Martial, Epigrams. Book 1. Bohn's Classical Library (1897)
TO THE READER
I trust that, in these little books of mine, I have observed such self-control, that whoever forms a fair judgment from his own' mind can make no complaint of them, since they indulge their sportive fancies without violating the respect due even to persons of the humblest station; a respect which was so far disregarded by the authors of antiquity, that they made free use, not only of real, but of great names. For me; let fame be held in less estimation, and let such talent be the last thing commended in me.
Let the ill-natured interpreter, too, keep himself from meddling with the simple meaning of my jests, and not write my epigrams for me.1 He acted honourably who exercises perverse ingenuity on another man's book: For the free plainness of expression, that is, for the language of epigram, I would apologize, if I were introducing the practice; but it is thus that Catullus writes, and Marsus, and Pedo, and Getulicus, and every one whose writings are read through. If any assumes to be so scrupulously nice, however, that it is not allowable to address him, in a single page, in plain language, he may confine himself to this address, or rather to the title of the book. Epigrams are written for those who are accustomed to be spectators at the games of Flora. Let not Cato enter my theatre; or, if he do enter, let him look on. It appears to me that I shall do only what I have a right to do, if I close my address with the following verses:----
Since you knew the lascivious nature of the rites of sportive Flora, as well as the dissoluteness of the games, and the license of the populace, why, stern Cato, did you enter the theatre? Did you come in only that you might go out again?
The man whom you are reading is the very man that you want,----Martial, known over the whole world for his humorous books of epigrams; to whom, studious reader, you have afforded such honours, while he is alive and has a sense of them, as few poets receive after their death.
You who are anxious that my books should be with you everywhere, and desire to have them as companions on a long journey, buy a copy of which the parchment leaves are compressed into a small compass.1 Bestow book-cases upon large volumes; one hand will hold me. But that you may not be ignorant where I am to be bought, and wander in uncertainty over the whole town, you shall, under my guidance, be sure of obtaining me. Seek Secundus, the freedman of the learned Lucensis, behind the Temple of Peace and the Forum of Pallas.
You prefer, little book, to dwell in the shops in the Argiletum,1 though my book-case has plenty of room for you. You are ignorant, alas! you are ignorant of the fastidiousness of Rome, the mistress of the world; the sons of Man, believe me, are much too critical. Nowhere are there louder sneers; young men and old, and even boys, have the nose of the rhinoceros.2 After you have heard a loud "Bravo!" and are expecting kisses, you will go, tossed to the skies, from the jerked toga.3 Yet, that you may not so often suffer the corrections of your master, and that his relentless pen may not so often mark your vagaries, you desire, frolicsome little book, to fly through the air of heaven. Go, fly; but you would have been safer at home.
If you should chance, Caesar, to light upon my books, lay aside that look which awes the world. Even your triumphs have been accustomed to endure jests,1 nor is it any shame to a general to be a subject for witticisms. Read my verses, I pray you, with that brow with which you behold Thymele 2 and Latinus 3 the buffoon. The censorship 4 may tolerate innocent jokes: my page indulges in freedoms, but my life is pure.
I give you a sea-fight, and you give me epigrams: you wish, I suppose, Marcus, to be set afloat with your book.
While through the air of heaven the eagle was carrying the youth,1 the burden unhurt clung to its anxious talons. From Caesar's lions their own prey now succeeds in obtaining mercy, and the hare plays safe in their huge jaws. Which miracle do you think the greater? The author of each is a supreme being: the one is the work of Caesar; the other,2 of Jove.
The dove, the delight of my friend Stella,3----even with Verona4 listening will I say it, ---- has surpassed, Maximus, the sparrow of Catullus. By so much is my Stella greater than your Catullus, as a dove is greater than a sparrow.
In that you so far only follow the opinions of the great Thrasea and Cato of consummate virtue, that you still wish to preserve your life, and do not with bared breast rush upon drawn swords, you do, Decianus, what I should wish you to do. I do not approve of a man who purchases fame with life-blood, easy to be shed: I like him who can be praised without dying to obtain it.
You wish to appear, Cotta, a pretty man and a great man at one and the same time: but he who is a pretty man, Cotta, is a very small man.
Gemellus is seeking the hand of Maronilla, and is earnest, and lays siege to her, and beseeches her, and makes presents to her. Is she then so pretty? Nay; nothing can be more ugly. What then is the great object and attraction in her? ----Her cough.
Seeing that there are given to a knight twice five pieces,1 wherefore is twice ten the amount which you spend by yourself, Sextilianus, in drink? Long since would the warm water have failed the attendants who carried it, had you not, Sextilianus, been drinking your wine unmixed.2
Where the road runs to the towers of the cool Tivoli, sacred to Hercules, and the hoary Albula 3 smokes with sulphureous waters, a milestone, the fourth from the neighbouring city, points out a country retreat, and a hallowed grove, and a domain well beloved of the Muses. Here a rude portico used to afford cool shade in summer; a portico, ah! how nearly the desperate cause of an unheard-of calamity: for suddenly it fell in ruins, after Regulus had just been conveyed in a carriage and pair from under its high fabric. Truly Dame Fortune feared our complaints, as she would have been unable to withstand so great odium. Now even our loss delights us; so beneficial is the impression which the very danger produces; since, while standing, the edifice could not have proved to us the existence of the gods.
When the chaste Arria handed to her Paetus the sword which she had with her own hand drawn forth from her heart, "If you believe me," said she, "the wound which I have made gives me no pain; but it is that which you will make, Paetus, that pains me."
The pastimes, Caesar, the sports and the play of the lions, we have seen: your arena affords you the additional sight of the captured hare returning often in safety from the kindly tooth, and running at large through the open jaws. Whence is it that the greedy lion can spare his captured prey? He is said to be yours: thence it is that he can show mercy.
Oh! you who are regarded by me, Julius, as second to none of my companions, if well-tried friendship and longstanding ties are worth anything, already nearly a sixtieth consul is pressing upon you, and your life numbers but a few more uncertain days. Not wisely would you defer the enjoyment which you see maybe denied you, or consider the past alone as your own. Cares and linked chains of disaster are in store; joys abide not, but take flight with winced speed. Seize them with either hand, and with your full grasp; even thus they will oft-times pass away and glide from your closest embrace. 'Tis not, believe me, a wise man's part to say, "I will live." To-morrow's life is too late: live to-day.
Of the epigrams which you read here, some are good, some middling, many bad; a book, Avitus, cannot be made in any other way.
Titus urges me to go to the Bar, and often tells me, "The gains are large." The gains of the husbandman, Titus, are likewise large.
What pleasure can it give you, Tucca, to mix with old Falernian wine new wine stored up in Vatican casks? What vast amount of good has the most worthless of wine done you? or what amount of evil has the best wine done you? As for us, it is a small matter; but to murder Falernian, and to put poisonous wine in a Campanian cask, is an atrocity. Your guests may possibly have deserved to perish: a wine-jar of such value has not deserved to die.
If I remember right, Aelia, you had four teeth; a cough displaced two, another two more. You can now cough without anxiety all the day long. A third cough can find nothing to do in your mouth.
Tell me, what madness is this? While a whole crowd of invited guests is looking on, you alone, Caecilianus, devour the truffles. What shall I imprecate on you worthy of so large a stomach and throat? That you may eat a truffle such as Claudius ate.
When the hand that aimed at the king mistook for him his secretary, it thrust itself to perish into the sacred fire but the generous foe could not endure so cruel a sight, and bade the hero, snatched from the flame, to be set free. The hand which, despising the fire, Mucius dared to burn, Porsena could not bear to look on Greater was the fame and glory of that right hand from being deceived; had it not missed its aim, it had accomplished less.
Why, silly hare, are you fleeing from the fierce jaws of the lion now grown tame? They have not learned to crush such tiny animals. Those talons, which you fear, are reserved for mighty necks, nor does a thirst so great delight in so small a draught of blood. The hare is the prey of hounds; it does not fill large mouths: the Dacian boy should not fear Caesar.
You invite no one, Cotta, except those whom you meet at the bath; and the bath alone supplies you with guests. I used to wonder why you had never asked me, Cotta; I know now that my appearance in a state of nature was unpleasing in your eyes.
You see yonder individual, Decianus, with locks uncombed, whose grave brow even you fear; who talks incessantly of the Curii and Camilli, defenders of their country's liberties: do not trust his looks; he was taken to wife but yesterday.
Issue at length your books to the public, Faustinus, and give to the light the work elaborated by your accomplished mind,----a work such as neither the Cecropian city of Pandion would condemn, nor our old men pass by in silence. Do you hesitate to admit Fame, who is standing before your door; and does it displease you to receive the reward of your labour? Let the writings, destined to live after you, begin to live through your means. Glory comes too late, when paid only to our ashes.
Sextilianus, you drink as much as five rows of knights 1 alone: you might intoxicate yourself with water, if you so often drank as much. Nor is it the coin of those who sit near you alone that you consume in drink, but the money of those far removed from you, on the distant benches. This vintage has not been concerned with Pelignian presses, nor was this juice of the grape produced upon Tuscan heights; but it is the glorious jar of the long-departed Opimius 2 that is drained, and it is the Massic cellar that sends forth its blackened casks. Get dregs of Laletane wine from a tavern-keeper, Sextilianus, if you drink more than ten cups.3
Last night I had invited you----after some fifty glasses, I suppose, had been despatched----to sup with me to-day. You immediately thought your fortune was made, and took note of my unsober words, with a precedent but too dangerous. I hate a boon companion whose memory is good, Procillus.
Whoever believes it is of yesterday's wine that Acerra smells, is mistaken: Acerra always drinks till morning.
Report says that you, Fidentinus, recite my compositions in public as if they were your own. If you allow them to be called mine, I will send you my verses gratis; if you wish them to be called yours, pray buy them, that they may be mine no longer.
Diaulus had been a surgeon, and is now an undertaker. He has begun to be useful to the sick in the only way that he could.
Encolpus, the favourite of the centurion his master, consecrates these, the whole of the locks from his head, to you, O Phoebus.1 When Pudens shall have rained the pleasing honour of the chief-centurionship, which he has so well merited, cut these long tresses close, O Phoebus, as soon as possible, while the tender face is yet undisfigured with down, and while the flowing hair adorns the milk-white neck; and, that both master and favourite may long enjoy your gifts, make him carry shorn, but late a man.2
I do not love you, Sabidius, nor can I say why; I can only say this, I do not love you.
Gellia does not mourn for her deceased father, when she is alone; but if any one is present, obedient tears spring forth. He mourns not, Gellia, who seeks to be praised; he is the true mourner, who mourns without a witness.
You always take your pleasure, Lesbia, with doors unguarded and open, nor are you at any pains to conceal your amusements. It is more the spectator, than the accomplice in your doings, that pleases you, nor are any pleasures grateful to your taste if they be secret. Yet the common courtesan excludes every witness by curtain and by bolt, and few are the chinks in a suburban brothel. Learn something at least of modesty from Chione, or from Alis: even the monumental edifices of the dead afford hiding-places for abandoned harlots. Does my censure seem too harsh? I do not exhort you to be chaste, Lesbia, but not to be caught.
You complain, Cornelius, that the verses which I compose are little remarkable for their reserve, and not such as a master can read out in his school; but such effusions, as in the case of man and wife, cannot please without some spice of pleasantry in them. What if you were to bid me write a hymeneal song in words not suited to hymeneal occasions? Who enjoins the use of attire at the Floral games, and imposes on the courtesan the reserve of the matron? This law has been allowed to frolicsome verses, that without tickling the fancy they cannot please. Lay aside, therefore, your severe look, I beseech you, and spare my jokes and gaiety, and do not desire to mutilate my compositions. Nothing is more disgusting than Priapus become a priest of Cybele.
If, Lucanus, to you, or if to you, Tullus, had been offered such fates as the Laconian children of Leda enjoy, there would have been this noble struggle of affection in both of you, that each would have wished to die first in place of his brother; and he who should have first descended to the nether realms of shade would have said, "Live, brother, thine own term of days; live also mine."
Yon deposit your excretions, without any sense of shame, into an unfortunate vessel of gold, while you drink out of glass. The former operation, consequently, is the more expensive.
The book which you are reading aloud is mine, Fidentinus but, while you read it so badly, it begins to be yours.
If there be any man fit to be numbered among one's few choice friends, a man such as the honesty of past times and ancient renown would readily acknowledge; if any man thoroughly imbued with the accomplishments of the Athenian and Latin Minervas, and exemplary for true integrity; if there be any man who cherishes what is right, and admires what is honourable, and asks nothing of the gods but what all may hear; if there be any man sustained by the strength of a great mind, may I die, if that man is not Decianus.
You who make grimaces, and read these verses of mine with an ill grace, you, victim of jealousy, may, if you please, envy everybody; nobody will envy you.
You imagine yourself Caecilius, a man of wit. You are no such thing, believe me. What then? A low buffoon; such a thing as wanders about in the quarters beyond the Tiber, and barters pale-coloured sulphur matches for broken glass; such a one as sells boiled peas and beans to the idle crowd; such as a lord and keeper of snakes; or as a common servant of the salt-meat-sellers; or a hoarse-voiced cook who carries round smoking sausages in steaming shops; or the worst of street poets; or a blackguard slave-dealer from Gades;1 or a chattering old debauchee. Cease at length, therefore, to imagine yourself that which is imagined by you alone, Caecilius, you who could have silenced Gabba, and even Testius Caballus, with your jokes. It is not given to every one to have taste; he who jests with a stupid effrontery is not a Testius, but a Caballus.3
When Porcia had heard the fate of her consort Brutus, and her grief was seeking the weapon, which had been carefully removed from her," You know not yet," she cried, "that death cannot be denied: I had supposed that my father had taught you this lesson by his fate. She spoke, and with eager mouth swallowed the blazing coals. "Go now, officious attendants, and refuse me a sword, if you will."
Twice thirty were invited to your table, Mancinus, and nothing was placed before us yesterday but a wild-boar. Nowhere were to be seen grapes preserved from the late vines, or apples vying in flavour with sweet honey-combs; nowhere the pears which hang suspended by flexible twigs, or pomegranates the colour of summer roses: nor did the rustic basket supply its milky cheeses, or the olive emerge from its Picenian jar. Your wild-boar was by itself: and it was even of the smallest size, and such a one as might have been slaughtered by an unarmed dwarf. Besides, none of it was given us; we simply looked on it as spectators. This is the way in which even the arena places a wild-boar before us. May no wild-boar be placed before you after such doings, but may you be placed before the boar in front of which Charidemus was placed.1
If it seems to you too much, Stella, that my longer and shorter compositions are occupied with the frisky gambols of the hares and the play of the lions, and that I go over the same subject twice, do you also place a hare twice before me.
That the care which I have bestowed upon what I have published may not come to nothing through the smallness of my volumes, let me rather fill up my verses with Τὸν δ̕ ἀπαμειθόμενος.1
[From the Loeb translation]
When you say "I haste; now is the time," then, Hedylus,
my ardour at once flags and weakens.
Diaulus, lately a doctor, is now an undertaker: what he does as an undertaker, he used to do also as a doctor.
The keepers could not snatch the bulls from those wide jaws, through which the fleeting prey, the hare, goes and returns in safety; and, what is still more strange, he starts from his foe with increased swiftness, and contracts something of the great nobleness of the lion's nature. He is not safer when he courses along the empty arena, nor with equal feeling of security does he hide him in his hutch. If, venturous hare, you seek; to avoid the teeth of the hounds, you have the jaws of the lion to which you may flee for refuge.
O you, whose name must not be left untold by Celtiberian nations, you the honour of our common country, Spain, you, Licinianus, will behold the lofty Bilbilis, renowned for horses and arms, and Catus1 venerable with his locks of snow, and eased Vadavero with ita broken cliffs, and the sweet grove of delicious Botrodus, which the happy Pomona loves. You will breast the gently-flowing water of the warm Congedus and the calm lakes of the Nymphs, and your body, relaxed by these, you may brace up in the little Salo, which hardens iron. There Voberca 2 herself will supply for your meals animals which may be brought down close at hand. The serene summer heat you will disarm by bathing in the golden Tagus, hidden beneath the shades of trees; your greedy thirst the fresh Dercenna will appease, and Nutha, which in coldness surpasses snow. But when hoar December and the furious solstice shall resound with the hoarse blasts of the north-wind, you will again seek the sunny shores of Tarraco and thine own Laletania. There you will despatch hinds caught in your supple toils, and native boars; and you will tire out the cunning hare with your hardy steed; the stags you will leave to your bailiff. The neighboring wood will come down into your very hearth, surrounded as it will be with a troop of uncombed children. The huntsman will be invited to your table, and many a guest called in from the neighbourhood will come to you. The crescent-adorned boot 3 will be nowhere to be seen, nowhere the toga and garments smelling of purple dye. Far away will be the ill-favoured Liburnian porter 4 and the grumbling client; far away the imperious demands of widows. The pale criminal will not break your deep sleep, but all the morning long you will enjoy your slumber. Let another earn the grand and wild "Bravo!" Do you pity such happy ones, and enjoy without pride true delight, while your friend Sura is crowned with applause. Not unduly does life demand of us our few remaining days, when fame has as much as is sufficient.
If your cook, Aemilianus, is called Mistyllus, why should not mine be called Taratalla?1
No neck, save the proudest, serves for the fierce lion. Why do you, vain-glorious hare, flee from these teeth? No doubt you would wish them to stoop from the huge bull to you, and to crush a neck which they cannot see. The glory of an illustrious death must be an object of despair to you. You, a tiny prey, canst not fall before such an enemy!
To you, Quinctianus, do I commend my books, if indeed I can call books mine, which your poet recites.1 If they complain of a grievous yoke, do you come forward as their advocate, and defend them efficiently; and when he calls himself their master, say that they were mine, but have been given 2 by me to the public. If you will proclaim this three or four times, you will bring shame on the plagiary.
One page only in my books belongs to you, Fidentinus, but it bears the sure stamp of its master, and accuses your verses of glaring theft. Just so does a Gallic frock coming in contact with purple city cloaks stain them with grease and filth; just so do Arretine1 pots disgrace vases of crystal; so is a buck crow, straying perchance on the banks of the Cayster, laughed to scorn amid the swans of Leda: and so, when the sacred grove resounds with the music of the tuneful nightingale, the miscreant magpie disturbs her Attic plaints. My books need no one to accuse or judge you: the page which is yours stands up against you and says, "You are a thief"
If, Fuscus, you have room to receive still more affection, (for you have friends around you on all sides), I ask you one place in your heart, if one still remains vacant, and that you will not refuse because I am a stranger to you: all your old friends were so once. Simply consider whether he who is presented to you a stranger is likely to become an old friend.
If you, Fronto, so distinguished an ornament of military and civil life, desire to learn the wishes of your friend Marcus, he prays for this, to be the tiller of his own farm, nor that a large one, and he loves inglorious repose in as unpretending sphere. Does any one haunt the porticoes of cold variegated Spartan marble, and run to offer, like a fool, his morning greetings, when he might, rich with the spoils of grave and field, unfold before his fire his well-filled nets, and lift the leaping fish with the quivering line, and draw forth the yellow honey from the red1 cask, while a plump housekeeper loads his unevenly-propped table, and his own eggs are cooked by an unbought fire? That the man who loves not me may not love this life, is my wish; and let him drag out life pallid with the cares of the city.
Harassed with continual rains, the vineyard drips with wet. You cannot sell us, vintner, even though you wish, neat wine.
Do you ask what sort of maid I desire or dislike, Flaccus? I dislike one too easy, and one too coy. The just mean, which lies between the two extremes, is what I approve; I like neither that which tortures, nor that which cloys.
The sportula1 at Baiae brings me in a hundred farthings; of what use is such a miserable sum in the midst of such sumptuous baths? Give me back the darksome baths of Lupus and Gryllus. When I sup so scantily, Flaccus, why should I bathe so luxuriously?
Hare, although you enter the wide jaws of the fierce lion, still he imagines his mouth to be empty. Where is the back on which he shall rush? where the shoulders on which he shall flail? where shall he fix those deep bites which he inflicts on young bulls? why do you in vain weary the lord and monarch of the groves? 'Tis only on the wild prey of his choice that he feeds.
Verona loves the verses of her learned Poet; Mantua is blest in her Maro; the territory of Apona is renowned for its Livy, its Stella, and not less for its Flaccus. The Nile, whose waters are instead of rain, applauds its Apollodorus; the Pelignians vaunt their Ovid. Eloquent Cordova speaks of its two Senecas and its single and preeminent Lucan. Voluptuous Gades delights in her Canius,1 Emerita in my friend Decianus. Our Bilbilis will be proud of you, Licinianus, nor will be altogether silent concerning me.
Laevina, so chaste as to rival even the Sabine women of old, and more austere than even her stern husband, chanced, while entrusting herself sometimes to the waters of the Lucrine lake, sometimes to those of Avernus, and while frequently refreshing herself in the baths of Baiae, to fall into flames of love, and, leaving her husband, fled with a young gallant. She arrived a Penelope, she departed a Helen.
You ask me to recite to you my Epigrams. I cannot oblige you; for you wish not to hear them, Celer, but to recite them.1
You are pretty,----we know it; and young,----it is true; and rich,----who can deny it? But when you praise yourself extravagantly, Fabulla, you appear neither rich, nor pretty, nor young.
When I said ficus, you laughed at it as a barbarous word, Caecilianus, and bade me say ficos. I shall call the produce of the fig-tree ficus; yours I shall call ficos.1
You are mistaken, insatiable thief of my writings, who think a poet can be made for the mere expense which copying, and a cheap volume cost. The applause of the world is not acquired for six or even ten sesterces. Seek out for this purpose verses treasured up, and unpublished efforts, known only to one person, and which the father himself of the virgin sheet, that has not been worn and scrubbed by bushy chins, keeps sealed up in his desk. A well-known book cannot change its master. But if there is one to be found vet unpolished by the pumice-stone, yet unadorned with bosses and cover, buy it: I have such by me, and no one shall know it. Whoever recites another's compositions, and seeks for fame, must buy, not a book, but the author's silence.
"You are too free-spoken," is your constant remark to me, Choerilus. He who speaks against you, Choerilus, is indeed a free speaker.1
Whatever Rufus does, Naevia is all in all to him. Whether he rejoices, or mourns, or is silent, it is ever Naevia. He eats, he drinks, he asks, he refuses, he gesticulates, Naevia alone is in his thoughts: if there were no Naevia, he would be mute. When he had written a dutiful letter yesterday to his father, he ended it with, "Naevia, light of my eyes, Naevia, my idol, farewell" Naevia read these words, and laughed with downcast looks. Naevia is not yours only: what madness is this, foolish man?
Tarentos,3 which was wont to exhibit the statue of Pan, begins now, Maximus, to exhibit that of Canius.
Go, my book, and pay my respects for me: you are ordered to go, dutiful volume, to the splendid halls of Proculus. Do you ask the way? I will tell you. You will go along by the temple of Castor, near that of ancient Vesta, and that goddess's virgin home. Thence you will pass to the majestic Palatine edifice on the sacred hill, where glitters many a statue of the supreme ruler of the empire. And let not the ray-adorned mass of the Colossus detain you, a work which is proud of surpassing that of Rhodes. But turn aside by the way where the temple of the wine-bibbing Bacchus rises, and where the couch of Cybele stands adorned with. pictures of the Corybantes. Immediately on the left is the dwelling with its splendid facade, and the halls of the lofty mansion which you are to approach. Enter it; and fear not its haughty looks or proud gate; no entrance affords more ready access; nor is there any house more inviting for Phoebus and the learned sisters to love. If Proculus shall say, "But why does he not come himself?" you may excuse me thus, "Because he could not have written what is to be read here, whatever be its merit, if he had come to pay his respects in person."
Let Laevia be toasted with six cups,. Justine with seven, Lycas with five, Lyde with four, Ida with three. Let the number of letters in the name of each of our mistresses be equalled by the number of cups of Falernian. But, since none of them comes, come you, Sleep, to me.
Do you imagine, Fidentinus, that you are a poet by the aid of my verses, and do you wish to be thought so? Just so does Aegle think she has teeth from having purchased bone or ivory. Just so does Lycoris, who is blacker than the falling mulberry, seem fair in her own eyes, because she is painted. You too, in the same way that you are a poet, will have flowing locks when you are grown bald.
These was no one in the whole city, Caecilianus, who desired to meddle with your wife, even gratis, while permission was given; but now, since you have set a watch upon her, the crowd of gallants is innumerable. You are a clever fellow!
He was your gallant, Paula; you could however deny it He is become your husband; can you deny it now, Paula? 1
He who prefers to give Linus the half of what he wishes to borrow, rather than to lend him the whole, prefers to lose only the half.
Flaccus, valued object of my solicitude, hope and nursling of the city of Antenor,2 put aside Pierian strains and the lyre of the Sisters; none of those damsels will give you money. What do you expect from Phoebus? The cheat of Minerva contains the cash; she alone is wise, she alone lends to all the gods. What can the ivy of Bacchus give? The dark tree of Pallas bends down its variegated boughs under the load of fruit. Helicon, besides its waters and the garlands and lyres of the goddesses, and the great but empty applause of the multitude, has nothing. What have you to do with Cirrha? What with bare Permessis? The Roman forum is nearer and more lucrative. There is heard the chink of money; but around our desks and barren chairs kisses 3 alone resound.
Charinus is perfectly well, and yet he is pale; Charinus drinks sparingly, and yet he is pale; Charinus digests well, and yet he is pale; Charinus suns himself and yet he is pale; Charinus dyes his skin, and yet he is pale; Charinus indulges in [infamous debauchery], and yet he is pale.1
When a devouring malady attacked his unoffending throat, and its black poison extended its ravages over his face, Festus, consoling his weeping friends, while his own eyes were dry, determined to seek the Stygian lake. He did not however pollute his pious mouth with secret poison, or aggravate his sad fate by lingering famine, but ended his pure life by a death befitting a Roman, and freed his spirit in a nobler way. This death fame may place above that of the great Cato; for Domitian was Festus' friend.2
Attalus, you are ever acting the barrister, or acting the man of business: whether there is or is not a part for you to act, Attalus, you are always acting a part. If lawsuits and business are not to be found, Attalus, you act the mule-driver. Attalus, lest a part should be wanting for you to act, act the part of executioner on yourself..
On the last night of your lift, Canus, a sportula was the object of your wishes. I suppose the cause of your death was, Canus, that there was only one.1
You know that you are the son of a slave, and you ingenuously confess it, when you call your father, Sosibianus, "master".2
See from what mischief this portico, which, overthrown amid clouds of dust, stretches its long ruins over the ground, lies absolved. For Regulus had but just been carried in his litter under its arch, and had got out of the way, when forthwith, borne down by its own weight, it fell; and, being no longer in fear for its master, it came down free from blood-guiltiness, a harmless ruin, without any attendant anxiety. After the fear of so great a cause for complaint is passed, who would deny, Regulus, that you, for whose sake the fall was harmless, are an object of care to the gods?
Your lap-dog, Manneia, licks your mouth and lips: I do not wonder at a dog liking to eat ordure.1
Quirinalis, though he wishes to have children, has no intention of taking a wife, and has found out in what way he can accomplish his object. He takes to him his maid-servants, and fills his house and his lands with slave-knights.2 Quirinalis is a true pater-familias.
A wag of an auctioneer, offering for sale some cultivated heights, and some beautiful acres of land near the city, says, "If any one imagines that Marius is compelled to sell, he is mistaken; Marius owes nothing: on the contrary, he rather has money to put out at interest." "What is his reason, then, for selling?" "In this place he lost all his slaves, and his cattle, and his profits; hence he does not like the locality." Who would have made any offer, unless he had wished to lose all his property? So the ill-fated land remains with Marius.
Novius is my neighbour, and may be reached by the hand from my windows. Who would not envy me, and think me a happy man every hour of the day when I may enjoy the society of one so near to me? But, he is as far removed from me as Terentianus, who is now governor of Syene on the Nile. I am not privileged either to live with him, or even see him, or hear him; nor in the whole city is there any one at once so near and so far from me. I must remove farther off, or he must. If any one wishes not to see Novius, let him become his neighbour or his fellow-lodger.
That you may not be disagreeably fragrant with your yesterday's wine, you devour, luxurious Fescennia, certain of Cosmus's1 perfumes. Breakfasts of such a nature leave their mark on the teeth, but form no barrier against the emanations which escape from the depths of the stomach. Nay, the fetid smell is but the worse when mixed with perfume, and the double odour of the breath is carried but the farther. Cease then to use frauds but too well known, and disguises well understood; and simply intoxicate yourself!
Alcimus, whom, snatched from your lord in your opening years, the Labican earth covers with light turf, receive, not a nodding mass of Parian marble,----an unenduring monument which misapplied toil gives to the dead,----but shapely box-trees and the dark shades of the palm leaf, and dewy flowers of the mead which bloom from being watered with my tears. Receive, dear youth, the memorials of my grief: this tribute will live for you in all time. When Lachesis shall have spun to the end of my last hour, I shall ask no other honours for my ashes.
You always whisper into every one's ear, Cinna; you whisper even what might be said in the hearing of the whole world. You laugh, you complain, you dispute, you weep, you sing, you criticise, you are silent, you are noisy; and all in one's ear. Has this disease so thoroughly taken possession of you, that you often praise Caesar, Cinna, in the ear? 1
Inasmuch as I never saw you, Bassa, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, and report in no case assigned to you a favoured lover; but every duty about your person was constantly performed by a crowd of your own sex, without the presence of even one man; you seemed to me, I confess it, to be a Lucretia.
You do not publish your own verses, Laelius; you criticise mine. Pray cease to criticise mine, or else publish your own.
Cestus with tears in his eyes often complains to me, Hamurianus, of being touched with your finger. You need not use your finger merely; take Cestos all to yourself if nothing else is wanting in your establishment, Mamurianus.2 But if you have neither fire, nor legs for your bare bedstead, nor broken basin of Chione or Antiope;3 if a cloak greasy and worn hangs down your back, and a Gallic jacket covers only half of your loins; and if you feed on the smell alone of the dark kitchen, and drink on your knees dirty water with the dog;
Non culum, neque enim est cuius, qui non cacat olim,
Here reposes Aquinas, reunited to his faithful Fabricius, who rejoices in having preceded him to the Elysian retreats. This double altar bears record that each was honoured with the rank of chief centurion; but that praise is of still greater worth which you read in this shorter inscription: Both were united in the sacred bond of a well-spent life, and, what is rarely known to fame, were friends.
[Not translated in the Bohn - adapted from the Loeb]
Badly you sang while you fornicated, Aegle. Now you sing well; but I won't kiss you.
In constantly making a clamour, and obstructing the pleaders with your noise, Aelius, you act not without an object; you look for pay to hold your tongue.
If it is not disagreeable, and does not annoy you, my verse, say, I pray, a word or two in the ear of our friend Maternus, so that he alone may hear. That admirer of sad-coloured coats, clad in the costume of the banks of the river Baetis, and in grey garments, who deems the wearers of scarlet not men, and calls amethyst-coloured robes the dress of women, however much he may praise natural hues, and be always seen in dark colours, has at the same time morals of an extremely flagrant hue. You will ask whence I suspect him of effeminacy. We go to the same baths; Do you ask me who this is? His name has escaped me.
When every one is talking, then and then only, Naevolus, do you open your month; and you think yourself an advocate and a pleader. In such a way every one may be eloquent. But see, everybody is silent; say something now, Naevolus.
Diodorus goes to law, Flaccus, and has the gout in his feet But he pays his counsel nothing; surely he has the gout also in his hands.
But a short time since, Calenus, you had not quite two millions of sesterces; but you were so prodigal and open-handed, and hospitable, that all your friends wished you ten millions. Heaven heard the wish and our prayers; and within, I think, six months, four deaths gave you the desired fortune. But you, as if ten millions had not been left to you, but taken from you, condemned yourself to such abstinence, wretched man, that you prepare even your most sumptuous feasts, which you provide only once in the whole year, at the cost of but a few dirty pieces of black coin; and we, seven of your old companions, stand you in just half a pound of leaden money. What blessing are we to invoke upon you worthy of such merits? We wish you, Calenus, a fortune of a hundred millions. If this falls to your lot, you will die of hunger.
Afra talks of her papas and her mammas; but she herself may be called the grandmamma of her papas and mammas.
Demetrius, whose hand was once the faithful confidant of my verses, so useful to his master, and so well known to the Caesars, has yielded up his brief life in its early prime. A fourth harvest had been added to his years, which previously numbered fifteen. That he might not, however, descend to the Stygian shades as a slave, I, when the accursed disease had seized and was withering him, took precaution, and remitted to the sick youth all my right over him as his master; he was worthy of restoration to health through my gift.1 He appreciated, with failing faculties, the kindness which he had received; and on the point of departing, a free man, to the Tartarean waters, saluted me as his patron.
The painter who drew your Venus, Lycoris, paid court, I suppose, to Minerva.2
"If the gods were to give me a fortune of a million sesterces," you used to say, Scaevola, before you were a full knight,1 "oh how would I live! how magnificently, how happily!" The complaisant deities smiled and granted your wish. Since that time your toga has become much more dirty, your cloak worse; your shoe has been sewn up three and four times; of ten olives the greater portion is always put by, and one spread of the table serves for two meals; the thick dregs of pink Vejentan wine are your drink; a plate of lukewarm peas costs you a penny; your mistress a penny likewise. Cheat and liar, let us go before the tribunal of the gods; and either live, Scaevola, as befits you, or restore to the gods your million sesterces.
When we see the leopard bear upon his spotted neck a light and easy yoke, and the furious tigers endure with patience the blows of the whip; the stags champ the golden curbs; the Libyan bears tamed by the bit; a boar, huge as that which Calydon is said to have produced, obey the purple muzzle; the ugly buffaloes drag chariots, and the elephant, when ordered to dance nimbly, pay prompt obedience to his swarthy leader; who would not imagine such things a spectacle given by the gods? These, however, any one disregards as of inferior attraction who sees the condescension of the lions, which the swift-footed timorous hares fatigue in the chase. They let go the little animals, catch them again, and caress them when caught, and the latter are safer in their captors' mouths than elsewhere; since the lions delight in granting them free passage through their open jaws, and in holding their teeth as with fear, for they are ashamed to crush the tender prey, after having just come from slaying bulls; This clemency does not proceed from art; the lions know whom they serve.
The wine, Ovidius, which is grown in the Nomentan fields, in proportion as it receives the addition of years, puts off, through age, its character and name; and the jar thus ancient receives whatever name you please.1
Rufus, you often pour water into your wine, and, if hard pressed by your companion, you drink just a cup now and then of diluted Falernian. Pray, is it that Naevia has promised you a night of bliss; and you prefer by sobriety to enhance your enjoyment? You sigh, you are silent, you groan: she has refused you. You may drink, then, and often, cups of four-fold size, and drown in wine your concern at her cruelty. Why do you spare yourself, Rufus? You have nothing before you but to sleep.
You often say to me, dearest Lucius Julius, "Write something great: you take your ease too much." Give me then leisure,----but leisure such as that which of old Maecenas gave to his Horace and his Virgil -- and I would endeavour to write something which should live through time, and to snatch my name from the flames of the funeral pyre. Steers are unwilling to carry their yoke into barren fields. A fat soil fatigues, but the very labour bestowed on it is delightful.
You possess----and may it be yours and grow larger through a long series of years----a house, beautiful I admit, but on the other side of the Tiber. But my garret looks upon the laurels of Agrippa; and in this quarter I am already grown old. I must move, in order to pay you a morning call, Gallus, and you deserve this consideration, even if your house were still farther off. But it is a small matter to you, Gallus, if I add one to the number of your toga-clad visitors; while it is a great matter to me, if I withhold that one. I myself will frequently pay my respects to you at the tenth hour.1 This morning my book shall wish you "good day" in my stead.
Issa is more playful than the sparrow of Catullus. Issa is more pure than the kiss of a dove. Issa is more loving than any maiden. Issa is dearer than Indian gems. The little dog Issa is the pet of Publius. If she complains, you will think she speaks. She feels both the sorrow and the gladness of her master. She lies reclined upon his neck, and sleeps, so that not a respiration is heard from her. And, however pressed, she has never sullied the coverlet with a single spot; but rouses her master with a gentle touch of her foot, and begs to be set down from the bed and relieved. Such modesty resides in this chaste little animal; she knows not the pleasures of love; nor do we find a mate worthy of so tender a damsel. That her last hour may not carry her off wholly, Publius has her limned in a picture, in which you will see an Issa so like, that not even herself is so like herself. In a word, place Issa and the picture side by side, and you will imagine either both real, or both painted.
You complain, Velox, that the epigrams which I write are long. You yourself write nothing; your attempts are shorter.1
Since your reputation for wisdom, and the care which you bestow on your labours, are equal, and since your piety is not inferior to your genius, he who is surprised that a book and incense are presented to you, Regulus, is ignorant how to adapt presents to deserts.
When I did not know you, I used to address you as my lord and king. Now, since I know you well, you shall be plain Priscus with me.
If, reader, you wish to employ some good hours badly, and are an enemy to your own leisure, you will obtain whatever sportive verses I produced in my youth and boyhood, and all my trifles, which even I myself have forgotten, from Quintus Pollius Valerianus, who has resolved not to let my light effusions perish.
These gardens adjoining your domain, Faustinus, and these small fields and moist meadows, Telesphorus Faenius owns. Here he has deposited the ashes of his daughter, and has consecrated the name, which you read, of Antulla;----though his own name should rather have been read there. It had been more just that the father should have gone to the Stygian shades; but, since this was not permitted, may he live to honour his daughter's remains.
A certain damsel, envious Procillus, is desperately in love with me,----a nymph more white than the spotless swan, than silver, than snow, than lily, than privet: already you will be thinking of hanging yourself, But I long for one darker than night, than the ant, than pitch, than the jack-daw, than the cricket. If I know you well, Procillus, you will spare your life.
This grove, and these fair acres of cultivated land, Faenius has consecrated to the eternal honour of the dead. In this tomb is deposited Antulla, too soon snatched from her family: in this tomb each of her parents will be united to her. If any one desires this piece of ground, I warn him not to hope for it; it is for ever devoted to its owners.
Whenever you meet me, Lupercus, you constantly say, "Shall I send my servant, for you to give him your little book of Epigrams, which I will read and return to you directly?" There is no reason, Lupercus, to trouble your servant. It is a lone journey, if he wishes to come to the Pirus;1 and I live up three pairs of stairs, and those high ones. What you want you may procure nearer at hand. You frequently go down to the Argiletum: opposite Caesar's forum is a shop, with pillars on each side covered over with titles of books, so that you may quickly run over the names of all the poets. Procure me there; you will no sooner ask Atrectus,----such is the name of the owner of the shop,----than he will give you, from the first or second shelf a Martial, well smoothed with pumice-stone, and adorned with purple, for five denarii "You are not worth so much," do you say? You are right, Lupercus.
For him who is not satisfied with reading a hundred epigrams, no amount of trouble is sufficient, Caedicianus.
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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