satisfied with one eye! You tell me of the high repute of some maiden, who lives on her paternal farm: well, let her live at Gabii, at Fidenae, as she lived in her own country, and I will believe in your paternal farm. But will anyone tell me that nothing ever took place on a mountain side or in a cave? Have Jupiter and Mars become so senile?

Can our arcades show you one woman worthy of your vows? Do all the tiers in all our theatres hold one whom you may love without misgiving, and pick out thence? When the soft Bathyllus dances the part of the gesticulating Leda, Tuccia cannot contain herself; your Apulian maiden heaves a sudden and longing cry of ecstasy, as though she were in a man's arms; the rustic Thymele is all attention, it is then that she learns her lesson.

Others again, when all the stage draperies have been put away; when the theatres are closed, and all is silent save in the courts, and the Megalesian games are far off from the Plebeian,9 ease their dullness by taking to the mask, the thyrsus and the tights of Accius. Urbicus, in an Atellane interlude, raises a laugh by the gestures of Autonoe; the penniless Aelia is in love with him. Other women pay great prices for the favours of a comedian; some will not allow Chrysogonus 10 to sing. Hispulla has a fancy for tragedians; but do you suppose that any one will be found to love Quintilian? 11 If you marry a wife, it will be that the lyrist Echion or Glaphyrus, or the flute player Ambrosius, may become a father. Then up with a long dais in the narrow street! Adorn your doors and doorposts with wreaths of laurel, that your highborn son, O Lentulus, may exhibit, in his tortoiseshell cradle,12 the lineaments of Euryalus 13 or of a murmillo! 14

When Eppia, the senator's wife, ran off with a gladiator 15 to Pharos and the Nile and the ill-famed city of Lagos, Canopus itself cried shame upon the monstrous morals of our town. Forgetful of home, of husband and of sister, without thought of her country, she shamelessly abandoned her weeping children; and----more marvellous still----deserted Paris and the games. Though born in wealth, though as a babe she had slept in a bedizened cradle on the paternal down, she made light of the sea, just as she had long made light of her good name----a loss but little accounted of among our soft litter-riding dames. And so with stout heart she endured the tossing and the roaring of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, and all the many seas she had to cross. For when danger comes in a right and honourable way, a woman's heart grows chill with fear; she cannot stand upon her trembling feet: but if she be doing a bold, bad thing, her courage fails not. For a husband to order his wife on board ship is cruelty: the bilge-water then sickens her, the heavens go round and round. But if she is running away with a lover, she feels no qualms: then she vomits over her husband; now she messes with the sailors, she roams about the deck, and delights in hauling at the hard ropes.

And what were the youthful charms which captivated Eppia? What did she see in him to allow herself to be called "a she-Gladiator"? Her dear Sergius had already begun to shave; a wounded arm gave promise of a discharge, and there were sundry deformities in his face: a scar caused by the helmet, a huge wen upon his nose, a nasty humour always trickling from his eye. But then he was a gladiator! It is this that transforms these fellows into Hyacinths! it was this that she preferred to children and to country, to sister and to husband. What these women love is the sword: had this same Sergius received his discharge, he would have been no better than a Veiento.16

Do the concerns of a private household and the doings of Eppia affect you? Then look at those who rival the Gods,17 and hear what Claudius endured. As soon as his wife perceived that her husband was asleep, this august harlot was shameless enough to prefer a common mat to the imperial couch. Assuming a night-cowl, and attended by a single maid, she issued forth; then, having concealed her raven locks under a light-coloured peruque, she took her place in a brothel reeking with long-used coverlets. Entering an empty cell reserved for herself, she there took her stand, under the feigned name of Lycisca, her nipples bare and gilded, and exposed to view the womb that bore thee, O nobly-born Britannicus! 18 Here she graciously received all comers, asking from each his fee; and when at length the keeper dismissed the rest, she remained to the very last before closing her cell, and with passion still raging hot within her went sorrowfully away. Then exhausted but unsatisfied, with soiled cheeks, and begrimed with the smoke of lamps, she took back to the imperial pillow all the odours of the stews.

Why tell of love potions and incantations, of poisons brewed and administered to stepsons, or of the grosser crimes to which women are driven by the imperious power of sex? Their sins of lust are the least of all their sins.

But tell me why is Censennia, on her husband's testimony, the best of wives? "She brought him a million sesterces; that is the price at which he calls her chaste. He has not pined under the darts of Venus; he was never burnt by her torch. It was the dowry that lighted his fires, the dowry that shot those arrows! That dowry bought liberty for her: she may make what signals, and write what love letters she pleases, before her husband's face; the rich woman who marries a money-loving husband is as good as unmarried.

"Why does Sartorius burn with love for Bibula?" If you shake out the truth, it is the face that he loves, not the woman. Let three wrinkles make their appearance; let her skin become dry and flabby; let her teeth turn black, and her eyes lose their lustre: then will his freedman give her the order, "Pack up your traps and be off! you've become a nuisance; you are for ever blowing your nose; be off, and quick about it! There's another wife coming who will not sniffle." But till that day comes, the lady rules the roast, asking her husband for shepherds and Canusian sheep, and elms for her Falernian vines. But that's a mere nothing: she asks for all his slave-boys, in town and country; everything that her neighbour possesses, and that she does not possess, must be bought. Then in the winter time, when the merchant Jason is shut out from view, and his armed sailors are blocked out by the white booths,19 she will carry off huge crystal vases, vases bigger still of agate, and finally a diamond of great renown, made precious by the finger of Berenice.20 It was given as a present long ago by the barbarian Agrippa to his incestuous sister, in that country where kings celebrate festal sabbaths with bare feet,21 and where a long-established clemency suffers pigs to attain old age.22

"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war----a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. Away with your Hannibal, I beseech you! Away with Syphax overpowered in his camp! Take yourself off, Carthage and all! 23

"Be merciful, I pray, O Apollo! and thou, O goddess, lay down thine arrows. These babes have done naught: shoot down their mother!" Thus prayed Amphion;24 but Apollo bends his bow, and Niobe 25 led forth to the grave her troop of sons, and their father to boot, because she deemed herself of nobler race than Latona, and more prolific than the white sow of Alba. For is any dignity in a wife, any beauty, worth the cost, if she is for ever reckoning up her merits against you? These high and transcendent qualities lose all their charm when spoilt by a pride that savours more of aloes than of honey. And who was ever so enamoured as not to shrink from the woman whom he praises to the skies, and to hate her for seven hours out of every twelve?

Some small faults are intolerable to husbands. What can be more offensive than this, that no woman believes in her own beauty unless she has converted herself from a Tuscan into a Greekling, or from a maid of Sulmo 26 into a maid of Athens? They talk nothing but Greek, though it is a greater shame for our people to be ignorant of Latin. Their fears and their wrath, their joys and their troubles----all the secrets of their souls----are poured forth in Greek; their very loves are carried on in Greek fashion. All this might be pardoned in a girl; but will you, who are hard on your eighty-sixth year, still talk in Greek? That tongue is not decent in an old woman's mouth. When you come out with the wanton words ζωὴ καὶ ψυχή, you are using in public the language of the bed-chamber. Caressing and naughty words like these incite to love; but though you say them more tenderly than a Haemus or a Carpophorus,27 they will cause no fluttering of the heart----your years are counted up upon your face!

If you are not to love the woman betrothed and united to you in due form, what reason have you for marrying? Why waste the supper, and the wedding cakes to be given to the well-filled guests when the company is slipping away----to say nothing of the first night's gift of a salver rich with glittering gold inscribed with Dacian or Germanic victories? 28 If you are honestly uxorious, and devoted to one woman, then bow your head and submit your neck to the yoke. Never will you find a woman who spares the man who loves her; for though she be herself aflame, she delights to torment and plunder him. So the better the man, the more desirable he be as a husband, the less good will he get out of his wife. No present will you ever make if your wife forbids; nothing will you ever sell if she objects; nothing will you buy without her consent. She will arrange your friendships for you; she will turn your now-aged friend from the door which saw the beginnings of his beard. Panders and trainers can make their wills as they please, as also can the gentlemen of the arena; but you will have to write down among your heirs more than one rival of your own.

"Crucify that slave!" says the wife. "But what crime worthy of death has he committed? " asks the husband; "where are the witnesses? who informed against him? Give him a hearing at least; no delay can be too long when a man's life is at stake!" "What, you numskull? You call a slave a man, do you? He has done no wrong, you say? Be it so; but this is my will and my command: let my will be the voucher for the deed." Thus does she lord it over her husband. But before long she vacates her kingdom; she flits from one home to another, wearing out her bridal veil; then back she flies again and returns to her own imprints in the bed that she has abandoned, leaving behind her the newly decorated door, the festal hangings on the walls, and the garlands still green over the threshold. Thus does the tale of her husbands grow; there will be eight of them in the course of five autumns----a fact worthy of commemoration on her tomb!

Give up all hope of peace so long as your mother-in-law is alive. It is she that teaches her daughter to revel in stripping and despoiling her husband; it is she that teaches her to reply to a seducer's love-letters in no plain and honest fashion; she eludes or bribes your guards; it is she that calls in Archigenes 29 when your daughter has nothing the matter with her, and tosses off the heavy blankets; the lover meanwhile is in secret and silent hiding, trembling with impatience and expectation. Do you really expect the mother to teach her daughter honest ways----ways different from her own? Nay, the vile old woman finds a profit in bringing up her daughter to be vile.

There never was a case in court in which the quarrel was not started by a woman. If Manilia is not a defendant, she'll be the plaintiff; she will herself frame and adjust the pleadings; she will be ready to instruct Celsus 30 himself how to open his case, and how to urge his points.

Why need I tell of the purple wraps 31 and the wrestling-oils used by women? Who has not seen one of them smiting a stump, piercing it through and through with a foil, lunging at it with a shield, and going through all the proper motions?----a matron truly qualified to blow a trumpet at the Floralia! 32 Unless, indeed, she is nursing some further ambition in her bosom, and is practising for the real arena. What modesty can you expect in a woman who wears a helmet, abjures her own sex, and delights in feats of strength? Yet she would not choose to be a man, knowing the superior joys of womanhood. What a fine thing for a husband, at an auction of his wife's effects, to see her belt and armlets and plumes put up for sale, with a gaiter that covers half the left leg; or if she fight another sort 33 of battle, how charmed you will be to see your young wife disposing of her greaves! Yet these are the women who find the thinnest of thin robes too hot for them; whose delicate flesh is chafed by the finest of silk tissue. See how she pants as she goes through her prescribed exercises; how she bends under the weight of her helmet; how big and coarse are the bandages which enclose her haunches; and then laugh when she lays down her arms and shows herself to be a woman! Tell us, ye grand-daughters of Lepidus, or of the blind Metellus, or of Fabius Gurges, what gladiator's wife ever assumed accoutrements like these? When did the wife of Asylus 34 ever gasp against a stump?

The bed that holds a wife is never free from wrangling and mutual bickerings; no sleep is to be got there! It is there that she sets upon her husband, more savage than a tigress that has lost her cubs; conscious of her own secret slips, she affects a grievance, abusing his slaves, or weeping over some imagined mistress. She has an abundant supply of tears always ready in their place, awaiting her command in which fashion they should flow. You, poor dolt, are delighted, believing them to be tears of love, and kiss them away; but what notes, what love-letters would you find if you opened the desk of your green-eyed adulterous wife! If you find her in the arms of a slave or of a knight, "Speak, speak, Quintilian, 35 give me one of your colours,36" she will say. But Quintilian has none to give: "find it yourself," says he. "We agreed long ago," says the lady, "that you were to go your way, and I mine. You may confound sea and sky with your bellowing, I am a human being after all." There's no effrontery like that of a woman caught in the act; her very guilt inspires her with wrath and insolence.

But whence come these monstrosities? you ask; from what fountain do they flow? In days of old, the wives of Latium were kept chaste by their humble fortunes. It was toil and brief slumbers that kept vice from polluting their modest homes; hands chafed and hardened by Tuscan fleeces, Hannibal nearing the city, and husbands standing to arms at the Colline gate.37 We are now suffering the calamities of long peace. Luxury, more deadly than any foe, has laid her hand upon us, and avenges a conquered world. Since the day when Roman poverty perished, no deed of crime or lust has been wanting to us; from that moment Sybaris and Rhodes and Miletus have poured in upon our hills, with the begarlanded and drunken and unabashed Tarentum.38 Filthy lucre first brought in amongst us foreign ways; wealth enervated and corrupted the ages with foul indulgences. What decency does Venus observe when she is drunken? when she knows not one member from another, eats giant oysters at midnight, pours foaming unguents into her unmixed Falernian, and drinks out of perfume-bowls, while the roof spins dizzily round, the table dances, and every light shows double!

Go to now and wonder what means the sneer with which Tullia snuffs the air, or what Maura whispers to her ill-famed foster-sister, when she passes by the ancient altar of Chastity? 39 It is there that they set down their litters at night, and befoul the image of the Goddess, playing their filthy pranks for the morn to witness. Thence home they go; while you, when daylight conies, and you are on your way to salute your mighty friends, will tread upon the traces of your wife's abominations.

Well known to all are the mysteries of the Good Goddess, when the flute stirs the loins and the Maenads of Priapus sweep along, frenzied alike by the horn-blowing and the wine, whirling their locks and howling. What foul longings burn within their breasts! What cries they utter as the passion palpitates within! How drenched their limbs in torrents of old wine! Saufeia challenges the slave-girls to a contest. Her agility wins the prize, but she has herself in turn to bow the knee to Medullina. And so the palm remains with the mistress, whose exploits match her birth! There is no pretence in the game; all is enacted to the life in a manner that would warm the cold blood of a Priam or a Nestor. And now impatient nature can wait no longer: woman shows herself as she is, and the cry comes from every corner of the den, "Let in the men!" If one favoured youth is asleep, another is bidden to put on his cowl and hurry along; if better cannot be got, a run is made upon the slaves; if they too fail, the water-carrier will be paid to come in. O would that our ancient practices, or at least our public rites, were not polluted by scenes like these! But every Moor and every Indian knows how Clodius forced his way into a place from which every buck-mouse scuttles away conscious of his virility, and in which no picture of the male form may be exhibited except behind a veil.

Who ever sneered at the Gods in the days of old? Who would have dared to laugh at the earthen-ware bowls or black pots of Numa, or the brittle plates made out of Vatican clay? But nowadays at what altar will you not find a Clodius? 40

I hear all this time the advice of my old friends----keep your women at home, and put them under lock and key. Yes, but who will watch the warders? Wives are crafty and will begin with them. High or low their passions are all the same. She who wears out the black cobble-stones with her bare feet is no better than she who rides upon the necks of eight stalwart Syrians.

Ogulnia hires clothes to see the games; she hires attendants, a litter, cushions, female friends, a nurse, and a fair-haired girl to run her messages; yet she will give all that remains of the family plate, down to the last flagon, to some smooth-faced athlete. Many of these women are poor, but none of them pay any regard to their poverty, or measure themselves by the standard which that prescribes and lays down for them. Men, on the other hand, do sometimes have an eye to utility; the ant has at last taught some of them to dread cold and hunger. But your extravagant woman is never sensible of her dwindling means; and just as though money were for ever sprouting up afresh from her exhausted coffers, and she had always a full heap to draw from, she never gives a thought to what her pleasures cost her.

"Whenever a cinaedus is kept he taints the household. Folks let these fellows eat and drink with them, and merely have the vessels washed, not shivered to atoms as they should be when such lips have touched them. So even the lanista's establishment is better ordered than yours, for he separates the vile from the decent, and sequesters even from their fellow-retiarii the wearers of the ill-famed tunic; in the training-school, and even in gaol, such creatures herd apart; but your wife condemns you to drink out of the same cup as these gentry, with whom the poorest trull would refuse to sip the choicest wine. Them do women consult about marriage and divorce, with their society do they relieve boredom or business, from them do they learn lascivious motions and whatever else the teacher knows. But beware! that teacher is not always what he seems: true, he darkens his eyes and dresses like a woman, but adultery is his design. Mistrust him the more for his show of effeminacy; he is a valiant mattress-knight; there Triphallus drops the mask of Thais. Whom are you fooling? 41 not me; play this farce to those who cannot pierce the masquerade. I wager you are every inch a man; do you own it, or must we wring the truth out of the maid-servants?"

I know well the advice and warnings of my old friends: "Put on a lock and keep your wife indoors." Yes, and who will ward the warders? They get paid in kind for holding their tongues as to their young lady's escapades; participation seals their lips. The wily wife arranges accordingly, and begins with them. . . . If your wife is musical, none of those who sell their voices 42 to the praetor will hold out against her charms. She is for ever handling musical instruments; her sardonyx rings sparkle thick all over the tortoise-shell; the quivering quill with which she runs over the chords will be that with which the gentle Hedymeles performed; she hugs it, consoles herself with it, and lavishes kisses on the dear implement. A certain lady of the lineage of the Lamiae and the Appii 43 inquired of Janus and Vesta, with offerings of cake and wine, whether Pollio could hope for the Capitoline oak-chaplet and promise victory to his lyre.44 What more could she have done had her husband been ill, or if the doctors had been shaking their heads over her dear little son? There she stood before the altar, thinking it no shame to veil her head 45 on behalf of a harper; she repeated, in due form, all the words prescribed to her; her cheek blanched when the lamb was opened. Tell me now, I pray, O father Janus, thou most ancient of the Gods, dost thou answer such as she? You have much time on your hands in heaven; so far as I can see, there is nothing for you Gods to do. One lady consults you about a comedian, another wishes to commend to you a tragic actor; the soothsayer will soon be troubled with varicose veins.46

Better, however, that your wife should be musical than that she should be rushing boldly about the entire city, attending men's meetings, talking with unflinching face and hard breasts to Generals in their military cloaks, with her husband looking on! This same woman knows what is going on all over the world: what the Thracians and Chinese are after, what has passed between the stepmother and the stepson; she knows who loves whom, what gallant is the rage; she will tell you who got the widow with child, and in what month; how every woman behaves to her lovers, and what she says to them. She is the first to notice the comet threatening the kings of Armenia and Parthia; she picks up the latest rumours at the city gates, and invents some herself: how the Niphates 47 has burst out upon the nations, and is inundating entire districts; how cities are tottering and lands subsiding, she tells to every one she meets at every street crossing.

No less insufferable is the woman who loves to catch hold of her poor neighbours, and deaf to their cries for mercy lays into them with a whip. If her sound slumbers are disturbed by a barking dog, "Quick with the rods!" she cries; "thrash the owner first, and then the dog!" She is a formidable woman to encounter; she is terrible to look at.

She frequents the baths by night; not till night does she order her oil-jars and her quarters to be shifted thither; she loves all the bustle of the hot bath; when her arms drop exhausted by the heavy weights, the anointer passes his hand skilfully over her body, bringing it down at last with a resounding smack upon her thigh. Meanwhile her unfortunate guests are overcome with sleep and hunger, till at last she comes in with a flushed face, and with thirst enough to drink off the vessel containing full three gallons which is laid at her feet, and from which she tosses off a couple of pints before her dinner to create a raging appetite; then she brings it all up again and souses the floor with the washings of her inside. The stream runs over the marble pavement; the gilt basin reeks of Falernian, for she drinks and vomits like a big snake that has tumbled into a vat. The sickened husband closes his eyes and so keeps down his bile.

But most intolerable of all is the woman who as soon as she has sat down to dinner commends Virgil, pardons the dying Dido, and pits the poets against each other, putting Virgil in the one scale and Homer in the other. The grammarians make way before her; the rhetoricians give in; the whole crowd is silenced: no lawyer, no auctioneer will get a word in, no, nor any other woman; so torrential is her speech that you would think that all the pots and bells were being clashed together. Let no one more blow a trumpet or clash a cymbal: one woman will be able to bring succour to the labouring moon! 48 She lays down definitions, and discourses on morals, like a philosopher; thirsting to be deemed both wise and eloquent, she ought to tuck up her skirts knee-high,49 sacrifice a pig to Silvanus,50 and take a penny bath.51 Let not the wife of your bosom possess a special style of her own; let her not hurl at you in whirling speech the crooked enthymeme! Let her not know all history; let there be some things in her reading which she does not understand. I hate a woman who is for ever consulting and poring over the "Grammar" of Palaemon,52 who observes all the rules and laws of language, who quotes from ancient poets that I never heard of, and corrects her unlettered 53 female friends for slips of speech that no man need trouble about: let husbands at least be permitted to make slips in grammar! There is nothing that a woman will not permit herself to do, nothing that she deems shameful, when she encircles her neck with green emeralds, and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears: there is nothing more intolerable than a wealthy woman. Meanwhile she ridiculously puffs out and disfigures her face with lumps of dough; she reeks of rich Poppaean 54 unguents which stick to the lips of her unfortunate husband. Her lover she will meet with a clean-washed skin; but when does she ever care to look nice at home? It is for her lovers that she provides the spikenard, for them she buys all the scents which the slender Indians bring to us. In good time she discloses her face; she removes the first layer of plaster, and begins to be recognisable. She then laves herself with that milk for which she takes a herd of she-asses in her train if sent away to the Hyperborean pole. But when she has been coated over and treated with all those layers of medicaments, and had those lumps of moist dough applied to it, shall we call it a face or a sore?

It is well worth while to ascertain how these ladies busy themselves all day. If the husband has turned his back upon his wife at night, the wool-maid is done for; the tire-women will be stripped of their tunics; the Liburnian chair-man will be accused of coming late, and will have to pay for another man's 55 drowsiness; one will have a rod broken over his back, another will be bleeding from a strap, a third from the cat; some women engage their executioners by the year. While the flogging goes on, the lady will be daubing her face, or listening to her lady-friends, or inspecting the widths of a gold-embroidered robe. While thus flogging and flogging,56 she reads the lengthy Gazette, written right across the page,57 till at last, the floggers being exhausted, and the inquisition ended, she thunders out a gruff "Be off with you!"

Her household is governed as cruelly as a Sicilian Court.58 If she has an appointment and wishes to be turned out more nicely than usual, and is in a hurry to meet some one waiting for her in the gardens, or more likely near the chapel of the wanton Isis, the unhappy maid that does her hair will have her own hair torn, and the clothes stripped off her shoulders and her breasts. "Why is this curl standing up?" she asks, and then down comes a thong of bull's hide to inflict chastisement for the offending ringlet. Pray how was Psecas in fault? How would the girl be to blame if you happened not to like the shape of your own nose? Another maid on the left side combs out the hair and rolls it into a coil; a maid of her mother's, who has served her time at sewing, and has been promoted to the wool department, assists at the council. She is the first to give her opinion; after her, her inferiors in age or skill will give theirs, as though some question of life or honour were at stake. So important is the business of beautification; so numerous are the tiers and storeys piled one upon another on her head! In front, you would take her for an Andromache 59; she is not so tall behind: you would not think it was the same person. What if nature has made her so short of stature that, if unaided by high heels, she looks no bigger than a pigmy, and has to rise nimbly on tip-toe for a kiss! Meantime she pays no attention to her husband; she never speaks of what she costs him. She lives with him as if she were only his neighbour; in this alone more near to him, that she hates his friends and his slaves, and plays the mischief with his money.

And now, behold! in comes the chorus of the frantic Bellona and the mother of the Gods, attended by a giant eunuch to whom his obscene inferiors must do reverence. . . . Before him the howling herd with the timbrels give way; his plebeian cheeks are covered with a Phrygian tiara. With solemn utterance he bids the lady beware of the September Siroccos if she do not purify herself with a hundred eggs, and present him with some old mulberry-coloured garments in order that any great and unforeseen calamity may pass into the clothes, and make expiation for the entire year. In winter she will go down to the river of a morning, break the ice, and plunge three times into the Tiber, dipping her trembling head in its whirling waters, and crawling out thence naked and shivering, she will creep with bleeding knees right across the field 60 of Tarquin the Proud. If the white Io 61 shall so order, she will journey to the confines of Egypt, and fetch water from hot Meroe 62 with which to sprinkle the Temple of Isis which stands hard by the ancient sheepfold.63 For she believes that the command was given by the voice of the Goddess herself----a pretty kind of mind and spirit for the Gods to have converse with by night! Hence the chief and highest place of honour is awarded to Anubis,64 who, with his linen-clad and shaven crew, mocks at the weeping of the people as he runs along.65 He it is that obtains pardon for wives who break the law of purity on days that should be kept holy, and exacts huge penalties when the coverlet has been profaned, or when the silver serpent has been seen to nod his head. His tears and carefully-studied mutterings make sure that Osiris will not refuse a pardon for the fault, bribed, no doubt, by a fat goose and a slice of sacrificial cake.

No sooner has that fellow departed than a palsied Jewess, leaving her basket and her truss of hay,66 comes begging to her secret ear; she is an interpreter of the laws of Jerusalem, a high priestess of the tree,67 a trusty go-between of highest heaven. She, too, fills her palm, but more sparingly, for a Jew will tell you dreams of any kind you please for the minutest of coins.

An Armenian or Commagenian sooth-sayer, after examining the lungs of a dove that is still warm, will promise a youthful lover, or a big bequest from some rich and childless man; he will probe the breast of a chicken, or the entrails of a dog, sometimes even of a boy; some things he will do with the intention of informing against them himself.

Still more trusted are the Chaldaeans; every word uttered by the astrologer they will believe has come from Hammon's fountain, for now that the Delphian oracles are dumb, man is condemned to darkness as to his future. Chief among these was one 68 who was oft in exile, through whose friendship and venal prophecies the great citizen 69 died whom Otho feared. For nowadays no astrologer has credit unless he have been imprisoned in some distant camp, with chains clanking on either arm; none believe in his powers unless he has been condemned and all but put to death, having just contrived to get deported to a Cyclad, or to escape at last from the diminutive Seriphos.70

Your excellent Tanaquil 71 consults as to the long-delayed death of her jaundiced mother----having previously enquired about your own; she will ask when she may expect to bury her sister, or her uncles; and whether her lover will outlive herself----what greater boon could the Gods bestow upon her? And yet your Tanaquil does not herself understand the gloomy threats of Saturn, or under what constellation Venus will show herself propitious, which months will be months of losses, which of gains; but beware of ever encountering one whom you see clutching a well-worn calendar in her hands as if it were a ball of clammy amber 72; one who inquires of none, but is now herself inquired of; one who, if her husband is going forth to camp, or returning home from abroad, will not bear him company if the numbers of Thrasyllus 73 call her back. If she wants to drive as far as the first mile-stone, she finds the right hour from her book; if there is a sore place in the corner of her eye, she will not call for a salve until she has consulted her horoscope: and if she be ill in bed, deems no hour so suitable for taking food as that prescribed to her by Petosiris.74

If the woman be of humble rank, she will promenade between the turning-posts 75 of the Circus; she will have her fortune told, and will present her brow and her hand to the seer who asks for many an approving smack.76 Wealthy women will pay for answers from a Phrygian or Indian augur well skilled in the stars and the heavens, or one of the elders employed to expiate thunderbolts. Plebeian destinies are determined in the Circus or on the ramparts 77: the woman 78 who displays a long gold chain on her bare neck inquires before the pillars and the clusters of dolphins whether she shall throw over the tavern-keeper and marry the old-clothes-man.

These poor women, however, endure the perils of child-birth, and all the troubles of nursing to which their lot condemns them; but how often does a gilded bed contain a woman that is lying in? So great is the skill, so powerful the drugs, of the abortionist, paid to murder mankind within the womb. Rejoice, poor wretch; give her the stuff to drink whatever it be, with your own hand: for were she willing to get big and trouble her womb with bouncing babes, you might perhaps find yourself the father of an Ethiopian; and some day a coloured heir, whom you would rather not meet by daylight, would fill all the places in your will.

I say nothing of supposititious children, of the hopes and prayers so often cheated at those filthy pools 79 from which are supplied Priests and Salii,80 with bodies that will falsely bear the name of Scauri. There Fortune shamelessly takes her stand by night, smiling on the naked babes; she fondles them all and folds them in her bosom, and then, to provide herself with a secret comedy, she sends them forth to the houses of the great. These are the children that she loves, on these she lavishes herself, and with a laugh brings them always forward as her own.

One man supplies magical spells; another sells Thessalian 81 charms by which a wife may upset her husband's mind, and lather his buttocks with a slipper; thence come loss of reason, and darkness of soul, and blank forgetfulness of all that you did but yesterday. Yet even that can be endured, if only you become not raving mad like that uncle 82 of Nero's into whose drink Caesonia poured the whole brow of a weakly foal 83; and what woman will not follow when an Empress leads the way? The whole world was ablaze then and falling down in ruin just as if Juno had made her husband mad. Less guilty therefore will Agrippina's mushroom 84 be deemed, seeing that it only stopped the breath of one old man, and sent down his palsied head and slobbering lips to heaven, whereas the other potion demanded fire and sword and torture, mingling Knights and Fathers in one mangled bleeding heap. Such was the cost of one mare's offspring and of one she-poisoner.

A wife hates the children of a concubine; let none demur or forbid, seeing that it has long been deemed right and proper to slay a stepson. But I warn you wards----you that have a good estate----keep watch over your lives; trust not a single dish: those hot cakes are black with poison of a mother's baking. Whatever is offered you by the mother, let someone taste it first; let your trembling tutor take the first taste of every cup.

Now think you that all this is a fancy tale, and that our Satire is taking to herself the high heels of tragedy? Think you that I have out-stepped the limits and the laws of those before me, and am mouthing in Sophoclean tones a grand theme unknown to the Rutulian hills and the skies of Latium? Would indeed that my words were idle! But here is Pontia proclaiming "I did the deed; I gave aconite, I confess it, to my own children; the crime was detected, and is known to all; yes, with my own hands I did it." "What, you most savage of vipers? you killed two, did you, two, at a single meal?" "Aye, and seven too, had there chanced to be seven to kill!"

Let us believe all that Tragedy tells us of the savage Colchian 85 and of Procne 86; I seek not to gainsay her. Those women were monsters of wickedness in their day; but it was not for money that they sinned. We marvel less at great crimes when it is wrath that incites the sex to the guilty deed, when burning passion carries them headlong, like a rock torn from a mountain side, when the ground beneath gives way, and the overhanging slopes fall in. I cannot endure the woman who calculates, and commits a great crime in her sober senses. Our wives look on at Alcestis undergoing her husband's fate; if they were granted a like liberty of exchange, they would fain let the husband die to save a lap-dog's life. You will meet a daughter of Belus 87 or an Eriphyle every morning: no street but has its Clytemnestra.88 The only difference is this: the daughter of Tyndareus 89 wielded in her two hands a clumsy two-headed axe, whereas nowadays a slice of a toad's lung will do the business. Yet it may be done by steel as well, if the wary husband have beforehand tasted the medicaments of the thrice-conquered king of Pontus.90

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1. i.e. in the golden days of innocence.
2. The Cynthia of Propertius.
3. The Lesbia of Catullus.
4. There was a legend that men had been born from oak-trees.
5. Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis, was the last mortal to leave the earth when the Golden Age came to an end; she was placed among the stars as Virgo.
6. The fulcrum was the head of the couch, often ornamented with the figure of the Genius in bronze.
7. A law to encourage marriage.
8. An actor who played the part of a lover in hiding.
9. The Megalesian games began on the 4th of April and lasted for six days; the Plebeian games took place early in November.
10. A famous singer.
11. M. Fabius Quintilianus, the famous Roman rhetorician, A. D. 40-100. No grave and learned man like Quintilian will attract them.
12. The conopeum was properly a mosquito-net; here it seems to be used for a bassinette or cradle.
13. A gladiator.
14. A murmillo was equipped as a Gaulish warrior in heavy armour. He carried the image of a fish in his crest, whence the name μορμύρος or μορμύλος.
15. Ludus is properly a gladiatorial school, or a troop of gladiators.
16. Probably the husband.
17. In allusion to the deification of the emperors.
18. Messalina was the mother of Britannicus, b. A.D. 42.
19. This passage is thus explained: The lady buys various articles at the feast of the Sigillaria (December 17-20), so called from the statuettes which were then on sale. These and other articles were set out in canvas booths, which were built up against certain public buildings so as to screen them from view. One of these buildings was the Portico of Agrippa on which there were paintings of the Argonauts. Thus "the merchant" Jason and his armed sailors were shut out and could not be seen.
20. Sister to King Agrippa II. (Acts, xxv. 23).
21. Josephus relates that Berenice sacrificed at Jerusalem with dishevelled hair and bare feet.
22. For Jewish abstinence from pork see Tac. Hist. v. 4.
23. Alluding to the exploits of the elder Scipio.
24. Husband of Niobe.
25. Wife of Amphion, king of Thebes. Proud of her six sons and six daughters, she boasted herself against Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis. Indignant at her presumption, they slew all her children with arrows.
26. Sulmo, in the Pelignian country, was the birthplace of Ovid.
27. Names of actors.
28. Alluding to the gold coins (aurei) minted by Trajan in honour of his victories. The aureus was about equal in metal value to our guinea.
29. A fashionable doctor of the day.
30. Either a jurist or a rhetorician.
31. The endromis was a coarse, woollen cloak in which athletes wrapped themselves after their exercises.
32. Games in honour of Flora (April 28-May 3), at which much female licence was allowed.
33. i. e. a gladiatorial contest.
34. Supposed to be a gladiator.
35. The famous Roman rhetorician, b. A.D. 44, author of the Institutiones Oratoriae.
36. Color is a technical term in rhetoric, denoting an argument which puts a favourable or palliative light on some act.
37. For Hannibal at the Colline Gate, B.C. 213, see Liv. xxvi. 10.
38. Mr. Duff explains this of a scene in the theatre in Tarentum when the people, garlanded in honour of Dionysus, insulted the Roman ambassador (Dio. Cass. fragm. 145).
39. The ancient Temple of Pudicitia was in the Forum Boarium.
40. Alluding to the profanation of the mysteries of the Bona Dea by Clodius, in B.C. 62, by appearing in the disguise of a female lutist.
41. He now addresses the cinaedus [catamite] himself.
42. i.e. professionals who sing for hire on public occasions.
43. i.e. of a noble family.
44. A prize of oak-leaves was given at the agon Capitolinus, instituted by Domitian. Pollio was a player on the cithara.
45. To veil the head was part of the ceremony at a sacrifice.
46. i.e. with so much standing about.
47. Properly a mountain; here meant for a river.
48. Eclipses of the moon were supposed to be due to the incantations of witches. To prevent these from being heard, and so ward off the evil events portended by the eclipse, it was the custom to create a din by the clashing of bells, horns and trumpets, etc.
49. i.e. wear the short tunic of a man.
50. Only men sacrificed to Silvanus.
51. i. e. bathe in the public baths.
52. A treatise on grammar by Q. Remmius Palaemon, the most famous grammarian of the early empire.
53. The word Opican is equivalent to Oscan, denoting the early inhabitants of Campania. It is used here as equivalent to barbarian.
54. Cosmetics, called after Nero's wife Poppaea.
55. i.e. the husband's.
56. The text reads as if the flogging was done by the lady herself. But it was evidently done for her by slaves.
57. Books were usually written lengthwise on the roll; but it seems that the acta diurna, here mentioned, were written crosswise.
58. In allusion to Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum.
59. Hector's wife Andromache must be tall, as living in the heroic age.
60. i.e. the Campus Martius.
61. Apparently here identified with Isis. Io was changed into a white cow by Juno out of jealousy.
62. An island formed by the waters of the Nile. See xiii. 163.
63. The Temple of Isis was in the Campus Martius near the polling-booths (saepta) here called ovile.
64. A god of the dead; he attended on Isis, and is represented with the head of a dog.
65. The priest who im personates Anubis laughs at the people when they lament Osiris.
66. See iii. 14: Iudaei quorum cophinus fatnumque supellex.
67. Jews were allowed to camp out under trees as gipsies do in our own country. See iii. 15, 16.
68. According to Tac. Hist. i. 22 the name of Otho's astrologer was Ptolemy.
69. The emperor Galba.
70. One of the smaller Cyclades (Serpho), a well-known place of exile.
71. i.e. his wife. Tanaquil was wife of Tarquinius Priscus (perita caelestium prodigiorum, Liv. i. 34).
72. Roman ladies carried balls of amber in their hands, either as a scent or for warmth.
73. The favourite astrologer of Tiberius.
74. An ancient Egyptian astrologer.
75. The metae were the turning-posts at each end of the low wall (spina) round which the chariots had to turn. Each meta consisted of a group of conical pillars with dolphins on them.
76. Poppysma is a smacking sound made by the lips; it was apparently a sign of approval and satisfaction. These sounds are made by the consulting party.
77. The famous rampart of Servius Tullius, which protected Rome on its eastern side.
78. Apparently alluding to a low class of women.
79. These were pools or reservoirs in which infants were exposed. Fortune delights in spiriting these foundlings into the houses of the great.
80. The priests of Mars, recruited from noble families.
81. Thessaly was famous for witches and the magic art. The husband here is made mad by a love-potion.
82. The emperor Caligula. His wife Caesonia was said to have made him mad by a love-philtre.
83. Alluding to the hippomanes, an excrescence on the head of a young foal, which was used in love-potions.
84. Agrippina the younger murdered her husband, the Emperor Claudius, by a dish of mushrooms (Tac. Ann. xii. 57, Suet. 44). See v. 147.
85. Medea.
86. Procne, daughter of Pandion, king of Athens, revenged herself on her husband, Tereus, by serving up to him the flesh of his son Itys. She was turned into a swallow.
87. Belus was the father of Danaus; hence the Danaids are called Belidae.
88. The Danaids (daughters of Belus), Eriphyle, and Clytemnestra, all killed their husbands.
89. Clytemnestra was daughter of Tyndareus.
90. Mithridates, who was said to have secured himself against poisoning by prophylactics.

 





Satire 7.


 

Learning and Letters Unprofitable

On Caesar alone hang all the hopes and prospects of the learned; he alone in these days of ours has cast a favouring glance upon the sorrowing Muses----at a time when poets of name and fame thought of hiring baths at Gabii, or bakehouses in Rome, while others felt no shame in becoming public criers, and starving Clio herself, bidding adieu to the vales of Aganippe,1 was flitting to the auction rooms. For if you see no prospect of earning a groat within the Muses' grove, you had better put up with Machaera's 2 name and profits and join in the battle of the sale-room, selling to the crowd winejars, tripods, book-cases and cupboards----the Alcithoe of Paccius, the Thebes or the Tereus 3 of Faustus! How much better that than to say before a judge "I saw" what you did not see! Leave that to the Knights of Asia,4 of Bithynia and Cappadocia----gentry that were imported bare-footed 5 from New Gaul!

But from this day forth no man who weaves the tuneful web of song and has bitten Apollo's laurel will be compelled to endure toil unworthy of his craft. To your task, young men! Your Prince is looking around and goading you on, seeking objects for his favour. If you expect patronage from any other quarter, and in that hope are filling up the parchment of your saffron tablet, you had better order faggots at once, Telesinus, and present your productions to the spouse 6 of Venus; or else put away your tomes, and let bookworms bore holes in them where they lie. Break your pen, poor wretch; destroy the battles that have robbed you of your sleep----you that are inditing lofty strains in a tiny garret, that you may come forth worthy of a scraggy bust 7 wreathed with ivy! No hope have you beyond that; your rich miser has now learnt only to admire, only to commend the eloquent, just as boys admire the bird of Juno.8 Meantime the years flow by that could have endured the sea, the helmet, or the spade; the soul becomes wearied, and an eloquent but penniless old age curses itself and its own Terpsichore! 9

And now learn the devices by which the patron for whose favour you desert the temples of the Muses and Apollo seeks to avoid spending anything on you. He writes verses of his own; yielding the palm to none but Homer----and that only because of his thousand years. If the sweets of fame fire you to give a recitation, he puts at your disposal a tumbledown house in some distant quarter, the door of which is closely barred like the gate of a beleaguered city. He knows how to supply you Avith freedmen to sit at the end of the rows, and how to distribute about the room the stalwart voices of his retainers: but none of your great men will give you as much as will pay for the benches, or for the tiers of seats resting on hired beams, or for the chairs in the front rows which will have to be returned when done with. Yet for all that, we poets stick to our task; we go on drawing furrows in the thin soil, and turning up the shore with unprofitable plough. For if you would give it up, the itch for writing and making a name holds you fast as with a noose, and becomes inveterate in your distempered brain.

But your real poet, who has a vein of genius all his own----one who spins no hackneyed lays, and whose pieces are struck from no common mint----such an one as I cannot point to, and only feel----is the product of a soul free from care, that knows no bitterness, that loves the woodlands, and is fitted to drink at the Muses' spring. For how can unhappy Poverty sing songs in the Pierian cave and grasp the thyrsus when it is short of cash, which the body has need of both by night and day? Horace's stomach was well filled when he shouted his cry of Evoe! Where can genius find a place except in a heart stirred by song alone, that shuts out every thought but one, and is swept along by the lords of Cirrha and of Nysa! 10 It needs a lofty soul, not one that is dismayed at the cost of a coverlet, to have visions of chariots and horses and Gods' faces, or to tell with what a mien the Fury confounded the Rutulian 11: had Virgil possessed no slave, and no decent roof over his head, all the snakes would have fallen from the Fury's hair; no dread note would have boomed from her voiceless trumpet. Do we expect Rubrenus Lappa to be as great in the buskin as the ancients, when his Atreus has to be pawned for his cloak and crockery? Numitor, poor man, has nothing to give to a needy friend, though he is rich enough to send presents to his mistress, and he had enough, too, to buy a tamed lion that needed masses of meat for his keep. It costs less, no doubt, to keep a lion than a poet; the poet's belly is more capacious!

Lucan,12 indeed, reclining amid the statues of his gardens, may be content with fame; but what will ever so much glory bring in to Serranus, or to the starving Saleius, if it be glory only? When Statius 13 has gladdened the city by promising a day, people flock to hear his pleasing voice and his loved Thebais; so charmed are their souls by his sweetness, with such rapture does the multitude listen to him. But when his verses have brought down the house, poor Statius will starve if he does not sell his virgin Agave to Paris 14: for it is Paris who appoints men to military commands; it is Paris who puts the golden ring round the poet's finger after six months of service.15 You can get from a stage-player what no great man will give you: why frequent the spacious antechambers of the Bareae or the Camerini? It is Pelopea 4 that appoints our Prefects, and Philomela 16 our Tribunes! Yet you need not begrudge the bard who gains his living from the play-house: who nowadays will be a Maecenas 17 to you, a Proculeius, or a Fabius? who another Cotta, or a second Lentulus? Genius in those days met with its due reward; many then found their profit in pale cheeks and in abjuring potations all through December.18

And is your labour more remunerative, ye writers of history? More time, more oil, is wasted here; regardless of all limit, the pages run up to thousands; the pile of paper is ever mounting to your ruin. So ordains the vast array of facts, and the rules of the craft. But what harvest will you gather, what fruit, from the tilling of your land? Who will give to an historian as much as he gives to the man who reads out the news?

"O but historians are a lazy crew, that delight in lounging and the shade." Tell me then what do pleaders get for their services in the courts, and for those huge bundles of papers which they bring with them? They talk big enough, especially if a creditor 19 of their own happens to be listening: or if, more urgent still, they get poked in the ribs by one who has brought a huge ledger to claim a doubtful debt. Then indeed do their capacious bellows pant forth prodigious lies! Then are their breasts be-slobbered! 20 and yet, if you want to discover their real gains, you may put on one side the fortunes of a hundred lawyers, on the other that of a single jockey of the Red! 21 The great men are seated; you rise, a pale-faced Ajax,22 to declaim before a bumpkin judge in a case of contested liberty. Strain your lungs, poor fool, until they burst, that when exhausted by your labours some green palm-branches may be put up to adorn your garret.23 What fee will your voice bring in? A dried-up ham 24; a jar of sprats; some veteran onions which would serve as rations for a Moor, or five flagons of wine that has sailed down the Tiber.25 If you have pled on four occasions, and been lucky enough to get a gold piece, a bit of it, as part of the compact, will go to the attorney. Aemilius will get the maximum legal fee,26 though he did not plead so well as we did; but then he has a bronze chariot in his forecourt, with four stately steeds, and an effigy of himself, seated on a gallant charger, brandishing from afar a bending spear, and practising for battle with one eye closed. That is how Pedo 27 becomes bankrupt, and how Matho 27 fails; and such will be the end of Tongilius, who frequents the baths with a huge oil-flask of rhinoceros horn, and disturbs the bathers with a mob of dirty retainers. His Maedian bearers are weighed down by the long poles of his litter as he passes through the Forum on his way to buy slaves or plate, agate vases or country houses; for that foreign robe of his, with its Tyrian purple, gains him credit. These gentlemen get profit out of this display; the purple or the violet robe brings practice to a lawyer; it pays him to live with a racket and an appearance beyond his means, and wasteful Rome sets no limits to extravagance.

Trust in eloquence, indeed? Why, no one would give Cicero himself two hundred pence nowadays unless a huge ring were blazing on his finger. The first thing that a litigant looks to is, Have you eight slaves and a dozen retainers? Have you a litter to wait on you, and gowned citizens to walk before you? That is why Paulus used to hire a sardonyx ring; that is why he earned a higher fee than Gallus or Basilus. When is eloquence ever found beneath a shabby coat? When does Basilus get the chance of producing in court a weeping mother? Who would listen to him, however well he spoke? Better go to Gaul or to Africa,28 that nursing mother of lawyers, if you would make a living by your tongue!

Or do you teach rhetoric? O Vettius! what iron bowels must you have when your troop of scholars slays 29 the cruel tyrant: when each in turn stands up, and repeats what he has just been conning in his seat, reciting the self-same things in the self-same verses! Served up again and again, the cabbage is the death of the unhappy master! What complexion 30 should be put on the case; within what category it falls; what is the crucial point; what hits will be made on the other side----these are things which everyone wants to know, but for which no one is willing to pay. "Pay indeed? Why, what have I learnt?" asks the scholar. It is the teacher's fault, of course, that the Arcadian youth feels no flutter in his left breast when he dins his "dire Hannibal" into my unfortunate head on every sixth day of the week, whatever be the question which he is pondering: whether he should make straight for the city from the field of Cannae, or whether, after the rain and thunder, he should lead around his cohorts, all dripping after the storm. Name any sum you please and you shall have it: what would I give 31 that the lad's father might listen to him as often as I do! So cry half-a-dozen or more of our sophists 32 in one breath, entering upon real lawsuits 33 of their own, abandoning "The Ravisher" and forgetting all about "The Poisoner" or "The wicked and thankless Husband," or the drugs that restore sight to the chronic blind.

And so, if my counsel goes for anything, I would advise the man who comes down from his rhetorical shade to fight for a sum that would buy a trumpery corn-ticket 34----for that's the most handsome fee he will ever get----to present himself with a discharge,35 and enter upon some other walk of life. If you ask what fees Chrysogonus and Pollio 36 get for teaching music to the sons of our great men, you will tear up the Rhetoric of Theodorus.37

Your great man will spend six hundred thousand sesterces upon his baths, and something more on the colonnade in which he is to drive on rainy days. What? Is he to wait for a clear sky, and bespatter his horses with fresh mud? How much better to drive where their hoofs will remain bright and spotless! Elsewhere let a banqueting hall arise, supported on lofty pillars of African marble, to catch the winter sun. And cost the house what it may, there will come a man to arrange the courses skilfully, and the man who makes up the tasty dishes. Amidst expenditure such as this two thousand sesterces will be enough, and more than enough, for Quintilian: there is nothing on which a father will not spend more money than on his son. "How then," you ask, "does Quintilian possess those vast domains?" Pass by cases of rare good fortune: the lucky man 38 is both beautiful and brave, he is wise and noble and high-born; he sews on to his black shoe the crescent of the Senator. He is a great orator too, a good javelin-man, and if he chance to have caught a cold, he sings divinely. For it makes all the difference by what stars you are welcomed when you utter your first cry, and are still red from your mother's womb. If Fortune so choose, you will become a Consul from being a rhetor; if again she so wills, you will become a rhetor from being a Consul.

What of Ventidius 39 and Tullius? 40 What made their fortunes but the stars and the wondrous potency of secret Fate? The Fates will give kingdoms to a slave, and triumphs to a captive! Nevertheless that fortunate man is rare----rarer than a white crow. Many have repented them of the Professor's vain and unprofitable chair; witness the ends of Thrasymachus 41 and Secundus Carrinas.41 Him too didst thou see in poverty on whom thou, O Athens, hadst nothing better to bestow than a cup of cold hemlock! 42 Grant, O Gods, that the earth may lie soft and light upon the shades of our forefathers: may the sweet-scented crocus and a perpetual spring-time bloom over their ashes; who deemed that the teacher should hold the place of a revered parent! Achilles trembled for fear of the rod when already of full age, singing songs in his native hills; nor would he then have dared to laugh at the tail of his musical instructor.43 But Rufus and the rest are cudgelled each by his own pupils----that Rufus 44 whom they have so often styled "the Allobrogian Cicero."

Who pours into the lap of Celadus, or of the learned Palaemon,45 as much as their grammatical labours deserve? And yet, small as the fee is----and it is smaller than the rhetor's wage----the pupil's unfeeling 46 attendant nibbles off a bit of it for himself; so too does the steward. But never mind, Palaemon; suffer some diminution of your wage, like the hawker who sells rags and white Gallic blankets for winter wear, if only it do not go for nothing that you have sat from early dawn in a hole which no blacksmith would put up with, no workman who teaches how to card wool with slanting tool: that it do not go for nothing to have snuffed up the odour of as many lamps as you had scholars in your class thumbing a discoloured Horace or a begrimed Virgil.

But it is seldom that the fee can be recovered without a judgment of the Court. And yet be sure, ye parents, to impose the strictest laws upon the teacher: he must never be at fault in his grammar; he must know all history, and have all the authorities at his finger-tips. If asked a chance question on his way to the baths, or to the establishment of Phoebus,47 he must at once tell you who was the nurse of Anchises, what was the name and birth-place of Anchemolus' 48 step-mother, to what age Acestes lived, how many flagons of Sicilian wine he presented to the Trojans.49 Require of him that he shall mould the young minds as a man moulds a face out of wax with his thumb; insist that he shall be a father to the whole brood, so that they shall play no nasty game, and do no nasty trick----no easy matter to watch the hands and sparkling eyes of so many youngsters! "See to all this," you say, "and then, when the year comes round, receive the golden piece which the mob demands for a winning jockey."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. An inspiring spring on Mt. Helicon, sacred to the Muses.
2. Apparently an auctioneer.
3. Apparently names of tragedies.
4. Easterns originally imported as slaves, who had risen to be equites.
5. i. e. as slaves from Galatia.
6. Vulcan.
7. The busts of poets were wreathed with ivy (doctarum hederae praemia frontium, Hor. Od. i. i. 29).
8. i.e. the peacock.
9. Properly the Muse of Dancing; used here, like Clio above, for poetry in general.
10. Apollo and Dionysus.
11. Turnus. See Virg. Aen. viii. 445-450.
12. The famous author of the Pharsalia. M. Annaeus Lucanus, A.D. 39-65.
13. P. Papinius Statius, author of the Thebais, circ. A. D. 61-96.
14. Paris, a famous pantomimic dancer. There were two of the name; one a favourite of Nero, executed by him as a rival, A.D. 67; the other a favourite of Domitian, also executed, A.D. 87. See Introduction.
15. The commanding officers of a Legion (tribuni) became equites after serving for six months. Claudius instituted the practice of making honorary appointments, without service, so as to bestow the title of eques on his favourites.
16. Names of pantomime plays.
17. A noble patron of letters, especially of Horace; for Proculeius, see Hor. Od. II. ii. 5. Paulus Fabius Maximus was the patron of Ovid; Cotta is panegyrised by Ovid, Epp. ex P. ii. viii.; P. Lentulus Spinther helped to recall Cicero from banishment.
18. In reference to the festive season of the Saturnalia.
19. The creditor is one to whom the advocate owes money, and before whom he wishes to make a good appearance; the acrior illo is a litigant whom the advocate hopes to secure as a client.
20. Spitting or slobbering on the breast was considered lucky, to obviate the evil results of boasting.
21. Lacerta is apparently the name of a charioteer.
22. Alluding to the contest between Ajax and Achilles for the arms of Achilles.
23. The advocate who had won a case would have his stair decorated.
24. Lawyers received presents in kind from their country clients.
25. i.e. poor wine; like the vile Sabinum of Hor. Od. i. xx. 1.
26. Aemilius was a noble; the Lex Cincia (B.C. 204) placed a limit upon lawyers' fees.
27. These men are ruined by imitating the extravagance of their betters.
28. Flourishing schools of rhetoric were established under the early Empire in Gaul, Spain, and Africa.
29. i. e. in a rhetorical exercise.
30. For the meaning of color, see note on vi. 280.
31. The English idiom would be " What would I not give."
32. i.e. teachers, especially of rhetoric.
33. The rhetor goes to law to recover his fees.
34. A ticket for the gratuitous distributions of corn.
35. A retiring gladiator received a wooden sword (rudis) as a token of discharge.
36. Chrysogonus was a singer (vi. 74), Pollio a player on the cithara (vi. 387).
37. A famous rhetorician at Rhodes.
38. Juvenal sarcastically assigns to the lucky man all the qualities which the Stoics attributed to the sapiens. See Hor. Epp. i. i. 106-108. Juvenal probably had an eye to that passage.
39. P. Ventidius Bassus rose from nothing to be consul B.C. 43; he triumphed over the Parthians.
40. Cicero.
41. Both rhetoricians. Carrinas was banished by Caligula, and apparently hanged himself.
42. The reference must surely be to Socrates ; though illum would have been more appropriate than hunc.
43. Achilles was instructed in the lyre by the Centaur Chiron.
44. Rufus was apparently an Allobrogian. The Allobroges occupied the country between the Rhone and the Isere.
45. Q. Remmius Palaemon, a famous Roman grammarian in the time of Tiberius and Caligula.
46. Acoenonoetus is one of those Greek terms whose use Juvenal wishes to ridicule. The Scholiast explains it as communi sensu carens. See Mayor.
47. Probably a private bathing establishment.
48. A warrior slain by Pallas. Virg. Aen, x. 389.
49. Aen. v. 73 ff.

 






Juvenal Scourging Woman 





Satire 8.

 

Stemmata quid Faciunt?

What avail your pedigrees? What boots it, Ponticus, to be valued for one's ancient blood, and to display the painted visages of one's forefathers----an Aemilianus 1 standing in his car; a half-crumbled Curius; a Corvinus who has lost a shoulder, or a Galba that has neither ear nor nose? Of what profit is it to boast a Fabius on your ample family chart, and thereafter to trace kinship through many a branch with grimy Dictators and Masters of the Horse, if in presence of the Lepidi you live an evil life? What signify all these effigies of warriors if you gamble all night long before your Numantine 2 ancestors, and begin your sleep with the rise of Lucifer, at an hour when our Generals of old would be moving their standards and their camps? Why should a Fabius, born in the home of Hercules,3 take pride in the title Allobrogicus,4 and in the Great Altar,5 if he be covetous and empty-headed and more effeminate than a Euganean 6 lambkin; if his loins, rubbed smooth by Catanian 7 pumice, throw shame on his shaggy-haired grandfathers; or if, as a trafficker in poison, he dishonour his unhappy race by a statue that will have to be broken in pieces? Though you deck your hall from end to end with ancient waxen images, Virtue is the one and only true nobility. Be a Paulus, or a Cossus, or a Drusus in character; rank them before the statues of your ancestors; let them precede the fasces themselves when you are Consul. You owe me, first of all things, the virtues of the soul; prove yourself stainless in life, one who holds fast to the right both in word and deed, and I acknowledge you as a lord; all hail to you, Gaetulicus, or you, Silanus, or from whatever stock you come, if you have proved yourself to a rejoicing country a rare and illustrious citizen, we would fain cry what Egypt shouts when Osiris has been found.8 For who can be called "noble" who is unworthy of his race, and distinguished in nothing but his name? We call some one's dwarf an "Atlas," his blackamoor "a swan"; an ill-favoured, misshapen girl we call "Europa"; lazy hounds that are bald with chronic mange, and who lick the edges of a dry lamp, will bear the names of "Pard," "Tiger," "Lion," or of any other animal in the world that roars more fiercely: take you care that it be not on that principle that you are a Creticus or a Camerinus!

Who is it whom I admonish thus? It is to you, Rubellius Blandus,9 that I speak. You are puffed up with the lofty pedigree of the Drusi, as though you had done something to make you noble, and to be conceived by one glorying in the blood of Iulus, rather than by one who weaves for hire under the windy rampart. "You others are dirt," you say; "the very scum of our populace; not one of you can point to his father's birthplace; but I am one of the Cecropidae!" Long life to you! May you long enjoy the glories of your birth! And yet among the lowest rabble you will find a Roman, who has eloquence, one who will plead the cause of the unlettered noble; you must go to the toga-clad herd for a man to untie the knots and riddles of the law. From them will come the brave young soldier who marches to the Euphrates, or to the eagles that guard the conquered Batavians, while you are nothing but a Cecropid, the image of a limbless Hermes! For in no respect but one have you the advantage over him: his head is of marble, while yours is a living effigy!

Tell me, thou scion of the Trojans, who deems a dumb animal well-born unless it be strong? It is for this that we commend the swift horse whose speed sets every hand aglow, and fills the Circus with the hoarse shout of victory; that horse is noblest, on whatever pasture reared, whose rush outstrips the rest, and whose dust is foremost upon the plain. But the offspring of Coryphaeus 10 or Hirpinus 10 comes to the hammer if Victory light but seldom on his car: no respect is there paid to ancestors, no favour is shown to Shades! The slow of foot, that are fit only to turn a miller's wheel, pass, for a mere nothing, from one owner to another, and gall their necks against the collar. So, if I am to respect yourself, and not your belongings, give me something of your own to engrave among your titles, in addition to those honours which we pay, and have paid, to those to whom you owe your all.

Enough this for the youth whom report has handed down to us as proud and puffed up with his kinship to Nero: for in those high places regard for others is rarely to be found. But for you, Ponticus, I cannot wish that you should be valued for the glories of your race while doing nothing that shall bring you praise in the days to come. It is a poor thing to lean upon the fame of others, lest the pillars give way and the house fall down in ruin. The vine-shoot, trailing upon the ground, longs for the widowed elm. Be a stout soldier, a faithful guardian, and an incorruptible judge; if summoned to bear witness in some dubious and uncertain cause, though Phalaris 11 himself should bring up his bull and dictate to you a perjury, count it the greatest of all sins to prefer life to honour, and to lose, for the sake of living, all that makes life worth having. The man who merits death is already dead, though he dine off a hundred Lucrine 12 oysters, and bathe in a whole cauldron of Cosmus' 13 essences.

When you enter your long-expected Province as its Governor, set a curb and a limit to your passion, as also to your greed; have compassion on the impoverished provincials, whose very bones have been sucked dry of marrow; have regard to what the law ordains, what the Senate enjoins; consider what honours await the good ruler, with what a just thunderstroke the Senate hurled down Capito and Numitor,14 those plunderers 15 of the Cilicians. Yet what profit was there from their condemnation? 16 Look out for an auctioneer, Chaerippus,17 to sell your chattels, seeing that Pansa has stripped you of all that Natta left. And hold your tongue about it; when all else is gone, it is madness to throw away your passage-money.18

Very different in days of old were the wailings of our allies and the harm inflicted on them by losses, when they had been newly conquered and were wealthy still. Their houses then were all well-stored; they had piles of money, with Spartan mantles and Coan purples; beside the paintings of Parrhasius, and the statues of Myron, stood the living ivories of Phidias; everywhere the works of Polyclitus were to be seen; few tables were without a Mentor.19 But after that came now a Dolabella,20 now an Antonius,21 and now a sacrilegious Verres,22 loading big ships with secret spoils, peace-trophies more numerous than those of war. Nowadays, on capturing a farm, you may rob our allies of a few yoke of oxen, or a few mares, with the sire of the herd; or of the household gods themselves, if there be a good statue left, or a single Deity in his little shrine; such are the best and choicest things to be got now. You despise perchance, and deservedly, the unwarlike Rhodian and the scented Corinthian: what harm will their resined 23 youths do you, or the smooth legs of the entire breed? But keep clear of rugged Spain, avoid the land of Gaul and the Dalmatian shore; spare, too, those harvesters 24 who fill the belly of a city that has no leisure save for the Circus and the play: what great profit can you reap from outrages upon Libyans, seeing that Marius 25 has so lately stripped Africa to the skin? Beware above all things to do no wrong to men who are at once brave and miserable. You may take from them all the gold and silver that they have; but plundered though they be, they will still have their arms; they will still have their shields and their swords, their javelins and helmets.

What I have just propounded is no mere theme, it is the truth; you may take it that I am reading out to you one of the Sibyl's leaves. If your whole staff be incorruptible: if no long-haired Ganymede sells your judgments; if your wife be blameless; if, in your circuit through the towns and districts, there is no Harpy ready to pounce with crooked talons upon gold,----then you may trace back your race to Picus 26; if you delight in lofty names, you may count the whole array of Titans, and Prometheus himself, among your ancestors, and select for yourself a great-grandfather from whatever myth you please. But if you are carried away headlong by ambition and by lust; if you break your rods upon the bleeding backs of our allies; if you love to see your axes blunted and your headsmen weary, then the nobility of your own parents begins to rise up in judgment against you, and to hold a glaring torch over your misdeeds. The greater the sinner's name, the more signal the guiltiness of the sin. If you are wont to put your signature to forged deeds, what matters it to me that you sign them in temples built by your grandfather, or in front of the triumphal statue of your father? What does that matter, if you steal out at night for adultery, your brow concealed under a cowl of Gallic wool?

The bloated Lateranus whirls past the bones and ashes of his ancestors in a rapid car; with his own hands this muleteer 27 Consul locks the wheel with the drag. It is by night, indeed: but the moon looks on; the stars strain their eyes to see. When his time of office is over, Lateranus will take up his whip in broad daylight; not shrinking to meet a now-aged friend, he will be the first to salute him with his whip; he will unbind the trusses of hay, and deal out the fodder to his weary cattle. Meanwhile, though he slays woolly victims and tawny steers after Numa's fashion, he swears by no other deity before Jove's high altar than the Goddess of horseflesh, and the images painted on the reeking stables. And when it pleases him to go back to the all-night tavern, a Syro-Phoenician runs forth to meet him-----a denizen of the Idumaean gate 28 perpetually drenched in perfumes----and salutes him as lord and prince with all the airs of a host; and with him comes Cyane, her dress tucked up, carrying a flagon of wine for sale.

An apologist will say to me, "We too did the same as boys." Perhaps: but then you ceased from your follies and let them drop. Let your evil days be short; let some of your misdoings be cut off with your first beard.29 Boys may be pardoned; but when Lateranus frequented those hot liquor shops with their inscribed linen awnings, he was of ripe age, fit to guard in arms the Armenian and Syrian rivers, the Danube and the Rhine; fit to protect the person of his Emperor. Send your Legate to Ostia, O Caesar, but search for him in some big cookshop! There you will find him, lying cheek-by-jowl beside a cut-throat, in the company of bargees, thieves, and runaway slaves, beside hangmen and coffin-makers, or of some eunuch priest lying drunk with idle timbrels. Here is Liberty Hall! One cup serves for everybody; no one has a bed to himself, nor a table apart from the rest. What would you do, friend Ponticus, if you chanced upon a slave like this? You would send him to your Lucanian or Tuscan bridewell.30 But you gentlemen of Trojan blood find excuses for yourselves; what would disgrace a huckster sits gracefully on a Volesus or a Brutus!

What if I can never cite any example so foul and shameful that there is not something worse behind? Your means exhausted, Damasippus, you hired out your voice to the stage,31 taking the part of the Clamorous Ghost of Catullus.32 The nimble Lentulus acted famously the part of Laureolus 33: deserving, in my judgment, to be really and truly crucified. Nor can the spectators themselves be forgiven: the populace that with brazen front sits and beholds the triple buffooneries of our patricians, that can listen to a bare-footed 34 Fabius, and laugh to see the Mamerci cuffing each other. What matters it at what price they sell their deaths? 35 No Nero compels them to sell; yet they hesitate not to sell themselves at the games of the exalted Praetor. And yet suppose that on one side of you were placed a sword, on the other the stage: which were the better choice? Was ever any man so afraid of death that he would choose to be the jealous husband of a Thymele, or the colleague of the clown Corinthus? Yet when an Emperor 36 has taken to harp-playing, it is not so very strange that a noble should act in a mime. Beyond this, what will be left but the gladiatorial school? And that scandal too you have seen in our city: a Gracchus fighting, not indeed as a murmillo, nor with the round shield and scimitar 37: such accoutrements he rejects, ay rejects and detests; nor does a helmet shroud his face. See how he wields his trident! and when with poised right hand he has cast the trailing net in vain, he lifts up his bare face to the benches and flies, for all to recognise, from one end of the arena to the other.38 We cannot mistake the golden tunic that flutters from his throat, and the twisted cord that dangles from the high-crowned cap 39; and so the pursuer who was pitted against Gracchus endured a shame more grievous than any wound.

If free suffrage were granted to the people, who would be so abandoned as not to prefer Seneca 40 to Nero----Nero, for whose chastisement no single ape or adder, no solitary sack,41 should have been provided? His crime was like that of Agamemnon's son 42; but the case was not the same, seeing that Orestes, at the bidding of the Gods, was avenging a father slain in his cups.43 Orestes never stained himself with Electra's blood, or with that of his Spartan wife 44; he never mixed poison-drafts for his own kin; he never sang upon the stage,45 he never wrote an Epic upon Troy! For of all the deeds of Nero's cruel and bloody tyranny, which was there that more deserved to be avenged by the arms of a Verginius,46 of a Vindex 47 or a Galba? These were the deeds, these the graces of our high-born Prince, whose delight it was to prostitute himself by unseemly singing upon a foreign stage, and to earn a chaplet of Greek parsley! Let thy ancestral images be decked with the trophies of thy voice! Place thou at the feet of a Domitius 48 the trailing robe of Thyestes 49 or Antigone,49 or the mask of Melanippa,49 and hang up thy harp on a colossus 50 of marble!

Where can be found, O Catiline, nobler ancestors than thine, or than thine, Cethegus? 51 Yet you plot a night attack, you prepare to give our houses and temples to the flames as though you were the sons of trousered 52 Gauls, or sprung from the Senones,53 daring deeds that deserved the shirt of torture.54 But our Consul 55 is awake, and beats back your hosts. Born at Arpinum, of ignoble blood, a municipal knight new to Rome, he posts helmeted men at every point to guard the affrighted citizens, and is alert on every hill. Thus within the walls his toga won for him as much name and honour as Octavius gained by battle in Leucas 56; as much as Octavius won by his blood-dripping sword on the plains of Thessaly 57; but then Rome was yet free when she styled him the Parent and Father of his country! Another son of Arpinum 58 used to work for hire upon the Volscian hills, toiling behind a plough not his own; after that, a centurion's knotty staff would be broken over his head 59 if his pick were slow and sluggish in the trench. Yet it is he who faces the Cimbri,60 and the mightiest perils; alone he saves the trembling city. And so when the ravens, who had never before seen such huge carcasses, flew down upon the slaughtered Cimbri, his high-born colleague is decorated with the second bay.

Plebeian were the souls of the Decii,61 plebeian were their names; yet they were accepted by the Gods beneath and by Mother Earth in lieu of all the Legions and the allies, and all the youth of Latium, for the Decii were more precious than the hosts whom they saved.

It was one born of a slave who won the robe and diadem and fasces of Quirinus----the last he of our good Kings 62----whereas the Consul's own sons, who should have dared some great thing for endangered liberty----some deed to be marvelled at by Mucius or Cocles,63 or by the maiden 64 who swam across the river-boundary of our realm----were for traitorously loosing the bolts of the city gates to the exiled tyrants. It was a slave----well worthy he to be bewailed by matrons----who revealed the secret plot to the Fathers, while the sons met their just punishment from scourging and from the axe then first used in the cause of Law.

I would rather that Thersites were your father if only you were like the grandson of Aeacus,65 and could wield the arms of Vulcan, than that you should have been begotten by Achilles and be like Thersites. Yet, after all, however far you may trace back your name, however long the roll, you derive your race from an ill-famed asylum: the first of your ancestors, whoever he was, was either a shepherd or something that I would rather not name.

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1. Alluding to the younger Scipio, son of L. Aemilius Paulus, who according to rule took the name of Aemilianus after his adoption by P. Cornelius Scipio (son of Scipio Africanus major).
2. Scipio the younger was called Numantinus after the capture of Numantia, B.C. 134.
3. The Fabii pretended to be descended from Hercules.
4. Alluding to Q. Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus (B.C. 121).
5. The ara maxima of Hercules, near the Circus.
6. Fine pasture land in Venetia, where dwelt the Euganei.
7. From Catana near Mount Aetna.
8. When a new Apis was born, the people shouted εὑρήκαμεν συγχαίρομεν. Apis was supposed to be an incarnation of Osiris.
9. Rubellius Blandus was married to Julia, grand-daughter of Tiberius. One of his descendants must be meant here.
10. Famous racers.
11. The famous tyrant of Agrigentum, who slowly roasted his victims in a brazen bull.
12. Gaurus was a hill overlooking the Lucrine lake.
13. A well-known perfumer.
14. Condemned for extortion in Cilicia. See Tac. Ann. xiii. 33.
15. The word piratae is used because the Cilicians were notorious pirates.
16. The native Cilicians reap no benefit from the condemnation of the governors.
17. Chaerippus is a Cilician native who is advised to sell anything he has left. Pansa and Natta are fictitious names to denote the plundering governors.
18. i.e. the fee to be given to Charon for the passage over the Styx. Some take it of the passage-money to Rome.
19. These are all names of famous Greek artists of the third and fourth centuries.
20. Cornelius Dolabella, condemned of extortion in Cilicia, B.C. 78.
21. C. Antonius, uncle of Mark Antony, expelled from the Senate for extortion, B.C. 70.
22. C. Verres, propraetor of Sicily B.C. 73-70, attacked by Cicero in his famous Verrine orations.
23. Resin was used as a depilatory.
24. i. e. of Africa, whence came the main part of the Roman supplies of corn.
25. See n. to i. 49.
26. A mythical Latin king, son of Saturn, and father of Faunus.
27. Lateranus is called mulio as a term of reproach.
28. A low quarter of Rome; perhaps the Jews' quarter.
29. The first cutting off of the beard of a son or a favourite was attended with some ceremony.
30. Private prisons in which gangs of slaves were kept in irons.
31. Siparium was a curtain separating the front part of the stage, on which mimes were acted, from the back.
32. A writer of mimi.
33. A highwayman who was crucified.
34. Actors in mimes wore no shoes.
35. "To sell their deaths" is equivalent to "to sell their lives." The word funera may also suggest that these degenerate nobles are destroying the old glories of their families.
36. Nero.
37. The phrase falce supina = "a sickle on its back"; the point of the weapon was bent backwards instead of forwards.
38. It was a disgrace for Gracchus to fight as a retiarius. Having no armour, he had to run away if he missed his throw with the net. His adversary was fully armed.
39. Galerus or galerum was probably a kind of helmet or cap. The Schol. here says Galerus est humero impositus gladiatoris. See Duff and Mayor.
40. Seneca had to open his veins by Nero's order.
41. The ancient punishment for parricide was that the criminal should be tied up in a sack along with a dog, an ape, a snake, and a cock, and then cast into the sea.
42. Orestes slew his mother Clytemnestra in revenge for the murder of his father. But he did not slay a sister or a wife as Nero slew his wife Octavia and his half-sister Antonia.
43. So Homer, Od. xi. 409. The tragedian's story is that Agamemnon was slain in his bath.
44. Hermione.
45. In the year A.D. 59 Nero presented himself upon the stage (Tac. Ann. xiv. 15). In A.D. 67-8 he made a tour of the Greek games and won prizes at many musical contests.
46. Verginius Rufus, Legate of Upper Germany, defeated the revolting Vindex, and refused to be named emperor after Galba's death in A.D. 69.
47. C. Julius Vindex, propraetor of the province Lugdunensis, revolted against Nero in A.D. 68, and was defeated by Verginius.
48. Not the father of Nero, but one of his distinguished ancestors on his father's side. Nero's name before his adoption by Claudius was L. Domitius Ahenobarbus.
49. Tragic parts acted by Nero.
50. This is doubtless meant as a hit at the famous bronze Colossus of Nero.
51. C. Cornelius Cethegus was the most prominent associate of Catiline in the long-nursed conspiracy which was crushed by Cicero as consul in B.C. 63.
52. Narbonese Gaul was called bracata because its inhabitants wore trousers.
53. The Gauls who defeated the Romans in the battle of the Allia, B.C. 390.
54. A shirt lined with pitch in which the victims were burnt to death. See above i. 115 and Tac. Ann. xv. 44.
55. Cicero.
56. The island of Leucas here stands for the battle of Actium, though it was many miles distant from the place where the battle was fought.
57. The battle of Philippi (B.C. 42) is meant, though Philippi was in Macedonia, not in Thessaly. The battle fought in Thessaly was the battle of Pharsalia, B.C. 49. The Roman poets confound the two battles.
58. C. Marius.
59. i. e. he served as a private soldier.
60. The Cimbri and Teutones were utterly defeated by Marius and his colleague Q. Lutatius Catulus on the Raudian plain in B.C. 101. Catulus shared in the triumph, but all the honour was given to Marius.
61. P. Decius Mus, in the Latin War, B.C. 340, gained the victory for the Romans by devoting himself and the enemy to destruction; his son did the same in the battle of Sentinum, B.C. 295.
62. Servius Tullius.
63. Horatius Cocles, who "kept the bridge so well"; Mucius Scaevola, to show his courage, put his hand into the flames in Porsena's camp.
64. Cloelia, the hostage who escaped by swimming across the Tiber.
65. Achilles is called Aeacides as he was the grandson of Aeacus.

 






Satire 9.


 

The Sorrows of a Reprobate

I should like to know, Naevolus, why you so often look gloomy when I meet you, knitting your brow like a vanquished Marsyas.1 What have you to do with the look that Ravola wore when caught playing that dirty trick with Rhodope? If a slave takes a lick at the pastry, he gets a thrashing for his pains! Why do you look as woe-begone as Crepereius Pollio when he goes round offering a triple rate of interest, and can find no fool to trust him? Why have you suddenly developed those wrinkles? You used to be an easily contented person, who passed as a home-bred knight that could make biting jests at the dinner-table and tell witty town-bred stories. But now you are a different man. You have a hang-dog look; your head is a forest of unkempt, unanointed hair; your skin has lost all the gloss that it got from swathes of hot Bruttian pitch, and your legs are dirty and rough with sprouting hair. Why are you as thin as a chronic invalid in whom a quartan fever has long made its home? One can detect in a sickly body the secret torments of the soul, as also its joys: the face takes on the stamp of either. You seem, therefore, to have changed your mode of life, and to be going in a way opposite to your past. Not long ago, as I remember, you were a gallant more notorious than Aundius; you used to frequent the Temple of Isis and that of Peace with its Ganymede, and the secret courts of the Foreign Mother----for in what temple are there not frail fair ones to be found?

"Many men have found profit in my mode of life; but I have made nothing substantial out of my labours. I sometimes have a greasy cloak given me that will save my toga----a coarse and crudely dyed garment that has been ill-combed by the Gallic weaver----or some trifle in silver of an inferior quality. Man is ruled by destiny; even those parts of him that lie beneath his clothes. . . . What greater monster is there in the world than a miserly debauchee? 'I gave you this,' says he, 'and then that; and later again ever so much more.' Thus he makes a reckoning with his lusts. Well, set out the counters, call in the lads with the reckoning board, count out five thousand sesterces all told, and then enumerate my services. ... I am less accounted of than the poor hind who ploughs his master's field. You used to deem yourself a delicate and good-looking youth, fit to be Jove's own cup-bearer; but will men like you, who are unwilling to pay for your own morbid pleasures, ever show a kindness to a poor follower or a slave? A pretty fellow to have presents sent him of green sunshades or big amber balls on a birthday, or on the first day of showery spring, when he lolls at full length in a huge easy chair counting over the secret gifts he has received upon the Matron's Day! 2

"Tell me, you sparrow, for whose benefit are you keeping all those hills and farms in Apulia, all those pasture-lands that tire out the kites? Your stores are filled with rich grapes from your Trifoline vineyard, or from the slopes that look down upon Cumae, or the unpeopled Gaurus; whose vats seal up more vintages destined for long life than yours? Would it be a great matter to present a few acres to the loins of an exhausted client? Is it better, think you, that this country woman, with her cottage and her babe and her pet dog, should be bequeathed to a friend who plays the timbrels? 'You're an impudent beggar,' you say. Yes, but my rent cries on me to beg; and so does my single slave-lad----as single as that big eye of Polyphemus which helped the wily Ulysses to make his escape. And one slave is not enough; I shall have to buy a second and feed them both. What shall I do, pray, when the winter howls? What shall I say to their shivering feet and shoulders when December's north wind blows? Shall I say 'Hold on, and wait till the grasshoppers arrive'?

"And though you ignore and pass by my other services, what price do you put on this, that were I not your true and devoted client, your wife would still be a maid? You know how often, and in what ways, you have asked that service of me, and what promises you made to me. . . . There's many a household in which a union that was unstable, ready to break up, and all but dissolved, has been saved by the intervention of a lover. Which way can you turn? Which service do you put first, which last? Is it to be no merit, you thankless and perfidious man, none at all, that I have presented you with a little son or daughter? For you rear the children, and love to spread abroad in the gazette the proofs of your virility. Hang up garlands over your door! You are now a father; I have given you something to set up against ill fame. You have now parental rights; through me you can be entered as an heir, and receive a legacy entire, with a nice little extra into the bargain; to all which perquisites many more will be added if I make up your family to the full number of three."

Indeed, Naevolus, you have just cause of complaint. But what has he got to say on the other side? "He takes no notice, and looks out for another two-legged donkey like myself. But remember, my secrets are for your ears alone; keep my complaints fast locked up in your own bosom. It is a fatal thing to have for your enemy a man who keeps himself smooth by pumice-stone! The man who has lately entrusted me with a secret has a consuming hatred of me, believing I have revealed everything that I know; he will not hesitate to take up a sword, or to lay open my head with a club, or to put a lighted candle against my door. Nor can you disregard or make nothing of the fact that for a man of his means the price of poison is never high. So keep my secrets close----as close as did the Council of Areopagus!"

O my poor Corydon! Do you suppose that a rich man has any secrets? Though his slaves hold their tongues, his beasts of burden and his dog will talk; his door posts and his marble columns will tell tales. Let him shut the windows, and close every chink with curtains; let him fasten the doors, remove the light, turn everyone out of the house, and permit no one to sleep in it----yet the tavern-keeper close by will know before dawn what he was doing at the second cock-crow; he will hear also all the tales invented by the pastry-man, by the head cook and the carver. For what calumny will they hesitate to concoct against their masters when a slander will avenge them for their strappings? Nor will some tippling friend be wanting to look for you at the crossways, and, do what you will, pour his drunken story into your ear. So just ask those people to hold their tongues about the things you questioned me about just now! Why, they would rather blab out a secret than drink as much stolen wine as Saufeia used to swill when conducting a public sacrifice. There are many reasons for right living; but the chiefest of them all is this, that you need pay no attention to the talk of your slaves. For the tongue is the worst part of a bad slave; and yet worse still is the plight of a man who cannot escape from the talk of those whom he supports with his own bread and money.

"Your advice is excellent, but it is vague. What do you advise me to do now, after all my lost time and disappointed hopes? for the short span of our poor unhappy life is hurrying swiftly on, like a flower, to its close: while we drink, and call for chaplets, for unguents, and for maidens, old age is creeping on us unperceived."

Be not afraid; so long as these seven hills of ours stand fast, pathic friends will never fail you: from every quarter, in carriages and in ships, those gentry who scratch their heads with one finger will flock in. And you have always a further and better ground of hope----if you fit your diet to your trade.

"Such maxims are for the fortunate; my Clotho and Lachesis are well pleased if I can fill my belly with my labours. O my own little Lares, whom I am wont to supplicate with a pinch of frankincense or corn, or with a tiny garland, when can I assure myself of what will keep my old days from the beggar's staff and mat? Twenty thousand sesterces, well secured; some vessels of plain silver----yet such as Censor Fabricius would have condemned----and a couple of stout Moesian porters on whose hired necks I may be taken comfortably to my place in the bawling circus. Let me have besides a stooping engraver, and a painter who will quickly dash off any number of likenesses. Enough this for a poor man like me. It is a pitiful prayer, and I have little hope even of that; for whenever Fortune is supplicated on my behalf, she plugs her ears with wax fetched from that selfsame ship which escaped from the Sicilian songstresses through the deafness of her crew." 3

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1. Flayed by Apollo when beaten in a musical contest.
2. The 1st of March; see Hor. Od. III. viii. 1.
3. Ulysses stuffed the ears of his followers with wax to prevent them hearing the voices of the Sirens (Od. xii. 39 ff.).

 





Bathyllus' Luring




Satire 10.

 

The Vanity of Human Wishes

In all the lands that stretch from Gades to the Ganges and the Morn, there are but few who can distinguish true blessings from their opposites, putting aside the mists of error. For when does Reason direct our desires or our fears? What project do we form so auspiciously that we do not repent us of our effort and of the granted wish? Whole households have been destroyed by the compliant Gods in answer to the masters' prayers; in camp and city alike we ask for things that will be our ruin. Many a man has met death from the rushing flood of his own eloquence; others from the strength and wondrous thews in which they have trusted. More still have been ruined by money too carefully amassed, and by fortunes that surpass all patrimonies by as much as the British whale exceeds the dolphin. It was for this that in the dire days Nero ordered Longinus 1 and the great gardens of the over-wealthy Seneca 2 to be put under siege; for this was it that the noble Palace of the Laterani 3 was beset by an entire cohort; it is but seldom that soldiers find their way into a garret!

Though you carry but few silver vessels with you in a night journey, you will be afraid of the sword and cudgel of a freebooter, you will tremble at the shadow of a reed shaking in the moonlight; but the empty-handed traveller will whistle in the robber's face.

The foremost of all petitions----the one best known to every temple----is for riches and their increase, that our money-chest may be the biggest in the Forum. But you will drink no aconite out of an earthenware cup; you may dread it when a jewelled cup is offered you, or when Setine wine sparkles in a golden bowl. Then will you not commend the two wise men, one of whom 4 would laugh while the opposite sage 5 would weep every time he set a foot outside the door? To condemn by a cutting laugh comes readily to us all; the wonder is how the other sage's eyes were supplied with all that water. The sides of Democritus shook with unceasing laughter, although in the cities of his day there were no purple-bordered or purple-striped robes, no fasces, no palanquins, no tribunals. What if he had seen the Praetor uplifted in his lofty car amid the dust of the Circus, attired in the tunic 6 of Jove, hitching an embroidered Tyrian toga 6 on to his shoulders, and carrying a crown so big that no neck could bear the weight of it? For a public slave is sweating under the burden; and that the Consul may not fancy himself overmuch, the slave rides in the same chariot with his master. Add to all this the bird that is perched on his ivory staff; on this side the horn-blowers, on that the duteous clients preceding him in long array, with white-robed Roman citizens, whose friendship has been gained by the dinner-dole snugly lying in their purses,7 marching at his bridle-rein. Even then the philosopher found food for laughter at every meeting with his kind: his wisdom shows us that men of high distinction and destined to set great examples may be born in a dullard air, and in the land of mutton-heads.8 He laughed at the troubles, ay and at the pleasures, of the crowd, sometimes too at their tears, while for himself he would bid frowning fortune go hang, and point at her the finger of derision.

Thus it is that the things for which we pray, and for which it is right and proper to load the knees of the Gods with wax, are either profitless or pernicious! Some men are hurled headlong by over-great power and the envy to which it exposes them; they are wrecked by the long and illustrious roll of their honours: down come their statues, obedient to the rope; the axe hews in pieces their chariot wheels and the legs of the unoffending horses. And now the flames are hissing, and amid the roar of furnace and of bellows the head of the mighty Sejanus,9 the darling of the mob, is burning and crackling, and from that face, which was but lately second in the entire world, are being fashioned pipkins, pitchers, frying-pans and slop-pails! Up with the laurel-wreaths over your doors! Lead forth a grand chalked bull to the Capitol! Sejanus is being dragged along by a hook, as a show and joy to all! "What a lip the fellow had! What a face!"----"Believe me, I never liked the man!"----"But on what charge was he condemned? Who informed against him? What was the evidence, who the witnesses, who made good the case?"-----"Nothing of the sort; a great and wordy letter came from Capri." 10----"Good; I ask no more."

And what does the mob of Remus say? It follows fortune, as it always does, and rails against the condemned. That same rabble, if Nortia had smiled upon the Etruscan,11 if the aged Emperor had been struck down unawares, would in that very hour have conferred upon Sejanus the title of Augustus. Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things----Bread and Games!

"I hear that many are to perish."----"No doubt of it; there is a big furnace ready."----"My friend Brutidius 12 looked a trifle pale when I met him at the Altar of Mars. I tremble lest the defeated Ajax should take vengeance for having been so ill-defended." 13----"Let us rush headlong and trample on Caesar's enemy, while he lies upon the bank!"----"Ay, and let our slaves see us, that none bear witness against us, and drag their trembling master into court with a halter round his neck."

Such was the talk at the moment about Sejanus; such were the mutterings of the crowd. And would you like to be courted like Sejanus? To be as rich as he was? To bestow on one man the ivory chairs of office, appoint another to the command of armies, and be counted guardian of a Prince seated on the narrow ledge of Capri with his herd of Chaldaean astrologers? You would like, no doubt, to have Centurions, Cohorts, and Illustrious 14 Knights at your call, and to possess a camp of your own? Why should you not? Even those who don't want to kill anybody would like to have the power to do it. But what grandeur, what high fortune, are worth the having if the joy is overbalanced by the calamities they bring with them? Would you rather choose to wear the bordered robe of the man now being dragged along the streets, or to be a magnate at Fidenae or Gabii, adjudicating upon weights, or smashing vessels of short measure, as a thread-bare Aedile at deserted Ulubrae? 15 You admit, then, that Sejanus did not know what things were to be desired; for in coveting excessive honours, and seeking excessive wealth, he was but building up the many stories of a lofty tower whence the fall would be the greater, and the crash of headlong ruin more terrific. What was it that overthrew the Crassi, and the Pompeii, and him who brought the conquered Quirites under his lash? 16 What but lust for the highest place pursued by every kind of means? What but ambitious prayers granted by unkindly Gods? Few indeed are the kings who go down to Ceres' son-in-law 17 save by sword and slaughter----few the tyrants that perish by a bloodless death!

Every schoolboy who worships Minerva with a modest penny fee, attended by a slave to guard his little satchel, prays all through his holidays for eloquence, for the fame of a Cicero or a Demosthenes. Yet it was eloquence that brought both orators to their death; each perished by the copious and overflowing torrent of his own genius. It was his genius that cut off the hand, and severed the neck, of Cicero; never yet did futile pleader stain the rostra with his blood!

"O happy Fate for the Roman State
Was the date of my great Consulate!" 18

Had Cicero always spoken thus, he might have laughed at the swords of Antony. Better verses meet only for contempt than thou, O famous and divine Philippic, that comest out second on the roll! Terrible, too, was the death of him whom Athens loved to hear sweeping along and holding in check the crowded theatre. Unfriendly were the Gods, and evil the star, under whom was born the man whom his father, blear-eyed with the soot of glowing ore, sent away from the coal, the pincers and the sword-fashioning anvil of grimy Vulcan,19 to study the art of the rhetorician!

The spoils of war and trophies fastened upon stumps----a breast-plate, a cheek-strap hanging from a broken helmet, a yoke shorn of its pole, the flagstaff of a captured galley, or a captive sorrowing on a triumphal arch----such things are deemed glories too great for man; these are the prizes for which every General strives, be he Greek, Roman, or barbarian; it is for these that he endures toil and peril: so much greater is the thirst for glory than for virtue! For who would embrace virtue herself if you stripped her of her rewards? Yet full oft has a land been destroyed by the vainglory of a few, by the lust for honour and for a title that shall cling to the stones that guard their ashes----stones which may be rent asunder by the rude strength of the barren fig-tree, seeing that even sepulchres have their doom assigned to them!

Put Hannibal into the scales; how many pounds' weight will you find in that greatest of commanders? This is the man for whom Africa was all too small----a land beaten by the Moorish sea and stretching to the steaming Nile, and then, again, to the tribes of Aethiopia and a new race of Elephants! Spain is added to his dominions: he overleaps the Pyrenees; Nature throws in his way Alps and snow: he splits the rocks asunder, and breaks up the mountain-side with vinegar! And now Italy is in his grasp, but still on he presses: "Nought is accomplished," he cries, "until my Punic host breaks down the city gates, and I plant my standard in the midst of the Subura! " O what a sight was that! What a picture it would make, the one-eyed General riding on the Gaetulian monster! What then was his end? Alas for glory! A conquered man, he flees headlong into exile, and there he sits, a mighty and marvellous suppliant, in the King's antechamber, until it please his Bithynian Majesty 20 to awake! No sword, no stone, no javelin shall end the life which once wrought havoc throughout the world: that little ring 21 shall avenge Cannae and all those seas of blood. On! on! thou madman, and race over the wintry Alps, that thou mayest be the delight of schoolboys and supply declaimers with a theme!

One globe is all too little for the youth of Pella;22 he chafes uneasily within the narrow limits of the world, as though he were cooped up within the rocks of Gyara or the diminutive Seriphos; but yet when once he shall have entered the city fortified by the potter's art,23 a sarcophagus will suffice him! Death alone proclaims how small are our poor human bodies! We have heard how ships once sailed through Mount Athos, and all the lying tales of Grecian history; how the sea was paved by those self-same ships, and gave solid support to chariot-wheels; how deep rivers failed, and whole streams were drunk dry when the Persian breakfasted, with all the fables of which Sostratus 24 sings with reeking pinions. But in what plight did that king 25 flee from Salamis? he that had been wont to inflict barbaric stripes upon the winds Corus and Eurus----never treated thus in their Aeolian prison-house----he who had bound the Earth-shaker himself with chains, deeming it clemency, forsooth, not to think him worthy of a branding also: what god, indeed, would be willing to serve such a master?----in what plight did he return? Why, in a single ship; on blood-stained waves, the prow slowly forcing her way through waters thick with corpses! Such was the penalty exacted for that long-desired glory!

Give me length of days, give me many years, O Jupiter! Such is your one and only prayer, in days of strength or of sickness; yet how great, how unceasing, are the miseries of old age! Look first at the misshapen and ungainly face, so unlike its former self; see the unsightly hide that serves for skin; see the pendulous cheeks and the wrinkles like those which a matron baboon carves upon her aged jaws in the shaded glades of Thabraca.26 The young men differ in various ways: this man is handsomer than that, and he than another; one is stronger than another: but old men all look alike. Their voices are as shaky as their limbs, their heads without hair, their noses drivelling as in childhood. Their bread, poor wretches, has to be munched by toothless gums; so offensive do they become to their wives, their children and themselves, that even the legacy-hunter, Cossus, turns from them in disgust. Their sluggish palate takes joy in wine or food no longer, and all pleasures of the flesh have been long ago forgotten. . . .

And now consider the loss of another sense: what joy has the old man in song, however famous be the singer? what joy in the harping of Seleucus himself, or of those who shine resplendent in gold-embroidered robes? What matters it in what part of the great theatre he sits when he can scarce hear the horns and trumpets when they all blow together? The slave who announces a visitor, or tells the time of day, must needs shout in his ear if he is to be heard.

Besides all this, the little blood in his now chilly frame is never warm except with fever; diseases of every kind dance around him in a body; if you ask of me their names, I could more readily tell you the number of Oppia's paramours, how many patients Themison killed in one season, how many partners were defrauded by Basilus, how many wards corrupted by Hirrus, how many lovers tall Maura wears out in a single season; I could sooner run over the number of villas now belonging to the barber under whose razor my stiff youthful beard used to grate.27 One suffers in the shoulder, another in the loins, a third in the hip; another has lost both eyes, and envies those who have one; another takes food into his pallid lips from someone else's fingers, while he whose jaws used to fly open at the sight of his dinner, now only gapes like the young of a swallow whose fasting mother flies to him with well-laden beak. But worse than any loss of limb is the failing mind which forgets the names of slaves, and cannot recognise the face of the old friend who dined with him last night, nor those of the children whom he has begotten and brought up. For by a cruel will he cuts off his own flesh and blood and leaves all his estate to Phiale----so potent was the breath of that alluring mouth which had plied its trade for so many years in her narrow archway.

And though the powers of his mind be strong as ever, yet must he carry forth his sons to burial; he must behold the funeral pyres of his beloved wife and his brothers, and urns filled with the ashes of his sisters. Such are the penalties of the long liver: he sees calamity after calamity befall his house, he lives in a world of sorrow, he grows old amid continual lamentation and in the garb of woe. If we can believe mighty Homer, the King of Pylos 28 was an example of long life second only to the crow; happy forsooth in this that he had put off death for so many generations, and had so often quaffed the new-made wine, counting now his years upon his right hand.29 But mark for a moment, I beg, how he bewails the decrees of fate and his too-long thread of life, when he beholds the beard of his brave Antilochus 30 in the flames,31 and asks of every friend around him why he has lived so long, what crime he has committed to deserve such length of days. Thus did Peleus also mourn when he lost Achilles; and so that other father 32 who had to bewail the sea-roving Ithacan. Had Priam perished at some other time, before Paris began to build his audacious ships, he would have gone down to the shade of Assaracus 33 when Troy was still standing, and with regal pomp; his body would have been borne on the shoulders ot Hector and his brothers amid the tears of Ilion's daughters, and the rending of Polyxena's 34 garments: Cassandra 34 would have led the cries of woe. What boon did length of days bring to him? He saw everything in ruins, and Asia perishing by fire and the sword. Laying aside his tiara, and arming himself, he fell, a trembling soldier, before the altar of Almighty Jove, like an aged ox discarded by the thankless plough who offers his poor lean neck to his master's knife. Priam's death was at least that of a human being; but his wife 35 lived on to open her mouth with the savage barking of a dog.

I hasten to our own countrymen, passing by the king of Pontus 36 and Croesus,37 who was bidden by the wise and eloquent Solon to look to the last lap of a long life. It was this that brought Marius to exile and to prison, it took him to the swamps of Minturnae and made him beg his bread in the Carthage that he had conquered. What could Nature ever in all the world have produced more glorious than him, if after parading his troops of captives with all the pomp of war he had breathed forth his soul in glory as he was about to step down from his Teutonic car? 38 Kindly Campania gave to Pompey a fever, which he might have prayed for as a boon 39; but the public prayers of all those cities gained the day; so his own fortune and that of Rome preserved him to be vanquished and to lose his head. No such cruel thing befell Lentulus 40; Cethegus 40 escaped such punishment and fell whole; and Catiline's corpse lay unviolated.

When the loving mother passes the temple of Venus, she prays in whispered breath for her boys----more loudly, and entering into the most trifling particulars, for her daughters----that they may have beauty. "And why should I not?" she asks; "did not Latona rejoice in Diana's beauty?" Yes: but Lucretia forbids us to pray for a face like her own; and Verginia would gladly take Rutila's hump and give her own fair form to Rutila. A handsome son keeps his parents in constant fear and misery; so rarely do modesty and good looks go together. For though his home be strict, and have taught him ways as pure as those of the ancient Sabines, and though Nature besides with kindly hand have lavishly gifted him with a pure mind and a cheek mantling with modest blood----and what better thing can Nature, more careful, more potent than any guardian, bestow upon a youth?----he will not be allowed to become a man. The lavish wickedness of some seducer will tempt the boy's own parents: such trust can be placed in money! No misshapen youth was ever unsexed by cruel tyrant in his castle; never did Nero have a bandy-legged or scrofulous favourite, or one that was hump-backed or pot-bellied!

Go to now, you that revel in your son's beauty; think of the deadly perils that lie before him. He will become a promiscuous gallant, and have to fear all the vengeance due to outraged husbands; no luckier than Mars, he will not fail to fall into the net. And sometimes the husband's wrath exacts greater penalties than any law allows: one lover is slain by the sword, another bleeds under the lash; some undergo the punishment of the mullet. Your dear Endymion will become the gallant of some matron whom he loves; but before long, when Servilia has taken him into her pay, he will serve one also whom he loves not, and will strip her of all her ornaments; for what can any woman, be she an Oppia or a Catulla,41 deny to the man who serves her passion? It is on her passion that a bad woman's whole nature centres. "But how does beauty hurt the chaste?" you ask. Well, what availed Hippolytus or Bellerophon 42 their firm resolve? The Cretan lady flared up as though repelled with scorn; no less furious was Stheneboea. Both dames lashed themselves into fury; for never is woman so savage as when her hatred is goaded on by shame.

And now tell me what counsel you think should be given to him 43 whom Caesar's wife is minded to wed. Best and fairest of a patrician house, the unhappy youth is dragged to destruction by Messalina's eyes. She has long been seated; her bridal veil is ready; the Tyrian nuptial couch is being spread openly in the gardens; a dowry of one million sesterces will be given after the ancient fashion, the soothsayer and the witnesses will be there. And you thought these things were secret, did you, known only to a few? But the lady will not wed save with all the due forms. Say what is your resolve: if you say nay to her, you will have to perish before the lighting of the lamps; if you perpetrate the crime, you will have a brief respite until the affair, known already to the city and the people, shall come to the Prince's ears; he will be the last to know of the dishonour of his house. Meanwhile, if you value a few days of life so highly, obey your orders: whatever you may deem the easier and the better way, that fair white neck of yours will have to be offered to the sword.

Is there nothing then for which men shall pray? If you ask my counsel, you will leave it to the gods themselves to provide what is good for us, and what will be serviceable for our state; for, in place of what is pleasing, they will give us what is best. Man is dearer to them than he is to himself. Impelled by strong and blind desire, we ask for wife and offspring; but the gods know ot what sort the sons, of what sort the wife, will be. Nevertheless that you may have something to pray for, and be able to offer to the shrines entrails and presaging sausages from a white porker, you should pray for a sound mind in a sound body; for a stout heart that has no fear of death, and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts; that can endure any kind of toil; that knows neither wrath nor desire, and thinks that the woes and hard labours of Hercules are better than the loves and the banquets and the down cushions of Sardanapalus.44 What I commend to you, you can give to yourself; for it is assuredly through virtue that lies the one and only road to a life of peace. Thou wouldst have no divinity, O Fortune, if we had but wisdom; it is we that make a goddess of thee, and place thee in the skies.

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1. A famous lawyer banished by Nero.
2. Forced by Nero to commit suicide.
3. Plautius Lateranus was put to death by Nero for joining in Piso's conspiracy, A.D. 63.
4. Democritus of Abdera.
5. Heraclitus of Ephesus.
6. The tunica palmata, embroidered with palm, and the toga picta, with gold, were triumphal garments, described by Livy as Iovis optimi maximi ornatus (xx. 7).
7. In i. 95-6 ff, the sportula (properly a basket) is spoken of as a meal actually carried away by the clients. The present passage refers to the later practice which substituted a sum of 100 quadrantes (4 sesterces) for the meal in kind.
8. Abdera, in Thrace, the birthplace of Democritus, had the reputation of being a breeder of thick-heads.
9. The upstart favourite of Tiberius.
10. Tiberius was living in grim solitude in his rock fortress on the island of Capreae when he sent to the Senate the famous letter----the verbosa et grandis epistola----which hurried Sejanus to his doom on the 18th of October, a.d. 29. (The passage in Tacitus which described the whole event is unfortunately lost; but the fine account of Dion Cassius is given in my Annals of Tacitus, vol. i. pp. 344-353.----G. G. R.).
11. Sejanus was a native of Volsinii in Etruria; Nortia was the Etruscan Goddess of Fortune.
12. A famous orator.
13. Apparently Ajax here stands for Tiberius, who, it is thought, may revenge himself by punishing those who have not sufficiently guarded his person.14. The highest and richest class of Equites were called Equites Illustres or Splendidi.
15. Fidenae, Gabii, Ulubrae, small and deserted towns in Latium.
16. Caesar.
17. Pluto.
18. This line is taken from the poem (De suo Consulatu) which Cicero wrote to glorify the events of his Consulship. To the many who are not gifted with the divine faculty of poesy it may be a consolation to know that a writer of the most splendid prose could be guilty of such a rubbishy line as that here quoted.
19. Demosthenes' father, of the same name, was a blacksmith ----or at least a manufacturer of swords.
20. Prusias I, king of Bithynia.
21. Containing poison.
22. Alexander the Great, b. at Pella B.C. 356, d. at Babylon B.C. 323.
23. The famous walls of Babylon were built of brick.
24. An unknown poet.
25. Xerxes.
26. A town in Numidia.
27. Referring to some barber who had made money, and was obnoxious to Juvenal as a rich parvenu.
28. Nestor.
29. i.e. had begun to count by hundreds.
30. Nestor's son.
31. ardentem, i.e. on the pyre.
32. Laertes, father of Ulysses.
33. Son of Tros, from whom the Trojans took their name.
34. Daughters of Priam.
35. Hecuba.
36. Mithridates.
37. The wealthy king of Lydia.
38. i.e. after the battle of Campi Raudii, near Vercellae, in B.C. 101.
39. When Pompey lay dangerously ill of a fever in B.C. 50 many of the towns of Italy offered vows and sacrifices for his recovery.
40. Accomplices in Catiline's conspiracy.
41. i.e. however noble the lady may be.
42. As Mr. Duff puts it, "Hippolytus and Bellerophon are the Josephs of the pagan mythology."
43. C. Silius, brought to ruin by the passion entertained for him by Messalina, wife of Claudius (Tac. Ann. xi. 12 and 26 ff.).44. The last king of the Assyrian empire of Nineveh. A proverb for luxury.

 







Satire 11.

 

Extravagance and Simplicity of Living

If Atticus dines sumptuously, he is thought a fine gentleman; if Rutilus does the same, people say he has lost his senses: for at what does the public laugh so loudly as at an Apicius 1 reduced to poverty? Every dinner table, all the baths, lounging-places and theatres have their fling at Rutilus; for while still young, active, and warm-blooded, and fit to wear a helmet, he plunges on till he will have to enrol himself----not compelled indeed, but not forbidden by the Tribune 2----under the rules and royal mandates of a trainer of gladiators. You may see many of these gentry being waited for by an oft-eluded creditor at the entrance to the meat-market----men whose sole reason for living lies in their palate. The greater their straits----though the house is ready to fall, and the daylight begins to show between the cracks----the more luxuriously and daintily do they dine. Meanwhile they ransack all the elements for new relishes; no cost ever stands in their way; if you look closely into it, the greater the price, the greater the pleasure. So when they want to raise money to go after the rest, they think nothing of pawning their plate, or breaking up the image of their mother; and having thus seasoned their gluttonous delf at a cost of four hundred sesterces, they come down at last to the hotch-potch of the gladiatorial school. It matters much therefore who provides the feast; what is extravagant in Rutilus, gets a fine name in Ventidius, and takes its character from his means.

Rightly do I despise a man who knows how much higher Atlas is than all the other mountains of Africa, and yet knows not the difference between a purse and an iron-bound money-box. The maxim "Know thyself" comes down to us from the skies; it should be imprinted in the heart, and stored in the memory, whether you are looking for a wife, or wishing for a seat in the sacred Senate: even Thersites never asked for that breastplate of Achilles in which Ulysses cut such a sorry figure.3 If you are preparing to conduct a great and difficult cause, take counsel of yourself and tell yourself what you are----are you a great orator, or just a spouter like Curtius and Matho? Let a man take his own measure and have regard to it in things great or small, even in the buying of a fish, that he set not his heart upon a mullet, when he has only a gudgeon in his purse. For if your purse is getting empty while your maw is expanding, what will be your end when you have sunk your paternal fortune and all your belongings in a belly which can hold capital and solid silver as well as flocks and lands? With such owners the last thing to go is the ring; poor Pollio, his finger stripped, has to go a-begging! It is not an early death or an untimely grave that extravagance has to dread: old age is more terrible to it than death.

The regular stages are these: money is borrowed in Rome and squandered before the owner's eyes; when some little of it is still left, and the lender's face grows pale, these gentlemen give leg bail, and make off for Baiae and its oyster-beds----for in these days people think no more of absconding from the Forum than of flitting from the stuffy Subuva to the Esquiline. One pang, one sorrow only, afflicts these exiles, that they must, for one season, miss the Circensian games! No drop of blood lingers in their cheek: Shame is ridiculed as she flees from the city, and few would bid her stay.

To-day, friend Persicus, you will discover whether I make good, in deed and in my ways of life, the fair maxims which I preach, or whether, while commending beans, I am at heart a glutton: openly bidding my slave to bring me porridge, but whispering "cheese-cakes" in his ear. For now that you have promised to be my guest, you will find in me an Evander 4; you yourself will be the Tirynthian, or the guest less great than he,5 though he too came of blood divine----the one by water, the other borne by fire,6 to the stars. And now hear my feast, which no meat-market shall adorn. From my Tiburtine farm there will come a plump kid, tenderest of the flock, innocent of grass, that has never yet dared to nibble the twigs of the dwarf willow, and has more of milk in him than blood; some wild asparagus, gathered by the bailiff's wife when done with her spindle, and some lordly eggs, warm in their wisps of hay, together with the hens that laid them. There will be crapes too, kept half the year, as fresh as when they hung upon the tree; pears from Signia and Syria, and in the same baskets fresh-smelling apples that rival those of Picenum, and of which you need not be afraid, seeing that winter's cold has dried up their autumnal juice, and removed the perils of unripeness.

Such were the banquets of our Senate in days of old, when already grown luxurious; when Curius,7 with his own hands, would lay upon his modest hearth the simple herbs he had gathered in his little garden ----herbs scoffed at nowadays by the dirty ditcher who works in chains, and remembers the savour of tripe in the reeking cookshop. For feast days, in olden times, they would keep a side of dried pork, hanging from an open rack, or put before the relations a flitch of birthday bacon, with the addition of some fresh meat, if there happened to be a sacrifice to supply it. A kinsman who had thrice been hailed as Consul, who had commanded armies, and filled the office of Dictator, would come home earlier than was his wont for such a feast, shouldering the spade with which he had been subduing the hillside. For when men quailed before a Fabius or a stern Cato, before a Scaurus or a Fabricius----when even a Censor might dread the severe verdict of his colleague 8----no one deemed it a matter of grave and serious concern what kind of tortoise-shell was swimming in the waves of Ocean to form a head-rest for our Troy-born grandees. Couches in those days were small, their sides unadorned: a simple headpiece of bronze would display the head of a be-garlanded ass, beside which would romp in play the children of the village. Thus house and furniture were all in keeping with the fare.

The rude soldier of those days had no taste for, or knowledge of, Greek art; if allotted cups made by great artists as his share in the booty of a captured city, he would break them up to provide gay trappings for his horse, or to chase a helmet that should display to the dying foe an image of the Romulean beast bidden by Rome's destiny to grow tame, with the twin Quirini beneath a rock, and the nude effigy of the God 9 swooping down with spear and shield. Their messes of spelt were then served on platters of earthenware; such silver as there was glittered only on their arms----all which things you may envy if you are at all inclined that way. The majesty of the temples also was more near to help us; it was then that was heard through the entire city that midnight voice telling how the Gauls were advancing from the shores of Ocean, the Gods taking on them the part of prophecy. Such were the warnings of Jupiter, such the cave which he bestowed on the concerns of Latium when he was made of clay, and undefiled by gold.

In those days our tables were home-grown, made of our own trees; for such use was kept some aged chestnut blown down perchance by the Southwestern blast. But nowadays a rich man takes no pleasure in his dinner----his turbot and his venison have no taste, his unguents and his roses no perfume----unless the broad slabs of his dinner-table rest upon a ramping, gaping leopard of solid ivory, made of the tusks sent to us by the swift-footed Moor from the portal of Syene,10 or by the still duskier Indian ----or perhaps shed by the monstrous beast in the Nabataean 11 forest when too big and too heavy for his head. These are the things that give good appetite and good digestion; for to these gentlemen a table with a leg of silver is like a finger with an iron ring. For this reason I will have none of your haughty guests to make comparisons between himself and me, and look down upon my humble state. So destitute am I of ivory that neither my dice nor counters are made of it; even my knife-handles are of bone. Yet are not the viands tainted thereby, nor does the pullet cut up any the worse on that account. Nor shall I have a carver to whom the whole carving-school must bow, a pupil of the learned Trypherus, in whose school is cut up, with blunt knives, a magnificent feast of hares and sow's paunches, of boars and antelopes, of Scythian fowls and tall flamingoes and Gaetulian gazelles, until the whole Subura rings with the clatter of the elm-wood banquet. My raw youngster, untutored all his days, has never learnt how to filch a slice of kid or the wing of a guinea-fowl, unpractised save in the theft of scraps. Cups of common ware, bought for a few pence, will be handed round by an unpolished lad, clad so as to keep out the cold. No Phrygian or Lycian youth, none bought from a dealer at a huge price, will you find; when you want anything, ask for it in Latin. They are all dressed alike; their hair cut close and uncurled, and only combed to-day because of the company. One is the son of a hardy shepherd; another of the cattle-man: he sighs for the mother whom he has not seen for so long, and thinks wistfully of the little cottage and the kids he knew so well; a lad of open countenance and simple modesty, such as those ought to be who are clothed in glowing purple.12 No noisy frequenter he of baths, presenting his armpits to be cleared of hair, and with only an oil-flask to conceal his nudity. He will hand you a wine that was bottled on the hills among which he was born, and beneath whose tops he played----for wine and servant alike have one and the same fatherland.

You may look perhaps for a troop of Spanish maidens to win applause by immodest dance and song, sinking down with quivering thighs to the floor----such sights as brides behold seated beside their husbands, though it were a shame to speak of such things in their presence. . . . My humble home has no place for follies such as these. The clatter of castanets, words too foul for the strumpet that stands naked in a reeking archway, with all the arts and language of lust, may be left to him who spits wine upon floors of Lacedaemonian marble; such men we pardon because of their high station. In men of moderate position gaming and adultery are shameful; but when those others do these same things, they are called gay fellows and fine gentlemen. My feast to-day will provide other performances than these. The bard of the Iliad will be sung, and the lays of the lofty-toned Maro that contest the palm with his. What matters it with what voice strains like these are read?

And now put away cares and cast business to the winds! Present yourself with a welcome holiday, now that you may be idle for the entire day. Let there be no talk of money, and let there be no secret wrath or suspicion in your heart because your wife is wont to go forth at dawn and to come home at night with crumpled hair and flushed face and ears. Cast off straightway before my threshold all that troubles you, all thought of house and slaves, with all that slaves break or lose, and above all put away all thought of thankless friends.

Meantime the solemn Idaean rite of the Megalesian napkin 13 is being held; there sits the Praetor in his triumphal state, the prey of horseflesh; and (if I may say so without offence to the vast unnumbered mob) all Rome to-day is in the Circus. A roar strikes upon my ear which tells me that the Green 14 has won; for had it lost, Rome would be as sad and dismayed as when the Consuls were vanquished in the dust of Cannae. Such sights are for the young, whom it befits to shout and make bold wagers with a smart damsel by their side: but let my shrivelled skin drink in the vernal sun, and escape the toga. You may go at once to your bath with no shame on your brow, though it wants a whole hour of mid-day.15 That you could not do for five days continuously, since even such a life has weariness. It is rarity that gives zest to pleasure.16

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1. A notorious and wealthy glutton; see iv. 23.
2. i.e. a tribunus plebis, whose permission would be necessary.
3. Referring to his contest with Ajax for the arms of Achilles.
4. Alluding to the entertainment of Hercules by Evander (Virg. Aen. viii. 359-365).
5. Aeneas.
6. Both heroes were deified; Hercules met his death by burning, Aeneas by drowning.
7. Manius Curius Dentatus, the conqueror of Pyrrhus, type of the simple noble Roman of early times.
8. For the quarrel between the censors, see Livy, xxix. 37.
9. i.e. the god Mars.
10. Now Aswan, on the Roman frontier. The phrase "portal of Syene" means "the portal consisting of Syene," Syene itself constituting the portal.
11. The Nabataeans were an Arabian tribe. But there are no elephants in Arabia.
12. Referring to the purple stripe on the toga praetexta worn by all free-born boys.
13. The Megalesian games (April 4-10) were held in honour of Cybele (μεγάλη μήτηρ); the praetor gave the signal for starting the chariot-race by dropping a napkin.
14. There were four factions in the Circus, consisting of the supporters of the four charioteering colours, White, Red, Green, and Blue. The Green it seems was the popular colour, being usually favoured by the emperor.
15. The bath was usually not taken till the eighth hour.
16. This would seem to be almost a translation from Epictetus (Flor. 6. 59). "The rarest pleasures give most delight."

 




Snare of Vintage (published)




Satire 12.

 

How Catullus escaped Shipwreck

Dearer to me, Corvinus, is this day, when my festal turf is awaiting the victims vowed to the Gods, than my own birthday. To the Queen of Heaven I offer a snow-white lamb; a fleece as white to the Goddess 1 armed with the Moorish 2 Gorgon; hard by is the frolicsome victim destined for Tarpeian Jove, shaking the tight-stretched rope and brandishing his brow; for he is a bold young steer, ripe for temple and for altar, and fit to be sprinkled with wine; it already shames him to suck his mother's milk, and with his budding horn he assails the oaks. Were my fortune large, and as ample as my love, I should have been hauling along a bull fatter than Hispulla, slow-footed from his very bulk; reared on no neighbouring herbage he, but showing in his blood the rich pastures of the Clitumnus,3 and marching along to to offer his neck to the stroke of the stalwart priest, to celebrate the return of my still trembling friend who has lately gone through such terrors, and now marvels to find himself safe and sound.

For besides the perils of the deep he escaped a lightning stroke. A mass of dense black cloud shut out the heavens, and down came a flash of fire upon the yards. Every man believed himself smitten by the bolt, and soon in his terror bethought him that no shipwreck could be so terrible as a ship on fire. All happened in the same way and as frightfully as when a storm arises in a poem, when lo! a new kind of peril came: hear it and give your pity once again, though the rest of the tale is all of one piece: a fearful lot, well known to many, and testified by many a votive tablet in our temples. Who knows not that it is Isis who feeds our painters? 4

A fate like to these befell our friend Catullus also. For when the hold was half full of water, and the waves rocked the hull from side to side, so that the white-haired skipper, with all his skill, could bring no succour to the labouring mast, he resolved to compound with the winds like the beaver, who gives up one part of his body that he may keep the rest; so conscious is he of the drug which he carries in his groin. "Overboard with everything!" shouted Catullus, ready to cast headlong his finest wares: purple garments, such as would have befitted a soft Maecenas, with other fabrics dyed on the sheep's back by the noble nature of the herbage ----though doubtless the hidden virtues of the water and air of Baetica 5 also lent their aid. Nor did he hesitate to throw over pieces of silver plate----charger's wrought by Parthenius,6 and bowls holding three gallons, fit to slake the thirst of the Centaur Pholus 7 or the wife of Fuscus. Besides these were baskets and dishes without number, and much chased work out of which the crafty purchaser of Olynthus 8 had slaked his thirst. What other man is there, in what part of the world, who would dare to value his life above his plate, or his safety above his property? Some men are so blinded and depraved that, instead of making fortunes for the sake of living, they live for their fortunes' sake.

And now most of the cargo has gone overboard, but even these losses do not ease the vessel; so in his extremity the skipper had to fall back upon cutting away the mast, and so find a way out of his straits----a dire pass indeed when no remedy can be found but one that diminishes the ship! Go now, and commit your life to the winds! Go trust yourself to a hewn plank which parts you from death by four finger-breadths, or seven if it be extra thick! Only remember in future, besides your bread and your bread-basket and your pot-bellied flagon, to take with you axes also for use in time of storm.

But soon the sea fell flat, and our mariners came on better times. Destiny proved stronger than wind and wave; the glad Fates, with kindly hand, spun a yarn of white wool, there sprang up what was no stronger than a gentle breeze, under which the poor ship sped on by the sorry help of outstretched garments, and the single sail now left to her on her prow. Soon the winds abated, and out came the sun, bringing hope of life; and then there came into view the beetling height 9 so dear to lulus, and preferred by him for his abode to his stepmother's Lavinum, a height that took its name from the white sow whose wondrous womb made glad the Phrygians' hearts, and gained fame for her thirty teats----a sight never seen before!

And now at length the ship comes within the moles built out to enclose the sea.10 She passes the Tyrrhenian Pharos, and those arms which stretch out and meet again in mid-ocean, leaving Italy far behind ---- a port more wondrous far than those of Nature's making. Then the skipper, with his crippled ship, makes for the still waters of the inner basin in which any Baian shallop may ride in safety. There the sailors shave their heads 11 and delight, in garrulous ease, to tell the story of their perils.

Away then, ye boys, and with reverent tongues and souls hang up garlands upon the shrines, sprinkle meal upon the knives, and deck the soft altars of verdant turf. I will quickly follow, and having duly performed the greater rite, will return thence home, where my little images of shining crumbling wax are being decked with slender wreaths. Here will I entreat my own Jupiter; here will I offer incense to my paternal Lares, and scatter pansies of every hue. Here all is bright; the gateway, in token of feast, has put up trailing branches, and is worshipping with early-lighted lamps.

Look not askance, Corvinus, upon these rejoicings. The Catullus for whose return I set up all these altars has three little heirs of his own. You may wait long enough before you find anyone to bestow a sickly hen, just closing her eyes, upon so unprofitable a friend; nay, a hen would be all too costly: no quail will ever fall for a man who is a father! But if the rich and childless Gallitta or Pacius have a touch of fever, their entire porticoes will be dressed out with tablets fastened in due form; there will be some to vow hecatombs, not elephants, indeed, seeing that elephants are not for sale, nor does that beast breed in Latium, or anywhere beneath our skies, but is fetched from the dark man's land, and fed in the Rutulian forest and the domains of Turnus.12 The herd is Caesar's,'12 and will serve no private master, since their forefathers were wont to obey the Tyrian Hannibal and our generals and the Molossian king,13 and to carry cohorts on their backs----no small fraction of a war----whole towers going forth to battle! Therefore Novius 14 would not hesitate, Pacuvius Hister2 would not hesitate, to lead that ivoried monster to the altar, and offer it to Gallitta's Lares, the only victim worthy of such august divinities, and of those who hunt their gold. For the latter worthy, if permitted, will vow to sacrifice the tallest and comeliest of his slaves; he will place fillets on the brows of his slave-boys and maidservants; if he has a marriageable Iphigenia 15 at home, he will place her upon the altar, though he could never hope for the hind of tragic story to provide a secret substitute.16

I commend the wisdom of my fellow townsman, nor can I compare a thousand ships to an inheritance; for if the sick man escape the Goddess of Death, he will be caught within the net, he will destroy his will, and after the prodigious services of Pacuvius will maybe by a single word, make him heir to all his possessions, and Pacuvius will strut proudly over his vanquished rivals. You see therefore how well worth while it was to slaughter that maiden at Mycenae! Long live Pacuvius! may he live, I pray, as many years as Nestor; may he possess as much as Nero plundered; may he pile up gold mountain-high; may he love no one, and be by none beloved!

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1. Pallas.
2. The Gorgon (or Gorgons) were supposed to belong to Libya.
3. Famed for their breed of white cattle.
4. i.e by employing them to paint votive tablets for her temples.
5. Baetica was one of the provinces of Spain, called after the Baetis (Guadalquiver). The wool was famed for its golden colour.
6. An engraver, otherwise unknown.
7. The Centaurs were famed for their drinking capacity.
8. Philip of Macedon.
9. The Alban Mount.
10. The port of Ostia, built by Claudius and called Portus Augusti.
11. In fulfilment, no doubt, of a vow made in the moment of danger.
12. The emperors kept a herd of elephants for games, etc., at Laurentum, near the kingdom of the Rutulian Turnus.
13. Pyrrhus.
14. Legacy-hunters.
15. Sacrificed by her father Agamemnon to procure a fair wind for the Greek fleet.
16. Later tradition pretended that a hind had been substituted for Iphigenia.

 









Satire 13.

 

The Terrors of a Guilty Conscience

No deed that sets an example of evil brings joy to the doer of it. The first punishment is this: that no guilty man is acquitted at the bar of his own conscience, though he have won his cause by a juggling urn, and the corrupt favour of the judge. What do you suppose, Calvinus, that people are now thinking about the recent villainy and the charge of trust betrayed? Your means are not so small that the weight of a slight loss will weigh you down; nor is your misfortune rare. Such a mishap has been known to many; it is one of the common kind, plucked at random out of Fortune's heap. Away with undue lamentations! a man's wrath should not be hotter than is fit, nor greater than the loss sustained. You are scarce able to bear, the very smallest particle of misfortune; your bowels foam hot within you because your friend will not give up to you the sacred trust committed to him; does this amaze one who was born in the Consulship of Fonteius,1 and has left sixty years behind him? Have you gained nothing from all your experience?

Great indeed is Philosophy, the conqueror of Fortune, and sacred are her precepts; but they too are to be deemed happy who have learnt under the schooling of life to endure its ills without fretting against the yoke. What day is there, however festal, which fails to disclose theft, treachery and fraud: gain made out of every kind of crime, and money won by the dagger or the bowl? 2 For honest men are scarce; hardly so numerous as the gates of Thebes, or the mouths of the enriching Nile.3 We are living in a ninth age; an age more evil than that of iron----one for whose wickedness Nature herself can find no name, no metal from which to call it. We summon Gods and men to our aid with cries as loud as that with which the vocal dole 4 applauds Faesidius when he pleads. Tell me, you old gentleman, that should be wearing the bulla 5 of childhood, do you know nothing of the charm of other people's money? Are you ignorant of how the world laughs at your simplicity when you demand of any man that he shall not perjure himself, and believe that some divinity is to be found in temples or in altars red with blood? Primitive men lived thus in the olden days, before Saturn laid down his diadem and fled, betaking himself to the rustic sickle; in the days when Juno was a little maid, and Jupiter still a private gentleman in the caves of Ida.6 In those days there were no banquets of the heavenly host above the clouds, there was no Trojan youth, no fair wife of Hercules 7 for cup-bearer, no Vulcan wiping arms begrimed by the Liparaean 8 forge after tossing off his nectar. Each God then dined by himself; there was no such mob of deities as there is to-day; the stars were satisfied with a few divinities, and pressed with a lighter load upon the hapless Atlas. No monarch had as yet had the gloomy realms below allotted to him; there was no grim Pluto with a Sicilian spouse; there was no wheel,9 no rock,10 no Furies, no black torturing Vulture;11 the shades led a merry life, with no kings over their nether world. Dishonesty was a prodigy in those days; men deemed it a heinous sin, worthy of death, if a youth did not rise before his elders, or a boy before any bearded man, though he himself might see more strawberries, and bigger heaps of acorns, in his own home. So worshipful was it to be older by four years, so equal to reverend age was the first down of manhood!

But nowadays, if a friend does not disavow a sum entrusted to him, if he restore the old purse with all its rust, his good faith is deemed a portent calling for the sacred books of Etruria, and to be expiated by a lamb decked with garlands. If I discover an upright and blameless man, I liken him to a boy born with double limbs, or to fishes found by a marvelling rustic under the plough, or to a pregnant mule: I am as concerned as though it had rained stones, or a swarm of bees had settled in a long cluster on a temple-roof, or as though some river had poured down wondrous floods of milk into the sea. You complain, do you, that by an impious fraud you have been robbed of ten thousand sesterces? What if someone else has by a like fraud lost a secret deposit of two hundred thousand sesterces? A third a still greater sum, which could scarce find room in the corners of his ample treasure-chest? So simple and easy a thing is it to disregard heavenly witnesses, if no mortal man is privy to the secret! Hear how loudly the fellow denies the charge! See the assurance of his perfidious face! He swears by the rays of the sun and the Tarpeian thunderbolts; by the lance of Mars and the arrows of the Cirrhaean Seer; by the shafts and quiver of the maiden huntress, and by thine own trident, O Neptune, thou lord of the Aegaean sea. He throws in besides the bow of Hercules, and Minerva's spear, and all the weapons contained in all the armouries of Heaven; if he be a father, "May I eat," he tearfully declares, "my own son's head boiled, and dripping with Egyptian vinegar!"

Some think that all things are subject to the chances of Fortune; these believe that the world has no governor to move it, but that Nature rolls along the changes of day and year; they will therefore lay their hands on any altar you please without a tremor. Another fears that punishment will follow crime; he believes that there are Gods, but perjures himself all the same, reasoning thus within himself: "Let Isis deal with my body as she wills, and blast my sight with her avenging rattle, provided only that even when blind I may keep the money which I disavow; it is worth having phthisis or running ulcers or losing half one's leg at the price! Ladas 12 himself, if not needing treatment at Anticyra 13 or by Archigenes, would not hesitate to accept the rich man's gout; for what is to be got out of fame for swiftness of foot, or from a hungry branch of the Pisaean Olive 14? The wrath of the Gods may be great, but it assuredly is slow; if then they charge themselves with punishing all the guilty, when will they get my length? And besides I may perchance find the God placable; he is wont to forgive things like this. Many commit the same crime and fare differently: one man gets a gibbet, another a crown, as the reward of crime."

That is how they reassure their minds when in terror for some deadly guilt. If you summon them then to the holy shrine, they will be there before you; nay, they will themselves drag you thither, and dare you to the proof; for when a bad cause is well backed by a bold face, the man gets credit for self-confidence. Such a one plays a part, like the runaway buffoon of the witty Catullus,15 but you, poor wretch, may shout so as to out-do Stentor,16 or rather as loudly as the Mars of Homer, "Do you hear all this, O Jupiter, with lip unmoved, when you ought to have been making yourself heard, whether you be made of marble or of bronze? Else why do I open my packet of holy incense, and place it on your blazing altar? Why offer slices of a calf's liver or the fat of a white pig? So far as I can see, there is nothing to choose between your images and the statue of Vagellius!"

And now hear what consolations can be offered on the other side by one who has not embraced the doctrines either of the Cynics, or of the Stoics----who only differ from the Cynics by a shirt 17----nor yet reverenced Epicurus, so proud of the herbs in his tiny garden. Let doubtful maladies be tended by doctors of repute; your veins may be entrusted to a disciple of Philippus.18 If in all the world you cannot show me so abominable a crime, I hold my peace; I will not forbid you to smite your breast with your fists, or to pummel your face with open palm, seeing that after so great a loss you must close your doors, and that a household bewails the loss of money with louder lamentations than a death. In such a misfortune no grief is simulated; no one is content to rend the top of his garment, or to squeeze forced moisture from his eyes; unfeigned are the tears which lament the loss of wealth.

But if you see every court beset with complaints like to yours; if after a bond has been read over ten times by the opposing party, they declare the document to be waste paper, though convicted by their own handwriting, and. by the signet ring, most choice of sardonyx stones, kept in an ivory case----do you, my fine fellow, suppose that you are to be placed outside the common lot, because you were born of a white hen, while we are common chickens, hatched out of unlucky eggs? Your loss is a modest one, to be endured with a moderate amount of choler, if you cast an eye on grosser wrongs. Compare with your case the hired robber, or the fire purposely started by sulphur, the flame bursting out at your front door; think too of those who carry off from ancient temples splendid cups of venerable antiquity, that were the gift of nations, or crowns dedicated by some ancient monarch! If such things are not to be had, a petty desecrator will be found to scrape off the gilding from the thigh of Hercules, or from the very face of Neptune, or to strip Castor of his beaten gold. And why should he hesitate, when he has been used to melt down an entire Thunderer? Compare too the manufacturers and sellers of poison, and the man who should be cast into the sea inside an ox's hide, with whom a luckless destiny encloses a harmless ape.19 What a mere fraction these of the crimes which Gallicus,20 the guardian of our city, has to listen to from dawn to eve! If you would know what mankind is like, that one court-house will suffice; spend a few days in it, and when you come out, dare to call yourself unfortunate. Who marvels at a swollen throat in the Alps? or in Meroe 21 at a woman's breast bigger than her sturdy babe? Who is amazed to see a German with blue eyes and yellow hair, twisting his greasy curls into a horn? We marvel not, clearly because this one nature is common to them all. The Pygmy warrior marches forth in his tiny arms to encounter the sudden swoop and clamorous cloud of Thracian birds; but soon, no match for his foe, he is snatched up by the savage crane and borne in his crooked talons through the air.22 If you saw this in our own country, you would shake with laughter; but in that land, where the whole host is only one foot high, though like battles are witnessed every day, no one laughs! "What? Is there to be no punishment for that perjured soul and his impious fraud?" Well, suppose him to have been hurried off in heavy chains, and slain (what more could anger ask?) at our good pleasure; yet your loss still remains, your deposit will not be saved; and the smallest drop of blood from that headless body will bring you hatred along with your consolation. "O! but vengeance is good, sweeter than life itself." Yes; so say the ignorant, whose passionate hearts you may see ablaze at the slightest cause, sometimes for no cause at all; any occasion, indeed, however small it be, suffices for their wrath. But so will not Chrysippus 23 say, or the gentle Thales,24 or the old man 25 who dwelt near sweet Hymettus, who would have given to his accuser no drop of the hemlock-draught which was administered to him in that cruel bondage. Benign Philosophy, by degrees, strips from us most of our vices, and all our mistakes; it is she that first teaches us the right. For vengeance is always the delight of a little, weak, and petty mind; of which you may straightway draw proof from this----that no one so rejoices in vengeance as a woman.

But why should you suppose that a man escapes punishment whose mind is ever kept in terror by the consciousness of an evil deed which lashes him with unheard blows, his own soul ever shaking over him the unseen whip of torture? It is a grievous punishment, more cruel far than any devised by the stern Caedicius 26 or by Rhadamanthus, to carry in one's breast by night and by day one's own accusing witness. The Pythian prophetess once made answer to a Spartan that it would not pass unpunished in after time that he had thought of keeping back a sum entrusted to him supporting the wrong by perjury; for he asked what was the mind of the Deity, and whether Apollo counselled him to do the deed. He therefore restored the money, through fear, and not from honesty; nevertheless he found all the words of the Oracle to be true and worthy of the shrine, being destroyed with his whole race and family and relations, however far removed. Such are the penalties endured by the mere wish to sin; for he who secretly meditates a crime within his breast has all the guiltiness of the deed.

What then if the purposed deed be done? His disquiet never ceases, not even at the festal board; his throat is as dry as in a fever; he can scarcely take his food, it swells between his teeth; he spits out the wine, poor wretch; he cannot abide the choicest old Albanian, and if you bring out something finer still, wrinkles gather upon his brow as though it had been puckered up by some Falernian turned sour. In the night, if his troubles grant him a short slumber, and his limbs, after tossing upon the bed, are sinking into repose, he straightway beholds the temple and the altar of the God whom he has outraged; and what weighs with chiefest terror on his soul, he sees you in his dreams; your awful form, larger than life, frightens his quaking heart and wrings confession from him. These are the men who tremble and grow pale at every lightning-flash; when it thunders, they quail at the first rumbling in the heavens; not as though it were an affair of chance or brought about by the raging of the winds, but as though the flame had fallen in wrath and as a judgment upon the earth. If one storm pass harmless by, they look more anxiously for the next, as though this calm were only a reprieve. If, again, they suffer from pains in the side, with a fever that robs them of their sleep, they believe that the sickness has been inflicted on them by the offended Deity: these they deem to be the missiles, these the arrows of the Gods. They dare not vow a bleating victim to a shrine, or offer a crested cock to the Lares; for what hope is permitted to the guilty sick? What victim is not more worthy of life than they? Inconstant and shifty, for the most part, is the nature of bad men. In committing a crime, they have courage enough and to spare; they only begin to feel what is right and what wrong when it has been committed. Yet nature, firm and changeless, returns to the ways which it has condemned. For who ever fixed a term to his own offending? When did a hardened brow ever recover the banished blush? What man have you ever seen that was satisfied with one act of villainy? Our scoundrel will yet put his feet into the snare; he will have to endure the dark prison-house and the staple, or one of those crags in the Aegaean sea that are crowded with our noble exiles. You will exult over the stern punishment of a hated name, and at length admit with joy that none of the Gods is deaf or like unto Tiresias.27

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1. C. Fonteius Capito, consul A.D. 67. That fixes the date of this Satire to the year A.D. 127.
2. Pyxis is any bowl made of boxwood.
3. Thebes had seven gates, the Nile seven mouths.
4. The dole (sportula) is called " vocal" because it secures to the patron the applause of his client when he pleads in court.
5. The bulla was a case of gold containing an amulet against the evil eye, worn by all free-born boys until they put on the toga virilis.
6. Mount Ida in Crete where Zeus was born.
7. Hebe.
8. Lipari, the group of islands elsewhere called Aeolian (i. 7), where Vulcan's forge was placed.
9. The wheel of Ixion.
10. The stone of Sisyphus.
11. Tityus was preyed upon by a vulture.
12. A famous Greek runner.
13. An island on which hellebore, the remedy for madness, was grown.
14. An olive-wreath was the prize at the Olympian games.
15. See viii. 180.
16. See Hom. Il. v. 785.
17. The Cynics discarded the tunic.
18. Some inferior doctor; unknown.
19. See note on viii. 214.
20. Rutilius Gallicus, prefect of the city under Domitian.
21. An island in Upper Egypt formed by two branches of the Nile.
22. Legends of battles between cranes and pygmies are found in Homer (Il. iii. 3-6), Aristotle, and elsewhere.
23. The great Stoic philosopher, B.C. 280-207.
24. The Ionic philosopher of Miletus, about B.C. 636-546.
25. Socrates.
26. Not known.
27. The soothsayer Tiresias was blind.

 





Bathyllus' Swan Dance





Satire 14.

 

No Teaching like that of Example

There are many things of ill repute, friend Fuscinus,----things that would affix a lasting stain to the brightest of lives,----which parents themselves point out and hand on to their sons. If the aged father delights in ruinous play, his heir too gambles in his teens, and rattles the selfsame weapons in a tiny dice-box. If a youth has learnt from the hoary gluttony of a spendthrift father to peel truffles, to preserve mushrooms, and to souse beccaficoes in their own juice, none of his relatives need expect better things of him when he grows up. As soon as he has passed his seventh year, before he has cut all his second teeth, though you put a thousand bearded preceptors on his right hand, and as many on his left, he will always long to fare sumptuously, and not fall below the high standard of his cookery.

When Rutilus delights in the sound of a cruel flogging, deeming it sweeter than any siren's song, and being himself a very Antiphates,1 or a Polyphemus, to his trembling household, is he inculcating gentleness, and leniency to slight faults: does he hold that the bodies and souls of slaves are made of the same stuff and elements as our own; or is he inculcating cruelty, never happy until he has summoned a torturer, and he can brand some one with a hot iron for stealing a couple of towels? What counsel does the father give to his son when he revels in the clanking of a chain, and takes wondrous pleasure in branded slaves, in prisons and his country bridewell? Are you simple enough to suppose that Larga's daughter will remain virtuous when she cannot count over her mother's lovers so rapidly, or string their names together so quickly, as not to take breath full thirty times? She was her mother's confidante as a girl; at her dictation she now indites her own little love-notes, despatching them to her paramours by the hand of the self-same menials. So Nature ordains; no evil example corrupts us so soon and so rapidly as one that has been set at home, since it comes into the mind on high authority. Here and there perhaps a youth may decline to follow the bad example: one whose soul the Titan 2 has fashioned with kindlier skill and of a finer clay; but the rest are led on by the parental steps which they should avoid, and are dragged into the old track of vice which has so long been pointed out to them.

Abstain therefore from things which you must condemn: for this there is at least one all-powerful motive, that our crimes be not copied by our children. For we are all of us teachable in what is base and wrong; you may find a Catiline among any people, and in any clime, but nowhere will you find a Brutus, or the uncle of a Brutus. Let no foul word or sight cross the threshold within which there is a father. Away with you, ye hireling damsels! Away with the songs of the night-revelling parasite! If you have any evil deed in mind, you owe the greatest reverence to the young; disregard not your boy's tender years, and let your infant son stand in the way of the sin that you propose. For if some day or other he shall do a deed deserving the censor's wrath, and shall show himself like to you, not in form and face only, but also your child in vice, and following in all your footsteps with sin deeper than your own, you will doubtless rebuke him and chide him angrily and thereafter prepare to change your will. But how can you assume the grave brow and the free tone of a father if you in your old age are doing things worse than he did, and your own empty pate has long been needing the windy cupping-glass?

When you expect a guest, not one of your household will be idle. "Sweep the pavement! Polish up the pillars! Down with that dusty spider, web and all! One of you clean the plain silver, another the embossed vessels!" So shouts the master, standing over them whip in hand. And so you are afraid, poor fool, that the eyes of your expected guest may be offended by the sight of dog's filth in the hall or of a portico splashed with mud----things which one slave-boy can put right with half a peck of sawdust: and yet will you take no pains that your son may behold a stainless home, free from any stain and blemish? It is good that you have presented your country and your people with a citizen, if you make him serviceable to his country, useful for the land, useful for the things both of peace and war. For it will make all the difference in what practices, in what habits, you bring him up. The stork feeds her young upon the serpents and the lizards which she finds in the wilds; the young search for the same things when they have gotten to themselves wings. The vulture hurries from dead cattle and dogs and gibbets to bring some of the carrion to her offspring; so this becomes the food of the vulture when he is full-grown and feeds himself, making his nest in a tree of his own. The noble birds that wait on Jove hunt the hare or the roe in the woods, and from them serve up prey to their eyrie; so when their progeny are of full age and soar up from the nest, hunger bids them swoop down upon that same prey which they had first tasted when they chipped the shell.

Cretonius was given to building; now on Caieta's winding shore, now on the heights of Tibur, now on the Praenestine hills, he would rear lofty mansions, with marbles fetched from Greece and distant lands, outdoing the temples of Fortune and of Hercules 3 by as much as the eunuch Posides 4 overtopped our own Capitol. Housed therefore in this manner, he impaired his fortune and frittered away his wealth; some goodly portion of it still remained, but it was all squandered by his madman of a son in building new mansions of still costlier marbles.

Some who have had a father who reveres the Sabbath, worship nothing but the clouds, and the divinity of the heavens,5 and see no difference between eating swine's flesh, from which their father abstained, and that of man; and in time they take to circumcision. Having been wont to flout the laws of Rome, they learn and practise and revere the Jewish law, and all that Moses committed to his secret tome, forbidding to point out the way to any not worshipping the same rites, and conducting none but the circumcised to the desired fountain.6 For all which the father was to blame, who gave up every seventh day to idleness, keeping it apart from all the concerns of life.7

All vices but one the young imitate of their own free will; avarice alone is enjoined on them against the grain. For that vice has a deceptive appearance and semblance of virtue, being gloomy of mien, severe in face and garb. The miser is openly commended for his thrift, being deemed a saving man, who will be a surer guardian of his own wealth than if it were watched by the dragons of the Hesperides or of Colchis. Moreover, such a one is thought to be skilled in the art of money-getting; for it is under workers such as he that fortunes grow. And they grow bigger by every kind of means: the anvil is ever working, and the forge never ceases to glow.

Thus the father deems the miser to be fortunate; and when he worships wealth, believing that no poor man was ever happy, he urges his sons to follow in the same path and to attach themselves to the same school. There are certain rudiments in vice; in these he imbues them from the beginning, compelling them to study its pettiest meannesses; after a while he instructs them in the inappeasable lust of money-getting. He pinches the bellies of his slaves with short rations, starving himself into the bargain; for he cannot bear to eat up all the mouldy fragments of stale bread. In the middle of September he will save up the hash of yesterday; in summer-time he will preserve under seal for to-morrow's dinner a dish of beans, with a bit of mackerel, or half a stinking sprat, counting the leaves of the cut leeks before he puts them away. No beggar from a bridge would accept an invitation to such a meal! But for what end do you pile up riches gathered through torments such as these, when it is plain madness and sheer lunacy to live in want that you may be wealthy when you die? Meantime, while your purse is full to bursting, your love of gain grows as much as the money itself has grown, and the man who has none of it covets it the least. And so when one country house is not enough for you, you buy a second; then you must extend your boundaries, because your neighbour's field seems bigger and better than your own; you must buy that too, and his vineyard, and the hill that is thick and grey with olive-trees. And if no price will persuade the owner to sell, you will send into his green corn by night a herd of lean and famished cattle, with wearied necks, who will not come home until they have put the whole crop into their ravenous bellies; no sickle could make a cleaner job! How many bewail wrongs like these can scarce be told, nor how many fields have been brought to the hammer by such outrages.

But what a talk there will be! How loud the blast of evil rumour! "What harm in that?" you will say: "better keep my peapods for myself than have the praises of the whole country-side if I am to have but a small farm and a miserable crop."

Yes; and no doubt you will escape disease and weakness, you will have no sorrow, no trouble, you will have long and ever happier days, if only you are sole possessor of as many acres of good land as the Roman people tilled in the days of Tatius. In later times, Romans broken with old age, who had fought in the Punic battles or against the dread Pyrrhus or the swords of the Molossians, received at last, in return for all their wounds, a scanty two acres of land. None ever deemed such recompense too small for their service of toil and blood; none spoke of a shabby, thankless country. A little plot like that would feed the father himself and the crowd at the cottage where lay the wife in childbed, with four little ones playing around----one slave-born, three the master's own; for their big brothers, on their return from ditch or furrow, a second and ampler supper of porridge would be smoking in a lordly dish. To-day we don't think such a plot of ground big enough for our garden!

It is here mostly that lies the cause of crime. No human passion has mingled more poison-bowls, none has more often wielded the murderous dagger, than the fierce craving for unbounded wealth. For the man who wants wealth must have it at once; what respect for laws, what fear, what sense of shame is to be found in a miser hurrying to be rich? "Live content, my boys, with these cottages and hills of yours," said the Marsian or Hernican or Vestinian father in the days of yore; "let the plough win for us what bread shall suffice our table; such fare the rustic Gods approve, whose aid and bounty gave us the glad ear of corn, and taught man to disdain the acorn of ancient times. The man who is not ashamed to wear high boots in time of frost, and who keeps off the East wind with skins turned inwards, will never wish to do a forbidden thing; it is purple raiment, whatever it be, foreign and unknown to us, that leads to crime and wickedness."

Such were the maxims which those ancients taught the young; but now, when autumn days are over, the father rouses his sleeping son after midnight with a shout: "Awake, boy, and take your tablets; scribble away and get up your cases; read through the red-lettered laws of our forefathers, or send in a petition for a centurion's vine-staff. See that Laelius notes your uncombed head and hairy nostrils, and admires your broad shoulders; destroy the huts of the Moors and the forts of the Brigantes,8 that your sixtieth year may bring you the eagle 9 that will make you rich. Or if you are too lazy to endure the weary labours of the camp, if the sound of horn and trumpet melts your soul within you, buy something that you can sell at half as much again; feel no disgust at a trade that must be banished to the other side of the Tiber; make no distinction between hides and unguents: the smell of gain is good whatever the thing from which it comes. Let this maxim be ever on your lips, a saying worthy of the Gods, and of Jove himself if he turned poet: 'No matter whence the money comes, but money you must have.'" These are the lessons taught by skinny old nurses to little boys before they can walk; this is what every girl learns before her ABC!

To any father urging precepts such as these I would say this: "Tell me, O emptiest of men, who bids you hurry? The disciple, I warrant you, will outstrip his master. You may leave him with an easy mind; you will be outdone as surely as Telamon was beaten by Ajax, or Peleus by Achilles. Be gentle with the young; their bones are not yet filled up with the marrow of ripe wickedness. When the lad begins to comb a beard, and apply to its length the razor's edge, he will give false testimony, he will sell his perjuries for a trifling sum, touching the altar and the foot of Ceres all the time. If your daughter-in-law brings a deadly dowry into the house, you may count her as already dead and buried. What a grip of fingers will throttle her in her sleep! For the wealth which you think should be hunted for over land and sea, your son will acquire by a shorter road; great crimes demand no labour. Some day you will say, 'I never taught these things, I never advised them': no, but you are yourself the cause and origin of your son's depravity; for whosoever teaches the love of wealth turns his sons into misers by his ill-omened instruction. When he shows him how to double his patrimony by fraud, he gives him his head, and throws a free rein over the car; try to call him back, and he cannot stop: he will pay no heed to you, he will rush on, leaving the turning-post far behind. No man is satisfied with sinning just as far as you permit: so much greater is the license which they allow themselves!

"When you tell a youth that a man is a fool who makes a present to a friend, or relieves and lightens the poverty of a kinsman, you teach him to plunder and to cheat and to commit any kind of crime for money's sake, the love of which is as great in you as was love of their country in the hearts of the Decii, or in that of Menoeceus,10 if Greece speaks true for Thebes----that country in whose furrows armed legions sprang into life out of dragons' teeth, taking straightway to grim battle as though a bugler had also risen up along with them. Thus you will see the fire, whose sparks you yourself have kindled, blazing far and wide and carrying all before them. Nor will you yourself, poor wretch, meet with any mercy; the pupil lion, with a loud roar, will devour the trembling instructor in his den. Your nativity, you say, is known to the astrologers: but it is a tedious thing to wait for the slow-running spindle, and you will die before your thread is snapped. You are already in your son's way; you are delaying his prayers; your long and stag-like old age is a torment to the young man. Seek out Archigenes at once; buy some of the mixture of Mithridates; if you wish to pluck one more fig, and gather roses once again, you should have some medicament to be swallowed before dinner by one who is both a father and a king."

I am showing you the choicest of diversions, one with which no theatre, no show of a grand Praetor can compare, if you will observe at what a risk to life men increase their fortunes, become possessors of full brass-bound treasure-chests, or of the cash which must be deposited with watchful Castor,11 ever since Mars the Avenger lost his helmet and failed to protect his own effects.12 So you may give up all the performances of Flora, of Ceres, and of Cybele 13; so much finer are the games of human life. Is there more pleasure to be got from gazing at men hurled from a spring-board, or tripping down a tight rope, than from yourself----you who spend your whole life in a Corycian 14 ship, ever tossed by the wind from North or South, a poor contemptible trafficker in stinking wares, finding your joy in importing sweet wine from the shores of ancient Crete, or flagons that were fellow-citizens of Jove? 15 Yet the man who plants his steps with balanced foot gains his livelihood thereby; that rope keeps him from cold and hunger; while you run the risk for the sake of a thousand talents or a hundred mansions. Look at our ports, our seas, crowded with big ships! The men at sea now outnumber those on shore. Whithersoever hope of gain shall call, thither fleets will come; not content with bounding over the Carpathian and Gaetulian seas, they will leave Calpe 16 far behind, and hear the sun hissing in the Herculean main. It is well worth while, no doubt, to have beheld the monsters of the deep and the young mermen of the Ocean that you may return home with tight-stuffed purse, and exult in your swollen money-bags!

Not all men are possessed with one form of madness. One 17 madman in his sister's arms is terrified by the faces and fire of the Furies; another,18 when he strikes down an ox, believes that it is Agamemnon or the Ithacan 19 that is bellowing. The man who loads his ship up to the gunwale with goods, with only a plank between him and the deep, is in need of a keeper, though he keep his hands off his shirt and his cloak, seeing that he endures all that misery and all that danger for the sake of bits of silver cut up into little images and inscriptions! Should clouds and thunder threaten, "Let go!" cries the merchant who has bought up corn or pepper, "that black sky, this dark wrack, are nought----it is but summer lightning." Poor wretch! on this very night perchance he will be cast out amid broken timbers and engulfed by the waves, clutching his purse with his left hand or his teeth. The man for whose desires yesterday not all the gold which Tagus and the ruddy Pactolus 20 rolls along would have sufficed, must now content himself with a rag to cover his cold and nakedness, and a poor morsel of food, while he begs for pennies as a shipwrecked mariner, and supports himself by a painted storm!

Wealth gotten with such woes is preserved by fears and troubles that are greater still; it is misery to have the guardianship of a great fortune. The millionaire Licinus orders a troop of slaves to be on the watch all night with fire buckets in their places, being anxious for his amber, his statues and Phrygian marbles, his ivory and plaques of tortoise-shell. The nude Cynic 21 fears no fire for his tub; if broken, he will make himself a new house to-morrow, or repair it with clamps of lead. When Alexander beheld in that tub its mighty occupant, he felt how much happier was the man who had no desires than he who claimed for himself the entire world, with perils before him as great as his achievements. Had we but wisdom, thou wouldst have no Divinity, O Fortune: it is we that make thee into a Goddess!

Yet if any should ask of me what measure of fortune is enough, I will tell him: as much as thirst, cold and hunger demand; as much as sufficed you, Epicurus, in your little garden; as much as in earlier days was to be found in the house of Socrates. Never does Nature say one thing and Wisdom another. Do the limits within which I confine you seem too severe? Then throw in something from our own manners; make up a sum as big as that which Otho's law 22 deems worthy of the fourteen rows. If that also knits your brow, and makes you thrust out your lip, take a couple of knights, or make up thrice four hundred thousand sesterces! If your lap is not yet full, if it is still opening for more, then neither the wealth of Croesus, nor that of the Persian Monarchs, will suffice you, nor yet that of Narcissus,23 on whom Claudius Caesar lavished everything, and whose orders he obeyed when bidden to slay his wife.24

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1. A cruel tyrant, king of the Laestrygones,
2. Prometheus, who made men out of clay.
3. There were great temples of Fortuna at Praeneste, of Hercules at Tibur.
4. A freedman of Claudius.
5. The phrase caeli numen is hard to translate. What Juvenal means is that the Jews worshipped no concrete deity, such as could be pourtrayed, but only some impalpable mysterious spirit. They did not worship the sky or the heavens, but only the numen of the heavens. This is what Tacitus means when he says (Hist. v. 5) "The Jews worship with the mind alone." So Lucan. ii. 592-3 dedita sacris Incerti Judaea dei.
6. It is possible that this refers to the practice of baptism which had become usual among the Jews in the time of our Lord, as we see from the case of John the Baptist.
7. Tacitus also attributed the Sabbath to laziness; and adds dein blandiente inertia septimum quoque annum ignaviae datum (Hist. v. 4).
8. A powerful British tribe, occupying the greater part of England north of the Humber.
9. i.e. the post of Senior Centurion (centurio primi pili), who had charge of the eagle of the legion.
10. Slew himself to save Thebes.
11. Money was deposited in the temple of Castor, in the Forum.
12. The temple of Mars Ultor, in the Forum Augusti, seems to have been burgled.
13. i.e. the games.
14. Corycus, a town in Cilicia.
15. Because Zeus was born in Crete.
16. The rock of Gibraltar.
17. i. e. Orestes.
18. i.e. Ajax, who went mad, slaughtering a flock of sheep in the belief that he was slaying Agamemnon and Ulysses.
19. Ulysses.
20. The gold-bearing river of Lydia.
21. Diogenes.
22. See note on iii. 155.
23. The most powerful and wealthiest of Claudius' freedmen.
24. For the part played by Narcissus in securing the punishment of Messalina, see Tac. Ann. xi. 33-37.

 




Lucian's Strange Creatures (suppressed)






Satire 15.

 

An Egyptian Atrocity

Who knows not, O Bithynian Volusius, what monsters demented Egypt worships? One district adores the crocodile, another venerates the Ibis that gorges itself with snakes. In the place where magic chords are sounded by the truncated Memnon,1 and ancient hundred-gated Thebes lies in ruins, men worship the glittering golden image of the long-tailed ape. In one part cats are worshipped, in another a river fish, in another whole townships venerate a dog; none adore Diana, but it is an impious outrage to crunch leeks and onions with the teeth. What a holy race to have such divinities springing up in their gardens! No animal that grows wool may appear upon the dinner-table; it is forbidden there to slay the young of the goat; but it is lawful to feed on the flesh of man! When Ulysses told a tale like this over the dinner-table to the amazed Alcinous,2 he stirred some to wrath, some perhaps to laughter, as a lying story-teller. "What?" one would say, "will no one hurl this fellow into the sea, who merits a terrible and a true Charybdis with his inventions of monstrous Laestrygones and Cyclopes? For I could sooner believe in Scylla, and the clashing Cyanean rocks,3 and skins full of storms, or in the story how Circe, by a gentle touch, turned Elpenor 4 and his comrades into grunting swine. Did he deem the Phaeacians people so devoid of brains?" So might some one have justly spoken who was not yet tipsy, and had taken but a small drink of wine from the Corcyraean bowl, for the Ithacan's tale was all his own, with none to bear him witness.

I will now relate strange deeds done of late in the consulship of Juncus,5 beyond the walls of broiling Coptus; a crime of the common herd, worse than any crime of the tragedians; for though you turn over all the tales of long-robed Tragedy from the days of Pyrrha onwards, you will find there no crime committed by an entire people. But hear what an example of ruthless barbarism has been displayed in these days of ours.

Between the neighbouring towns of Ombi and Tentyra 6 there burns an ancient and long-cherished feud and undying hatred, whose wounds are not to be healed. Each people is filled with fury against the other because each hates its neighbours' Gods, deeming that none can be held as deities save its own. So when one of these peoples held a feast, the chiefs and leaders of their enemy thought good to seize the occasion, so that their foe might not enjoy a glad and merry day, with the delight of grand banquets, with tables set out at every temple and every crossway, and with night-long feasts, and with couches spread all day and all night, and sometimes discovered by the sun upon the seventh morn. Egypt, doubtless, is a rude country; but in indulgence, so far as I myself have noted, its barbarous rabble yields not to the ill-famed Canopus.7 Victory too would be easy, it was thought, over men steeped in wine, stuttering and stumbling in their cups. On the one side were men dancing to a swarthy piper, with unguents, such as they were, and flowers and chaplets on their heads; on the other side, a ravenous hate. First come loud words, as preludes to the fray: these serve as a trumpet-call to their hot passions; then shout answering shout, they charge. Bare hands do the fell work of war. Scarce a cheek is left without a gash; scarce one nose, if any, comes out of the battle unbroken. Through all the ranks might be seen battered faces, and features other than they were; bones gaping through torn cheeks, and fists dripping with blood from eyes. Yet the combatants deem themselves at play and waging a boyish warfare because there are no corpses on which to trample. What avails a mob of so many thousand brawlers if no lives are lost? So fiercer and fiercer grows the fight; they now search the ground for stones----the natural weapons of civic strife----and hurl them with bended arms against the foe: not such stones as Turnus or Ajax flung, or like that with which the son of Tydeus 8 struck Aeneas on the hip, but such as may be cast by hands unlike to theirs, and born in these days of ours. For even in Homer's day the race of man was on the wane; earth now produces none but weak and wicked men that provoke such Gods as see them to laughter and to loathing.

To come back from our digression: the one side, reinforced, boldly draws the sword and renews the fight with showers of arrows; the dwellers in the shady palm-groves of neighbouring Tentyra turn their backs in headlong flight before the Ombite charge. Hereupon one of them, over-afraid and hurrying, tripped and was caught; the conquering host cut up his body into a multitude of scraps and morsels, that one dead man might suffice for everyone, and devoured it bones and all. There was no stewing of it in boiling pots, no roasting upon spits; so slow and tedious they thought it to wait for a fire, that they contented themselves with the corpse uncooked!

One may here rejoice that no outrage was done to the flame that Prometheus stole from the highest heavens, and gifted to the earth. I felicitate the element, and doubt not that you are pleased; but never was flesh so relished as by those who endured to put that carcase between their teeth. For in that act of gross wickedness, do not doubt or ask whether it was only the first gullet that enjoyed its meal; for when the whole body had been consumed, those who stood furthest away actually dragged their fingers along the ground and so got some smack of the blood.

The Vascones,9 fame tells us, once prolonged their lives by such food as this; but their case was different. Unkindly fortune had brought on them the last dire extremity of war, the famine of a long siege. In a plight like that of the people just named, resorting to such food deserves our pity, inasmuch as not till they had consumed every herb, every living thing, and everything else to which the pangs of an empty belly drove them----not till their very enemies pitied their pale, lean and wasted limbs----did hunger make them tear the limbs of other men, being ready to feed even upon their own. What man, what God, would withhold a pardon from bellies which had suffered such dire straits, and which might look to be forgiven by the Manes of those whose bodies they were devouring? To us, indeed, Zeno 10 gives better teaching, for he permits some things, though not indeed all things, to be done for the saving of life; but how could a Cantabrian 11 be a Stoic, and that too in the days of old Metellus? 12 To-day the whole world has its Greek and its Roman Athens; eloquent Gaul has trained the pleaders of Britain, and distant Thule 13 talks of hiring a rhetorician. Yet the people I have named were a noble people; and the people of Zacynthos,14 their equals in bravery and honour, their more than equals in calamity, offer a like excuse. But Egypt is more savage than the Maeotid 15 altar; for if we may hold the poet's tales as true, the foundress of that accursed Tauric rite does but slay her victims; they have nought further or more terrible than the knife to fear. But what calamity drove these Egyptians to the deed? What extremity of hunger, what beleaguering army, compelled them to so monstrous and infamous a crime? Were the land of Memphis to run dry, could they do aught else than this to shame the Nile for being loth to rise? No dread Cimbrians or Britons, no savage Scythians or monstrous Agathyrsians,16 ever raged so furiously as this unwarlike and worthless rabble that hoists tiny sails on crockery ships, and plies puny oars on boats of painted earthenware! No penalty can you devise for such a crime, no fit punishment for a people in whose minds rage and hunger are like and equal things. When Nature gave tears to man, she proclaimed that he was tender-hearted; and tenderness is the best quality in man. She therefore bids us weep for the misery of a friend upon his trial, or when a ward whose streaming cheeks and girlish locks raise a doubt as to his sex brings a defrauder into court. It is at Nature's behest that we weep when we meet the bier of a full-grown maiden, or when the earth closes over a babe too young for the funeral pyre. For what good man, what man worthy of the mystic torch,17 and such as the priest of Ceres would wish him to be, believes that any human woes concern him not? It is this that separates us from the dumb herd; and it is for this that we alone have had allotted to us a nature worthy of reverence, capable of divine things, fit to acquire and practise the arts of life, and that we have drawn from on high that gift of feeling which is lacking to the beasts that grovel with eyes upon the ground. To them in the beginning of the world our common maker gave only life; to us he gave souls as well, that fellow-feeling might bid us ask or proffer aid, gather scattered dwellers into a people, desert the primeval groves and woods inhabited by our forefathers, build houses for ourselves, with others adjacent to our own, that a neighbour's threshold from the confidence that comes of union, might give us peaceful slumbers; shield with arms a fallen citizen, or one staggering from a grievous wound, give battle signals by a common trumpet, and seek protection inside the same city walls, and behind gates fastened by a single key.

But in these days there is more amity among serpents than among men; wild beasts are merciful to beasts spotted like themselves. When did the stronger lion ever take the life of the weaker? In what wood did a boar ever breathe his last under the tusks of a boar bigger than himself? The fierce tigress of India dwells in perpetual peace with her fellow; bears live in harmony with bears. But man finds it all too little to have forged the deadly blade on an impious anvil; for whereas the first artificers only wearied themselves with forging hoes and harrows, spades and ploughshares, not knowing how to beat out swords, we now behold a people whose wrath is not assuaged by slaying someone, but who deem that a man's breast, arms, and face afford a kind of food. What would Pythagoras say, or to what place would he not flee, if he beheld these horrors of to-day,----he who refrained from every living creature as if it were human, and would not indulge his belly with every kind of vegetable?

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1. The famous statue of Memnon at Thebes, which emitted musical sounds at daybreak.
2. King of the Phaeacians, to whom Ulysses narrated his adventures.
3. The clashing rocks (συμπληγάδεσ) at the mouth of the Bosporus.
4. One of the crew of Ulysses turned into a pig by Circe.
5. Aemilius Juncus was consul in A.D. 127. This fixes the earliest date for this Satire.
6. Ombi and Tentyra (now Dendera), towns in Upper Egypt.
7. A city in the Delta, near the W. mouth of the Nile.
8. Diomedes.
9. A Spanish tribe N. of the Ebro; their chief town, Calagurris, was reduced by Afranius in B.C. 72, after the fall of Sertorius.
10. The founder of the Stoic school.
11. The Vascones were not Cantabrians, who were more to the W.
12. Q. Caecilius Metellus conducted the war against Sertorius, B.C. 79-72.
13. The most distant land or island to the N.; possibly Shetland or Iceland.
14. A poetic name for the Spanish town of Saguntum, supposed to have been founded from Zacynthus; taken by Hannibal B.C. 218.
15. The palus Maeotis was the sea of Azov: strangers were there sacrificed on the altar of the Tauric (i.e. Crimean) Artemis.
16. An uncertain tribe, placed by Herodotus in Transylvania.
17. i.e. worthy of being initiated in the Eleusinian mysteries.

 




 
Birth (suppressed)    



Satire 16.

 

The Immunities of the Military

Who can count up, Gallius, all the prizes of prosperous soldiering? I would myself pray to be a trembling recruit if I could but enter a favoured camp under a lucky star: for one moment of benignant fate is of more avail than a letter of commendation to Mars from Venus, or from his mother,1 who delights in the sandy shore of Samos.

Let us first consider the benefits common to all soldiers, of which not the least is this, that no civilian will dare to thrash you; if thrashed himself, he must hold his tongue, and not venture to exhibit to the Praetor the teeth that have been knocked out, or the black and blue lumps upon his face, or the one eye left which the doctor holds out no hope of saving. If he seek redress, he has appointed for him as judge a hob-nailed centurion with a row of jurors with brawny calves sitting before a big bench. For the old camp law and the rule of Camillus still holds good which forbids a soldier to attend court outside the camp, and at a distance from the standards. "Most right and proper it is," you say, "that a centurion should pass sentence on a soldier; nor shall I fail of satisfaction if I make good my case." But then the whole cohort will be your enemies; all the maniples will agree as one man in applying a cure to the redress you have received by giving you a thrashing which shall be worse than the first. So, as you possess a pair of legs, you must have a mulish brain worthy of the eloquent Vagellius to provoke so many jack-boots, and all those thousands of hobnails. And besides who would venture so far from the city? Who would be such a Pylades 2 as to go inside the rampart? Better dry your eyes at once, and not importune friends who will but make excuses. When the judge has called for witnesses, let the man, whoever he be, who saw the assault dare to say, "I saw it," and I will deem him worthy of the beard and long hair of our forefathers. Sooner will you find a false witness against a civilian than one who will tell the truth against the interest and the honour of a soldier.

And now let us note other profits and perquisites of the service. If some rascally neighbour have filched from me a dell or a field of my ancestral estate, and have dug up, from the mid point of my boundary, the hallowed stone which I have honoured every year with an offering of flat cake and porridge; or if a debtor refuses to repay the money that he has borrowed, declaring that the signatures are false, and the document null and void: I shall have to wait for the time of year when the whole world begin their suits, and even then there will be a thousand wearisome delays. So often does it happen that when only the benches have been set out----when the eloquent Caecilius is taking off his cloak, and Fuscus has gone out for a moment----though everything is ready, we disperse, and fight our battle after the dilatory fashion of the courts. But the gentlemen who are armed and belted have their cases set down for whatever time they please; nor is their substance worn away by the slow drag-chain of the law.

Soldiers alone, again, have the right to make their wills during their fathers' lifetime; for the law ordains that money earned in military service is not to be included in the property which is in the father's sole control. This is why Coranus, who follows the standards and earns soldier's pay, is courted by his own father, though now tottering from old age. The son receives the advancement that is his due, and reaps the recompense for his own good services. And indeed it is the interest of the General that the most brave should also be the most fortunate, and that all should have medals and necklets to be proud of.

The Satire breaks off here.

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1. Juno.
2. The inseparable friend of Orestes.

 

 
     
         
 

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