Satires

Horace

Horace. The Works of Horace. Vol. II. Smart, Christopher, translator. Philadelphia: J. Whetham, 1836.

Villius, the son-in-law of Sylla (by this title alone he was misled), suffered [for his commerce] with Fausta an adequate and more than adequate punishment, by being drubbed and stabbed, while he was shut out, that Longarenus might enjoy her within. Suppose this [young man's] mind had addressed him in the words of his appetite, perceiving such evil consequences: "What would you have? Did I ever, when, my ardor was at the highest, demand a woman descended from a great consul, and covered with robes of quality?" What could he answer? Why, "the girl was sprung from an illustrious father." But how much better things, and how different from this, does nature, abounding in stores of her own, recommend; if you would only make a proper use of them, and not confound what is to be avoided with that which is desirable! Do you think it is of no consequence, whether your distresses arise from your own fault or from [a real deficiency] of things? Wherefore, that you may not repent [when it is too late], put a stop to your pursuit after matrons; whence more trouble is derived, than you can obtain of enjoyment from success. Nor has [this particular matron], amid her pearls and emeralds, a softer thigh, or limbs more delicate than yours, Cerinthus; nay, the prostitutes are frequently preferable. Add to this, that [the prostitute] bears about her merchandize without any varnish, and openly shows what she has to dispose of; nor, if she has aught more comely than ordinary, does she boast and make an ostentation of it, while she is industrious to conceal that which is offensive. This is the custom with men of fortune: when they buy horses, thy inspect them covered: that, if a beautiful forehand (as often) be supported by a tender hoof, it may not take in the buyer, eager for the bargain, because the back is handsome, the head little, and the neck stately. This they do judiciously. Do not you, [therefore, in the same manner] contemplate the perfections of each [fair one's] person with the eyes of Lynceus; but be blinder than Hypsaea, when you survey such parts as are deformed. [You may cry out,] "0 what a leg! O, what delicate arms!" But [you suppress] that she is low-hipped, short-waisted, with a long nose, and a splay foot. A man can see nothing but the face of a matron, who carefully conceals her other charms, unless it be a Catia. But if you will seek after forbidden charms (for the [circumstance of their being forbidden] makes you mad after them), surrounded as they are with a fortification, many obstacles will then be in your way: such as guardians, the sedan, dressers, parasites, the long robe hanging down to the ankles, and covered with an upper garment; a multiplicity of circumstances, which will hinder you from having a fair view. The other throws no obstacle in your way; through the silken vest you may discern her, almost as well as if she was naked; that she has neither a bad leg, nor a disagreeable foot, you may survey her form perfectly with your eye. Or would you choose to have a trick put upon you, and your money extorted, before the goods are shown you? [But perhaps you will sing to me these verses out of Callimachus.] As the huntsman pursues the hare in the deep snow, but disdains to touch it when it is placed before him: thus sings the rake, and applies it to himself; my love is like to this, for it passes over an easy prey, and pursues what flies from it. Do you hope that grief, and uneasiness, and bitter anxieties, will be expelled from your breast by such verses as these? Would it not be more profitable to inquire what boundary nature has affixed to the appetites, what she can patiently do without, and what she would lament the deprivation of, and to separate what is solid from what is vain? What! when thirst parches your jaws, are you solicitous for golden cups to drink out of? What! when you are hungry, do you despise every thing but peacock and turbot? When your passions are inflamed, and a common gratification is at hand, would you rather be consumed with desire than possess it? I would not: for I love such pleasures as are of easiest attainment. But she whose language is, "By and by," "But for a small matter more," "If my husband should be out of the way," [is only] for petitmaitres: and for himself, Philodemus says, he chooses her, who neither stands for a great price, nor delays to come when she is ordered. Let her be fair, and straight, and so far decent as not to appear desirous of seeming fairer than nature has made her. When I am in the company of such an one, she is my Ilia and Aegeria; I give her any name. Nor am I apprehensive, while I am in her company, lest her husband should return from the country; the door should be broken open; the dog should bark; the house, shaken, should resound on all sides with a great noise; the woman, pale [with fear] should bound away from me; lest the maid, conscious [of guilt], should cry out, she is undone; lest she should be in apprehension for her limbs, the detected wife for her portion, I for myself; lest I must run away with my clothes all loose, and bare-footed, for fear my money, or my person, or, finally my character should be demolished. It is a dreadful thing to be caught: I could prove this, even if Fabius were the judge.

THIS is a fault common to all singers, that among their friends they never are inclined to sing when they are asked, [but] unasked, they never desist. Tigellius, that Sardinian, had this [fault]. Had Caesar, who could have forced him to compliance, besought him on account of his father's friendship and his own, he would have had no success; if he himself was disposed, he would chant Io Bacche over and over, from the beginning of an entertainment to the very conclusion of it;[*](Literally, "from the egg to the apples," for eggs were served first, and fruit last.) one while at the deepest pitch of his voice, at another time with that which answers to the highest string of the tetrachord.[*](The four strings of this instrument were called by the Greeks ὑπάτη (subsuma), παρυπάτη (subsuma), παρανήτη (pene ima), and νήτη (ima). Thus the summa vox, which answers to the highest string, summa chorda, must signify the bass, and ima vox, that strikes the same tone with ima chorda, must signify the treble. Summa should be joined with chorda, not voce.Citaret. Bentley remarks that this is a forensic word, and can not be put for recitaret, besides that citare Io Bacche is not Latin. He reads iteraret. The Librarians wrote ter, cer, and ler, in a compendious form thus ~ over its natural place, thus the word ÎTARET, with a circumflex over I, and hence CITARET.) There was nothing uniform in that fellow; frequently would he run along, as one flying from an enemy; more frequently [he walked], as if he bore [in procession] the sacrifice of Juno:[*](This grave and solemn march, although a religious ceremony in its place, yet, when improperly used, is affectation and impertinence. The solemnity of this procession became a proverb, ʽHραῖον βαδίζειν, to walk like Juno.) he had often two hundred slaves, often but ten: one while talking of kings and potentates, every thing that was magnificent; at another — "Let me have a three-legged table, and a cellar of clean salt, and a gown which, though coarse, may be sufficient to keep out the cold." Had you given ten hundred thousand sesterces[*](The sestertium among the Romans was about 7l. 16s. of our money, and contained a thousand sestertii. Their manner of reckoning was this: when a numeral noun agreed in gender and number with sestertius, it denoted precisely so many sestertii, as decem sestertii, just so many; but if the noun was joined to the genitive plural of sestertius, it signified so many thousands; as decem sestertium, ten thousand sestertii. If the adverb numeral was joined to the genitive plural, it denoted so many hundred thousand, as decies sestertium, ten hundred thousand sestertii. Sometimes they put the adverb by itself, and sometimes added the numeral noun to it; as in this place decies centena, ten hundred sestertia, or ten hundred thousand sestertii. WATSON.) to this moderate man who was content with such small matters, in five days' time there would be nothing in his bags. He sat up at nights, [even] to day-light; he snored out all the day. Never was there any thing so inconsistent with itself. Now some person may say to me, "What are you? Have you no faults?" Yes, others; but others, and perhaps of a less culpable nature.

When Maenius railed at Novius in his absence: "Hark ye," says a certain person, "are you ignorant of yourself? or do you think to impose yourself upon us a person we do not know?" "As for me, I forgive myself," quoth Maenius. This is a foolish and impious self-love, and worthy to be stigmatized. When you look over your own vices, winking at them, as it were, with sore eyes; why are you with regard to those of your friends as sharp-sighted as an eagle, or the Epidaurian serpent? But, on the other hand, it is your lot that your friends should inquire into your vices in turn. [A certain person] is a little too hasty in his temper; not well calculated for the sharp-witted sneers[*](Acutis naribus, is the direct opposition to naribus obesis, which the Latins used to signify a stupid person, who wants the natural quickness and sharpness of the senses.) of these men: he may be made a jest of because his gown hangs awkwardly, he [at the same time] being trimmed in a very rustic manner, and his wide shoe hardly sticks to his foot. But he is so good, that no man can be better; but he is your friend: but an immense genius is concealed under this unpolished person of his. Finally, sift yourself thoroughly, whether nature has originally sown the seeds of any vice in you, or even an ill habit [has done it]. For the fern, fit [only] to be burned, overruns the neglected fields.

Let us return from our digression. As his mistress's disagreeable failings escape the blinded lover, or even give him pleasure (as Hagna's wen does to Balbinus), I could wish that we erred in this manner with regard to friendship, and that virtue had affixed a reputable appellation to such an error. And as a father ought not to contemn his son, if he has any defect, in the same manner we ought not [to contemn] our friend. The father calls his squinting boy, a pretty leering rogue; and if any man has a little despicable brat, such as the abortive Sisyphus[*](Sisyphus. The dwarf of Mark Antony the triumvir. He was of a diminutive stature, scarcely two feet high, but of a very acute wit; whence he got the name of Sisyphus; for Sisyphus was so remarkable for his dexterity and cunning, that Sisyphi artes came to be a proverb.) formerly was, he calls it a sweet moppet: this [child] with distorted legs, [the father] in a fondling voice calls one of the Vari; and another, who is club-footed, he calls a Scaurus.[*](Balbutit Scaurum. Rutgersius informs us that all these names, Strabo, Paetus, Pullus, Varus, and Scaurus, are surnames of illustrious Roman families, from whence fathers gave them to their children, to cover their defornlties with names of dignity. This is one of many beauties in the original, which it is impossible to preserve in a translation.) [Thus, does] this friend of yours live more sparingly than ordinarily? Let him be styled a man of frugality. Is another impertinent, and apt to brag a little? He requires to be reckoned entertaining to his friends. But [another] is too rude, and takes greater liberties than are fitting. Let him be esteemed a man of sincerity and bravery. Is he too fiery, let him be numbered among persons of spirit.

This method, in my opinion, both unites friends, and preserves them in a state of union. But we invert the very virtues themselves, and are desirous of throwing dirt upon the untainted vessel. Does a man of probity live among us? he is a person of singular diffidence;[*](But Orelli interprets demissus to mean abjectus, pusilli animi. See his judicious note.) we give him the name of a dull and fat-headed fellow. Does this man avoid every snare, and lay himself open to no ill-designing villain; since we live amid such a race, where keen envy and accusations are flourishing? Instead of a sensible and wary man, we call him a disguised and subtle fellow. And is any one more open, [and less reserved] than usual in such a degree as I often have presented myself to you, Maecenas, so as perhaps impertinently to interrupt a person reading, or musing, with any kind of prate? We cry, "[this fellow] actually wants common sense."[*](Communi sensu plane caret. He wants an understanding that distinguishes the common decencies to be observed in addressing the great. Such was the Communis sensus among the Romans, for which we have no expression in English. Sit in beneficio sensus communis: tempus, locum, personas observer. Seneca. Quae versantur in consuetudine rei publicae; in sensu hominum communi, in natura, in moribus, comprehendenda esse oratori puto. Cicero de Oratore. Lord Shaftesbury explains the sensus communis in Juvenal, that sense which regards the common good, the public welfare. A sense, according to the ingenious author, seldom found among the great. Raro enim ferme sensus communis in illa | Fortuna.) Alas! how indiscreetly do we ordain a severe law against ourselves! For no one is born without vices: he is the best man who is encumbered with the least. When my dear friend, as is just, weighs my good qualities against my bad ones, let him, if he is willing to be beloved, turn the scale to the majority of the former (if I have indeed a majority of good qualities), on this condition, he shall be placed in the same balance. He who requires that his friend should not take offense at his own protuberances, will excuse his friend's little warts. It is fair that he who entreats a pardon for his own fault, should grant one in his turn.

Upon the whole,[*](The second part of the satire begins here. The Stoics called all vicious people fools, stultos. Quatenus is frequently used by our poet for quoniam, since that.) forasmuch as the vice anger, as well as others inherent in foolish [mortals], can not be totally eradicated, why does not human reason make use of its own weights and measures; and so punish faults, as the nature of the thing demands? If any man should punish with the cross a slave, who being ordered to take away the dish should gorge the half-eaten fish and warm sauce;[*](Tepidumque ligurrierit ius. Horace, to excuse the slave, says, that the sauce was yet warm, tepidum, and therefore more tempting. For the same reason, he says, the fish was half eaten.) he would, among people in their senses, be called a madder man than Labeo.[*](Labeone insanior. The Scholiasts, commentators, and interpreters tell us, that Horace means Marcus Antistius Labeo, who, in the spirit of liberty, frequently opposed Augustus in the senate, when he attempted any alterations in the state. Agitabat eum libertas nimia et vecors, says Seneca; which might justly render him odious to Augustus. But whatever respect our poet had for his emperor, yet we never find that he treats the patrons of liberty with outrage. Nor can we well imagine that he dare thus cruelly brand a man of Labeo's abilities, riches, power, and employments in the state; to whom Augustus himself offered the consulship. Probably the person here intended was publicly known to have been guilty of some folly not unlike what our poet mentions. Dr. Bentley hath found a Labienus in the time of Augustus, whose character fits this passage extremely well; and whom he therefore recommends to a place in the text.) How much more irrational and heinous a crime is this! Your friend has been guilty of a small error (which, unless you forgive, you ought to be reckoned a sour, ill-natured fellow), you hate and avoid him, as a debtor does Ruso;[*](The alternative with Ruso was either ruin from extortion, or misery from listening to his writings. If his wretched creditors could not pay him, then they were condemned to hear him read his works. Perhaps some might prefer considering historias used in the sense of "tedious narration," and refer it to the long schedule of the items in his account. Audit. Asinius Pollio first introduced the custom of reciting one's own compositions at Rome.) who, when the woeful calends come upon the unfortunate man, unless he lrocures the interest or capital by hook or by crook, is compelled to hear his miserable stories with his neck stretched out like a slave. [Should my friend] in his liquor water my couch, or has he thrown down a jar carved by the hands of Evander:[*](Evandri manibus tritum. — Tornatum, caelatum, fabricatum. Hinc radios trivere rotis, Virgil. Vitrum aliud flatu figuratur, aliud torno teritur, Pliny. But as the Latins used the word toreumata to signify any works, either turned or wrought by the chisel, because they were made by the same workmen, Sanadon thinks the poet probably means, that this plate was engraved with an instrument. The Scholiast tells us, that this Evander was carried from Athens to Rome by Mark Antony, and that he excelled in sculpture and engraving. They who believe that Horace means king Evander, would not only persuade us that this plate must have been preserved so many ages by some uncommon good fortune, but have unluckily placed a vessel so valuable on a monarch's table, whose palace was a cottage, his throne a chair of ordinary wood, his beds made of leaves or rushes, and his tapestry the skins of beasts. Res inopes Evandrus habebat. Dr. Bentley denies that the Latins ever used tritum to signify caelatum, perfectum, and he therefore recommends tortum to us, on the authority of an ancient manuscript.) shall he for this [trifling] affair, or because in his hunger he has taken a chicken before me out of my part of the dish, be the less agreeable friend to me? [If so], what could I do if he was guilty of theft, or had betrayed things committed to him in confidence, or broken his word. They who are pleased [to rank all] faults nearly on an equality, are troubled when they come to the truth of the matter: sense and morality are against them, and utility itself,[*](Horace endeavors to prove, according to the doctrine of Epicurus, that justice and injustice arise only from laws, and that laws have no other foundation than public utility, by which he means the happiness of civil society. On the contrary, the Stoics asserted, that justice and injustice have their first principles in nature itself, and the first appearance of reason in the mind of man.) the mother almost of right and of equity.

When [rude] animals, they crawled[*](Cum prorepserunt. This expression is extremely proper for the system of Epicurus, who believed that the first race of men rose out of the earth, in which they were formed by a mixture of heat and moisture.) forth upon the firstformed earth, the mute and dirty herd fought with their nails and fists for their acorn and caves, afterward with clubs, and finally with arms which experience had forged: till they found out words and names, by which they ascertained their language and sensations: thenceforward they began to abstain from war, to fortify towns, and establish laws: that no person should be a thief, a robber, or an adulterer. For before Helen's time there existed [many] a woman who was the dismal cause of war: but those fell by unknown deaths, whom pursuing uncertain venery, as the bull in the herd, the strongest slew. It must of necessity be acknowledged, if you have a mind to turn over the aeras and annals of the world, that laws were invented from an apprehension of the natural injustice [of mankind]. Nor can nature separate what is unjust from what is just, in the same manner as she distinguishes what is good from its reverse, and what is to be avoided from that which is to be sought: nor will reason persuade men to this, that he who breaks down the cabbage-stalk of his neighbor, sins in as great a measure, and in the same manner, as he who steals by night things consecrated to the gods. Let there be a settled standard, that may inflict adequate punishments upon crimes; lest you should persecute any one with the horrible thong, who is only deserving of a slight whipping. For I am not apprehensive, that you should correct with the rod one that deserves to suffer severer stripes; since you assert that pilfering is an equal crime with highway robbery, and threaten that you would prune off with an undistinguishing hook little and great vices, if mankind were to give you the sovereignty over them. If he be rich, who is wise, and a good shoemaker, and alone handsome, and a king, why do you wish for that which you are possessed of? You do not understand what Chrysippus,[*](Chrysippus is here pleasantly called father, because he was the first who explained, in this absurd manner, these excellent precepts of Zeno which teach us, that wisdom sets above kings; and that the throne she offers to us is preferable to that of the greatest monarchs.) the father [of your sect], says: "The wise man never made himself shoes nor slippers: nevertheless, the wise man is a shoemaker." How so? In the same manner, though Hermogenes be silent, he is a fine singer, notwithstanding, and an excellent musician: as the subtle [lawyer] Alfenus,[*](Alfenus Varus, a shoemaker of Cremona, who, growing out of conceit with his employment, quitted it, and came to Rome; where attending the lectures of Servius Sulpicius, a celebrated professor of law, he made so great proficience in that science, that he soon came to be esteemed one of the ablest lawyers of his time, and his name often occurs in the Pandects. He was afterward advanced to the highest honors of the empire; for we find him consul in the year of the city 755.) after every instrument of his calling was thrown aside, and his shop shut up, was [still] a barber; thus is the wise man of all trades, thus is he a king. O greatest of great kings, the waggish boys pluck you by the beard; whom unless you restrain with your staff, you will be jostled by a mob all about you, and you may wretchedly bark and burst your lungs in vain. Not to be tedious: while you, my king, shall go to the farthing bath, and no guard shall attend you, except the absurd Crispinus; my dear friends will both pardon me in any matter in which I shall foolishly offend, and I in turn will cheerfully put up with their faults; and, though a private man, I shall live more happily than you, a king.