Martial, Epigrams. Book 4. Bohn's Classical Library (1897)
O auspicious birth-day of Caesar,1 more sacred than that on which the conscious Ida witnessed the birth of Diotaean Jupiter, come, I pray, and prolong your duration beyond the age of Pylian Nestor, and shine ever with your present aspect or with increased brilliancy. Let Caesar, decked with abundance of gold, sacrifice to Minerva on the Alban mount, and let many an oak-garland pass through his imperial hands. Let him welcome the approaching secular games with magnificent sacrifices, and celebrate the solemnities due to Romulean Tarentus.2 We ask indeed great things, O ye gods, but such as are due to earth; since for so great a god as Caesar what prayers can be extravagant?
Horatius, a little while ago, was the only one, among all the spectators of the games, who appeared in black clothes, when the plebeians, the knights, and the senate, with their sacred chief, were sitting in white array. Suddenly snow fell in great abundance; and Horatius became a spectator in white.1
See how thick a fleece of silent congealed water flows down upon the face and robes of Caesar. Still he pardons Jupiter for sending it, and, with head unmoved, smiles at the waters condensed by the sluggish cold, being accustomed to brave the constellation of the Northern Bootes, and to disregard the Great Bear drenching his locks.2 Who can be sporting with the dried waters and gambolling in the sky? I suspect this snow came from Caesar s little son.3
Of the odour of a lake whence the water has retired; of the miasmata which rise from the sulphureous waters of Albula; of the putrid stench of a marine fish-pond; of a lazy goat in amorous dalliance; of the old shoes of a tired veteran; of a fleece twice drenched in Tyrian dye;1 of the fasting breath of the Jews; of that of wretches under accusation ; of the expiring lamp of the filthy Leda; of ointment made of the dregs of Sabine oil; of a fox in flight, or of the nest of the viper,----of all these things, Bassa, I would rather smell than smell like you.
What do you, Fabianus, an honest and poor man, sincere in speech and in heart, expect from visiting the City? You can neither be a pander nor a parasite, nor, with your monotonous voice, a crier, to call up persons trembling under accusation: nor can you corrupt the wife of your dear friend, nor feel any desire after frozen old women, nor sell empty smoke about the palace;2 nor award praise to Canus, or to Glaphyrus.3 How then, unhappy man, will you live? "I am a trustworthy person, a faithful friend." That is nothing at all: it would never make you a Philomelus.
You wish to be thought, Malisianus, as chaste as a modest virgin, and as innocent as a child, although you are more abandoned than he who recites in the house of Stella1 poems composed in the metre of Tibullus.
Why do you refuse, youthful Hyllus, to-day, what you freely gave yesterday? Why are you so suddenly become cruel, who but now were so kind? You now excuse yourself on account of your beard, and your age, and your hairy limbs. O night, how long have you been, that have made a youth into an old man! Why do you mock me, Hyllus? You were yesterday a boy; tell me, how are you to-day a man?
The first and second hours of the day 1 exhaust the clients who pay their respects to their patrons; the third exercises the lungs of the noisy pleaders; until the fifth Rome employs herself in various occupations; the sixth brings rest to the fatigued; the seventh closes the day's labours. The eighth suffices for the games of the oily palaestra; the ninth bids us press the piled-up couches at table. The tenth is the hour for my effusions, Euphemus, when your skill is preparing ambrosial delicacies, and our excellent Caesar relaxes his cares with celestial nectar, and holds the little cups in his powerful hand. At that time give my pleasantries access to him; my muse with her free step fears to approach Jupiter in the morning.
Fabulla, daughter of surgeon Sota, you desert your husband to follow Clitus, and give him both presents and love. You act like a sot.2
While my book is yet new and unpolished,3 while the page scarcely dry fears to be touched, go, boy, and bear the little present to a dear friend, who deserves beyond all others to have the first sight of my trifles. Run, but not without being duly equipped; let a Carthaginian sponge accompany the book; for it is a suitable addition to my present. Many erasures, Faustinus, would not remove all its faults; one sponging would.
While, puffed up beyond measure by an empty name, you were entranced with delight, and were ashamed, unfortunate man, of being merely Saturninus,1 you stirred up war under the Parrhasian Bear, like he who bore arms for His Egyptian consort. Had you so entirely forgotten the ill-fortune of that name, which the fierce rage of the sea at Actium overwhelmed? Or did the Rhine promise you what the Nile denied to him, and were the northern waters likely to be more propitious? Even Antony fell by our arms, who, compared with you, traitor, was a Caesar.
You deny no one, Thais; but, if you are not ashamed of denying no one, at least be ashamed of denying nothing, Thais.
Claudia Peregrina, Rufus, is about to be married to my friend Pudens. Be propitious, Hymen, with your torches. As fitly is precious cinnamon united with nard, and Massic wine with Attic honey. Nor are elms more fitly wedded to tender vines, the lotus more love the waters, or the myrtle the river's bank. May you always hover over their couch, fair Concord, and may Venus ever be auspicious to a couple so well matched. In after years may the wife cherish her husband in his old age; and may she, when grown old, not seem so to her husband.
Silius, glory of the Castalian sisters, who exposes, in mighty song, the perjuries of barbaric rage, and compels the perfidious pride of Hannibal and the faithless Carthaginians to yield to our great Scipios; lay aside for a while your austere gravity, and while December, sporting with attractive games, resounds on every side with the boxes of hazard, and plays at tropa with-fraudulent dice,1 accord some indulgence to my muse, and read not with severe but with cheerful countenance my little books, abounding with jocular pleasantries. Just so perhaps might the tender Catullus venture to send his sparrow to the great Virgil.2
When you asked me yesterday for the loan of a thousand sesterces, Caecilianus, for six or seven days, I said, "I have not so much." But, on the pretence of a friend's arrival, you now ask me for a dish and some vases. Are you a fool? Or do you think me a fool, my friend? I refused you a thousand; shall I give you five thousand sesterces?
It was rumoured, Gallus, that you were not exactly the stepson of your mother, while she was the wife of your father. This however could not be proved while your father was alive. Your father, Gallus, is now no more; yet your step-mother still lives in the house with you. Even if the great Cicero could he recalled from the shades below, and Regulus himself were to defend you, you could not be acquitted; for she who does not cease to be a step-mother after a father's death, Gallus, never was a step-mother.
You request me to write verses against Lycisca, Paulus, of such a nature that she may be angry on reading them. Paulus, you are unfair; you wish to get her all to yourself.
Just where the gate near the portico of Agrippa is always dripping with water,1 and the slippery pavement is wet with constant showers, a mass of water, congealed by winter's cold, fell upon the neck of a youth who was entering the damp temple, and, when it had inflicted a cruel death on the unfortunate boy, the weapon melted in the warm wound it had made. What cruelties does not Fortune permit? Or where is not death to be found, if you, waters, turn cut-throats.
I send you a foreign cloak, the stout workmanship of a Gallic weaver, which, though of a barbarous country, has a Lacedaemonian name;1 a gift of small value, but not to be despised in cold December. Whether you are rubbing into your skin the clammy wrestler's oil, or playing at tennis to warm you; whether you are catching the dusty ball with your hand, or sharing with your competitors the featherlike weight of the loose bladder,2 or seeking to surpass the light Athas3 in the race, this will be a defence to you, that the searching cold may not affect your wet limbs; of unpropitious Iris oppress you with sudden rain. Clad in this gift; you will laugh at winds and showers; nor will you be equally safe in Tyrian silk.
Caerellia calls herself an old woman, when she is but a girl; Gellia calls herself a girl, when she is an old woman, Nobody can endure either, Collinus; the one is ridiculous, the other disgusting.
Selius affirms that there are no gods, and that heaven is empty; and thinks he has sufficient proof of his opinion in seeing himself become rich while he maintains it.
Cleopatra, after having submitted to the first embrace of love; and requiring to be soothed by her husband; plunged into a glittering pool, flying from his embrace; but the wave betrayed her in her hiding-place; and she shone through the water though wholly covered by it. Thus lilies are distinctly seen through pure glass, and dear crystal does hot allow roses to be hidden. I leaped in, and, plunging beneath the waves, snatched struggling kisses; more was forbidden by the transparent flood.
Whilst you are too dilatory, Thalia, and take long to consider which is the first, which the second, in your estimation, or to whom shall be assigned the palm in Greek Epigram, Callimachus has himself conceded the superiority to the eloquent Brutianus;2 and if he, satiated with Attic wit, should now sport with our Roman Minerva, make me, I pray you, second to him.
Lycoris has buried all the female friends she had, Fabianus; would she were the friend of my wife!
You banks of Altinum,3 that rival the rural beauties of Baiae, and you wood that saw the fall of the thunder-stricken Phaeton; you Sola,4 fairest of the Dryads, who were taken to wife by the Faun of Antenor's land near the Euganean lake; and you, Aquileia, who delight in Ledaean 5 Timavus, at the spot where Cyllarus drank of your seven streams: You shall be the haven and the resting-places of my old age, if my retirement be at my own disposal.
By not having been to see you at home in the morning for a whole year, do you wish me to say how much, Postumus, I have lost? I suppose about twice thirty and thrice twenty sesterces. Pardon me, Postumus, I pay more for a toga.1
You are in the habit, Caesar, of frequently commending my little books. A jealous rival, behold, says you ought not to do so; yet you do it none the less on that account. You have even not been content to honour me with words alone, but have bestowed on me gifts such as no other could have given me; behold again, my envious rival gnaws his black nails. Give me, Caesar, so much the more, that he may be the more mortified.
You have given, Chloe, to the tender Lupercus stuffs from Spain and from Tyre, of scarlet hue, and a toga washed in the warm Galaesus,1 Indian sardonyxes, Scythian emeralds, a hundred gold pieces newly coined; whatever indeed he asks, you never fail, to give him. Poor shorn lamb! Unhappy woman, your Lupercus will strip you bare.
The number of my books, dear Pudens, forms an objection to them; the ever-recurring toil fatigues and satiates the reader. Rarity gives a charm: thus early fruits are most esteemed; thus winter roses obtain a higher price; thus coyness sets off an extravagant mistress; and a door ever open attracts no young suitor. Persius is oftener noticed on account of one book, than the empty Marsus for the whole of his Amazonid, For yourself when you are reading any one of my little books, imagine it to be the only one; it will then be of more value in your eyes.
Withdraw, fisherman, I warn you, far from the Baian lake, fly, that you may not retire with guilt on your head. These waters are inhabited by sacred fish, who know their sovereign, and lick his hand, a hand than which the world contains nothing more powerful. They even have each its name, and each comes up at the voice of its master, when called. Once, in this deep pool, as an impious Libyan was drawing up his prey with quivering rod, he was suddenly struck with blindness, and unable to see the captured fish; and now, abhorring his sacrilegious hooks, he sits a beggar on the banks of the Baian lake.1 But do you withdraw while you may, and while you are yet innocent, casting into the waters only harmless morsels of food, and respecting the tender fish.
As to your desire to be named and read of in my books, and your belief that it would be something of an honour to you, may I be confounded, if your wish is not most agreeable to me; and I am most anxious to give you a place in my verse. But you have a name imposed upon you unfavourable to the inspiration of the Muses; a name which a barbarous mother gave you, and which neither Melpomene, nor Polyhymnia, nor pious Calliope, nor Phoebus, could pronounce, Adopt, then, some name which is acceptable to the Moses; "Hippodamus" can never be introduced with good effect.1
The bee is enclosed, and shines preserved, in a tear of the sisters of Phaeton 2, so that it seems enshrined in its own nectar. It has obtained a worthy reward for its great toils; we may suppose that the bee itself would have desired such a death.
As your desk, Sosibianus, is full of elaborate compositions, why do you publish nothing? "My heirs," you say, "will publish my verses," When? It is already, Sosibianus, time that you should be read.
Although, Attalus, your toga is very dirty, whoever says that you have a snow-like toga speaks the truth.
We hare seen gentle does engage in fight with opposed horns, and fall under the impartial stroke of fate. The hounds gazed on their prey; and the proud huntsman stood amazed that nothing remained for his knife to do. Whence are feeble minds warmed with so great fury? Thus fight bulls; thus fall heroes.
Your beard is white, Olus, your hair is black. The reason is, that you cannot dye your beard, though you can dye your hair.
"Coranus owes me a hundred thousand sesterces, Mancinus two hundred thousand, Titius three hundred thousand, Albinus six hundred thousand, Sabinus a million, and Serranus another million; from my lodging-houses and farms I receive three millions, from my Parmesan flocks six hundred thousand." Such are the words, Afer, that you daily din into my ear; and I know them better than my own name. You must pay me something, to enable me to bear this. Dispel my daily nausea with a round sum: I cannot listen to your catalogue, Afer, for nothing.
Galla, say "No:" love is soon sated, unless our pleasures are mixed with some pain; but do not continue, Galla, to say "No" too long.
You have bought up all sorts of silver plate; you alone possess the old masterpieces of Myro, and we handiwork of Praxiteles and Scopas; you alone have the productions of Phidias' graver, and the labours of Mentor. Nor are genuine Gratiuses1 wanting in your collection, nor vases inlaid with Callaic2 gold, nor embossed ones from the tables of your ancestors. Yet, amidst all your silver, I wonder, Charinus, that you possess none pure.3
When the halls of the Pisos, and the thrice-illustrious house of the learned Seneca, were displaying long lines of pedigrees, I preferred you, Postumus, to all such high personages; you were poor and but a knight, but to me you were a consul. With you, Postumus, I counted thirty winters; we had one couch in common between us. Now, full of honours, and rolling in wealth, you can give, you can lavish. I am waiting, Postumus, to see what you will do for me. You do nothing; and it is late for me to look about for another patron. Is this, Fortune, your act? Postumus has imposed upon me.
Why, when about to recite, do you wrap your neck in wool? That wool would be more proper for our ears.
If any one could possibly grant my wishes, hear, Flaccus, what sort of favourite I would desire. The youth should, first, be born on the banks of the Nile; no land knows better how to bestow attractions. Let him be whiter than snow; for in dusky Egypt that colour is more beauteous, as more rare. Let his eyes rival the stars, and his floating locks play upon his neck; I do not love, Flaccus, carefully arranged locks. Let his forehead be small, and his nose slightly aquiline; and let his lips rival Paesten roses in redness. Let him often seek my caresses when I refuse them; refuse his when I seek them; and let him be often more sportive than his master. Let him be jealous of other youths, and ever keep young damsels at a distance; and, while a man to all else, let him be a youth to me alone. "I understand," say you; "you do not deceive me; for I can testify that your description is exact. Such was my Amazonicus."
I did not call you, Coracinus, an unnatural debauchee; I am not so rash or daring; nor am I a person to utter falsehoods willingly. If I so spoke of you, Coracinus, may I find the flagon of Pontia and the cup of Metilus1 hostile to me; I swear to you by the extravagance and madness of the rites of Isis and Cybele. What I said, however, was of a light and trifling nature,----a something well known, and which you yourself will not deny; I said, Coracinus, that you are strangely fond of the female sex.
This is Vesuvius, lately green with umbrageous vines; here the noble grape had pressed the dripping coolers. These are the heights which Bacchus loved more than the hills of Nysa; on this mountain the satyrs recently danced. This was the abode of Venus, more grateful to her than Lacedaemon; this was the place renowned by the divinity of Hercules.2 All now lies buried in flames and sad ashes. Even the gods would have wished not to have had the power to cause such a catastrophe.3
To you, Phoebus, Parthenius, the chamberlain of Domitian makes these offerings, in behalf of his son Burrus, joyfully and with full censer; that he, who this day marks his first five years by entering a second lustrum, may live many Olympiads of years. Grant accomplishment to the prayers of a father; so may your Daphne delight in you, and your sister rejoice in unspotted virginity; so may you glory in perpetual youth; so may Bacchus never possess, Phoebus, locks as long as yours.
The Saturnalia have made Sabellus a rich man.1 Justly does Sabellus swell with pride, and think and say that there is no one among the lawyers better off than himself. All these airs, and all this exultation, are excited in Sabellus by half a peck of meal, and as much of parched beans; by three half pounds of frankincense, and as many of pepper; by a sausage from Lucania, and a sow's paunch from Falerii; by a Syrian flagon of dark mulled wine, and some figs candied in a Libyan jar, accompanied with onions, and shell-fish, and cheese. From a Picenian client, too, came a little chest that would scarcely hold a few olives, and a nest of seven cups from Saguntum, polished with the potter's rude graver, the day workmanship of a Spanish wheel,2 and a napkin variegated with the laticlave. More profitable Saturnalia Sabellus has not had these ten years.
An encaustic figure of Phaeton is depicted upon this tablet. What do you mean, painter, by burning Phaeton a second time?
He knows not, Flaccus, believe me, what Epigrams really are, who calls them mere trifles and frivolities. He is much more frivolous, who writes of the feast of the cruel Tereus; or the banquet of the unnatural Thyestes; or of Daedalus fitting melting wings to his son's body; or of Polyphemus feeding his Sicilian flocks. From my effusions all tumid ranting is excluded; nor does my Muse swell with the mad garment of Tragedy. "But everything written in such a style is praised, admired, and adored by all." I admit it. Things in that style are praised; but mine are read.
Why, Thais, are you constantly saying that I am old? One is never too old, Thais, for what you require.
When you had not six thousand sesterces, Caecilianus, you used to be carried about ostentatiously in a vast litter borne by six men. But since the blind goddess has given you two millions, and your coins have overflowed your coffers, behold you have taken to go on foot. What prayers ought I to offer on your behalf for such merit, such praise-worthy modesty? May the gods restore you, Caecilianus, your litter!
If you do not leave off, Hedylus, being drawn by a yoke of goats, you, who were recently a ficus, will become a caprificus.1
Yonder person, Cosmus, whom you often see in the recesses of the temple of our Pallas, and on the threshold of the new temple,2----an old man with a stick and a wallet; whose hair bristles white and dirty, and over whose breast a filthy beard descends; whom a wax-coloured cloak, sole partner of his bare bed, covers; and to whom the crowd that encounters him gives food forced from them by his importunity,----him, I say, you take for a Cynic, out you are deceived by a false appearance; he is no Cynic, Cosmus. What then?----a dog.3
O Collinus, to whom it has been granted to obtain the crown of oak in the Capitol,1 and to surround your deserving locks with its foliage first of all your race, make the most, if you are wise, of every day, and always imagine that your last is come. No one ever succeeded in moving the three wool-spinning sisters;2 they observe rigidly the day which they have fixed. Though you be richer than Crispus, more firm-minded than Thrasea's self; more magnificent than the splendid Melior, Lachesis adds nothing to the thread; she unwinds the spindles of her sisters, and one of the three always puts a stop to the prolongation of it.
O Lucius,3 glory of your age, who does not allow old Gaius4 and our Tagus to yield the palm to eloquent Arpi,5 let him who has been born among the cities of Greece sing of Thebes or Mycenae in his lay, or famous Rhodes, or the Ledaean palaestrae1 of licentious 2 Lacedaemon. For us, born among the Celts and Spaniards, let us not be ashamed of repeating in grateful verse the harsher names of our own land; Bilbilis, renowned for its mines of cruel iron, a town which surpasses in this respect the Chalybes and the Norici; Plates, resounding with the working of its own steel, a town which the river Salo, that tempers arms, surrounds with shallow but unquiet waters; Tutela; the dances of Rixamae; the joyful festivities of Cardua; Peterus, red with intertwined roses; Rigae, and its ancient theatres constructed by our ancestors; the Silai, unerring in the use of the light dart; the lakes of Turgontus and Perusia; the pure waters of the humble Vetonissa; the sacred oak-grove of Buradon, through which even the tired traveller walks;3 and the fields of the vale of Vativesca, which Manlius tills with lusty steers. Do these rough names excite a smile, fastidious reader? Smile, if you pease; I prefer them, rough as they are, to Butunti.4
Do you wish me, Gargilianus, because you send large presents to old men and widows, to call you munificent? There is nothing on earth more sordid or meaner than you are, who call your snares gifts. In like manner is the guileful hook bountiful to fishes, and the crafty bait a boon to the silly inhabitants of the forests. What the difference is between giving liberally, and making such presents, I will teach you, if you do not know. Make them, Gargilianus, to me.
Whilst I am detained by the voluptuous waters of the attractive Lucrine lake, and the caves warmed with fountains issuing from the rocks of pumice-stone, you, Faustinus, are dwelling in the domain of the Argive colonists,1 whither the twentieth milestone from the city brings you. But the bristly cheat of the Nemaean lion2 is now inflamed with heat, and Baiae glows with more than its own warmth. So, then, farewell, you sacred fountains and grateful shores, the home alike of Nymphs and of Nereids! In the cold winter you were preferable to the mountains of Hercules: 3 but now you must yield to the cool shades of Tibur.
You lament in secret, Galla, the loss of your husband; you are ashamed, Galla, I suppose, to weep for a man.
Whilst a viper was crawling on the weeping boughs of the Heliades,1 an amber-drop flowed upon the reptile as it lay in its way. While wondering at being fettered by the gummy exudation, it suddenly grew stiff, immured in the congealing mass. Pride not yourself, Cleopatra, on your royal sepulchre; for a viper reposes in a tomb still nobler.
Let us in the summer solstice retire to Ardea and the country about Paestum, and to the tract which burns under the Cleonaean constellation; 2 since Curiatius has condemned the air of Tivoli, carried off as he was to the Styx notwithstanding its much-lauded waters. From no place can you shut out fate: when death comes, Sardinia 3 is in the midst of Tivoli itself.
A little while ago, Mancinus, you joyfully boasted to us, in an exulting tone, that some friend of yours had made you a present of two hundred thousand sesterces. Only four days ago, as we were talking in the assembly-room of the poets, you told us that your cloak, which had cost ten thousand sesterces, was the gift of Pompulla; you swore that Bassa and Caelia had given you a red sardonyx, a brilliant opal, and two gems, green as the waves of the sea. Yesterday, when you suddenly left the theatre while Pollio was singing, you remarked, as you ran off, that three hundred thousand sesterces had just come to you by a legacy; this morning you spoke of another hundred thousand, and this afternoon of a hundred thousand more. What extraordinary injury have we, your companions, wrought you? Have pity on us, unfeeling mental, and at length hold your peace. Or, if your tongue cannot be silent, tell us now and then something that we should like to hear.
Swarthy Lycoris has left Rome for Tivoli, sacred to Hercules; for she imagines that everybody becomes white there.1
While Caerellia, the mother of a family, was sailing from Bauli to Baiae, she perished, drowned by the malice of the raging flood. What glory have you lost, you waters! Such a monstrous catastrophe you did not of old allow to Nero, even though commanded to do so.1
On the long ridge of the Janiculan Hill lie the few acres belonging to Julius Martialis; land more blessed than the gardens of the Hesperides. Secluded retreats are spread over the hills, and the smooth summit, with gentle undulations, enjoys a cloudless sky, and, while a mist covers the hollow valleys, shines conspicuous in a light all its own. The graceful turrets of a lofty villa rise gently towards the stars. Hence you may see the seven hills, rulers of the world, and contemplate the whole extent of Rome, as well as the heights of Alba and Tusculum, and every cool retreat that lies in the suburbs, with old Fidenae and little Rubra, and the fruit-bearing grove of Anna Perenna, which delights in virgins' blood.2 Thence may be seen the traveller on the Flaminian and Salarian roads, while his carriage is unheard, so that its wheels are no interruption to gentle sleep; neither is it broken by the cry of the boatswain, or the noise of hawsers, although the Mulvian bridge is near, and ships are seen gliding swiftly along the sacred Tiber. This country box, but which ought rather to be called mansion, is rendered additionally agreeable by the welcome of its owner; you will imagine it to be your own; so ungrudgingly, so liberally, is it thrown open to you, and with such refined hospitality. You would deem it the pious abode of Alcinous, or of Molorchus recently made rich.3 You now, who think all these attractions insignificant, cultivate with a hundred spades cool Tivoli or Praeneste, and give the slopes of Setia to one single husbandman; whilst I, for my part, prefer to all your possessions the few acres of Julius Martialis.
Philaenis is always weeping with one eye. Do you ask how that can be? She has but one.
You have always led the life, Linus, of a country gentleman; an existence than which none can be more inexpensive. It was only on the ides, and occasionally on the kalends of the month,1 that you put on your toga; and one robe of ceremony lasted you ten summers. The forest sent you wild boars, and the field sent you hares, without cost; the well-searched wood save you fat thrushes. The fish came easily snatched from the watery pool; and the red cask poured forth wines of native growth. No attendant of Grecian birth stood at your orders, but a rustic assemblage from the farm. As often as your amorous fancies were warmed and excited by wine, the housekeeper, or the wife of your hardy labourer, sufficed to appease them. Fire hurt not your house, nor Sirius your lands: no ship of yours was ever sunk in the deep; nor is any one now at sea. In your house dice never supplanted the quiet tali;2 but all your stake was a few nuts. Tell us, then, where is the million sesterces which your parsimonious mother left you. Nowhere. You have accomplished a difficult thing, Linus.
The poor Gaurus begged from Praetor a hundred thousand sesterces, well known to him as he was by long-standing friendship, and told him that he wanted that sum alone to add to his three hundred thousand, to qualify him, as a full knight, to applaud the emperor.1 Says Praetor: "You know, I shall have to give a sum of money to Scorpus and Thallus;2 and would that I had only a hundred thousand sesterces to give them!" Ah! shame, shame on your ungrateful coffers, filled to no good purpose! That which you refuse to a knight, Praetor, will you bestow upon a horse?
You invite me to a dinner that costs but a hundred farthings, while you yourself dine magnificently. Am I invited to dine with you, Sextus, or to envy you?
You always, it is true, Pamphilus, place Setine wine, or Massic, on table; but rumour says that they are not so pure as they ought to be. You are reported to have been four times made a widower by the aid of your goblet. I do not think this, or believe it, Pamphilus; but I am not thirsty.
The father of Ammianus, when dying, left him by his will nothing but a dry halter. Who would have thought it possible, Marullinus, that Ammianus could have been made to wish his father still alive?
I have been long seeking, Safronius Rufus, throughout tho city, for a maiden that says No: but not one says No. Just as if it were not right, as if it were disgraceful, as if it were prohibited, No maiden says No. Is there then no maiden chaste? There are a thousand. What then does the chaste one do? She does not say Yes, certainly, but still she does not say No.
You beg me, Quintus, to present you my works. I have not a copy, but the bookseller Trypho has. "Am I going to give money for trifles," you say, "and buy your verses while in my sober senses? I shall not do anything so ridiculous." Nor shall I.
When Vestinus, overcome with disease, was at his last hour, and just on the point of crossing the Stygian waters, he prayed to the sisters who were spinning his last threads that they would bring their dark twine to an end with little delay. While, dead for himself, he lived a few moments for his dear friends, such affectionate prayers moved the stern goddesses. Then, having divided his great wealth, he retired from the light of day, feeling, after this was done, that he died an old man.
Do you see what fierce combats the unwarlike does attempt, and how great rage there is in these timid animals? They burn to rush together upon death with their narrow brows. Do you desire to spare the does, Caesar? Let the hounds loose upon them.
O Nigrina, happy in your beauty of soul, happy in your consort, chief glory of the daughters-in-law of Latium, it delights you to share with your husband the wealth inherited from your father, rejoicing to associate and participate with him in all things. Though Evadne may have cast herself upon the funeral pyre of her husband, and have been burned; and though a fame in no respect inferior exalt Alcestis to the stars; you have done better; you have gained, by visible evidence, such reputation for affection, that your love needs not to be attested by death.
You have sent me six thousand sesterces, when I asked you for twelve: to obtain twelve, I must ask you for twenty-four.
I have never hitherto asked riches of the gods, being content with moderate enjoyments, and happy in what I possess. ----But now, poverty, I wish you (pray excuse me) to retire. What is the cause of this new and sudden prayer? I long to see Zoilus hang himself.
Although you have seen sixty harvests gathered in, and your face glistens with many a white hair, you run hither and thither wildly throughout the city, and there is no great man's chair to which you do not every morning assiduously pay your respects. Without you no tribune is allowed to leave his house, nor is either of the consuls excused from your dutiful attendance upon him. Ten times a day you return to the palace on the sacred hill, and talk unceasingly of your friends Sigerius and Parthenius. Let young men act thus----but than an officious old man, Afer, there is nothing more offensive.
You were constantly, Matho, a guest at my villa at Tivoli. Now you buy it.----I have deceived you; I have merely sold you what was already your own,
You declaim, Maro, when you are ill with a fever. If you are ignorant that this is frenzy, you are not in your right senses, friend Maro. You declaim when out of order; you declaim while a victim to the semitertian ague. If you cannot excite perspiration by any other means, well and good. "Oh! but it is a great thing to do." You are mistaken; when fever is burning your vitals, the great thing is to be quiet, Maro.
When Fabulla had read that epigram of mine, in which I complain that no maiden says No, she, although asked once, twice, and thrice, disregarded the prayers of her lover. Now, Fabulla, say Yes: I advised you to say No, but not to say No for ever.
Recommend also, Rufus, these little books of mine to Venuleius, and beg him to grant me some few moments of his leisure, and, forgetting awhile his cares and occupations, to examine my trifles with indulgent ear. But let him not read them after either his first or his last glass, but when Bacchus is in his glory, and delights to witness convivial excitement. If it be too much to read two volumes, let him roll up one of them; and the task, thus divided, will seem shorter.
When you are devoid of care, Naevolus, nobody is more disagreeable than you; when you are in trouble, Naevolus, nobody is more pleasing. When devoid of care you answer nobody's salutation, you look down on every one, you seem to think every one a slave, and no man living worthy of your regard. When you are in trouble, you make presents to one person, you pay your respects to another as your lord and patron, and invite everybody to your house. Pray be always, Naevolus, in trouble.
There is no one among the people, or in the whole town, who who assert that Thais has granted him favours, although many desire and entreat them. Is Thais then, I ask, so pure? By no means; she has a filthy tongue.
We drink out of glass, Ponticus; you, out of porcelain.1 Why? Lest a transparent vessel should betray the better quality of your wine.
If you wish to be approved by Attic ears, I exhort and advise you, my little book, to please the learned Apollinaris.2 No one is more acute than he, or more learned, nor is any one more candid or more indulgent. If he shall receive you to his heart, and repeat you with his lips, you will neither have to dread the sneers of the malignant, nor will you furnish parchment coverings for anchovies. If he shall condemn you, you may run forthwith to the stalls of the salt-meat sellers, to have your back scribbled upon by their boys.3
Your wife Bassa, Fabullus, has always a child at her side, which she calls her delight and her darling. And, that you may have the greater cause for wonder, she is not at all fond of children. What is her reason, then? She is troubled with wind.
You have sent me nothing in return for my little gift, and five of the days of the Saturnalia are passed. Thus neither have six scruples of Septician silver1 been sent to me, nor a table-cloth, fit present for a complaining client, nor a jar red with the blood of the Antipolitan tunny, nor one containing small prunes, nor a little basket of wrinkled Picenian olives, so as to enable you to say that you have not forgotten me. You may deceive others by your words and your smiling countenance; to me you will be henceforth an unmasked deceiver.
Enough, enough! little book! we have already reached the end of the parchment. You would still go on, and add to your bulk, and cannot confine yourself within due limits; just as if you had not done enough, when you had completed the first page. The reader is now quite querulous, and out of patience; the librarius 1 himself now cries out, "Enough, enough, little book."
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2008. This file and all material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode.
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