Centro Risorse Territoriale di Pesaro e Urbino

Juvenal’s tenth “Satire”

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“Satura I/Satire I” | “Satura IV/Satire IV” | “Satura X/Satire X” | “Satura XVI/Satire XVI”.

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis/Juvenal

“Satura X/Satire X”

English translation by Lamberto Bozzi (2016)

Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis/Juvenal

“Satura X/Satire X”

In all the regions that between Cadix lie
And the Ganges where Aurora paints the sky
Few are those who the errors’ mists can lift
And the good from the bad properly sift.
What do we fear or desire within the bounds
Of reason? Which venture set on solid grounds
May not be left quite incomplete
Because of a case of cold feet?
The gods were ever keen to cause the downfall
Of mansions in response to the owners’ call.
Togaed or military people seek
Honours which carry quite a noxious streak.
Mortiferous was to many the torrent
Of their own copious eloquence,
Others were ruined by the confidence
Placed in their muscles strong and magnificent,
And many more were smothered by money patiently
Amassed to surpass any other patrimony
As a dolphin is dwarfed by a whale from Brittany

Omnibus in terris, quae sunt a Gadibus usque
Auroram et Gangen, pauci dinoscere possunt
uera bona atque illis multum diuersa, remot
erroris nebula. quid enim ratione timemus
aut cupimus? quid tam dextro pede concipis ut te
conatus non paeniteat uotique peracti?
euertere domos totas optantibus ipsis
di faciles. nocitura toga, nocitura petuntur
militia; torrens dicendi copia multis
et sua mortifera est facundia; uiribus ille
confisus periit admirandisque lacertis;
sed pluris nimia congesta pecunia cura
strangulat et cuncta exuperans patrimonia census
quanto delphinis ballaena Britannica maior.

In Emperor Nero’s dire times, therefore,
He gave an order to settle a score:
A whole cohort encircled the place
Of Longinus and also the large space
Of wealthy Seneca’s gardens and laid siege
To the Lateran, that palace of prestige.
It’s seldom praetorians find it fit
To pay a visit to a garret.
If after dark you decide to hit
The road with a few vessels made
Of silver you should be afraid
Of pikes and swords and tremble indeed
Seeing under the moon a dancing reed.
But he who travels with an empty purse
Can greet a highwayman with song and verse

temporibus diris igitur iussuque Neronis
Longinum et magnos Senecae praediuitis hortos
clausit et egregias Lateranorum obsidet aedes
tota cohors: rarus uenit in cenacula miles.
pauca licet portes argenti uascula puri
nocte iter ingressus, gladium contumque timebis
et mota ad lunam trepidabis harundinis umbra:
cantabit uacuus coram latrone uiator.

Wealth is man’s foremost aspiration
As all temples know. We want it to grow
And be kept in the Forum’s best treasure chest.
Well, nobody ever drank poison
Out of cups made of clay
So look out for foul play
Whenever you are pouring -
from a large gold mixing
Bowl – bright Setian wine into gemmed jars.
Well, won’t you praise those two superstars:
The sage who split his sides whenever he
Crossed his threshold while, on the contrary,
His companion burst out crying?
Of the two, one is quite ready
To severely censure men with jeers
The other just like a banshee
Can easily fill his eyes with tears.

prima fere uota et cunctis notissima templis
diuitiae, crescant ut opes, ut maxima toto
nostra sit arca foro. sed nulla aconita bibuntur
fictilibus; tunc illa time cum pocula sumes
gemmata et lato Setinum ardebit in auro.
iamne igitur laudas quod de sapientibus alter
ridebat, quotiens a limine mouerat unum
protuleratque pedem, flebat contrarius auctor?
sed facilis cuiuis rigidi censura cachinni:
mirandum est unde ille oculis suffecerit umor.

Democritus’ perpetual hilarity
Caused his lungs to chortle and churn,
Even though in those days in no city
Were purple bordered togas to be seen
Or red striped white robes or, in turn,
Fasces, raised platforms or a palanquin.
What would he have done at the sight
Of a praetor standing upright
And tall on a chariot amid the dust
Of the circus all dressed up in Jove’s tunic:
As large as a curtain and a gigantic
Crown to fill whose enormous domain
Was too much for any human brain ?

perpetuo risu pulmonem agitare solebat
Democritus, quamquam non essent urbibus illis
praetextae, trabeae, fasces, lectica, tribunal.
quid si uidisset praetorem curribus altis
extantem et medii sublimem puluere circi
in tunica Iouis et pictae Sarrana ferentem
ex umeris aulaea togae magnaeque coronae
tantum orbem, quanto ceruix non sufficit ulla?

Sweating on the same chariot, to be sure,
A public servant holds it to secure
The consul’s imperviousness to pride.
An eagle has been added on the side
To grace the top of the ivory rod.
Here are the horn-blowers and there the broad
Procession of officials which precedes
Him and the white-clad Quirites by the steeds.
All friends the consul managed to cajole
By keeping them well primed on the dole.
But even then Democritus would find
Laughing matter in people of his kind:
His own wisdom proves how great guys
Who can set good examples as a rule
Are also born in the land of the fool
Where blockheads live under ungenial skies.
He would also laugh at the joys and cares
Of the populace, quick to ridicule
Their tears and quick to shoot a middle finger salute
To scoff at inimical fortune’s snares.
Superfluous even pernicious are the pleas
written on wax and laid on the gods’ knees

quippe tenet sudans hanc publicus et, sibi consul
ne placeat, curru seruus portatur eodem.
da nunc et uolucrem, sceptro quae surgit eburno,
illinc cornicines, hinc praecedentia longi
agminis officia et niueos ad frena Quirites,
defossa in loculos quos sportula fecit amicos.
tum quoque materiam risus inuenit ad omnis
occursus hominum, cuius prudentia monstrat
summos posse uiros et magna exempla daturos
ueruecum in patria crassoque sub aere nasci.
ridebat curas nec non et gaudia uolgi,
interdum et lacrimas, cum Fortunae ipse minaci
mandaret laqueum mediumque ostenderet unguem.
ergo superuacua aut quae perniciosa petuntur?
propter quae fas est genua incerare deorum?

The roots of other people’s downfall
Lie in their power, much envied by all,
While their long and famed honours’ crown
Is the reason for their sinking down.
Down come the statues behind the rope, stricken
Are the very chariots’ wheels and then,
Crushed with axes, the legs of guiltless horses
Are broken, and the blaze already screeches,
Already the bellows’ blast churns
The fire flames where crackles and burns
That mighty Sejanus with whose face,
Once occupying the globe’s second place,
Jars, bowls, pans and chamber pots are made.
Let your own house with laurel be arrayed,
Have to the Capitol walk
A fatted ox daubed with chalk:
All the bystanders are laughing. Look!
There goes Sejanus pulled by a hook:
- What lips what face he had. Believe me
Never could I stand that man at all!
What was the charge behind his downfall?
Who ratted on him, what sort of credence
was lent to the witnesses’ evidence?

quosdam praecipitat subiecta potentia magnae
inuidiae, mergit longa atque insignis honorum
pagina. descendunt statuae restemque secuntur,
ipsas deinde rotas bigarum inpacta securis
caedit et inmeritis franguntur crura caballis.
iam strident ignes, iam follibus atque caminis
ardet adoratum populo caput et crepat ingens
Seianus, deinde ex facie toto orbe secunda
fiunt urceoli, pelues, sartago, matellae.
pone domi laurus, duc in Capitolia magnum
cretatumque bouem: Seianus ducitur unco
spectandus, gaudent omnes. 'quae labra, quis illi
uultus erat! numquam, si quid mihi credis, amaui
hunc hominem. sed quo cecidit sub crimine? quisnam
delator quibus indicibus, quo teste probauit?'

- None of that. Just a letter, lengthy
And verbose, which arrived from Capri.
- That is more than fair enough for me
But what is Remus’ populace up to?
As always it is ready to pursue
Fortune and looks down on the fallen.
That populace - if Nortia had then
Properly protected her Tuscan kith
And if the old emperor had been dealt with
In the security of his haven -
Would have done an abrupt about-face
To put Sejanus in Augustus’ place.
That populace has long since stopped to ail
As we no longer put up votes for sale.

Once, to be sure, the source of power was theirs:
Fasces, legions, all. Now they escape all cares
Bread and circuses are the two things they hail.
- I’ve heard a whole slew are marked for death.
- No doubt, as deep is the oven’s breath.
- I have met Bruttidius, a friend of mine,
very pale in the face, by the Martian shrine.
What if the Emperor cracks
Down like a vanquished Ajax
For what he deems to be too weak a stand?
Therefore let us hurry up to the strand
Where Caesar’s rival lies and … quick!
Let’s give the corpse a hefty kick

'nil horum; uerbosa et grandis epistula uenit
a Capreis.' 'bene habet, nil plus interrogo.' sed quid
turba Remi? sequitur fortunam, ut semper, et odit
damnatos. idem populus, si Nortia Tusco
fauisset, si oppressa foret secura senectus
principis, hac ipsa Seianum diceret hora
Augustum. iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc sev
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses. 'perituros audio multos.'
'nil dubium, magna est fornacula.' 'pallidulus mi
Bruttidius meus ad Martis fuit obuius aram;
quam timeo, uictus ne poenas exigat Aiax
ut male defensus. curramus praecipites et,
dum iacet in ripa, calcemus Caesaris hostem.

Be careful to let our servants check
The scene in case they might deny
What happened and give us the lie
Dragging us to court by the neck.
Such were the discussions that would crop up
About Sejanus, such the mob’s gossip.
Like Sejanus you want to command
Respect, be loaded with money and
Bestow on a man the curule stool,
Give another the power to rule
Over armies, the guardian in fact to be
Of Caesar and his Chaldeian school
Ensconced on the narrow rock of Capri.
Surely you want arms, cohorts, excellent
Horsemen, an army camp right on the spot
In front of your own house. And why not?
The inclination to kill is latent
In him who has no murderous bent,
But are there such lucky or bright actions
Whose joys can counterbalance misfortunes?
Would you like to put on the garment
Of that man dragged along by the throng
Or wouldn’t you rather an authority
In Fidenae or in Gabii be
And, like an aedile in tatters, see
The law enforced on measures and weights
Within Ulubrae’s deserted gates

sed uideant serui, ne quis neget et pauidum in ius
ceruice obstricta dominum trahat.' hi sermones
tunc de Seiano, secreta haec murmura uolgi.
uisne salutari sicut Seianus, habere
tantundem atque illi summas donare curules,
illum exercitibus praeponere, tutor haberi
principis angusta Caprearum in rupe sedentis
cum grege Chaldaeo? uis certe pila, cohortis,
egregios equites et castra domestica; quidni
haec cupias? et qui nolunt occidere quemquam
posse uolunt. sed quae praeclara et prospera tanti,
ut rebus laetis par sit mensura malorum?
huius qui trahitur praetextam sumere mauis
an Fidenarum Gabiorumque esse potestas
et de mensura ius dicere, uasa minora
frangere pannosus uacuis aedilis Vlubris?

You agree Sejanus paid no attention
To the due boundaries of his ambition:
Honours and riches no end he wished for
And then upwards he built from floor to floor
A soaring tower making it so tall
As to render more disastrous its fall
And huge the shock of its collapse too.
What overhrew Pompeius, Crassus and him who
Whipped the Quirites into submission
But their exalted place grabbed with frauds
And all their inflated ambition
Satisfied by malignant gods?
And few are the tyrants who without a flaw
Or a wound descend to Ceres’ son-in-law
While rare is the despot who instead
Manages to die in his own bed

ergo quid optandum foret ignorasse fateris
Seianum; nam qui nimios optabat honores
et nimias poscebat opes, numerosa parabat
excelsae turris tabulata, unde altior esset
casus et inpulsae praeceps inmane ruinae.
quid Crassos, quid Pompeios euertit et illum,
ad sua qui domitos deduxit flagra Quirites?
summus nempe locus nulla non arte petitus
magnaque numinibus uota exaudita malignis.
ad generum Cereris sine caede ac uulnere pauci
descendunt reges et sicca morte tyranni.

Demosthenes’ and Cicero’s eloquence
And fame are a student’s fresh aspirations
And prayers during the entire performance
Of Minerva’s Quinquatria celebrations
When he, followed by his satchel-carrying slave,
Makes his thrifty one as donation.
And yet their eloquence served indeed to pave
The way to their annihilation.
It was the source copious and lavish
Of their talent that had them perish.
Talent is likey to have hands and head
Chopped off, but on the rostra never bled
A pettifogger cheap and sottish.
“O city of Rome so fortunate
To be born under my consulate”
It would have been so easy to duck
Antony’s sword had he always stuck
To that sort of rhymes so ridiculous
Which I rather prefer to the famous
most divine second Philippic.
It was indeed a horrific
Death that took away one who
Could like a wild torrent arouse
From the stage a packed house
And all Athens hold in thrall too.
Born under adverse gods from on high
And a dire star, his bestrewn with eye
Irritating smelting soot father’ s providence
Rescued him from coals, tongs, the smutty mill
And also from the sword forging anvil,
Putting him under the rhetoricians’ guidance

eloquium ac famam Demosthenis aut Ciceronis
incipit optare et totis quinquatribus optat
quisquis adhuc uno parcam colit asse Mineruam,
quem sequitur custos angustae uernula capsae.
eloquio sed uterque perit orator, utrumque
largus et exundans leto dedit ingenii fons.
ingenio manus est et ceruix caesa, nec umquam
sanguine causidici maduerunt rostra pusilli.
'o fortunatam natam me consule Romam:'
Antoni gladios potuit contemnere si sic
omnia dixisset. ridenda poemata malo
quam te, conspicuae diuina Philippica famae,
uolueris a prima quae proxima. saeuus et illum
exitus eripuit, quem mirabantur Athenae
torrentem et pleni moderantem frena theatri.
dis ille aduersis genitus fatoque sinistro,
quem pater ardentis massae fuligine lippus
a carbone et forcipibus gladiosque paranti
incude et luteo Volcano ad rhetora misit.

The spoils of war like a trophy’s trunk
Trailing a breastplate, a visor dangling
From a shattered helmet, a stunted chunk
From the crossbar of a wagon’s pole, that thing
called apluster from a sunken trireme,
A sad captive on a triumphal beam,
Are all held by mankind in high esteem.
Emperors Roman, Greek and Barbarian too
Fought amid all dangers or distress
For these spoils as the lust for greatness
Is a lot stronger than the thirst for virtue.
Who will indeed virtue herself embrace
If she has no place for a just reward?
A few ambitious men formerly marred
Their Motherland in the delirious chase
After glory and after an epitaph
On a monument which the irate
Roots of a sterile fig tree can split in half
Since sepulchres too have their own fate

bellorum exuuiae, truncis adfixa tropaeis
lorica et fracta de casside buccula pendens
et curtum temone iugum uictaeque triremis
aplustre et summo tristis captiuos in arcu
humanis maiora bonis creduntur. ad hoc se
Romanus Graiusque et barbarus induperator
erexit, causas discriminis atque laboris
inde habuit: tanto maior famae sitis est quam
uirtutis. quis enim uirtutem amplectitur ipsam,
praemia si tollas? patriam tamen obruit olim
gloria paucorum et laudis titulique cupido
haesuri saxis cinerum custodibus, ad quae
discutienda ualent sterilis mala robora fici,
quandoquidem data sunt ipsis quoque fata sepulcris.

Take Hannibal’s remains’ weight measurement:
How many scanty pounds of ashes
Are to be found of that ace of aces
For whom too little was the continent
Of Africa from the ocean of the Moors
To the tepid waters of the Nile’s embouchures,
From Aethiopia again to the extent
Where all elephants can trample content.
He added to his imperial domain
The vanquished Pyrenees and also Spain,
And when nature barred him with such snags
As the snow-capped Alps he burst both crags
And peaks with vinegar. Italy
Was all under his thumb already
but he pressed on “Nothing, he said,
Have I actually accomplished
Until I see the Punic military
wreck the gates of Rome and hoist upon
The Suburra my own gonfalon

expende Hannibalem: quot libras in duce summo
inuenies? hic est quem non capit Africa Mauro
percussa oceano Niloque admota tepenti
rursus ad Aethiopum populos aliosque elephantos.
additur imperiis Hispania, Pyrenaeum
transilit. opposuit natura Alpemque niuemque:
diducit scopulos et montem rumpit aceto.
iam tenet Italiam, tamen ultra pergere tendit.
'acti' inquit 'nihil est, nisi Poeno milite portas
frangimus et media uexillum pono Subura.'

What a countenance and what a picture!
A one-eyed leader cutting such a figure
Astride a demon from the Gaetulian region.
O glory! Hannibal is presently
Overwhelmed and hastily forced to flee
Into exile. He sits before the royal tent,
Like an imposing and most astounding client,
Awaiting the leisurely awakening
Of the Bithynian-born tyrant and king.
No swords, stones or arrows will a life terminate
That once messed up every human event and fate.
But a ring will avenge the battle on the plain
Of Cannae and also redeem its bloody stain.
Go and fly over the savage Alps you fool,
To boys most pleasing and well declaimed at school.

o qualis facies et quali digna tabella,
cum Gaetula ducem portaret belua luscum!
exitus ergo quis est? o gloria! uincitur idem
nempe et in exilium praeceps fugit atque ibi magnus
mirandusque cliens sedet ad praetoria regis,
donec Bithyno libeat uigilare tyranno.
finem animae, quae res humanas miscuit olim,
non gladii, non saxa dabunt nec tela, sed ille
Cannarum uindex et tanti sanguinis ultor
anulus. i, demens, et saeuas curre per Alpes
ut pueris placeas et declamatio fias.

The narrow limits of this world, it turns
Out, make Pella mad so he rants and burns
As if he were caged in rocky Gyaros
Or in the smaller isle of Seriphos.
But once he’s in the city fortified
By potters he’ll be fully satisfied
With a sarcophagus. Only Death can
Show how puny is the body of man.
We believe mount Athos was teeming with sails,
We also place confidence in all the tales
Mendacious Greece dares spin out of history’s feats:
We believe the sea was covered with the same fleets
To lay firm ground under the chariots’ wheels,
We believe deep rivers vanished into thin air
- their streams drunk dry at the Medes’ meals -
And every little thing Sostratus, whose armpit hair
Runs with sweat, is inclined to sing.
Yet what a sad sight was the king
Who just after the rout had pulled out
of Salamis. He who, in his fury,
Had the winds lashed with such savagery
As never Eurus and Corus had till then
Experienced in Aeolus’ watery pen.
He who had managed to put the shackles on
A god himself, the Earth-shaking Poseidon.
The king treated him very sensibly and
Spared him the indignity of a slave’s brand.
For sure a god wouldn’t be ready at all
To be at this sort of man’s beck and call.
But how did he come back? On a single boat
Over a blood soaked sea with corpses afloat
So thick as to give the prow a tardy pace:
Glory - he oft invoked and not in vain -
From him exacted a high price in pain.
Let my life, Jupiter, stretch for a long space.

unus Pellaeo iuueni non sufficit orbis,
aestuat infelix angusto limite mundi
ut Gyarae clausus scopulis paruaque Seripho;
cum tamen a figulis munitam intrauerit urbem,
sarcophago contentus erit. mors sola fatetur
quantula sint hominum corpuscula. creditur olim
uelificatus Athos et quidquid Graecia mendax
audet in historia, constratum classibus isdem
suppositumque rotis solidum mare; credimus altos
defecisse amnes epotaque flumina Medo
prandente et madidis cantat quae Sostratus alis.
ille tamen qualis rediit Salamine relicta,
in Corum atque Eurum solitus saeuire flagellis barbarus Aeolio numquam hoc in carcere passos,
ipsum conpedibus qui uinxerat Ennosigaeum
(mitius id sane, quod non et stigmate dignum
credidit. huic quisquam uellet seruire deorum?)—
sed qualis rediit? nempe una naue, cruentis 185
fluctibus ac tarda per densa cadauera prora.
has totiens optata exegit gloria poenas.
'da spatium uitae, multos da, Iuppiter, annos.'

That alone is what you ask for
When you are well or a pallor
Spreads all over your visage,
But a protracted old age
Is replete with an endless
And cumbersome sickliness.
But look at your deformed face so different
From what it was in your young days: a parchment
All scratched up in place of the former skin,
Pendulous cheeks and wrinkles old and foul
Like those a mother ape has on either jowl.
Here on the coast of Numidia wherein
Lies Thabraca’s umbriferous escarpment
Young people’s looks are a matter of judgement:
More handsome one, and another more than he,
This one is so much stronger than his buddy.
Unchanging is the face of senility:
The voice quivers and so do the limbs,
No hair on the head and the nose brims
With snot as in the period of infancy.
The crumbs of bread must with his gums
The toothless wretch chew, a burden to his wife,
To his own children, indeed to his own life,
Up to the point of making run out of patience
Even Cossus who is after all testaments

hoc recto uoltu, solum hoc et pallidus optas.
sed quam continuis et quantis longa senectus
plena malis! deformem et taetrum ante omnia uultum
dissimilemque sui, deformem pro cute pellem
pendentisque genas et talis aspice rugas
quales, umbriferos ubi pandit Thabraca saltus,
in uetula scalpit iam mater simia bucca.
plurima sunt iuuenum discrimina, pulchrior ille
hoc atque +ille+ alio, multum hic robustior illo:
una senum facies, cum uoce trementia membra
et iam leue caput madidique infantia nasi;
frangendus misero gingiua panis inermi.
usque adeo grauis uxori natisque sibique,
ut captatori moueat fastidia Cosso.

Torpid is the palate of an old man
Victuals and wines he no longer can
Enjoy as in his youthful days and of course
Into oblivion has long sunk intercourse.
A night of strokes and caresses could
Never revive his shrunken manhood.
What can old age expect
Whose loins are sick and wrecked?
And doesn’t a washed out, lubricious
Lecher rightly look suspicious?
But consider the collateral damage,
What are indeed the pleasures that old age
Can derive from a citharede’s strains,
Even from someone of high repute,
Like Seleucus or one of those swains
Shining under a gold hooded suit?
And what is the advantage to sit
Here or there in an enormous theatre
If he can hardly hear the horn blower
Or the harmony of a trumpet?
His servant boy has no choice but to bawl
The name of anyone who pays a call
Or let him know the time of day.
The little chilly blood that still may
Trickle in his veins gets warmer
Through fever only, as it were,
While all around him are poised circlewise
Ills ‘in battalions and not single spies’
Whose names are so many that if you asked me
I could more easily list Oppia’s bawdy
Lovers or Themison’s patients: the huge batch
He managed, in one Fall day, to despatch
Or the partners Basilius has fobbed
Or the orphan boys Hirrus has robbed
Or the males Maura has daily drained
Or the pupils Hamillus has restrained.
I could more rapidly run through every name
Of the country seats owned by the knave
Who used to give my beard a close shave

non eadem uini atque cibi torpente palato
gaudia; nam coitus iam longa obliuio, uel si
coneris, iacet exiguus cum ramice neruus
et, quamuis tota palpetur nocte, iacebit.
anne aliquid sperare potest haec inguinis aegri
canities? quid quod merito suspecta libido est
quae uenerem adfectat sine uiribus? aspice partis
nunc damnum alterius. nam quae cantante uoluptas,
sit licet eximius, citharoedo siue Seleuco
et quibus aurata mos est fulgere lacerna?
quid refert, magni sedeat qua parte theatri
qui uix cornicines exaudiet atque tubarum
concentus? clamore opus est ut sentiat auris
quem dicat uenisse puer, quot nuntiet horas.
praeterea minimus gelido iam in corpore sanguis
febre calet sola, circumsilit agmine facto
morborum omne genus, quorum si nomina quaeras,
promptius expediam quot amauerit Oppia moechos,
quot Themison aegros autumno occiderit uno,
quot Basilus socios, quot circumscripserit Hirrus
pupillos, quot longa uiros exorbeat uno
Maura die, quot discipulos inclinet Hamillus;
percurram citius quot uillas possideat nunc
quo tondente grauis iuueni mihi barba sonabat.

In my young days! One has a weak shoulder frame
Another has soft loins and the third
Has frail hips, that one has lost his eyes
And envies those whose eyesight is blurred,
This one has pale lips which authorize
An alien hand to feed them : agape
In front of a free meal they used to be
But now their mouth has a half-closed shape
Like a young swallow’s - to whom with a full bill
Its mother flies - whose belly is empty still.
But worse than the ailments of the limbs
Is dementia, the disease that dims
An old man’s memory: he cannot recall
His servants’ names and also the face
Of the friend with whom he someplace,
the day before, had dinner after nighfall,
Nor the names of his children whom he reared,
Then by a savage will duly cashiered.
All he owns goes to Phiale - to show
The power of her mouth slick and fetid -
That had long sold herself in the putrid
Jail-like cubicles of a bordello.
But even granting his senses are alert
He won’t be able, for all that, to avert
His children’s funeral, his dear bride’s
And his brother’s pyre and besides
The urns full of his sisters’ ashes.
This is the punishment which crushes
Those who grow old, continuously dismayed
By woes and death, in mourning robes arrayed.

ille umero, hic lumbis, hic coxa debilis; ambos
perdidit ille oculos et luscis inuidet; huius
pallida labra cibum accipiunt digitis alienis,
ipse ad conspectum cenae diducere rictum
suetus hiat tantum ceu pullus hirundinis, ad quem
ore uolat pleno mater ieiuna. sed omni
membrorum damno maior dementia, quae nec
nomina seruorum nec uoltum agnoscit amici
cum quo praeterita cenauit nocte, nec illos
quos genuit, quos eduxit. nam codice saeuo
heredes uetat esse suos, bona tota feruntur
ad Phialen; tantum artificis ualet halitus oris,
quod steterat multis in carcere fornicis annis.
ut uigeant sensus animi, ducenda tamen sunt
funera natorum, rogus aspiciendus amatae
coniugis et fratris plenaeque sororibus urnae.
haec data poena diu uiuentibus, ut renouata
semper clade domus multis in luctibus inque
perpetuo maerore et nigra ueste senescant.

If you give credit to Homer the Great’s report
King Pylius’ long life was second only to a crow’s.
Happy no doubt as he had found the way to thwart
For generation after generation the throes
Of death and could count all his years on just
His right hand, and often drank the new must.
But listen, I pray you, how strongly he himself shows
His grief for the will of Fate and his dread
Of Atropos’ too lengthy life’s thread,
When he sees valiant Antilochus’ beard
Burning at the stake till it gets all seared,
When he asks all his fellows at hand
The reason why he’s still alive and
Actually the nature of the crime
That earned him a neverending time.
Thus Peleus does, mourning as it is the death
Of Achilles and Laertes too, whom destiny
Forces to bewail the Ithacan at the mercy
Of the sea. Had he exhaled his last breath
When the city of Troy was unscathed still
Priam would have gone down into darkness
With Assaracus’ ritual augustness:
Hector and his brothers would have borne
His corpse on their shoulders amid the shrill
Cries of the Trojan womenfolk until
Cassandra would have started to mourn
And Polissena would have torn her garment.
He should have perished at another moment,
Precisely when Paris’ audacious ships
Had not yet been made ready for the slips.
What - in a nutshell - earned him his long days?
Ruins he saw everywhere, he saw the blaze
And the iron which made Asia break down.
Then that tremulous soldier took his crown
Off his head, grabbed his weapons and dropped dead
In front of Jove’s altar like an old ox which
Offers the back of its neck to its master
Being tired of the fastidious plough’s hitch

rex Pylius, magno si quicquam credis Homero,
exemplum uitae fuit a cornice secundae.
felix nimirum, qui tot per saecula mortem
distulit atque suos iam dextra conputat annos,
quique nouum totiens mustum bibit. oro parumper
attendas quantum de legibus ipse queratur
fatorum et nimio de stamine, cum uidet acris
Antilochi barbam ardentem, cum quaerit ab omni,
quisquis adest, socio cur haec in tempora duret,
quod facinus dignum tam longo admiserit aeuo.
haec eadem Peleus, raptum cum luget Achillem,
atque alius, cui fas Ithacum lugere natantem.
incolumi Troia Priamus uenisset ad umbras
Assaraci magnis sollemnibus Hectore funus
portante ac reliquis fratrum ceruicibus inter
Iliadum lacrimas, ut primos edere planctus
Cassandra inciperet scissaque Polyxena palla,
si foret extinctus diuerso tempore, quo non
coeperat audaces Paris aedificare carinas.
longa dies igitur quid contulit? omnia uidit
euersa et flammis Asiam ferroque cadentem.
tunc miles tremulus posita tulit arma tiara
et ruit ante aram summi Iouis ut uetulus bos,
qui domini cultris tenue et miserabile collum
praebet ab ingrato iam fastiditus aratro.

However he died like a man but after
His death his wife’s canine jowl
would indeed savagely growl.
It’s our own people I now hasten to stick to,
Passing by the king of Pontus and Croesus too
Whom Solon the just, whose voice was eloquent,
Bade wait until the last day to pass judgement
On a long life. The Minturnae marshes, exile
Imprisonment, and a bit of bread begged while
He stayed in that Carthage he’d overcome,
Came upon Marius because of his old age.
Never could nature put on the world’s stage
A citizen, more completely gleesome:
Had he had magnanimously breathed his last
Among the crowds of prisoners amassed
Before the warlike pomp as he would alight
From the chariot that crushed the Teutonic might.
Provident Campania had given Pompey
Fevers that were a real boon but a slew
Of cities’ public vows found the way
Of beating them. Thus his fortune and Rome’s too,
Once he was vanquished, cut off his head for him
Which he had managed to save. A torture so grim
was spared to Lentulus. When his fate was sealed
Cethegus was in one piece too. On the field
Of battle Catilina’s corpse had every single limb

exitus ille utcumque hominis, sed torua canino
latrauit rictu quae post hunc uixerat uxor.
festino ad nostros et regem transeo Ponti
et Croesum, quem uox iusti facunda Solonis
respicere ad longae iussit spatia ultima uitae.
exilium et carcer Minturnarumque paludes
et mendicatus uicta Carthagine panis
hinc causas habuere; quid illo ciue tulisset
natura in terris, quid Roma beatius umquam,
si circumducto captiuorum agmine et omni
bellorum pompa animam exhalasset opimam,
cum de Teutonico uellet descendere curru?
prouida Pompeio dederat Campania febres
optandas, sed multae urbes et publica uota
uicerunt; igitur Fortuna ipsius et urbis
seruatum uicto caput abstulit. hoc cruciatu
Lentulus, hac poena caruit ceciditque Cethegus
integer et iacuit Catilina cadauere toto.

In Venus’ fane a mother on tenterhooks
Will softly petition for her son’s good looks
And in a louder voice asks the goddess
To endow her daughters with comeliness,
Gracing her pledge with every allurement.
Why then, she says, do you find fault with me?
Latona too likes Diana’s beauty.
But Lucrece’s own admonishment
Is not to crave her pleasant countenance:
Virginia would have gladly had the chance
To trade her graces for Rutilia’s hump.
Never is a good-looking son a trump
Card for his afflicted parents aware
That ‘modest and fair’ rarely make a pair.
Though a coarse family passed on to him ways
Dating back to the hallowed old Sabines’ days
And benign Nature granted him a chaste
Temperament including a face graced
With the rosy flush of modesty
- No Nature’s gift could ever be
Fitter for a boy, not for the nonce,
Than education or vigilance -
There’s no way a boy like this can
Grow up into a virtuous man
As the corruptors’ lavish wickedness
Dares inveigle his very parents,
The strength of money being such that it blunts
All obstacles to one’s lasciviousness.
No deformed boys were ever castrated
In the tyrant’s inhumane fortresses,
And Nero never snatched club-footed
Scrofulous humpbacked young men
Whose bellies were likewise swollen

formam optat modico pueris, maiore puellis
murmure, cum Veneris fanum uidet, anxia mater
usque ad delicias uotorum. 'cur tamen' inquit
'corripias? pulchra gaudet Latona Diana.'
sed uetat optari faciem Lucretia qualem
ipsa habuit, cuperet Rutilae Verginia gibbum
accipere +atque suum+ Rutilae dare. filius autem
corporis egregii miseros trepidosque parentes
semper habet: rara est adeo concordia formae
atque pudicitiae. sanctos licet horrida mores
tradiderit domus ac ueteres imitata Sabinos,
praeterea castum ingenium uoltumque modesto
sanguine feruentem tribuat natura benigna
larga manu (quid enim puero conferre potest plus
custode et cura natura potentior omni?),
non licet esse uiro; nam prodiga corruptoris
improbitas ipsos audet temptare parentes:
tanta in muneribus fiducia. nullus ephebum
deformem saeua castrauit in arce tyrannus,
nec praetextatum rapuit Nero loripedem nec
strumosum atque utero pariter gibboque tumentem.

Now go and feel happy for your son’s charm:
He’s bound to encounter a lot more harm.
He will be chasing women with a real scare
Of their mad hubands’ punishment. His luck
Will run out and and he’ll fall into a snare
Some day, like Mars by Vulcan thunderstruck.
It happens that sometimes this offence
Surmounts what any law can dispense.
One stabs, one scourges leaving bloody scabs
Another stick s a mullet up the gallant’s butt.
Is your Endymion going to be – you wonder -
A matron’s true lover and philanderer?
Wait till Servilia gives him money and
He will oblige her as a one-night stand.
What could an aroused wife on fire
- Even if it’s Oppia or Catulla – deny
A passionate lover? In a bitch’s womb lie
Her morals and her heart’s desire.
But is it possible for beauty
To tarnish a young man’s chastity?
To be sure how useful was, tell me,
Hippolytus’ and Bellerophon’s staid
Resolution? They blushed and either jade
Stheneboea, as well as the lady
From the Island of Crete, indeed ashamed
For the snub, flew into a great frenzy.
Never is woman so madly aflame
As when her hatred is nurtured by shame,
And now would you please tell me what
Advice is good enough for him with whom
Caesar’s wife has planned to tie the knot.
He’s nobility’s best and fairest bloom:
Seized and threatened with death the wretched guy
Is dragged under Messalina’s lewd eye.
She’s seated wearing a wedding veil
In the the garden with the telltale
Bed decked in purple. The old rite will begin
When the dowry worth a million is paid in,
Then a matchmaker will usher in the bestmen.
Did you really think all this could have been
Kept in the dark or within a few people’s ken?

i nunc et iuuenis specie laetare tui, quem
maiora expectant discrimina. fiet adulter
publicus et poenas metuet quascumque mariti
+irati+ debet, nec erit felicior astro
Martis, ut in laqueos numquam incidat. exigit autem
interdum ille dolor plus quam lex ulla dolori
concessit: necat hic ferro, secat ille cruentis
uerberibus, quosdam moechos et mugilis intrat.
sed tuus Endymion dilectae fiet adulter
matronae. mox cum dederit Seruilia nummos
fiet et illius quam non amat, exuet omnem
corporis ornatum; quid enim ulla negauerit udis
inguinibus, siue est haec Oppia siue Catulla?
deterior totos habet illic femina mores.
'sed casto quid forma nocet?' quid profuit immo
Hippolyto graue propositum, quid Bellerophonti?
erubuit +nempe haec+ ceu fastidita repulso
nec Stheneboea minus quam Cressa excanduit, et se
concussere ambae. mulier saeuissima tunc est
cum stimulos odio pudor admouet. elige quidnam
suadendum esse putes cui nubere Caesaris uxor
destinat. optimus hic et formonsissimus idem
gentis patriciae rapitur miser extinguendus
Messalinae oculis; dudum sedet illa parato
flammeolo Tyriusque palam genialis in hortis
sternitur et ritu decies centena dabuntur
antiquo, ueniet cum signatoribus auspex.
haec tu secreta et paucis commissa putabas?

She really wants the nuptials to be
Legitimate. Now you must tell me
How you’re inclined: refuse to obey
And you’ll die before the lights of day
Are snuffed out. Follow her wicked way
And all you have to do is wait a while
Till what is now the talk of the town
Reaches the sacred ears of the crown:
He’ll be the last to learn of the vile
Infamy that befell his house.
Obey, in the meantime, his spouse
If you’re willing to pay such a price
For a short respite of one day or twice,
But whichever easier and better way you
May find to escape the jaws of this vise
Your fine white neck will yet a sword undo.
Are men ever permitted to make a wish?
If you want a good piece of advice
Let the divinities themselves distinguish
All that is more useful and good for you.
They will forget your self-serving quest
To let you have instead what is best.
Man is to the gods dearer than he is
To himself. Driven by the impulses
Of our soul and by our own blind passions
We hanker for a wife and children
But the gods know only too well then
What we are going to get from spouse and sons.
Yet that you may have something again
To ask from the gods in their fanes
And offer the entrails and the skeins
Of the divine sausages from a white piggy
Ask for nothing but the health of mind and body,
Ask for a robust judgment
Free from the terror of death,
And regard a long life’s breath
As nature’s final present.
A judgment which can stand
Every exertion and
With no desire or bad temper,
Aware that Hercules’ woes
And his fierce labours are better
Than any love, plume or supper
Of Sardanapalous.
What I advise you to get you
Can get by yourself as only
One straight way is open to
A quiet life: the way of virtue.
Be wise and you will be free
From the Divine Will. It is we
Who put Fortune in heaven thus
Turning her into our own goddess

non nisi legitime uolt nubere. quid placeat dic.
ni parere uelis, pereundum erit ante lucernas;
si scelus admittas, dabitur mora paruula, dum res
nota urbi et populo contingat principis aurem.
dedecus ille domus sciet ultimus. interea tu
obsequere imperio, si tanti uita dierum
paucorum. quidquid leuius meliusque putaris,
praebenda est gladio pulchra haec et candida ceruix.
nil ergo optabunt homines? si consilium uis,
permittes ipsis expendere numinibus quid
conueniat nobis rebusque sit utile nostris;
nam pro iucundis aptissima quaeque dabunt di.
carior est illis homo quam sibi. nos animorum
inpulsu et caeca magnaque cupidine ducti
coniugium petimus partumque uxoris, at illis
notum qui pueri qualisque futura sit uxor.
ut tamen et poscas aliquid uoueasque sacellis
exta et candiduli diuina tomacula porci,
orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
fortem posce animum mortis terrore carentem,
qui spatium uitae extremum inter munera ponat
naturae, qui ferre queat quoscumque labores,
nesciat irasci, cupiat nihil et potiores
Herculis aerumnas credat saeuosque labores
et uenere et cenis et pluma Sardanapalli.
monstro quod ipse tibi possis dare; semita certe
tranquillae per uirtutem patet unica uitae.
nullum numen habes, si sit prudentia: nos te,
nos facimus, Fortuna, deam caeloque locamus.

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