Satires

Horace

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

IN what manner the mongrel Persius[*](Ibrida Persius. Persius was a Greek by his father, and an Italian by his mother. The Romans gave the name of Ibrida to those whom parents were of different nations, or different conditions.) revenged the filth and venom of Rupilius, surnamed King, is I think known to all the blind men and barbers. This Persius, being a man of fortune, had very great business at Clazomenae, and, into the bargain, certain troublesome litigations wtth King; a hardened fellow, and one who was able to exceed even King in virulence; confident, blustering, of such a bitterness of speech, that he would outstrip the Sisennae[*](Cornelius Sisenna being reproached by the senate with the bad conduct of his wife, replied, "I married her by the advice of Augustus." Insinuating, Augustus had obliged him to marry her, that he might have a more easy commerce with her. Titus Veturius Barras, having ruined himself by his extravagance, was put to death for violating a vestal virgin.) and Barri, if ever so well equipped.

I return to King. After nothing could be settled betwixt them (for people among whom adverse war breaks out, are proportionably vexatious on the same account as they are brave. Thus between Hector, the son of Priam, and the highspirited Achilles, the rage was of so capital a nature, that only the final destruction [of one of them] could determine it; on no other account, than that valor in each of them was consummate. If discord sets two cowards to work; or if an engagement happens between two that are not of a match, as that of Diomed and the Lycian Glaucus; the worse man will walk off, [buying his peace] by voluntarily sending presents), when Brutus held as praetor[*](Marcus Brutus and Cassius were praetors of Rome when Caesar was put to death. In 711 Brutus went to take possession of his Macedonian government, and praetor may be understood propraetor; a manner of speaking of which there are many examples.) the fertile Asia, this pair, Rupilius and Persius, encountered; in such a manner, that [the gladiators] Bacchius and Bithus[*](The Scholiast tells us, that Bithus and Bacchius were two gladiators, who certainly put to death whoever fought with them. They afterward engaged together, and both expired on the stage.) were not better matched. Impetuous they hurry to the cause, each of them a fine sight.

Persius opens his case; and is laughed at by all the assembly; he extols Brutus, and extols the guard; he styles Brutus the sun of Asia, and his attendants he styles salutary stars, all except King; that he [he says,] came like that dog, the constellation hateful to husbandman: he poured along like a wintery flood, where the ax seldom comes.

Then, upon his running on in so smart and fluent a manner, the Praenestine [king] directs some witticisms squeezed from the vineyard,[*](Horace means a particular kind of vine, arbustiva, that grew round trees, in which the people who gathered the grapes stood exposed to the raillery of the travelers. In such an attitude our durus Vindemiator had often appeared. All sort of injurious language was allowed during the vintage; a custom that still continues in Naples.) himself a hardy vine-dresser, never defeated, to whom the passenger had often been obliged to yield, bawling cuckoo with roaring voice.

But the Grecian Persius, as soon as he had been well sprinkled with Italian vinegar, bellows out: O Brutus, by the great gods I conjure you, who are accustomed to take off kings,[*](Lucius Junius Brutus expelled Tarquinius Superbus. Marcus Brutus freed his country from the imperial power of Julius Caesar. From the introduction of this, we may conjecture that Horace, at the time of writing this satire, had not yet espoused the side of Augustus.) why do you not dispatch this King? Believe me, this is a piece of work which of right belongs to you.

FORMERLY I was the trunk of a wild fig-tree, an useless log:[*](The wood of a fig-tree was very little used, on account of its brittleness.) when the artificer, in doubt whether he should make a stool or a Priapus of me, determined that I should be a god. Henceforward I became a god, the greatest terror of thieves and birds: for my right hand restrains thieves, and a bloodylooking pole stretched out from my frightful middle: but a reed fixed upon the crown of my head terrifies the mischievous birds, and hinders them from settling in these new gardens.[*](Octavius, willing to correct the infection of this hill, which was a common burial-place for all the poor of Rome, got the consent of the senate and people to give part of it to Maecenas, who built a magnificent house there with very extensive gardens. Hence the poet calls them novis hortis. ) Before this the fellow-slave bore dead corpses thrown out of their narrow cells to this place, in order to be deposited in paltry coffins. This place stood a common sepulcher for the miserable mob, for the buffoon Pantolabus, and Nomentanus the rake. Here a column assigned a thousand feet[*](Mille pedes in fronte. Such was the title of the grave-yard, preserved on a pillar of stone, cippus, to show its extent, and to declare it was never to return to the heirs of the estate. We have numberless inscriptions of this kind, ITA NE UNQUAM DE NOMINE FAMILIAE NOSTRAE EXEAT HOC MONUMENTUM. HOC MONUMENTUM HEREDES NON SEQUITUR. IN FRONTE LAT. PED. XX. ET DIG. II. IN AGR. LONG. PED. XX. In fronte signifies to the road: in agro, to the fields. Dabat is for indicabat, testabatur. ) [of ground] in front, and three hundred toward the fields: that the burial-place should not descend to the heirs of the estate. Now one may live in the Esquiliae,[*](The air was afterward so healthy, that Augustus was carried thither when he was ill.) [since it is made] a healthy place; and walk upon an open terrace, where lately the melancholy passengers beheld the ground frightful with white bones; though both the thieves and wild beasts accustomed to infest this place, do not occasion me so much care and trouble, as do [these hags], that turn people's minds by their incantations and drugs. These I can not by any means destroy nor hinder, but that they will gather bones and noxious herbs, as soon as the fleeting moon[*](The moon presided over all enchantments, and was believed to be most favorable when in the full, decorum os, because she then infused a stronger spirit into the magical herbs.) has shown her beauteous face.

I myself saw Canidia, with her sable garment tucked up, walk with bare feet and disheveled hair, yelling together with the elder Sagana. Paleness had rendered both of them horrible to behold. They began to claw up the earth with their nails, and to tear a black ewe-lamb to pieces with their teeth.

The blood was poured into a ditch, that thence they might charm out the shades[*](Black victims alone were sacrificed to the infernal gods, nor was any thing supposed more delicious to the souls of the departed than blood. They could not foretell any future events, or answer any questions, until they had drank of it. Ulysses was obliged to draw his sword to frighten them away from the blood he had poured into the trench for Tiresias.) of the dead, ghosts that were to give them answers. There was a woolen effigy[*](The image of wool represented the person they were willing should survive the other represented by that of wax. It is for this reason that the images were made of different materials, that their fates might be different.) too, another of wax: the woolen one larger, which was to inflict punishment on the little one[*](This little figure probably represented Darius, who had forsaken Canidia, as we find in the fifth epode.) The waxen stood in a suppliant posture, as ready to perish in a servile manner. One of the hags invokes Hecate, and the other fell Tisiphone. Then might you see serpents and infernal bitches[*](The serpents were forerunners of Tisiphone, and the bitches foretold that her infernal majesty was coming.) wander about; and the moon with blushes hiding behind the lofty monuments, that she might not be a witness to these doings. But if I lie, even a tittle, may my head be contaminated with the white filth of ravens; and may Julius, and the effeminate Miss Pediatous,[*](Iulius et fragilis Pediatia. We know not who Julius was. Pediatius was an infamous Roman knight, whom Horace, for his effeminacy, calls Pediatia. Thus Aristophanes calls Cleonymus Cleonyma; Sostratus, Sostrata.(Clouds 673 ff.) ) and the knave Voranus, come to water upon me, and befoul me. Why should I mention every particular? viz. in what manner, speaking alternately with Sagana, the ghosts uttered dismal and piercing shrieks; and how by stealth they laid in the earth a wolf's beard, with the teeth of a spotted snake; and how a great blaze flamed forth from the waxen image? And how I was shocked at the voices and actions of these two furies, a spectator however by no means incapable of revenge? For from my cleft body of fig-tree[*](Ficus, i. e. I, an image made of the truncus ficulnus. The heat made the wood crack with a noise, which put the witches to flight.) wood I uttered a loud noise with as great an explosion as a burst bladder. But they ran into the city: and with exceeding laughter and diversion might you have seen Canidia's artificial teeth, and Sagana's towering tete of false hair falling off, and the herbs, and the enchanted bracelets from her arms.