Whoever grows pale with evil ambition, or the love of money: whoever is heated with luxury, or gloomy superstition, or any other disease of the mind, I command him to adjust his garment and attend: hither, all of ye, come near me in order, while I convince you that you are mad.
By far the largest portion of hellebore is to be administered to the covetous: I know not, whether reason does not consign all Anticyra to their use. The heirs of Staberius engraved the sum [which he left them] upon his tomb: unless they had acted in this manner, they were under an obligation to exhibit a hundred pair of gladiators to the people, beside an entertainment according to the direction of Arrius; and as much corn as is cut in Africa. Whether I have willed this rightly or wrongly, it was my will; be not severe against me, [cries the testator]. I imagine the provident mind of Staberius foresaw this. What then did he moan, when he appointed by will that his heirs should engrave the sum of their patrimony upon his tomb-stone? As long as he lived, he deemed poverty a great vice, and nothing did he more industriously avoid: insomuch that, had he died less rich by one farthing, the more Iniquitous would he have appeared to himself. For every thing, virtue, fame, glory, divine and human affairs, are subservient to the attraction of riches; which whoever shall have accumulated, shall be illustrious, brave, just—What, wise too? Ay, and a king, and whatever else he pleases. This he was in hopes would greatly redound to his praise, as if it had been an acquisition of his virtue. In what respect did the Grecian Aristippus act like this; who ordered his slaves to throw away his gold in the midst of Libya; because, encumbered with the burden, they traveled too slowly? Which is the greater madman of these two? An example is nothing to the purpose, that decides one controversy by creating another. If any person were to buy lyres, and [when he had bought them] to stow them in one place; though neither addicted to the lyre nor to any one muse whatsoever: if a man were [to buy] paring-knives and lasts, and were no shoemaker; sails fit for navigation, and were averse to merchandizing; he every where deservedly be styled delirious, and out of his senses. How does he differ from these, who boards up cash and gold [and] knows not how to use them when accumulated, and is afraid to touch them as if they were consecrated? If any person before a great heap of corn should keep perpetual watch with a long club, and, though the owner of it, and hungry, should not dare to take a single grain from it; and should rather feed upon bitter leaves: if while a thousand hogsheads of Chian, or old Falernian, is stored up within (nay, that is nothing—three hundred thousand), he drink nothing, but what is mere sharp vinegars again—if, wanting but one year of eighty, he should lie upon straw, who has bed-clothes rotting in his chest, the food of worms and moths; he would seem mad, belike, but to few persons: because the greatest part of mankind labors, under the same malady.
Thou dotard, hateful to the gods, dost thou guard [these possessions], for fear of wanting thyself: to the end that thy son, or even the freedman thy heir, should guzzle it all up? For how little will each day deduct from your capital, if you begin to pour better oil upon your greens and your head, filthy with scurf not combed out? If any thing be a sufficiency, wherefore are you guilty of perjury [wherefore] do you rob, and plunder from all quarters? Are you in your senses? If you were to begin to pelt the populace with stones, and the slaves, which you purchased with your money; all the: very boys and girls will cry out that you are a madman. When you dispatch your wife with a rope, and your mother with poison, are you right in your head? Why not? You neither did this at Argos, nor slew your mother with the sword, as the mad Orestes did. What, do you imagine that he ran? mad after he had murdered his parent; and that he was not driven mad by the wicked Furies, before he warmed his sharp steel in his mother's throat? Nay, from the time that Orestes is deemed to have been of a dangerous disposition, he did nothing in fact that you can blame; he did not dare to offer violence with his sword to Pylades, nor to his sister Electra; he only gave ill language to both of them, by calling her a Fury, and him some other [opprobrious name], which, his violent choler suggested.
Opimius, poor amid silver and gold hoarded up within, who used to drink out of Campanian ware Veientine wine on holidays, and mere dregs on common days, was some time ago taken with a prodigious lethargy; insomuch that his heir was already scouring about his coffers and keys, in joy and triumph. His physician, a man of much dispatch and fidelity, raises him in this manner: he orders a table to be brought, and the bags of money to be poured out, and several persons to approach in order to count it: by this method he sets the man upon his legs again. And at the same time he addresses him to this effect. Unless you guard your money your ravenous heir will even now carry off these [treasures] of yours. What, while I am alive? That you may live, therefore, awake; do this. What would you have me do? Why your blood will fail you that are so much reduced, unless food and some great restorative be administered to your decaying stomach. Do you hesitate? come on; take this ptisan made of rice. How much did it cost? A trifle. How much then? Eight asses. Alas! what does it matter, whether I die of a disease, or by theft and rapine?
Who then is sound? He, who is not a fool. What is the covetous man? Both a fool and a madman. What—if a man be not covetous, is he immediately [to be deemed] sound? By no means. Why so, Stoic? I will tell you. Such a patient (suppose Craterus [the physician] said this) is not sick at the heart. Is he therefore well, and shall he get up? No, he will forbid that; because his side or his reins are harassed with an acute disease. [In like manner], such a man is not perjured, nor sordid; let him then sacrifice a hog to his propitious household gods. But he is ambitious and assuming. Let him make a voyage [then] to Anticyra. For what is the difference, whether you fling whatever you have into a gulf, or make no use of your acquisitions?
Servius Oppidius, rich in the possession of an ancient estate, is reported when dying to have divided two farms at Canusium between his two sons, and to have addressed the boys, called to his bed-side, [in the following manner]: When I saw you, Aulus, carry your playthings and nuts carelessly in your bosom, [and] to give them and game them away; you, Tiberius, count them, and anxious hide them in holes; I was afraid lest a madness of a different nature should possess you: lest you [Aulus], should follow the example of Nomentanus, you, [Tiberius], that of Cicuta. Wherefore each of you, entreated by our household gods, do you (Aulus) take care lest you lessen; you (Tiberius) lest you make that greater, which your father thinks and the purposes of nature determine to be sufficient. Further, lest glory should entice you, I will bind each of you by an oath: whichever of you shall be an aedile or a praetor, let him be excommunicated and accursed. Would you destroy your effects in [largesses of] peas, beans, and lupines, that you may stalk in the circus at large, or stand in a statue of brass, O madman, stripped of your paternal estate, stripped of your money? To the end, forsooth, that you may gain those applauses, which Agrippa gains, like a cunning fox imitating a generous lion?
O Agamemnon, why do you prohibit any one from burying Ajax? I am a king. I, a plebeian, make no further inquiry. And I command a just thing: but, if I seem unjust to any one, I permit you to speak your sentiments with impunity. Greatest of kings, may the gods grant that, after the taking of Troy, you may conduct your fleet safe home: may I then have the liberty to ask questions, and reply in my turn? Ask. Why does Ajax, the second hero after Achilles, rot [above ground], so often renowned for having saved the Grecians; that Priam and Priam's people may exult in his being unburied, by whose means so many youths have been deprived of their country's rites of sepulture. In his madness he killed a thousand sheep, crying out that he was destroying the famous Ulysses and Menelaus, together with me. When you at Aulis substituted your sweet daughter in the place of a heifer before the altar, and, O impious one, sprinkled her head with the salt cake; did you preserve soundness of mind? Why do you ask? What then did the mad Ajax do, when he slew the flock with his sword? He abstained from any violence to his wife and child, though he had imprecated many curses on the sons of Atreus: he neither hurt Teucer, nor even Ulysses himself. But I, out of prudence, appeased the gods with blood, that I might loose the ships detained on an adverse shore. Yes, madman! with your own blood. With my own [indeed], but I was not mad. Whoever shall form images foreign from reality, and confused in the tumult of impiety, will always be reckoned disturbed in mind: and it will not matter, whether he go wrong through folly or through rage. Is Ajax delirious, while he kills the harmless lambs? Are you right in your head, when you willfully commit a crime for empty titles? And is your heart pure, while it is swollen with the vice? If any person should take a delight to carry about with him in his sedan a pretty lambkin; and should provide clothes, should provide maids and gold for it, as for a daughter, should call it Rufa and Rufilla, and should destine it a wife for some stout husband; the praetor would take power from him being interdicted, and the management of him would devolve to his relations, that were in their senses. What, if a man devote his daughter instead of a dumb lambkin, is he right of mind? Never say it. Therefore, wherever there is a foolish depravity, there will be the height of madness. He who is wicked, will be frantic too: Bellona, who delights in bloodshed, has thundered about him, whom precarious fame has captivated.
Now, come on, arraign with me luxury and Nomentanus; for reason will evince that foolish spendthrifts are mad. This fellow, as soon as he received a thousand talents of patrimony, issues an order that the fishmonger, the fruiterer, the poulterer, the perfumer, and the impious gang of the Tuscan alley, sausage-maker, and buffoons, the whole shambles, together with [all] Velabrum, should come to his house in the morning. What was the consequence? They came in crowds. The pander makes a speech: "Whatever I, or whatever each of these has at home, believe it to be yours: and give your order for it either directly, or to-morrow." Hear what reply the considerate youth made: "You sleep booted in Lucanian snow, that I may feast on a boar: you sweep the wintry seas for fish: I am indolent, and unworthy to possess so much. Away with it: do you take for your share ten hundred thousand sesterces; you as much; you thrice the sum, from whose house your spouse runs, when called for, at midnight." The son of Aesopus, [the actor] (that he might, forsooth, swallow a million of sesterces at a draught), dissolved in vinegar a precious pearl, which he had taken from the ear of Metella: how much wiser was he [in doing this,] than if he had thrown the same into a rapid river, or the common sewer? The progeny of Quintius Arrius, an illustrious pair of brothers, twins in wickedness and trifling and the love of depravity, used to dine upon nightingales bought at a vast expense: to whom do these belong? Are they in their senses? Are they to be marked With chalk, or with charcoal?
If an [aged person] with a long beard should take a delight to build baby-houses, to yoke mice to a go-cart, to play at odd and even, to ride upon a long cane, madness must be his motive. If reason shall evince, that to be in love is a more childish thing than these; and that there is no difference whether you play the same games in the dust as when three years old, or whine in anxiety for the love of a harlot: I beg to know, if you will act as the reformed Polemon did of old? Will you lay aside those ensigns of your disease, your rollers, your mantle, your mufflers; as he in his cups is said to have privately torn the chaplet from his neck, after he was corrected by the speech of his fasting master? When you offer apples to an angry boy, he refuses them: here, take them, you little dog; he denies you: if you don't give them, he wants them. In what does an excluded lover differ [from such a boy]; when he argues with himself whether he should go or not to that very place whither he was returning without being sent for, and cleaves to the hated doors? "What shall I not go to her now, when she invites me of her own accord? or shall I rather think of putting an end to my pains? She has excluded me; she recalls me: shall I return? No, not if she would implore me." Observe the servant, not a little wiser: "O master, that which has neither moderation nor conduct, can not be guided by reason or method. In love these evils are inherent; war [one while], then peace again. If any one should endeavor to ascertain these things, that are various as the weather, and fluctuating by blind chance; he will make no more of it, than if he should set about raving by right reason and rule." What—when, picking the pippins from the Picenian apples, you rejoice if haply you have hit the vaulted roof; are you yourself? What—when you strike out faltering accents from your antiquated palate, how much wiser are you than [a child] that builds little houses? To the folly [of love] add bloodshed, and stir the fire with a sword. I ask you, when Marius lately, after he had stabbed Hellas, threw himself down a precipice, was he raving mad? Or will you absolve the man from the imputation of a disturbed mind, and condemn him for the crime, according to your custom, imposing, on things named that have an affinity in signification?
There was a certain freedman, who, an old man, ran about the streets in a morning fasting, with his hands washed, and prayed thus: "Snatch me alone from death" (adding some solemn vow), "me alone, for it is an easy matter for the gods:" this man was sound in both his ears and eyes; but his master, when he sold him, would except his understanding, unless he were fond of law-suits. This crowd too Chrysippus places in the fruitful family of Menenius.
O Jupiter, who givest and takest away great afflictions, (cries the mother of a boy, now lying sick abed for five months), if this cold quartan ague should leave the child, in the morning of that day on which you enjoy a fast, he shall stand naked in the Tiber. Should chance or the physician relieve the patient from his imminent danger, the infatuated mother will destroy [the boy] placed on the cold bank, and will bring back the fever. With what disorder of the mind is she stricken? Why, with a superstitious fear of the gods.
These arms Stertinius, the eighth of the wise men, gave to me, as to a friend, that for the future I might not be roughly accosted without avenging myself. Whosoever shall call me madman, shall hear as much from me [in return]; and shall learn to look back upon the bag that hangs behind him.
O Stoic, so may you, after your damage, sell all your merchandise the better: what folly (for, [it seems,] there are more kinds than one) do you think I am infatuated with? For to myself I seem sound. What—when mad Agave carries the amputated head of her unhappy son, does she then seem mad to herself? I allow myself a fool (let me yield to the truth) and a madman likewise: only declare this, with what distemper of mind you think me afflicted. Hear, then: in the first place you build; that is, though from top to bottom you are but of the two-foot size you imitate the tall: and you, the same person, laugh at the spirit and strut of Turbo in armor, too great for his [little] body: how are you less ridiculous than him? What—is it fitting that, in every thing Maecenas does, you, who are so very much unlike him and so much his inferior, should vie with him? The young ones of a frog being in her absence crushed by the foot of a calf, when one of them had made his escape, he told his mother what a huge beast had dashed his brethren to pieces. She began to ask, how big? Whether it were so great? puffing herself up. Greater by half. What, so big? when she had swelled herself more and more. If you should burst yourself, says he, you will not be equal to it. This image bears no great dissimilitude to you. Now add poems (that is, add oil to the fire), which if ever any man in his senses made, why so do you. I do not mention your horrid rage. At length, have done—your way of living beyond your fortune—confine yourself to your own affairs, Damasippus—those thousand passions for the fair, the young. Thou greater madman, at last, spare thy inferior.
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He ridicules the absurdity of one Catius, who placed the summit of human felicity in the culinary art.
Whence, and whither, Catius? I have not time [to converse with you], being desirous of impressing on my memory some new precepts; such as excel Pythagoras, and him that was accused by Anytus, and the learned Plato. I acknowledge my offense, since I have interrupted you at so unlucky a juncture: but grant me your pardon, good sir, I beseech you. If any thing should have slipped you now, you will presently recollect it: whether this talent of yours be of nature, or of art, you are amazing in both. Nay, but I was anxious, how I might retain all [these precepts]; as being things of a delicate nature, and in a delicate style. Tell me the name of this man; and at the same time whether he is a Roman, or a foreigner? As I have them by heart, I will recite the precepts: the author shall be concealed.
Remember to serve up those eggs that are of an oblong make, as being of sweeter flavor and more nutritive than the round ones: for, being tough-shelled, they contain a male yelk. Cabbage that grows in dry lands, is sweeter than that about town: nothing is more insipid than a garden much watered. If a visitor should come unexpectedly upon you in the evening, lest the tough old hen prove disagreeable to his palate, you must learn to drown it in Falernian wine mixed [with water]: this will make it tender. The mushrooms that grow in meadows, are of the best kind: all others are dangerously trusted. That man shall spend his summers healthy who shall finish his dinners with mulberries black [with ripeness], which he shall have gathered from the tree before the sun becomes violent. Aufidius used to mix honey with strong Falernian injudiciously; because it is right to commit nothing to the empty veins, but what is emollient: you will, with more propriety, wash your stomach with soft mead. If your belly should be hard bound, the limpet and coarse cockles will remove obstructions, and leaves of the small sorrel; but not without Coan white wine. The increasing moons swell the lubricating shell-fish. But every sea is not productive of the exquisite sorts. The Lucrine muscle is better than the Baian murex: [The best] oysters come from the Circaean promontory; cray-fish from Misenum: the soft Tarentum plumes herself on her broad escalops. Let no one presumptuously arrogate to himself the science of banqueting, unless the nice doctrine of tastes has been previously considered by him with exact system. Nor is it enough to sweep away a parcel of fishes from the expensive stalls, [while he remains] ignorant for what sort stewed sauce is more proper, and what being roasted, the sated guest will presently replace himself on his elbow. Let the boar from Umbria, and that which has been fed with the acorns of the scarlet oak, bend the round dishes of him who dislikes all flabby meat: for the Laurentian boar, fattened with flags and reeds, is bad. The vineyard does not always afford the most eatable kids. A man of sense will be fond of the shoulders of a pregnant hare. What is the proper age and nature of fish and fowl, though inquired after, was never discovered before my palate. There are some, whose genius invents nothing but new kinds of pastry. To waste one's care upon one thing, is by no means sufficient; just as if any person should use all his endeavors for this only, that the wine be not bad; quite careless what oil he pours upon his fish. If you set out Massic wine in fair weather, should there be any thing thick in it, it will be attenuated by the nocturnal air, and the smell unfriendly to the nerves will go off: but, if filtrated through linen, it will lose its entire flavor. He, who skillfully mixes the Surrentine wine with Falernian lees, collects the sediment with a pigeon's egg: because the yelk sinks to the bottom, rolling down with it all the heterogeneous parts. You may rouse the jaded toper with roasted shrimps and African cockles; for lettuce after wine floats upon the soured stomach: by ham preferably, and by sausages, it craves to be restored to its appetite: nay, it will prefer every thing which is brought smoking hot from the nasty eating-houses. It is worth while to be acquainted with the two kinds of sauce. The simple consists of sweet oil; which it will be proper to mix with rich wine and pickle, but with no other pickle than that by which the Byzantine jar has been tainted. When this, mingled with shredded herbs, has boiled, and sprinkled with Corycian saffron, has stood, you shall over and above add what the pressed berry of the Venafran olive yields. The Tiburtian yield to the Picenian apples in juice, though they excel in look. The Venusian grape is proper for [preserving in] pots. The Albanian you had better harden in the smoke. I am found to be the first that served up this grape with apples in neat little side-plates, to be the first [likewise that served up] wine-lees and herring-brine, and white pepper finely mixed with black salt. It is an enormous fault to bestow three thousand sesterces on the fish-market, and then to cramp the roving fishes in a narrow dish. It causes a great nausea in the stomach, if even the slave touches the cup with greasy hands, while he licks up snacks, or if offensive grime has adhered to the ancient goblet. In trays, in mats, in sawdust, [that are so] cheap, what great expense can there be? But, if they are neglected, it is a heinous shame. What, should you sweep Mosaic pavements with a dirty broom made of palm, and throw Tyrian carpets over the unwashed furniture of your couch! forgetting, that by how much less care and expense these things are attended, so much the more justly may [the want of them] be censured, than of those things which can not be obtained but at the tables of the rich?
Learned Catius, entreated by our friendship and the gods, remember to introduce me to an audience [with this great man], whenever you shall go to him. For, though by your memory you relate every thing to me, yet as a relater you can not delight me in so high a degree. Add to this the countenance and deportment of the man; whom you, happy in having seen, do not much regard, because it has been your lot: but I have no small solicitude, that I may approach the distant fountain-heads, and imbibe the precepts of [such] a blessed life.
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In a humorous dialogue between Ulysses and Tiresias, he exposes those arts which the fortune hunters make use of, in order to be appointed the heirs of rich old men.
Beside what you have told me, O Tiresias, answer to this petition of mine: by what arts and expedients may I be able to repair my ruined fortunes—why do you laugh? Does it already seem little to you, who are practiced in deceit, to be brought back to Ithaca, and to behold [again] your family household gods? O you who never speak falsely to anyone, you see how naked and destitute I return home, according to your prophecy: nor is either my cellar, or my cattle there, unembezzled by the suitors [of Penelope]. But birth and virtue, unless [attended] with substance, is viler than sea weed.
Since (circumlocutions apart) you are in dread of poverty hear by what means you may grow wealthy. If a thrush, or any [nice] thing for your own private [eating], shall be given you; it must wing way to that place, where shines a great fortune, the possessor being an old man: delicious apples, and whatever dainties your well-cultivated ground brings forth for you, let the rich man, as more to be reverenced than your household god, taste before him: and, though he be perjured, of no family, stained with his brother's blood, a runaway; if he desire it, do not refuse to go along with him, his companion on the outer side. What, shall I walk cheek by jole with a filthy Damas? I did not behave myself in that manner at Troy, contending always with the best. You must then be poor. I will command my sturdy soul to bear this evil; I have formerly endured even greater. Do thou, O prophet, tell me forthwith how I may amass riches and heaps of money. In troth I have told you, and tell you again. Use your craft to lie at catch for the last wills of old men: nor, if one or two cunning chaps escape by biting the bait off the hook, either lay aside hope, or quit the art, though disappointed in your aim. If an affair, either of little or great consequence, shall be contested at any time at the bar; whichever of the parties live wealthy without heirs, should he be a rogue, who daringly takes the law of a better man, be thou his advocate: despise the citizen, who is superior in reputation, and [the justness of] his cause, if at home he has a son or a fruitful wife. [Address him thus:] "Quintus, for instance, or Publius (delicate ears delight in the prefixed name), your virtue has made me your friend. I am acquainted with the precarious quirks of the law; I can plead causes. Any one shall sooner snatch my eyes from me, than he shall despise or defraud you of an empty nut. This is my care, that you lose nothing, that you be not made a jest of." Bid him go home, and make much of himself. Be his solicitor yourself: persevere, and be steadfast: whether the glaring dog-star shall cleave the infant statues; or Furius, destined with his greasy paunch, shall spue white snow over the wintery Alps. Do not you see (shall someone say, jogging the person that stands next to him by the elbow) how indefatigable he is, how serviceable to his friends, how acute? [By this means] more tunnies shall swim in, and your fish-ponds will increase.
Further, if any one in affluent circumstances has reared an ailing son, lest a too open complaisance to a single man should detect you, creep gradually into the hope [of succeeding him], and that you may be set down as second heir; and, if any casualty ahould dispatch the boy to Hades, you may come into the vacancy. This die seldom fails. Whoever delivers his will to you to read, be mindful to decline it, and push the parchment from you: [do it] however in such a manner, that you may catch with an oblique glance, what the first page intimates to be in the second clause: run over with a quick eye, whether you are sole heir, or co-heir with many. Sometimes a well-seasoned lawyer, risen from a Quinquevir, shall delude the gaping raven; and the fortune-hunter Nasica shall be laughed at by Coranus.
What, art thou in a [prophetic] raving; or dost thou play upon me designedly, by uttering obscurities? O son of Laertes, whatever I shall say will come to pass, or it will not: for the great Apollo gives me the power to divine. Then, if it is proper, relate what that tale means.
At that time when the youth dreaded by the Parthians, an offspring derived from the noble Aeneas, shall be mighty by land and sea; the tall daughter of Nasica, averse to pay the sum total of his debt, shall wed the stout Coranus. Then the son-in-law shall proceed thus: he shall deliver his will to his father-in-law, and entreat him to read it; Nasica will at length receive it, after it has been several times refused, and silently peruse it; and will find no other legacy left to him and his, except leave to lament.
To these [directions I have already given], I subjoin the [following]: if haply a cunning woman or a freedman have the management of an old driveler, join with them as an associate: praise them, that you may be praised in your absence. This too is of service; but to storm [the capital] itself excels this method by far. Shall he, a dotard, scribble wretched verses? Applaud them. Shall he be given to pleasure? Take care [you do not suffer him] to ask you: of your own accord complaisantly deliver up your Penelope to him, as preferable [to yourself]. What—do you think so sober and so chaste a woman can be brought over, whom [so many] wooers could not divert from the right course. Because, forsooth, a parcel of young fellows came, who were too parsimonious to give a great price, nor so much desirous of an amorous intercourse, as of the kitchen. So far your Penelope is a good woman: who, had she once tasted of one old [doting gallant], and shared with you the profit, like a hound, will never be frighted away from the reeking skin [of the new killed game].
What I am going to tell you happened when I was an old man. A wicked hag at Thebes was, according to her will, carried forth in this manner: her heir bore her corpse, anointed with a large quantity of oil, upon his naked shoulders; with the intent that, if possible, she might escape from him even when dead: because, I imagine, he had pressed upon her too much when living. Be cautious in your addresses: neither be wanting in your pains, nor immoderately exuberant. By garrulity you will offend the splenetic and morose. You must not, however, be too silent. Be Davus in the play; and stand with your head on one side, much like one who is in great awe. Attack him with complaisance: if the air freshens, advise him carefully to cover up his precious head: disengage him from the crowd by opposing your shoulders to it: closely attach your ear to him if chatty. Is he immoderately fond of being praised? Pay him home, till he shall cry out, with his hands lifted up to heaven, "Enough:" and puff up the swelling bladder with tumid speeches. When he shall have [at last] released you from your long servitude and anxiety; and being certainly awake, you shall hear [this article in his will]? "Let Ulysses be heir to one fourth of my estate:" "is then my companion Damas now no more? where shall I find one so brave and so faithful?" Throw out [something of this kind] every now and then: and if you can a little, weep for him. It is fit to disguise your countenance, which [otherwise] would betray your joy. As for the monument, which is left to your own discretion, erect it without meanness. The neighborhood will commend the funeral handsomely performed. If haply any of your co-heirs, being advanced in years, should have a dangerous cough; whether he has a mind to be a purchaser of a farm or a house out of your share, tell him, you will [come to any terms he shall propose, and] make it over to him gladly for a trifling sum. But the Imperious Proserpine drags me hence. Live, and prosper.
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He sets the conveniences of a country retirement in opposition to the troubles of a life in town.
This was [ever] among the number of my wishes: a portion of ground not over large, in which was a garden, and a fountain with a continual stream close to my house, and a little Woodland besides. The gods have done more abundantly, and better, for me [than this]. It is well: O son of Maia, I ask nothing more save that you would render these donations lasting to me. If I have neither made my estate larger by bad means, nor am in a way to make it less by vice or misconduct; if I do not foolishly make any petition of this sort—"Oh that that neighboring angle, which now spoils the; regularity of my field, could be added! Oh that some accident would discover to me an urn [full] of money! as it did to him, who having found a treasure, bought that very ground he before tilled in the capacity of an hired servant, enriched by Hercules' being his friend;" if what I have at present satisfies me grateful, I supplicate you with this prayer: make my cattle fat for the use of their master, and every thing else, except my genius: and, as you are wont, be present as my chief guardian. Wherefore, when I have removed myself from the city to the mountains and my castle, (what can I polish, preferably to my satires and prosaic muse?) neither evil ambition destroys me, nor the heavy south wind, nor the sickly autumn, the gain of baleful Libitina.
Father of the morning, or Janus, if with more pleasure thou hearest thyself [called by that name], from whom men commence the toils of business, and of life (such is the will of the gods), be thou the beginning of my song. At Rome you hurry me away to be bail; "Away, dispatch, [you cry,] lest any one should be beforehand with you in doing that friendly office:" I must go, at all events, whether the north wind sweep the earth, or winter contracts the snowy day into a narrower circle. After this, having uttered in a clear and determinate manner [the legal form], which may be a detriment to me, I must bustle through the crowd; and must disoblige the tardy. "What is your will, madman, and what are you about, impudent fellow?" So one accosts me with his passionate curses. "You jostle every thing that is in your way, if with an appointment full in your mind you are away to Maecenas." This pleases me, and is like honey: I will not tell a lie. But by the time I reached the gloomy Esquiliae, a hundred affairs of other people's encompass me on every side: "Roscius begged that you would be with him at the court-house to-morrow before the second hour." "The secretaries requested you would remember, Quintus, to return to-day about an affair of public concern, and of great consequence." "Get Maecenas to put his signet to these tablets." Should one say, "I will endeavor at it:" "If you will, you can," adds he; and is more earnest. The seventh year approaching to the eighth is now elapsed, from the time that Maecenas began to reckon me in the number of his friends; only thus far, as one he would like to take along with him in his chariot, when he went a journey, and to whom he would trust such kind of trifles as these: "What is the hour?" "Is Gallina, the Thracian, a match for [the gladiator] Syrus?" "The cold morning air begins to pinch those that are ill provided against it;"—and such things-as are well enough intrusted to a leaky ear. For all this time, every day and hour, I have been more subjected to envy. "Our son of fortune here, says every body, witnessed the shows in company with [Maecenas], and played with him in the Campus Martius." Does any disheartening report spread from the rostrum through the streets, whoever comes in my way consults me [concerning it]: "Good sir, have you (for you must know, since you approach nearer the gods) heard any thing relating to the Dacians?" "Nothing at all for my part," [I reply]. "How you ever are a sneerer!" "But may all the gods torture me, if I know any thing of the matter." "What? will Caesar give the lands he promised the soldiers, in Sicily, or in Italy?" As I am swearing I know nothing about it, they wonder at me, [thinking] me, to be sure, a creature of profound and extraordinary secrecy.
Among things of this nature the day is wasted by me, mortified as I am, not without such wishes as these: O rural retirement, when shall I behold thee? and when shall it be in my power to pass through the pleasing oblivion of a life full of solicitude, one while with the books of the ancients, another while in sleep and leisure? O when shall the bean related to Pythagoras, and at the same time herbs well larded with fat bacon, be set before me? O evenings, and suppers fit for gods! with which I and my friends regale ourselves in the presence of my household gods; and feed my saucy slaves with viands, of which libations have been made. The guest, according to every one's inclination, takes off the glasses of different sizes, free from mad laws: whether one of a strong constitution chooses hearty bumpers; or another more joyously gets mellow with moderate ones. Then conversation arises, not concerning other people's villas and houses, nor whether Lepos dances well or not; but we debate on what is more to our purpose, and what it is pernicious not to know—whether men are made happier by riches or by virtue; or what leads us into intimacies, interest or moral rectitude; and what is the nature of good, and what its perfection. Meanwhile, my neighbor Cervius prates away old stories relative to the subject. For, if any one ignorantly commends the troublesome riches of Aurelius, he thus begins: "On a time a country-mouse is reported to have received a city-mouse into his poor cave, an old host, his old acquaintance; a blunt fellow and attentive to his acquisitions, yet so as he could [on occasion] enlarge his narrow soul in acts of hospitality. What need of many words? He neither grudged him the hoarded vetches, nor the long oats; and bringing in his mouth a dry plum, and nibbled scraps of bacon, presented them to him, being desirous by the variety of the supper to get the better of the daintiness of his guest, who hardly touched with his delicate tooth the several things: while the father of the family himself, extended on fresh straw, ate a spelt and darnel leaving that which was better [for his guest]. At length the citizen addressing him, 'Friend,' says he, 'what delight have you to live laboriously on the ridge of a rugged thicket? Will you not prefer men and the city to the savage woods? Take my advice, and go along with me: since mortal lives are allotted to all terrestrial animals, nor is there any escape from death, either for the great or the small. Wherefore, my good friend, while it is in your power, live happy in joyous circumstances: live mindful of how brief an existence you are.' Soon as these speeches had wrought upon the peasant, he leaps nimbly from his cave: thence they both pursue their intended journey, being desirous to steal under the city walls by night. And now the night possessed the middle region of the heavens, when each of them set foot in a gorgeous palace, where carpets dyed with crimson grain glittered upon ivory couches, and many baskets of a magnificent entertainment remained, which had yesterday been set by in baskets piled upon one another. After he had placed the peasant then, stretched at ease upon a splendid carpet; he bustles about like an adroit host, and keeps bringing up one dish close upon another, and with an affected civility performs all the ceremonies, first tasting of every thing he serves up. He, reclined, rejoices in the change of his situation, and acts the part of a boon companion in the good cheer: when on a sudden a prodigious rattling of the folding doors shook them both from their couches. Terrified they began to scamper all about the room, and more and more heartless to be in confusion, while the lofty house resounded with [the barking of] mastiff dogs; upon which, says the country-mouse, 'I have no desire for a life like this; and so farewell: my wood and cave, secure from surprises, shall with homely tares comfort me.'"
* * * * *
One of Horace's slaves, making use of that freedom which was allowed them at the Saturnalia, rates his master in a droll and severe manner.
I have a long while been attending [to you], and would fain speak a few words [in return; but, being] a slave, I am afraid. What, Davus? Yes, Davus, a faithful servant to his master and an honest one, at least sufficiently so: that is, for you to think his life in no danger. Well (since our ancestors would have it so), use the freedom of December speak on.
One part of mankind are fond of their vices with some constancy and adhere to their purpose: a considerable part fluctuates; one while embracing the right, another while liable to depravity. Priscus, frequently observed with three rings, sometimes with his left hand bare, lived so irregularly that he would change his robe every hour; from a magnificent edifice, he would on a sudden hide himself in a place, whence a decent freedman could scarcely come out in a decent manner; one while he would choose to lead the life of a rake at Rome, another while that of a teacher at Athens; born under the evil influence of every Vertumnus. That buffoon, Volanerius, when the deserved gout had crippled his fingers, maintained [a fellow] that he had hired at a daily price, who took up the dice and put them into a box for him: yet by how much more constant was he in his vice, by so much less wretched was he than the former person, who is now in difficulties by too loose, now by too tight a rein.
"Will you not tell to-day, you varlet, whither such wretched stuff as this tends?" "Why, to you, I say." "In what respect to me, scoundrel?" "You praise the happiness and manners of the ancient [Roman] people; and yet, if any god were on a sudden to reduce you to to them, you, the same man, would earnestly beg to be excused; either because you are not really of opinion that what you bawl about is right; or because you are irresolute in defending the right, and hesitate, in vain desirous to extract your foot from the mire. At Rome, you long for the country; when you are in the country, fickle, you extol the absent city to the skies. If haply you are invited out nowhere to supper, you praise your quiet dish of vegetables; and as if you ever go abroad upon compulsion, you think yourself so happy, and do so hug yourself, that you are obliged to drink out nowhere. Should Maecenas lay his commands on you to come late, at the first lighting up of the lamps, as his guest; 'Will nobody bring the oil with more expedition? Does any body hear?' You stutter with a mighty bellowing, and storm with rage. Milvius, and the buffoons [who expected to sup with you], depart, after having uttered curses not proper to be repeated. Any one may say, for I own [the truth], that I am easy to be seduced by my appetite; I snuff up my nose at a savory smell: I am weak, lazy; and, if you have a mind to add any thing else, I am a sot. But seeing you are as I am, and perhaps something worse, why do you willfully call me to an account as if you were the better man; and, with specious phrases, disguise your own vice? What, if you are found out to be a greater fool than me, who was purchased for five hundred drachmas? Forbear to terrify me with your looks; restrain your hand and your anger, while I relate to you what Crispinus' porter taught me.
"Another man's wife captivates you; a harlot, Davus: which of us sins more deservingly of the cross? When keen nature inflames me, any common wench that picks me up, dismisses me neither dishonored, nor caring whether a richer or a handsomer man enjoys her next. You, when you have cast off your ensigns of dignity, your equestrian ring and your Roman habit, turn out from a magistrate a wretched Dama, hiding with a cape your perfumed head: are you not really what you personate? You are introduced, apprehensive [of consequences]; and, as you are altercating With your passions, your bones shake with fear. What is the difference whether you go condemned [like a gladiator], to be galled with scourges, or slain with the sword; or be closed up in a filthy chest, where [the maid], concious of her mistress' crime, has stowed you? Has not the husband of the offending dame a just power over both; against the seducer even a juster? But she neither changes her dress, nor place, nor sins to that excess [which you do]; since the woman is in dread of you, nor gives any credit to you, though you profess to love her. You must go under the yoke knowingly, and put all your fortune, your life, and reputation, together with your limbs, into the power of an enraged husband. Have you escaped? I suppose, then, you will be afraid [for the future]; and, being warned, will be cautious. No, you will seek occasion when you may be again in terror, and again may be likely to perish. O so often a slave! What beast, when it has once escaped by breaking its toils, absurdly trusts itself to them again? You say, "I am no adulterer." Nor, by Hercules, am I a thief, when I wisely pass by the silver vases. Take away the danger, and vagrant nature will spring forth, when restraints are removed. Are you my superior, subjected as you are, to the dominion of so many things and persons, whom the praetor's rod, though placed on your head three or four times over, can never free from this wretched solicitude? Add, to what has been said above, a thing of no less weight; whether he be an underling, who obeys the master-slave (as it is your custom to affirm), or only a fellow-slave, what am I in respect of you? You, for example, who have the command of me, are in subjection to other things, and are led about, like a puppet movable by means of wires not its own.
"Who then is free? The wise man, who has dominion over himself; whom neither poverty, nor death, nor chains affright; brave in the checking of his appetites, and in contemning honors; and, perfect in himself, polished and round as a globe, so that nothing from without can retard, in consequence of its smoothness; against whom misfortune ever advances ineffectually. Can you, out of these, recognize any thing applicable to yourself? A woman demands five talents of you, plagues you, and after you are turned out of doors, bedews you with cold water: she calls you again. Rescue your neck from this vile yoke; come, say, I am free, I am free. You are not able: for an implacable master oppresses your mind, and claps the sharp spurs to your jaded appetite, and forces you on though reluctant. When you, mad one, quite languish at a picture by Pausias; how are you less to blame than I, when I admire the combats of Fulvius and Rutuba and Placideianus, with their bended knees, painted in crayons or charcoal, as if the men were actually engaged, and push and parry, moving their weapons? Davus is a scoundrel and a loiterer; but you have the character of an exquisite and expert connoisseur in antiquities. If I am allured by a smoking pasty, I am a good-for-nothing fellow: does your great virtue and soul resist delicate entertainments? Why is a tenderness for my belly too destructive for me? For my back pays for it. How do you come off with more impunity, since you hanker after such dainties as can not be had for a little expense? Then those delicacies, perpetually taken, pall upon the stomach; and your mistaken feet refuse to support your sickly body. Is that boy guilty, who by night pawns a stolen scraper for some grapes? Has he nothing servile about him, who in indulgence to his guts sells his estates? Add to this, that you yourself can not be an hour by yourself, nor dispose of your leisure in a right manner; and shun yourself as a fugitive and vagabond, one while endeavoring with wine, another while with sleep, to cheat care—in vain: for the gloomy companion presses upon you, and pursues you in your flight.
"Where can I get a stone?" "What occasion is there for it?" "Where some darts?" "The man is either mad, or making verses." "If you do not take yourself away in an instant, you shall go [and make] a ninth laborer at my Sabine estate."
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A smart description of a miser ridiculously acting the extravagant.
How did the entertainment of that happy fellow Nasidienus please you? for yesterday, as I was seeking to make you my guest, you were said to be drinking there from mid-day. [It pleased me so], that I never was happier in my life. Say (if it be not troublesome) what food first calmed your raging appetite.
In the first place, there was a Lucanian boar, taken when the gentle south wind blew, as the father of the entertainment affirmed; around it sharp rapes, lettuces, radishes; such things as provoke a languid appetite; skirrets, anchovies, dregs of Coan wine. These once removed, one slave, tucked high with a purple cloth, wiped the maple table, and a second gathered up whatever lay useless, and whatever could offend the guests; swarthy Hydaspes advances like an Attic maid with Ceres' sacred rites, bearing wines of Caecubum; Alcon brings those of Chios, undamaged by the sea. Here the master [cries], "Maecenas, if Alban or Falernian wine delight you more than those already brought, we have both."
Ill-fated riches! But, Fundanius, I am impatient to know, who were sharers in this feast where you fared so well.
I was highest, and next me was Viscus Thurinus, and below, if I remember, was Varius; with Servilius Balatro, Vibidius, whom Maecenas had brought along with him, unbidden guests. Above [Nasidienus] himself was Nomentanus, below him Porcius, ridiculous for swallowing whole cakes at once. Nomentanus [was present] for this purpose, that if any thing should chance to be unobserved, he might show it with his pointing finger. For the other company, we, I mean, eat [promiscuously] of fowls, oysters, fish, which had concealed in them a juice far different from the known: as presently appeared, when he reached to me the entrails of a plaice and of a turbot, such as had never been tasted before. After this he informed me that honey-apples were most ruddy when gathered under the waning moon. What difference this makes you will hear best from himself. Then [says] Vibidius to Balatro; "If we do not drink to his cost, we shall die in his debt;" and he calls for larger tumblers. A paleness changed the countenance of our host, who fears nothing so much as hard drinkers: either because they are more freely censorious; or because heating wines deafen the subtle [judgment of the] palate. Vibidius and Balatro, all following their example, pour whole casks into Alliphanians; the guests of the lowest couch did no hurt to the flagons. A lamprey is brought in, extended in a dish, in the midst of floating shrimps. Whereupon, "This," says the master, "was caught when pregnant; which, after having young, would have been less delicate in its flesh." For these a sauce is mixed up; with oil which the best cellar of Venafrum pressed, with pickle from the juices of the Iberian fish, with wine of five years old, but produced on this side the sea, while it is boiling (after it is boiled, the Chian wine suits it so well, that no other does better than it) with white pepper, and vinegar which, by being vitiated, turned sour the Methymnean grape. I first showed the way to stew in it the green rockets and bitter elecampane: Curtillus, [to stew in it] the sea-urchins unwashed, as being better than the pickle which the sea shell-fish yields.
In the mean time the suspended tapestry made a heavy downfall upon the dish, bringing along with it more black dust than the north wind ever raises on the plains of Campania. Having been fearful of something worse, as soon as we perceive there was no danger, we rise up. Rufus, hanging his head, began to weep, as if his son had come to an untimely death: what would have been the end, had not the discreet Nomentanus thus raised his friend! "Alas! O fortune, what god is more cruel to us than thou? How dost thou always take pleasure in sporting with human affairs!" Varius could scarcely smother a laugh with his napkin. Balatro, sneering at every thing, observed: "This is the condition of human life, and therefore a suitable glory will never answer your labor. Must you be rent and tortured with all manner of anxiety, that I may be entertained sumptuously; lest burned bread, lest ill-seasoned soup should be set before us; that all your slaves should wait, properly attired and neat? Add, besides, these accidents; if the hangings should tumble down, as just now, if the groom slipping with his foot should break a dish. But adversity is wont to disclose, prosperity to conceal, the abilities of a host as well as of a general." To this Nasidienus: "May the gods give you all the blessings, whatever you can pray for, you are so good a man and so civil a guest;" and calls for his sandals. Then on every couch you might see divided whispers buzzing in each secret ear.
I would not choose to have seen any theatrical entertainments sooner than these things. But come, recount what you laughed at next. While Vibidius is inquiring of the slaves, whether the flagon was also broken, because cups were not brought when he called for them; and while a laugh is continued on feigned pretences, Balatro seconding it; you Nasidienus, return with an altered countenance, as if to repair your ill-fortune by art. Then followed the slaves, bearing on a large charger the several limbs of a crane besprinkled with much salt, not without flour, and the liver of a white goose fed with fattening figs, and the wings of hares torn off, as a much daintier dish than if one eats them with the loins. Then we saw blackbirds also set before us with scorched breasts, and ring-doves without the rumps: delicious morsels! did not the master give us the history of their causes and natures: whom we in revenge fled from, so as to taste nothing at all; as if Canidia, more venomous than African serpents, had poisoned them with her breath.
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THE FIRST BOOK OF THE EPISTLES OF HORACE.
The poet renounces all verses of a ludicrous turn, and resolves to apply himself wholly to the study of philosophy, which teaches to bridle the desires, and to postpone every thing to virtue.
Maecenas, the subject of my earliest song, justly entitled to my latest, dost thou seek to engage me again in the old lists, having been tried sufficiently, and now presented with the foils? My age is not the same, nor is my genius. Veianius, his arms consecrated on a pillar of Hercules' temple, lives snugly retired in the country, that he may not from the extremity of the sandy amphitheater so often supplicate the people's favor. Some one seems frequently to ring in my purified ear: "Wisely in time dismiss the aged courser, lest, an object of derision, he miscarry at last, and break his wind." Now therefore I lay aside both verses, and all other sportive matters; my study and inquiry is after what is true and fitting, and I am wholly engaged in this: I lay up, and collect rules which I may be able hereafter to bring into use. And lest you should perchance ask under what leader, in what house [of philosophy], I enter myself a pupil: addicted to swear implicitly to the ipse-dixits of no particular master, wherever the weather drives me, I am carried a guest. One while I become active, and am plunged in the waves of state affairs, a maintainer and a rigid partisan of strict virtue; then again I relapse insensibly into Aristippus' maxims, and endeavor to adapt circumstances to myself, not myself to circumstances. As the night seems long to those with whom a mistress has broken her appointment, and the day slow to those who owe their labor; as the year moves lazy with minors, whom the harsh guardianship of their mothers confines; so all that time to me flows tedious and distasteful, which delays my hope and design of strenuously executing that which is of equal benefit to the poor and to the rich, which neglected will be of equal detriment to young and to old. It remains, that I conduct and comfort myself by these principles; your sight is not so piercing as that of Lynceus; you will not however therefore despise being anointed, if you are sore-eyed: nor because you despair of the muscles of the invincible Glycon, will you be careless of preserving your body from the knotty gout. There is some point to which we may reach, if we can go no further. Does your heart burn with avarice, and a wretched desire of more? Spells there are, and incantations, with which you may mitigate this pain, and rid yourself of a great part of the distemper. Do you swell with the love of praise? There are certain purgations which can restore you, a certain treatise, being perused thrice with purity of mind. The envious, the choleric, the indolent, the slave to wine, to women—none is so savage that he can not be tamed, if he will only lend a patient ear to discipline.
It is virtue, to fly vice; and the highest wisdom, to have lived free from folly. You see with what toil of mind and body you avoid those things which you believe to be the greatest evils, a small fortune and a shameful repulse. An active merchant, you run to the remotest Indies, fleeing poverty through sea, through rocks, through flames. And will you not learn, and hear, and be advised by one who is wiser, that you may no longer regard those things which you foolishly admire and wish for? What little champion of the villages and of the streets would scorn being crowned at the great Olympic games, who had the hopes and happy opportunity of victory without toil? Silver is less valuable than gold, gold than virtue. "O citizens, citizens, money is to be sought first; virtue after riches:" this the highest Janus from the lowest inculcates; young men and old repeat these maxims, having their bags and account-books hung on the left arm. You have soul, have breeding, have eloquence and honor: yet if six or seven thousand sesterces be wanting to complete your four hundred thousand, you shall be a plebeian. But boys at play cry, "You shall be king, if you will do right." Let this be a [man's] brazen wall, to be conscious of no ill, to turn pale with no guilt. Tell me, pray is the Roscian law best, or the boy's song which offers the kingdom to them that do right, sung by the manly Curii and Camilli? Does he advise you best, who says, "Make a fortune; a fortune, if you can, honestly; if not, a fortune by any means"—that you may view from a nearer bench the tear-moving poems of Puppius; or he, who still animates and enables you to stand free and upright, a match for haughty fortune?
If now perchance the Roman people should ask me, why I do not enjoy the same sentiments with them, as [I do the same] porticoes, nor pursue or fly from whatever they admire or dislike; I will reply, as the cautious fox once answered the sick lion: "Because the foot-marks all looking toward you, and none from you, affright me." Thou art a monster with many heads. For what shall I follow, or whom? One set of men delight to farm the public revenues: there are some, who would inveigle covetous widows with sweet-meats and fruits, and insnare old men, whom they would send [like fish] into their ponds: the fortunes of many grow by concealed usury. But be it, that different men are engaged in different employments and pursuits: can the same persons continue an hour together approving the same things? If the man of wealth has said, "No bay in the world outshines delightful Baiae," the lake and the sea presently feel the eagerness of their impetuous master: to whom, if a vicious humor gives the omen, [he will cry,]—"to-morrow, workmen, ye shall convey hence your tools to Teanum." Has he in his hall the genial bed? He says nothing is preferable to, nothing better than a single life. If he has not, he swears the married only are happy. With what noose can I hold this Proteus, varying thus his forms? What does the poor man? Laugh [at him too]: is he not forever changing his garrets, beds, baths, barbers? He is as much surfeited in a hired boat, as the rich man is, whom his own galley conveys.
If I meet you with my hair cut by an uneven barber, you laugh [at me]: if I chance to have a ragged shirt under a handsome coat, or if my disproportioned gown fits me ill, you laugh. What [do you do], when my judgment contradicts itself? it despises what it before desired; seeks for that which lately it neglected; is all in a ferment, and is inconsistent in the whole tenor of life; pulls down, builds up, changes square to round. In this case, you think I am mad in the common way, and you do not laugh, nor believe that I stand in need of a physician, or of a guardian assigned by the praetor; though you are the patron of my affairs, and are disgusted at the ill-pared nail of a friend that depends upon you, that reveres you.
In a word, the wise man is inferior to Jupiter alone, is rich, free, honorable, handsome, lastly, king of kings; above all, he is sound, unless when phlegm is troublesome.
* * * * *
He prefers Homer to all the philosophers, as a moral writer, and advises an early cultivation of virtue.
While you, great Lollius, declaim at Rome, I at Praeneste have perused over again the writer of the Trojan war; who teaches more clearly, and better than Chrysippus and Crantor, what is honorable, what shameful, what profitable, what not so. If nothing hinders you, hear why I have thus concluded. The story is which, on account of Paris's intrigue, Greece is stated to be wasted in a tedious war with the barbarians, contains the tumults of foolish princes and people. Antenor gives his opinion for cutting off the cause of the war. What does Paris? He can not be brought to comply, [though it be in order] that he may reign safe, and live happy. Nestor labors to compose the differences between Achilles and Agamemnon: love inflames one; rage both in common. The Greeks suffer for what their princes act foolishly. Within the walls of Ilium, and without, enormities are committed by sedition, treachery, injustice, and lust, and rage.
Again, to show what virtue and what wisdom can do, he has propounded Ulysses an instructive pattern: who, having subdued Troy, wisely got an insight into the constitutions and customs of many nations; and, while for himself and his associates he is contriving a return, endured many hardships on the spacious sea, not to be sunk by all the waves of adversity. You are well acquainted with the songs of the Sirens, and Circe's cups: of which, if he had foolishly and greedily drunk along with his attendants, he had been an ignominious and senseless slave under the command of a prostitute: he had lived a filthy dog, or a hog delighting in mire.
We are a mere number and born to consume the fruits of the earth; like Penelope's suitors, useless drones; like Alcinous' youth, employed above measure in pampering their bodies; whose glory was to sleep till mid-day, and to lull their cares to rest by the sound of the harp. Robbers rise by night, that they may cut men's throats; and will not you awake to save yourself? But, if you will not when you are in health, you will be forced to take exercise when you are in a dropsy; and unless before day you call for a book with a light, unless you brace your mind with study and honest employments, you will be kept awake and tormented with envy or with love. For why do you hasten to remove things that hurt your eyes, but if any thing gnaws your mind, defer the time of curing it from year to year? He has half the deed done, who has made a beginning. Boldly undertake the study of true wisdom: begin it forthwith. He who postpones the hour of living well, like the hind [in the fable], waits till [all the water in] the river be run off: whereas it flows, and will flow, ever rolling on.
Money is sought, and a wife fruitful in bearing children, and wild woodlands are reclaimed by the plow. [To what end all this?] He, that has got a competency, let him wish for no more. Not a house and farm, nor a heap of brass and gold, can remove fevers from the body of their sick master, or cares from his mind. The possessor must be well, if he thinks of enjoying the things which he has accumulated. To him that is a slave to desire or to fear, house and estate do just as much good as paintings to a sore-eyed person, fomentations to the gout, music to ears afflicted with collected matter. Unless the vessel be sweet, whatever you pour into it turns sour. Despise pleasures, pleasure bought with pain is hurtful. The covetous man is ever in want; set a certain limit to your wishes. The envious person wastes at the thriving condition of another: Sicilian tyrants never invented a greater torment than envy. He who will not curb his passion, will wish that undone which his grief and resentment suggested, while he violently plies his revenge with unsated rancor. Rage is a short madness. Rule your passion, which commands, if it do not obey; do you restrain it with a bridle, and with fetters. The groom forms the docile horse, while his neck is yet tender, to go the way which his rider directs him: the young hound, from the time that he barked at the deer's skin in the hall, campaigns it in the woods. Now, while you are young, with an untainted mind Imbibe instruction: now apply yourself to the best [masters of morality]. A cask will long preserve the flavor, with which when new it was once impregnated. But if you lag behind, or vigorously push on before, I neither wait for the loiterer, nor strive to overtake those that precede me.
* * * * *
TO JULIUS FLORUS.
After inquiring about Claudius Tiberius Nero, and some of his friends, he exhorts Florus to the study of philosophy.
I long to know, Julius Florus, in what regions of the earth Claudius, the step-son of Augustus, is waging war. Do Thrace and Hebrus, bound with icy chains, or the narrow sea running between the neighboring towers, or Asia's fertile plains and hills detain you? What works is the studious train planning? In this too I am anxious—who takes upon himself to write the military achievements of Augustus? Who diffuses into distant ages his deeds in war and peace? What is Titius about, who shortly will be celebrated by every Roman tongue; who dreaded not to drink of the Pindaric spring, daring to disdain common waters and open streams: how does he do? How mindful is he of me? Does he employ himself to adapt Theban measures to the Latin lyre, under the direction of his muse? Or does he storm and swell in the pompous style of traffic art? What is my Celsus doing? He has been advised, and the advice is still often to be repeated, to acquire stock of his own, and forbear to touch whatever writings the Palatine Apollo has received: lest, if it chance that the flock of birds should some time or other come to demand their feathers, he, like the daw stripped of his stolen colors, be exposed to ridicule. What do you yourself undertake? What thyme are you busy hovering about? Your genius is not small, is not uncultivated nor inelegantly rough. Whether you edge your tongue for [pleading] causes, or whether you prepare to give counsel in the civil law, or whether you compose some lovely poem; you will bear off the first prize of the victorious ivy. If now you could quit the cold fomentations of care; whithersoever heavenly wisdom would lead you, you would go. Let us, both small and great, push forward in this work, in this pursuit: if to our country, if to ourselves we would live dear.
You must also write me word of this, whether Munatiua is of as much concern to you as he ought to be? Or whether the ill-patched reconciliation in vain closes, and is rent asunder again? But, whether hot blood, or inexperience in things, exasperates you, wild as coursers with unsubdued neck, in whatever place you live, too worthy to break the fraternal bond, a devoted heifer is feeding against your return.
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TO ALBIUS TIBULLUS.
He declares his accomplishments; and, after proposing the thought of death, converts it into an occasion of pleasantry.
Albius, thou candid critic of my discourses, what shall I say you are now doing in the country about Pedum? Writing what may excel the works of Cassius Parmensis; or sauntering silently among the healthful groves, concerning yourself about every thing worthy a wise and good man? You were not a body without a mind. The gods have given you a beautiful form, the gods [have given] you wealth, and the faculty of enjoying it.
What greater blessing could a nurse solicit for her beloved child, than that he might be wise, and able to express his sentiments; and that respect, reputation, health might happen to him in abundance, and decent living, with a never-failing purse?
In the midst of hope and care, in the midst of fears and disquietudes, think every day that shines upon you is the last. [Thus] the hour, which shall not be expected, will come upon you an agreeable addition.
When you have a mind to laugh, you shall see me fat and sleek with good keeping, a hog of Epicurus' herd.
* * * * *
He invites him to a frugal entertainment, but a cleanly and cheerful one.
If you can repose yourself as my guest upon Archias' couches, and are not afraid to make a whole meal on all sorts of herbs from a moderate dish; I will expect you, Torquatus, at my house about sun set. You shall drink wine poured into the vessel in the second consulship of Taurus, produced between the fenny Minturnae and Petrinum of Sinuessa. If you have any thing better, send for it; or bring your commands. Bright shines my hearth, and my furniture is clean for you already. Dismiss airy hopes, and contests about riches, and Moschus' cause. To-morrow, a festal day on account of Caesar's birth, admits of indulgence and repose. We shall have free liberty to prolong the summer evening with friendly conversation. To what purpose have I fortune, if I may not use it? He that is sparing out of regard to his heir, and too niggardly, is next neighbor to a madman. I will begin to drink and scatter flowers, and I will endure even to be accounted foolish. What does not wine freely drunken enterprise? It discloses secrets; commands our hopes to be ratified; pushes the dastard on to the fight; removes the pressure from troubled minds; teaches the arts. Whom have not plentiful cups made eloquent? Whom have they not [made] free and easy under pinching poverty?
I, who am both the proper person and not unwilling, am charged to take care of these matters; that no dirty covering on the couch, no foul napkin contract your nose into wrinkles; and that the cup and the dish may show you to yourself; that there be no one to carry abroad what is said among faithful friends; that equals may meet and be joined with equals I will add to you Butra, and Septicius, and Sabinus, unless a better entertainment and a mistress more agreeable detain him. There is room also for many introductions: but goaty ramminess is offensive in over-crowded companies.
Do you write word, what number you would be; and setting aside business, through the back-door give the slip to your client who keeps guard in your court.
* * * * *
That a wise man is in love with nothing but virtue.
To admire nothing is almost the one and only thing, Numicius, which can make and keep a man happy. There are who view this sun, and the stars, and the seasons retiring at certain periods, untainted with any fear. What do you think of the gifts of the earth? What of the sea, that enriches the remote Arabians and Indians? What of scenical shows, the applause and favors of the kind Roman? In what manner do you think they are to be looked upon, with what apprehensions and countenance? He that dreads the reverse of these, admires them almost in the same way as he that desires them; fear alike disturbs both ways: an unforeseen turn of things equally terrifies each of them: let a man rejoice or grieve, desire or fear; what matters it—if, whatever he perceives better or worse than his expectations, with downcast look he be stupefied in mind and body? Let the wise man bear the name of fool, the just of unjust; if he pursue virtue itself beyond proper bounds.
Go now, look with transport upon silver, and antique marble, and brazen statues, and the arts: admire gems, and Tyrian dyes: rejoice, that a thousand eyes are fixed upon you while you speak: industrious repair early to the forum, late to your house, that Mutus may not reap more grain [than you] from his lands gained in dowry, and (unbecoming, since he sprung from meaner parents) that he may not be an object of admiration to you rather than you to him. Whatever is in the earth, time will bring forth into open day light; will bury and hide things, that now shine brightest. When Agrippa's portico, and the Appian way, shall have beheld you well known; still it remains for you to go where Numa and Ancus are arrived. If your side or your reins are afflicted with an acute disease, seek a remedy from the disease. Would you live happily? Who would not? If virtue alone can confer this, discarding pleasures, strenuously pursue it. Do you think virtue mere words, as a grove is trees? Be it your care that no other enter the port before you; that you lose not your traffic with Cibyra, with Bithynia. Let the round sum of a thousand talents be completed; as many more; further, let a third thousand succeed, and the part which may square the heap. For why, sovereign money gives a wife with a [large] portion, and credit, and friends, and family, and beauty; and [the goddesses], Persuasion and Venus, graced the well-moneyed man. The king of the Cappadocians, rich in slaves, is in want of coin; be not you like him. Lucullus, as they say, being asked if he could lend a hundred cloaks for the stage, "How can I so many?" said he: "yet I will see, and send as many as I have;" a little after he writes that he had five thousand cloaks in his house; they might take part of them, or all. It is a scanty house, where there are not many things superfluous, and which escape the owner's notice, and are the gain of pilfering slaves. If then wealth alone can make and keep a man happy, be first in beginning this work, be last in leaving it off. If appearances and popularity make a man fortunate, let as purchase a slave to dictate [to us] the names [of the citizens], to jog us on the left-side, and to make us stretch our hand over obstacles: "This man has much interest in the Fabian, that in the Veline tribe; this will give the fasces to any one, and, indefatigably active, snatch the curule ivory from whom he pleases; add [the names of] father, brother: according as the age of each is, so courteously adopt him. If he who feasts well, lives well; it is day, let us go whither our appetite leads us: let us fish, let us hunt, as did some time Gargilius: who ordered his toils, hunting-spears, slaves, early in the morning to pass through the crowded forum and the people: that one mule among many, in the sight of the people, might return loaded with a boar purchased with money. Let us bathe with an indigested and full-swollen stomach, forgetting what is becoming, what not; deserving to be enrolled among the citizens of Caere; like the depraved crew of Ulysses of Ithaca, to whom forbidden pleasure was dearer than their country. If, as Mimnermus thinks, nothing is pleasant without love and mirth, live in love and mirth.
Live: be happy. If you know of any thing preferable to these maxims, candidly communicate it: if not, with me make use of these.
* * * * *
He apologizes to Maecenas for his long absence from Rome; and acknowledges his favors to him in such a manner as to declare liberty preferable to all other blessings.
Having promised you that I would be in the country but five days, false to my word, I am absent the whole of August. But, if you would have me live sound and in perfect health, the indulgence which you grant me, Maecenas, when I am ill, you will grant me [also] when I am afraid of being ill: while [the time of] the first figs, and the [autumnal] heat graces the undertaker with his black attendants; while every father and mother turn pale with fear for their children; and while over-acted diligence, and attendance at the forum, bring on fevers and unseal wills. But, if the winter shall scatter snow upon the Alban fields, your poet will go down to the seaside, and be careful of himself, and read bundled up; you, dear friend, he will revisit with the zephyrs, if you will give him leave, and with the first swallow.
You have made me rich, not in the manner in which the Calabrian host bids [his guest] eat of his pears. "Eat, pray, sir." "I have had enough." "But take away with you what quantity you will." "You are very kind." "You will carry them no disagreeable presents to your little children." "I am as much obliged by your offer, as if I were sent away loaded." "As you please: you leave them to be devoured to-day by the hogs." The prodigal and fool gives away what he despises and hates; the reaping of favors like these has produced, and ever will produce, ungrateful men. A good and wise man professes himself ready to do kindness to the deserving; and yet is not ignorant, how true coins differ from lupines. I will also show myself deserving of the honor of being grateful. But if you would not have me depart any whither, you must restore my vigorous constitution, the black locks [that grew] on my narrow forehead: you must restore to me the power of talking pleasantly: you must restore to me the art of laughing with becoming ease, and whining over my liquor at the jilting of the wanton Cynara.
A thin field-mouse had by chance crept through a narrow cranny into a chest of grain; and, having feasted itself, in vain attempted to come out again, with its body now stuffed full. To which a weasel at a distance cries, "If you would escape thence, repair lean to the narrow hole which you entered lean." If I be addressed with this similitude, I resign all; neither do I, sated with delicacies, cry up the calm repose of the vulgar, nor would I change my liberty and ease for the riches of the Arabians. You have often commended me for being modest; when present you heard [from me the appellations of] king and father, nor am I a word more sparing in your absence. Try whether I can cheerfully restore what you have given me. Not amiss [answered] Telemachus, son of the patient Ulysses: "The country of Ithaca is not proper for horses, as being neither extended into champaign fields, nor abounding with much grass: Atrides, I will leave behind me your gifts, [which are] more proper for yourself." Small things best suit the small. No longer does imperial Rome please me, but unfrequented Tibur, and unwarlike Tarentum.
Philip, active and strong, and famed for pleading causes, while returning from his employment about the eighth hour, and now of a great age, complaining that the Carinae were too far distant from the forum; spied, as they say, a person clean shaven in a barber's empty shed, composedly paring his own nails with a knife. "Demetrius," [says he,] (this slave dexterously received his master's orders,) "go inquire, and bring me word from what house, who he is, of what fortune, who is his father, or who is his patron." He goes, returns, and relates, that "he is by name, Vulteius Maena, an auctioneer, of small fortune, of a character perfectly unexceptionable, that he could upon occasion ply busily, and take his ease, and get, and spend; delighting in humble companions and a settled dwelling, and (after business ended) in the shows, and the Campus Martius."
"I would inquire of him himself all this, which you report; bid him come to sup with me." Maena can not believe it; he wonders silently within himself. Why many words? He answers, "It is kind." "Can he deny me?" "The rascal denies, and disregards or dreads you." In the morning Philip comes unawares upon Vulteius, as he is selling brokery-goods to the tunic'd populace, and salutes him first. He pleads to Philip his employment, and the confinement of his business, in excuse for not having waited upon him in the morning; and afterward, for not seeing him first. "Expect that I will excuse you on this condition, that you sup with me to-day." "As you please." "Then you will come after the ninth hour: now go: strenuously increase your stock." When they were come to supper, having discoursed of things of a public and private nature, at length he is dismissed to go to sleep. When he had often been seen, to repair like a fish to the concealed hook, in the morning a client, and now as a constant guest; he is desired to accompany [Philip] to his country-seat near the city, at the proclaiming of the Latin festivals. Mounted on horseback, he ceases not to cry up the Sabine fields and air. Philip sees it, and smiles: and, while he is seeking amusement and diversion for himself out of every thing, while he makes him a present of seven thousand sesterces, and promises to lend him seven thousand more: he persuades him to purchase a farm: he purchases one. That I may not detain you with a long story beyond what is necessary, from a smart cit he becomes a downright rustic, and prates of nothing but furrows and vineyards; prepares his elms; is ready to die with eager diligence, and grows old through a passionate desire of possessing. But when his sheep were lost by theft, his goats by distemper, his harvest deceived his hopes, his ox was killed with plowing; fretted with these losses, at midnight he snatches his nag, and in a passion makes his way to Philip's house. Whom as soon as Philip beheld, rough and unshaven, "Vulteius," said he, "you seem to me to be too laborious and earnest." "In truth, patron," replied he, "you would call me a wretch, if you would apply to me my true name. I beseech and conjure you then, by your genius and your right hand and your household gods, restore me to my former life." As soon as a man perceives, how much the things he has discarded excel those which he pursues, let him return in time, and resume those which he relinquished.
It is a truth, that every one ought to measure himself by his own proper foot and standard.
* * * * *
TO CELSUS ALBINOVANUS.
That he was neither well in body, nor in mind; that Celtics should bear his prosperity with moderation.
My muse at my request, give joy and wish success to Celsus Albinovanus, the attendant and the secretary of Nero. If he shall inquire, what I am doing, say that I, though promising many and fine things, yet live neither well [according to the rules of strict philosophy], nor agreeably; not because the hail has crushed my vines, and the heat has nipped my olives; nor because my herds are distempered in distant pastures; but because, less sound in my mind than in my whole body, I will hear nothing, learn nothing which may relieve me, diseased as I am; that I am displeased with my faithful physicians, am angry with my friends for being industrious to rouse me from a fatal lethargy; that I pursue things which have done me hurt, avoid things which I am persuaded would be of service, inconstant as the wind, at Rome am in love with Tibur, at Tibur with Rome. After this, inquire how he does; how he manages his business and himself; how he pleases the young prince and his attendants. If he shall say, well; first congratulate him, then remember to whisper this admonition in his ears: As you, Celsus, bear your fortunes, so will we bear you.
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TO CLAUDIUS TIBERIUS NERO.
He recommends Septimius to him.
Of all the men in the world Septimius surely, O Claudius, knows how much regard you have for me. For when he requests, and by his entreaties in a manner compels me, to undertake to recommend and introduce him to you, as one worthy of the confidence and the household of Nero, who is wont to choose deserving objects, thinking I discharge the office of an intimate friend; he sees and knows better than myself what I can do. I said a great deal, indeed, in order that I might come off excused: but I was afraid, lest I should be suspected to pretend my interest was less than it is, to be a dissembler of my own power, and ready to serve myself alone. So, avoiding the reproach of a greater fault, I have put in for the prize of town-bred confidence. If then you approve of modesty being superseded at the pressing entreaties of a friend, enrol this person among your retinue, and believe him to be brave and good.
TO ARISTIUS FUSCUS.
He praises a country before a city life, as more agreeable to nature, and more friendly to liberty.
We, who love the country, salute Fuscus that loves the town; in this point alone [being] much unlike, but in other things almost twins, of brotherly sentiments: whatever one denies the other too [denies]; we assent together: like old and constant doves, you keep the nest; I praise the rivulets, the rocks overgrown with moss, and the groves of the delightful country. Do you ask why? I live and reign, as soon as I have quitted those things which you extol to the skies with joyful applause. And, like a priest's, fugitive slave I reject luscious wafers, I desire plain bread, which is more agreeable now than honied cakes.
If we must live suitably to nature, and a plot of ground is to be first sought to raise a house upon, do you know any place preferable to the blissful country? Is there any spot where the winters are more temperate? where a more agreeable breeze moderates the rage of the Dog-star, and the season of the Lion, when once that furious sign has received the scorching sun? Is there a place where envious care less disturbs our slumbers? Is the grass inferior in smell or beauty to the Libyan pebbles? Is the water, which strives to burst the lead in the streets, purer than that which trembles in murmurs down its sloping channel? Why, trees are nursed along the variegated columns [of the city]; and that house is commended, which has a prospect of distant fields. You may drive out nature with a fork, yet still she will return, and, insensibly victorious, will break through [men's] improper disgusts.
Not he who is unable to compare the fleeces that drink up the dye of Aquinum with the Sidonian purple, will receive a more certain damage and nearer to his marrow, than he who shall not be able to distinguish false from true. He who has been overjoyed by prosperity, will be shocked by a change of circumstances. If you admire any thing [greatly], you will be unwilling to resign it. Avoid great things; under a mean roof one may outstrip kings, and the favorites of kings, in one's life.
The stag, superior in fight, drove the horse from the common pasture, till the latter, worsted in the long contest, implored the aid of man and received the bridle; but after he had parted an exulting conqueror from his enemy, he could not shake the rider from his back, nor the bit from his mouth. So he who, afraid of poverty, forfeits his liberty, more valuable than mines, avaricious wretch, shall carry a master, and shall eternally be a slave, for not knowing how to use a little. When a man's condition does not suit him, it will be as a shoe at any time; which, if too big for his foot, will throw him down; if too little, will pinch him. [If you are] cheerful under your lot, Aristius, you will live wisely; nor shall you let me go uncorrected, if I appear to scrape together more than enough and not have done. Accumulated money is the master or slave of each owner, and ought rather to follow than to lead the twisted rope.
These I dictated to thee behind the moldering temple of Vacuna; in all other things happy, except that thou wast not with me.
* * * * *
Endeavoring to recall him back to Rome from Asia, whither he had retreated through his weariness of the civil wars, he advises him to ease the disquietude of his mind not by the length of his journey, but by forming his mind into a right disposition.
What, Bullatius, do you think of Chios, and of celebrated Lesbos? What of neat Samos? What of Sardis, the royal residence of Croesus? What of Smyrna, and Colophon? Are they greater or less than their fame? Are they all contemptible in comparison of the Campus Martius and the river Tiber? Does one of Attalus' cities enter into your wish? Or do you admire Lebedus, through a surfeit of the sea and of traveling? You know what Lebedus is; it is a more unfrequented town than Gabii and Fidenae; yet there would I be willing to live; and, forgetful of my friends and forgotten by them, view from land Neptune raging at a distance. But neither he who comes to Rome from Capua, bespattered with rain and mire, would wish to live in an inn; nor does he, who has contracted a cold, cry up stoves and bagnios as completely furnishing a happy life: nor, if the violent south wind has tossed you in the deep, will you therefore sell your ship on the other side of the Aegean Sea. On a man sound in mind Rhodes and beautiful Mitylene have such an effect, as a thick cloak at the summer solstice, thin drawers in snowy weather, [bathing in] the Tiber in winter, a fire in the month of August. While it is permitted, and fortune preserves a benign aspect, let absent Samos, and Chios, and Rhodes, be commended by you here at Rome. Whatever prosperous; hour Providence bestows upon you, receive it with a thankful hand: and defer not [the enjoyment of] the comforts of life, till a year be at an end; that in whatever place you are, you may say you have lived with satisfaction. For if reason and discretion, not a place that commands a prospect of the wide-extended sea, remove our cares; they change their climate, not their disposition, who run beyond the sea: a busy idleness harrasses us: by ships and by chariots we seek to live happily. What you seek is here [at home], is at Ulubrae, if a just temper of mind is not wanting to you.
* * * * *
Leader the appearance of praising the man's parsimony, he archly ridicules it; introduces Grosphus to him, and concludes with a few articles of news concerning the Roman affairs.
O Iccius, if you rightly enjoy the Sicilian products, which you collect for Agrippa, it is not possible that greater affluence can be given you by Jove. Away with complaints! for that man is by no means poor, who has the use or everything, he wants. If it is well with your belly, your back, and your feet, regal wealth can add nothing greater. If perchance abstemious amid profusion you live upon salad and shell-fish, you will continue to live in such a manner, even if presently fortune shall flow upon you in a river of gold; either because money can not change the natural disposition, or because it is your opinion that all things are inferior to virtue alone. Can we wonder that cattle feed upon the meadows and corn-fields of Democritus, while his active soul is abroad [traveling] without his body? When you, amid such great impurity and infection of profit, have no taste for any thing trivial, but still mind [only] sublime things: what causes restrain the sea, what rules the year, whether the stars spontaneously or by direction wander about and are erratic, what throws obscurity on the moon, and what brings out her orb, what is the intention and power of the jarring harmony of things, whether Empedocles or the clever Stertinius be in the wrong.