Satires

Horace

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

HAVING[*](Octavius and Antony, both aspiring to the sovereign power, must necessarily have had frequent quarrels and dissensions. Their reconciliations were of short continuance, because they were insincere. Among many negotiations, undertaken by their common friends to reconcile them, history mentions two more particularly. The first in the year 714, the other in 717, which was concluded by the mediation of Octavia, and to which our poet was carried by Maecenas.) left mighty Rome, Aricia received me in but a middling inn: Heliodorus the rhetorician, most learned in the Greek language, was my fellow-traveler: thence we proceeded to Forum-Appi, stuffed with sailors and surly landlords. This stage, but one for better travelers[*](Praecinctis. Prepared for traveling, i. e. altius praecincis, "to those who were better travelers than we were." Praecinctus means having the dress tucked up, that it may not prevent exertion. Hence used for "diligent," "active." Compare Sat. ii. 8, 10. ) than we, being laggard we divided into two; the Appian way is less tiresome to bad travelers. Here I, on account of the water, which was most vile, proclaim war against my belly, waiting not without impatience for my companions while at supper.

Now the night was preparing to spread her shadows upon the earth, and to display the constellations in the heavens. Then our slaves began to be liberal of their abuse to the watermen, and the watermen to our slaves. "Here bring to." "You are stowing in hundreds; hold, now sure there is enough."

Thus while the fare is paid, and the mule fastened, a whole hour is passed away. The cursed gnats, and frogs of the fens, drive off repose. While the waterman and a passenger, well-soaked with plenty of thick wine, vie with one another in singing the praises of their absent mistresses: at length the passenger being fatigued, begins to sleep; and the lazy waterman ties the halter of the mule, turned out a-grazing, to a stone, and snores, lying flat on his back. And now the day approached, when we saw the boat made no way; until a choleric fellow, one of the passengers, leaps out of the boat, and drubs the head and sides of both mule and waterman with a willow cudgel. At last we were scarcely set ashore at the fourth hour.[*](Quarta hora. The Romans during more than four hundred and fifty years never had names for the hours of the day. The twelve tables divided it into three parts; the rising sun, the setting sun, and mid-day. The hours of night and day were equal in number through the year; but from spring to autumn, those of the day were longer than those of the night, and from September to March the hours of night were longest.) We wash our faces and hands in thy water, O Feronia. Then, having dined, we crawled on three miles; and arrive under Anxur, which is built upon rocks that look white to a great distance. Maecenas was to come here, as was the excellent Cocceius, both sent embassadors on matters of great importance; having been accustomed to reconcile friends at variance.[*](Three particulars demonstrate that this journey was to the second conference at Brundusium. Fonteius is here joined with Maecenas and Cocceius, but was not engaged in the first. The poet says, that Maecenas and Cocceius had been before employed to reconcile Octavius and Antony, soliti, which must necessarily suppose the first congress in 714, when Horace had not been introduced to Macenas.) Here, having got sore eyes, I was obliged to use the black ointment. In the mean time came Macenas and Cocceius, and Fonteius Capito[*](Fonteius Capito. Probably the father of him who was consul two years before the death of Augustus. he was here of the party of Antony, and Maecenas on the side of Augustus. Cocceius was by way of an arbitrator between them, to settle their differences. Homo factus ad unguem, a complete man, every way accomplished.) along with them, a man of perfect polish,[*](Ad unguem factus homo. This figurative expression is taken from engravers in wood or marble, who used to pass their nail over the work, to know whether it were well polished.) and intimate with Mark Antony, no man more so.

Without regret we passed Fundi, where Aufidius Luscus was praetor,[*](Praetore. The colonies and municipal towns had the same dignities and magistracies as the city of Rome; senators, praetors, quaestors, and aediles. It is difficult to know whether Fundi had a praetor chosen out of her own citizens, or whether he was sent from Rome.) laughing at the honors of that crazy scribe,[*](Praemia scribe. Horace calls these robes praemia scribae, because the secretaries in colonies and municipal towns were frequently raised to the dignity of the praetorship. The toga praetexta was a robe bordered with purple. Tunica clavata was a vest with two borders of purple laid like a lace upon the middle or opening of it, down to the bottom; in such a manner as that when the vest was drawn close or buttoned, the two purple borders joined and seemed to be but one. If these borders were large, the vest was called latus clavus, or tunica laticlavia; if they were narrow, then it was named angustus clavus, tunica angusticlavia. These two sorts of tunics were worn to distinguish the magistrates in their employments, and were very different from those worn by the common people, tunicato popello, which were closed before, and without any purple border. They were called tunicae rectae. ) his praetexta, laticlave, and pan of incense.[*](Prunaeque batillum. A pan for incense, frequently carried before the emperors, of those possessed of the sovereign authority.) At our next stage, being weary, we tarry in the city of the Mamurrae,[*](The stroke of satire here is of a delicate and almost imperceptible malignity. Formiae, the city which Horace means, belonged to the Lamian family, whose antiquity was a great honor to it. But our poet paraphrases it by the name of a person, who was born there, and who has made his country famous in a very different manner. Mamurra was a Roman knight, who was infamous for his rapine, luxury and debauchcry. Catullus calls him Decoctor Formianus. ) Murena complimenting us with his house,[*](Murena was brother of Licymnia, married afterward to Maecenas. He was condemned to death for conspiring against Augustus. Varius and Plotius Tucca were the persons to whom Augustus intrusted the correction of the Aeneid, after Virgil's death, but with an order not to make any additions to it.) and Capito with his kitchen.

The next day arises, by much the most agreeable to all: for Plotius, and Varius, and Virgil met us at Sinuessa; souls more candid ones than which the world never produced, nor is there a person in the world more bound to them than myself. 0h what embraces, and what transports were there! While I am in my senses, nothing can I prefer to a pleasant friend. The village, which is next adjoining to the bridge of Campania, accommodated us with lodging [at night]; and the public officers[*](Parochi. Before the consulship of Lucius Posthumius, the magistrates of Rome traveled at the public charge, without being burthensome to the provinces. Afterward commissaries were appointed in all the great roads to defray all expenses of those who were employed in the business of the state. They were obliged, by the Lex Julia de provinciis, to provide lodging, fire, salt, hay, straw, etc.) with such a quantity of fuel and salt as they are obliged to [by law]. From this place the mules deposited their pack-saddles at Capua betimes [in the morning]. Maecenas goes to play [at tennis]; but I and Virgil to our repose: for to play at tennis is hurtful to weak eyes and feeble constitutions.

From this place the villa of Cocceius, situated above the Caudian inns, which abounds with plenty, receives us. Now, my muse, I beg of you briefly to relate the engagement between the buffoon Sarmentus and Messius Cicirrus; and from what ancestry descended each began the contest. The illutrious race of Messius-Oscan:[*](Osci is a nominative case, and we must construe it, Osci sunt clarum genus Messii. The Oscans gave to Messius his illustrious birth, a sufficient proof that he was an infamous scoundrel. The people who inhabited this part of Campania were guilty of execrable debaucheries.) Sarmentus's mistress is still alive. Sprung from such families as these, they came to the combat. First, Sarmentus: "I pronounce thee to have the look of a mad horse." We laugh; and Messius himself [says], "I accept your challenge:" and wags his head. "O!" cries he, "if the horn were not cut off your forehead, what would you not do; since, maimed as you are, you bully at such a rate?" For a foul scar has disgraced the left part of Messius's bristly forehead. Cutting many jokes upon his Campanian disease, and upon his face, he desired him to exhibit Polyphemus's dance:[*](Saltaret uti Cyclopa. The raillery is founded on his gigantic size, and the villainous gash that Messius had on his forehead, which made him look so like a Polyphemus, that he might dance the part without buskins or a mask. To dance a Cyclops, a Glaucus, a Ganymede, a Leda, was an expression for representing their story by dancing.) that he had no occasion for a mask, or the tragic buskins. Cicirrus [retorted] largely to these: he asked, whether he had consecrated his chain[*](Donasset iamne catenam. Only the vilest slaves, or those who worked in the country, were chained. It appears by an epigram of Martial, that when they were set at liberty, they consecrated their chains to Saturn, because slavery was unknown under his reign. But when Messius asks Sarmentus whether he had dedicated his chain to the Dii Lares, he would reproach him with being a fugitive. These gods were invoked by travelers, because they presided over highways, from whence they were called viales. They themselves were always represented like travelers, as if they were ready to leave the house; succincti. Or Sarmentus was a slave so vile that he knew no other gods, but those who stood on the hearth, and which it was his employment to keep clean.) to the household gods according to his vow; though he was a scribe, [he told him] his mistress's property in him was not the less. Lastly, he asked, how lie ever came to run away; such a lank meager fellow, for whom a pound of corn [a-day] would be ample.[*](By the laws of the twelve tables, a slave was allowed a pound of corn a day. "Qui eum vinctum habebit, libras farris in dies dato." ) We were so diverted, that we continued that supper to an unusual length.

Hence we proceed straight on for Beneventum; where the bustling landlord almost burned himself, in roasting some lean thrushes: for, the fire falling through the old kitchen [floor], the spreading flame made a great progress toward the highest part of the roof. Then you might have seen the hungry guests and frightened slaves snatching their supper out [of the flames], and every body endeavoring to extinguish the fire.

After this Apulia began to discover to me her well-known mountains, which the Atabulus scorches [with his blasts]: and through which we should never have crept, unless the neighboring village of Trivicus had received us, not without a smoke that brought tears into our eyes; occasioned by a hearth's burning some green boughs with the leaves upon them. Here, like a great fool as I was, I wait till midnight for a deceitful mistress: sleep, however, overcomes me, while meditating love; and disagreeable dreams make me ashamed of myself and every thing about me.

Hence we were bowled away in chaises twenty-four miles, intending to stop at a little town, which one can not name in a verse, but it is easily enough known by description.[*](This (as the Schol. informs us) was Equotuticum. The reason that it can not occur in dactylics is, that the first is short, and the next two syllables long, while the penultimate is short. Were the first long, thero could be no difficulty about introducing it. MCCAUL.) For water is sold here, though the worst in the world; but their bread is exceeding fine, inasmuch that the weary traveler is used to carry it willingly on his shoulders; for [the bread] at Canusium is gritty; a pitcher of water is worth no more [than it is here]: which place was formerly built by the valiant Diomedes. Here Varius departs dejected from his weeping friends.

Hence we came to Rabi, fatigued: because we made a long journey, and it was rendered still more troublesome by the rains. Next day the weather was better, the road worse, even to the very walls of Barium that abounds in fish. In the next place Egnatia, which [seems to have] been built on troubled waters, gave us occasion for jests and laughter; for they wanted to persuade us, that at this sacred portal the incense melted without fire. The Jew Apella may believe this, not I. For I have learned [from Epicurus], that the gods dwell in a state of tranquillity; nor, if nature effect any wonder, that the anxious gods send it from the high canopy of the heavens.

Brundusium ends both my long journey, and my paper.

NOT Maecenas, though of all the Lydians[*](Lydorum quicquid Etruscos. Mr. Dacier, upon the single authority of Dionysius Halicarnassensis, asserts that the Tuscans were not descended from the Lydians. Yet Horace had a poetical right to the tradition, as it was generally believed, although it might possibly be false. But it is supported by Herodotus, Tully, Virgil, Strabo, Servius, Pliny, Tacitus, Velleius, Seneca, Plutarch, Valerius Maximus, Silius, and Statius.) that ever inhabited the Tuscan territories, no one is of a nobler family than yourself; and though you have ancestors both on father's and mother's side, that in times past have had the command of mighty legions; do you, as the generality are wont, toss up your nose at obscure people, such as me, who had [only] a freed-man[*](In the first ages of the republic libertinus and liberti filius had the same signification; but some time before Cicero, as we are informed by Suetonius, the manner of speaking was changed, and from thence libertus and libertinus were used as synonymous terms to signify a man who was made free.) for my father: since you affirm that it is of no consequence of what parents any man is born, so that he be a man of merit. You persuade yourself, with truth, that before the dominions of Tullius, and the reign of one born a slave, frequently numbers of men descended from ancestors of no rank, have both lived as men of merit, and have been distinguished by the greatest honors: [while] on the other hand Laevinus, the descendant of that famous Valerius, by whose means Tarquinius Superbus was expelled from his kingdom, was not a farthing more esteemed[*](Licuisse. Laevinus is here pleasantly set up to auction, for licere was the term used to signify raising the sale.) [on account of his family, even] in the judgment of the people, with whose disposition you are well acquainted; who often foolishly bestow honors on the unworthy, and are from their stupidity slaves to a name: who are struck with admiration by inscriptions and statues. What is it fitting for us to do, who are far, very far removed from the vulgar [in our sentiments]? For grant it, that the people had rather confer a dignity on Laevinus than on Decius, who is a new man; and the censor Appius would expel me [the senate-house], because I was not sprung from a sire of distinction: and that too deservedly, inasmuch as I rested not content in in my own condition. But glory drags in her dazzling car the obscure as closely fettered as those of nobler birth. What did it profit you, O Tullius, to resume the robe that you [were forced] to lay aside, and. become a tribune [again] Envy increased upon you, which had been less, if you had remained in a private station. For when any crazy fellow has laced the middle of his leg with the sable buskins,[*](The buskins worn by senators were black, and sometimes white; those of the curule magistrates were red.) and has let flow the purple robe from his breast, he immediately hears: "Who is this man? Whose son is he?" Just as if there be any one, who labors under the same distemper as Barrus does, so that he is ambitious of being reckoned handsome; let him go where he will, he excites curiosity among the girls of inquiring into particulars; as what sort of face, leg, foot, teeth, hair, he has. Thus he who engages[*](Sic qui promittit. This was the form of a senator's and a magistrate's oath.) to his citizens to take care of the city, the empire, and Italy, and the sanctuaries of the gods, forces every mortal to be solicitous, and to ask from what sire he is descended, or whether he is base by the obscurity of his mother. What? do you, the son of a Syrus,[*](Syri, Damae, aut Dionysi. These three names are the names of slaves. Damas or Dama is a contraction of Demetrius; Syrus is frequently the slave in comedy.) a Dama, or a Dionysius, dare to cast down the citizens of Rome from the [Tarpeian] rock, or deliver them up to Cadmus [the executioner]? But, [you may say,] my colleague Novius sits[*](Sedet is a law word, properly applied to senators, praetors, and other judges when seated on the bench, in execution of their office.) below me by one degree: for he is only what my father was. And therefore do you esteem yourself a Paulus or a Messala? But he (Novius), if two hundred carriages and three funerals were to meet in the forum, could make noise enough[*](Magna sonabit. Funerals usually passed through the forum, and Novius could pronounce an oration with a voice of thunder. Horace laughs at his being made a senator for an accomplishment which could only entitle him to the office of a crier.) to drown all their horns and trumpets:[*](Trumpets were used at the funerals of men, and flutes at those of children. The twelve tables confined them to ten in number. "Decem tibicines adhibeto, hoc plus ne facito." ) this [kind of merit] at least has its weight with us.

Now I return to myself, who am descended from a freedman; whom every body nibbles at, as being descended from a freed-man. Now, because, Maecenas, I am a constant guest of yours; but formerly, because a Roman legion was under my command, as being a military tribune. This latter case is different from the former: for, though any person perhaps might justly envy me that post of honor, yet could he not do so with regard to your being my friend! especially as you are cautious to admit such as are worthy; and are far from having any sinister ambitious views. I can not reckon myself a lucky fellow on this account, as if it were by accident that I got you for my friend; for no kind of accident threw you in my way. That best of men, Virgil, long ago, and after him, Varius, told you what I was. When first I came into your presence, I spoke a few words in a broken manner (for childish bashfulness hindered me from speaking more); I did not tell you that I was the issue of an illustrious father: I did not [pretend] that I rode about the country on a Satureian horse, but plainly what I really was; you answer (as your custom is) a few words: I depart: and you re-invite me after the ninth month, and command me to be in the number of your friends. I esteem it a great thing that I pleased you, who distinguish probity from baseness, not by the illustriousness of a father, but by the purity of heart and feelings.