Satires

Horace

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

I was accidentally going along the Via Sacra, meditating on some trifle or other, as is my custom, and totally intent upon it. A certain person, known to me by name only, runs up; and, having seized my hand, "How do you do, my dearest fellow?"

"Tolerably well," say I, "as times go; and I wish you every thing you can desire."

When he still followed me; "Would you any thing?"[*](Numquid vis. Donatus tells us in a remark upon a passage in Terence, that it was a polite customary manner of speaking among the Romans, that they might not seem to take their leave too abruptly, to say at parting, "numquid vis?" as in modern phrase, "have you any commands?" "Abituri, ne id dure facerent, ‘numquid vis’ dicebant his, quibuscum constitissent." ) said I to him.

But, "You know me," says he: "I am a man of learning."

"Upon that account," says I: "you will have more of my esteem." Wanting sadly to get away from him, sometimes I walked on apace, now and then I stopped, and I whispered something to my boy. When the sweat ran down to the bottom of my ankles. 0, said I to myself, Bolanus,[*](Bolanus was a very irritable person. Horace then pronounces him cerebri felicem; for were he but in this fellow's company, he would break out into a storm of passion that would drive him away. It appears more humorous to suppose him a heavy, stupid person, so apathetic that not even this fellow would annoy him. Similarly Demea in Terent. Adelph. v. 5, exclaims, fortunatus, qui istoc animo sies; | Ego sentio. Bolanus was a surname of the Vettii derived from Bola, a town of the AEqui.Celebri felicem. Thus μακαρίζω σε τῆς παρρησίας, and Virg. Geor. i 277,felices operum dies. ) how happy were you in a headpiece!

Meanwhile he kept prating on any thing that came uppermost, praised the streets, the city; and, when I made him no answer; "You want terribly," said he "to get away; I perceived it long ago; but you effect nothing. I shall still stick close to you; I shall follow you hence: where are you at present bound for?"

"There is no need for your being carried so much about: I want to see a person, who is unknown to you: he lives a great way off across the Tiber, just by Caesar's gardens."

"I have nothing to do, and I am not lazy; I will attend you thither." I hang down my ears like an ass of surly disposition, when a heavier load than ordinary is put upon his back.

He begins again: "If I am tolerably acquainted with myself, you will not esteem Viscus or Varius as a friend, more than me; for who can write more verses, or in a shorter time than I? Who can move his limbs with softer grace [in the dance]? And then I sing, so that even Hermogenes may envy."

Here there was an opportunity of interrupting him. "Have you a mother, [or any] relations that are interested in your welfare?"

"Not one have I; I have buried them all."

"Happy they! now I remain. Dispatch me: for the fatal moment is at hand, which an old Sabine sorceress, having shaken her divining urn,[*](The divination was performed in this manner. A number of letters and entire words were thrown into an urn and shaken together. When they were well mixed, they were poured out, and if any thing intelligible appeared in them, from thence the witch formed her divination and answers.) foretold when I was a boy; ‘This child, neither shall cruel poison, nor the hostile sword, nor pleurisy, nor cough, nor the crippling gout destroy: a babbler shall one day demolish him; if he be wise, let him avoid talkative people, as soon as he comes to man's estate.’"