HORACE: "SATIRES BOOK I"

Introduction.

Horace's Satires Book I was his first published work, dated to the years 35-33 B.C., following his introduction to Maecenas and under his patronage. Despite their apparently harsh-sounding name, these "Saturae", written in hexameter verse, were half-serious, half-humorous criticisms of the people and the manners of his time, written in the form of loosely structured discursive verse essays. The main exponent of satires in Latin literature prior to Horace had been Lucilius (180-103/2 B.C.), but, despite that poet's popularity with literary enthusiasts of the time, Horace reacts against the violence of some of his personal attacks on individuals, which he thought was inappropriate to the genre, and to his metrical clumsiness and repetitiveness. In his critique of Lucilius, Horace transforms Roman satire, both by reducing sharply the level of personal attack and by refining its poetic style. Neatness, rapidity, elegance and ease are the stylistic qualities, affirmed by Horace in the tenth and final satire in this book, and these qualities are indeed evident throughout this work.

Of the ten poems contained in this book, each one has usually at least one main section devoted to a particular vice, which is the focus of Horace's attention. So he attacks greed (in 1), adultery (in 2), unfairness towards one's friends (in 3) and ambition (in 6). Poems 5,7, 8 and 9, while satirical in form, are largely entertainment pieces. The other two are concerned with Horace's critique of Lucilius, something which caused him a considerable degree of unpopularity at this early stage of his career. In 4 he defends himself against his critics, and in 10 he both amplifies his earlier criticisms of Lucilius and at the same time sets out his own theory of what satire should be (see vv. 7-15 in particular). Other highlights of content in Satires Book I include his tribute to his father and how much he owes to him (4.105-121 and 6.65-89), the circumstances of his introduction to Maecenas (6.52-64), the details of 'his daily round' (6.111-131), and his harassment by a 'bore' determined to batten on to him (9).

His moral ideas and the ethical content of these satires are straightforward and not in any way original. Horace was a social conservative, and mocked, albeit gently, deviation from accepted norms, while using traditional ideas as the basis for judging the faults of his own age; but his purpose was not didactic. He did not expect to change people's behaviour; rather, he wrote to amuse and to entertain. As he was later to write in his "Ars Poetica" (v. 343): "omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci," i.e. he who has blended the useful with the sweet has won every vote.


The text for this translation is taken from the Perseus website and features the 1837 translation of C. Smart. Sabidius has made use of the English translation of C.Smart and Alois Buckley, (1863), also available on the Perseus website, and of the much freer translation by Niall Rudd contained in the 1973 Penguin edtion of Horace's Satires and Epistles. He has also found useful the text and detailed notes in "Poemata Quinti Horatii Flacci," edited by J.Boyd and Charles Anthon, 1837.

At the end of this translation is a list of prominent quotations taken from "Satires Book I".


1.  Against the greedy. (A desire to amass enormous wealth was one of the prevalent passions of the time; and, amidst the struggles of civil warfare, the lowest of mankind had succeeded in accumulating fortunes. It is against this inordinate greed that this satire is directed. In a dialogue, supposed to be held between a poet and a miser, the former exposes the folly of those who occupy themselves solely in the acquisition of wealth, and refutes all the arguments which the miser adduces in favour of hoarding.) 
 
How does it happen, Maecenas, that no one lives contentedly, either with that lot which Reflection may have given him, or (which) Chance may have thrown (in his path), (but rather) commends (the condition of those) who follow different (pursuits)? "O (you) happy merchants," says the soldier, oppressed with years, now broken down in his limbs with much toil. On the other hand, the merchant, when the South Winds toss his ship, (cries out) that military service is preferable. For what reason? There is a charge: within a short space of time comes sudden death or joyous victory." The expert in justice and laws, when a client knocks at his door at cock-crow, commends the (life of the) farmer; the latter who, his recognisances having been given, is dragged from the country into the city, cries that only (those) who live in the city (are) happy. Other (instances) of this kind would weary that windbag Fabius. In order not to delay you, hear how I shall put the case. If some god were to say, "Behold, I shall now do what you want: you, who (were) just now a soldier, will be a merchant; you, (who were) just now a lawyer, (will be) a farmer; your roles (in life) having been exchanged, do you go away in one direction, (and) you in another. Come now, why are you standing (there)?" They will be unwilling (to accept the offer). And yet they have it in their power (lit. it is permitted [to them]) to be happy. What reason is there (for this), but that Jupiter should deservedly puff out both his cheeks in anger, and declare that he will not in the future be so ready to lend his ear to their prayers? Moreover, so that I may skip over (this) with a laugh, just like someone (telling) jokes - although what forbids one telling the truth with a smile? As good-natured teachers sometimes give their pupils pastries, so that they may be willing to learn their initial letters - but yet, joking having been set aside, let us examine serious (matters): he who turns the heavy earth with a hard plough-share, this fraudulent petty trader, the soldier and sailors who dash bravely across every sea profess that they endure their toil with this intention, that in old age they may retire into a safe haven, when they have gathered for themselves (sufficient) provisions.

Thus the little ant through her great labour - for she serves as an example - drags in her mouth whatever she can, and, not at all unaware and not careless of the future, she adds to the heap which she is piling up. As soon as Aquarius darkens the changed year, she never crawls around, but makes use of those (stores) which she has previously acquired, while neither can scorching heat turn (you) aside from gain, nor can winter, fire, sea (or) sword obstruct you in any way, while no one else can be richer than you. Why does it delight you nervously to bury an immense weight of silver and gold in the secretly dug up earth? "Because if you were to diminish (it), it would be reduced to a paltry penny."

But if that is not done, what charms does the accumulated hoard possess? Should your threshing-floor have yielded a hundred thousand (bushels) of grain, (yet) will your stomach, on that account, contain no more (of it) than mine; just as, if you should happen to carry on your burdened shoulder a bread-bag among slaves, you would receive no more than (he) who carried nothing. Or tell (me), what does it matter to (the man) who lives within the limits of nature, (whether) he ploughs a hundred or a thousand acres? "But it is (still) pleasing to take from a large heap."

While you leave us to draw the same amount out of our little (pile), why should you extol your granaries more than our grain-bins? (It is) as if you had a need for no more than a pitcher or a cup of water and you should say "I prefer to draw the same amount from a great river than from this little fountain." For this (reason), it happens that the raging Aufidus sweeps away and carries off, together with the bank, such men as an abundance more copious than what is fair delights. And yet he (who) is in want of no more than what is necessary neither drinks water fouled with mud nor loses his life in the waves.

Yet the greater part of mankind, deluded by false desires, says "Nothing is (ever) enough, because you will be esteemed in proportion to what you possess." What can you do with (a man) such as this? You may tell (him) to be miserable, since he gladly acts that (way): like a certain (person) is said (to have lived) at Athens, mean and rich, (and) accustomed to despise the remarks of the people in this manner: "The people hiss at me, but I applaud myself at home as soon as I contemplate the coins in my cash-box." The thirsty Tantalus tries to catch the waters escaping from his lips - why do you laugh? With a change of name, the story is told about you. Gaping sleeplessly at your money-bags, which have been heaped up on all sides, you are compelled to to refrain (from them) as though they are sacred (offerings) or as if they are painted tablets. Do you not realise what money is worth, (and) to what use it is put? Bread, vegetables and a bottle of wine may be bought, (and) add (such other things) which, if they were withheld, human nature would grieve for itself. To keep watch half-dead with terror, and to dread wicked thieves, fires and your slaves, lest they should plunder you, as they run away, does this delight (you)? For my part, I should always wish to be very poor in relation to possessions such as these.

But if your body, having been seized by a cold, should begin to ache, or any other misfortune should confine you to your bed, do you have someone who can attend (to you), prepare poultices (for you), (and) ask the doctor to get you to recover and restore (you) to your children and your dear relatives? Neither your wife nor your son wants you (to get) well; all your neighbours, and your acquaintances, (even) the boys and girls, hate (you). Since you put money before everything (else), are you surprised if no one gives (you) the affection which you do not deserve? But, if you wish to retain and to keep (as) friends the relations which nature gives you without (making) any effort, you will waste your time, (O you) unfortunate (fellow), just like someone who teaches an ass to obey the reins and to run in the Campus (Martius). Finally, let there be an end to your search, and, as you get more (wealth), you should fear poverty less, and you should begin to bring this struggle to an end, (now) that you have obtained what you used to desire, lest you do as (did) a certain Ummidius. The story is not a long (one): (he was so) rich that he measured his money, (and) so stingy that he never dressed himself better than a slave, (and) right up to his last moments he was afraid lest want of victuals should oppress him. But his freedwoman, the bravest of the daughters of Tyndarus, split him down the middle with an axe. So, what do you urge me (to do)? Should I live like Naevius or in the same manner as Nomentanus?

Are you going on to unite (things) that are self-contradictory (lit. that contend together with opposing fronts)? When I tell you not to be a miser, I do not order (you) to become a spendthrift and a wastrel: there is some (difference) between Tanais and the father-in-law of Visellus. There is a mean in (all) things, in short there are (certain) fixed limits, beyond and on either side of which what is right cannot exist. I return (now) to the place from which I digressed. (Is there) no one who, like the miser, approves of himself, but rather commends (those) who follow different (pursuits), and pines away (with envy) because someone else's she-goat bears a more distended udder, nor compares himself with the greater number of (those) who are poorer (than himself), (but) labours to outdo first this (man) and then that (man). Thus, the richer (man) is always an obstacle to (the man) who is striving to be rich, as, when a (flurry of) hooves hurries along the chariots which have been released from their starting-pens, the driver presses upon those horses that outstrip his own, despising that (chariot) which, having been overtaken, comes among the last. Thus it happens that we can rarely find (a man) who says that he has lived a happy (life), and contentedly departs from his life, when his time has expired, like a guest who has had his fill.

That is enough now. Lest you may think that I have pillaged the portfolio of the bleary-eyed Crispinus, I shall not add a word more.
                                  -            

2.  Against adulterers. (In the opening satire Horace had observed that there was a measure in things; that there were fixed and stated bounds, beyond which one would look in vain for what was right. Yet so it is with then greater part of mankind, that, instead of searching for virtue where reason directs, they always run from one extreme to another, and despise that middle way where alone they can have any hope of finding her. The intention of the poet in this satire, is to expose the folly of this course of conduct, and to show men that they therefore plunge themselves into a wider and more unfathomable sea of misery, increase their wants, and ruin both their reputation and their fortune; whereas, if men could be prevailed upon to live within the bounds prescribed by nature, they might avoid all these calamities, and have the wherewithal to provide for their real needs. He takes the opportunity occasioned by the death of Tigellinus, a well-known singer, to note the differing judgments which men pass upon actions and characters, according to their varying inclinations. Some commend a man as liberal and generous, whom others condemn as profligate and extravagant. From this difference of judgement stems a difference of behaviour, in which men seldom observe any degree of moderation, but always run from one extreme to another. One, disdaining to be thought a miser, profusely squanders away his estate; another, fearing to be considered negligent in his affairs, practices all the unacceptable methods of extortion, and seeks in every way to increase his fortune. This it happens that the middle course is neglected; for "Dum vitant stulti vitia, in contraria currunt." The poet then proceeds to show that the same observation hold good in all the other pursuits of life, including sexual relations, on which the poem concentrates from v. 28 onwards.)

The associations of female flute-players, the pedlars of quack medicines, holy beggars, mimics, jesters. this whole tribe, are dejected and anxious, because of the death of the singer, Tigellius. Of course, he was generous (towards them). On the other hand, this (man) here, fearing lest it should be said that he was profligate, would be unwilling to give a needy friend (anything) by which he could keep away the cold and pinching hunger. If you were  to enquire of another (man) why he is wickedly consuming the splendid the splendid estate of his grandfather and father in tasteless gluttony, buying up all sorts of dainties with borrowed cash, he replies (that is) because he does not wish to be regarded (as) mean and petty-minded. He is praised by some, condemned by others.

Fufidius, wealthy in land and wealthy in money put out at interest, fears the reputation of (being) a wastrel and a spendthrift, (but) this (fellow) deducts five percent interest from the capital (at the time of lending), and the more desperate anyone is, the more fiercely he presses (him). He hunts for the I.O.U.s of young men under rigid fathers who have just assumed the adult toga. Who does not cry out "(O) Almighty Jupiter," as soon as he has heard of (this)?  "But," (perhaps you will say) " this (man) arranges his expenditure in proportion to his money-making?" You can scarcely believe how unfriendly he is to himself, such that that father in Terence's play, whom he portrays as having lived (so) wretchedly after his son had been banished, did not torment himself any worse than he (did).

Now, if anyone should ask, "In what direction does this (matter) lead (us)?" (It is) thither: while fools shun vices (of one kind), they rush into opposite (ones). Maltinus walks with his garments trailing (upon the ground), there is (another) who (walks with his garments) hitched right up to his filthy crotch; the genteel Rufillus smells of aromatic lozenges, Gorgonius (of) goat: there is no (happy) medium. There are (some) who refuse to take any (women) by the hand, unless a flounce, sewn at the bottom of their dress, conceals their ankles. On the other hand, another (will touch) no (woman) unless she takes her place in a stinking brothel. When a certain well-known man came out of a whore-house, this splendid remark of Cato was addressed (to him): "Bravo! (lit. May you be honoured in respect of your virtue)"; for, as soon as foul lust has inflamed one's veins, it is right for young (fellows) to go down to this sort of (place), (and) not to grind other (men's) wives." "I do not wish that I should be praised in that way," says Cupiennius, (who is) an admirer of a pale cunt (i.e. one covered by a silken veil).

(You) who do not wish (things) to proceed smoothly in the case of adulterous (men), it is worth your while to hear that they are in trouble from every direction, and that their pleasure (is) spoiled by much pain, and that it seldom happens to them, (and then) often in the midst of atrocious perils. One has thrown himself headlong from a roof, another (has been) flogged to death with whips, a third has fallen into a violent gang of robbers, another has paid cash to save his life, (and) some drudges have raped a further (man); indeed, even this has happened, that (people) mowed someone's balls and randy prick with a sword. Everyone (said, "It was) justly (done)": Galba dissented.

But how much safer is the trade among (women of) the second class, I mean freed-women: (although) Sallust is no less crazy over them as (a man) who commits adultery. But if he wanted to be good and kind, in as far as his means and his reason allowed, and in as far as he can (lit. as it is permitted [to him] to) be liberal in moderation, he would pay what was sufficient, and not (what) would involve him in ruin and disgrace. But he hugs himself with regard to this one (consideration); he delights in this and extols (it): "I touch no married woman." Like Marsaeus, the lover of Origo, once (did), the man who gives his father's estate and his family home to an actress says, "I have never had (lit. There is never to me) anything (to do) with other (men's) wives."  But you have (lit. there is [to you]) with actresses, you have (lit. there is [to you]) with harlots, from which your reputation derives more serious damage than your estate. Is it enough or more than enough for you to avoid the person, not that (vice) which causes harm anywhere? To lose one's good name, to besmirch one's family estate is wrong everywhere. What does it matter whether you sin with regard to a married woman, a maid-servant (or) a prostitute?

Villius, Sulla's son-in-law, having been deceived by this label alone, wretch (that he was), paid a penalty with regard to Fausta, which was enough and more than enough, when he was struck with fists and attacked with a sword, and was shut out when Longarenus was inside. If this (young man's) mind had addressed these (words) to him in the voice of his cock, as he gazed upon such great evils: "In your case, what do you want? When my ardour is aroused, do I ever demand from you a cunt, descended from a mighty consul and veiled by a robe?" What reply could he make? "The girl was born to an illustrious father." But how much better and (how) different from these (are the things which) nature, rich in her own resources, recommends, if only you are minded to spend (your money) properly and not confuse what should be avoided with what should be sought. Don't you think it matters if the difficulties in your affairs (are) your fault? So, stop chasing married women, lest you are sorry, as more serious trouble derives from this than any enjoyment you can get from it. Nor can she have, amidst her snowy pearls and emeralds, a softer thigh than this (one), or limbs (which are) straighter than yours, Cerinthus, and even prostitutes are frequently better. Add to this that she carries her wares without disguise, (and) openly shows what she has for sale, nor, if she has (lit. there is [to her]) anything good, does she boast (of it) and flaunt (it) openly, (while) she seeks to hide her blemishes. This is the habit of sheiks: when they are buying horses, they examine (them) covered, so that, if, as often (happens), a beautiful shape is supported by a tender hoof, it may not fool the buyer as he gapes, because its haunches (are) handsome, its head small, and its neck high. They (do) this wisely: you should not contemplate the perfections of the body with the eyes of Lynceus, (but) inspect those (parts) which are deformed (when you are) blinder than Hypsaea. "O  legs! O arms!" but she has (lit. there is [to her]) thin buttocks, a big nose, a small waist and a splay foot.

You cannot see anything of a married woman except her face, for, unless she is a Catia, she covers her other (charms) by a trailing cloak. (But), if you will seek forbidden (charms), surrounded (as they are) by a rampart - for this (is what) makes you mad - , many obstacles will stand in your way, chaperones, a sedan-chair, hair-curlers, hangers-on, a robe hanging down to the ankles and a wrap covering (it) on top, very many (things) which may prevent you from getting a clear view. The other (one) does not obstruct (you) at all. In her Coan (silks) it is almost possible for you to see her naked, so that you can check her body with your eye, lest she may have (lit. there may be to her) a bad leg or an ugly foot. Or would you prefer a trick to be played on you, and the price to be extracted (from you) before the goods are shown? (The poet tells) how the hunter tracks the hare through the deep snow; so he sings he will not touch (it) if it is lying (there), and adds "My love is like this; for it flies past what is placed before (it) and chases what flees (from it)." Do you hope that such pain can be expressed by you in these little verses and that passion and bitter anxieties can be expelled from your breast? Would it not be more profitable to ask what boundaries nature sets to desires, what privations will be borne by her and what will cause her pain, and to separate what is vain from what is solid? When thirst burns your throat, do you ask for a golden tankard? When you are famished, do you turn up your nose at everything except peacock and turbot? When your cock is stiff, if a servant-girl or a slave-boy is at hand, against whom an assault can be made at once, do you prefer to burst with lust? Not I; for I like sex (to be) accessible and easy (to get). Philodemus says that the kind of girl, (who says) "Not just yet," "But (I need) more (money)," "If my husband is away," is for the Gauls; for himself (he chooses) a girl, who does not cost a high price, and does not loiter when she is ordered to come. Let her be fair and upright of stature, so elegant that she does not wish to be taller or more pale than nature has allowed her to be (lit. to appear). When such a girl slips the left (side of) her body under my right (side), she is my Ilia and Egeria; I give her whatever name I like. Nor do I fear, while I am banging away, that her husband should rush back from the country, the door should crash open, the dog should bark, the house, shaken on all sides, should resound with an awful din, the woman, deathly pale, should jump out of bed, (and), conscious (of her guilt), should cry out that she (is) undone, the (maid-servant) should fear for her legs, the guilty (woman) for her dowry and I for myself. I must (lit. It is  necessary [for me] to) flee with my tunic undone, and with bare feet, (for fear) lest my money or my arse or, in short, my reputation, should be finished. It is dreadful to be caught: I could prove (that), even if Fabius were the judge.


3.  Against disparagers and the supercilious Stoic. (This satire is directed against the inclination which many people have to put a bad construction on the actions of others, and to exaggerate the faults which they may perceive in their character and disposition. This failing, which perhaps had not been very prevalent in republican Rome, when the citizens lived openly in each other's view, had increased under a monarchical government, in which secrecy produced mistrust and suspicion. The satirist concludes with refuting the absurd principle of the Stoic Portico - that all faults and vices have the same degree of enormity.) 

This a fault common to all singers), that among their friends, they are determined (lit. they incline their minds) never to sing (when) asked, (but, when) not asked, they can never stop. That Sardinian Tigellius had this (fault). If Caesar, who could have compelled (him), had asked (him to sing) for the sake of his father's friendship and of his own, he would have not have achieved anything. (But), if it pleased him, he would sing from the beginning of the meal right through to the end (lit, from the egg to the apples) "Ho there, (you) Bacchanals," at one moment in his deepest voice, at another with that (pitch), which resounds with the most acute (string) of the tetrachord (lyre) (i.e. in a treble voice). Often he would run along as one flying from an enemy; more frequently (he would walk as a man) who was bearing the sacred (vessels) of Juno; often he had two hundred slaves, (but) just as often ten; at one time, (when) talking of kings and potentates, everything (would be) magnificent; at another (he would say) "Let me have (lit. Let there be to me) a three-legged table and a shell of clean salt, and a toga, which, although coarse, is sufficient to keep out the cold." Should you have given a million (lit. ten hundred [thousand]) (sesterces) to that sparing (fellow) (who was) content with such small (amounts), in five days' time there would be nothing in his pockets; he would keep awake at nights to dawn itself, (and then) snore all day. Now someone may say to me, "What (are) you? Have you no faults?" Yes, of another kind, and perhaps less (disagreeable).

When Maenius criticises Novius in his absence, a certain (man) says "Hey, do you not know yourself, or do you think to impose upon us like (one who is) ignorant of his own feelings?" This is a foolish and perverse (self-)love, and (one which is) worthy to be stigmatised. When you survey your own weaknesses with eyes bleary with ointments, why, in relation to the foibles of your friends, do you see as acutely as an eagle or the Epidaurian serpent? But in your case on the other hand, it turns out that they are enquiring into your deficiencies in their turn. (That man) is a little too hot-tempered, and not quite suited to the sensitive nostrils of today's society (lit. of these men); he is liable to be laughed at for this (reason), because, his hair having been shorn in too rustic a manner, his toga droops down (awkwardly), and his wide shoe scarcely sticks to his foot; but he is a worthy (man), (so much so indeed) that no one else (is) a better man, and (he is) your friend, and a prodigious talent lurks beneath this uncouth exterior (lit. body). Finally, give yourself a good shaking down, (to see) whether nature, or even a bad habit, has ever sown in you (the seeds) of any vice, for the fern, fit (only) to be burned, appears in the neglected fields.

Let us turn first to those (well-known circumstances) that the disagreeable blemishes of a mistress escape the notice of a blind lover, or these very (things) even delight (him), like the wen in Hagna's (nose pleased) Balbinus. I wish we erred in this way with regard to friendship, and that virtue would give to this kind of weakness some honourable name. For, as a father (does not feel disgust) if there should be some defect in his son, so we ought not to feel disgust (if there should be some weakness) in a friend. A father calls his squinting (boy) pink-eyed and, if any (parent) has (lit. if there is to any [parent]) a son (who is) miserably diminutive (in size), such as the prematurely-born Sisyphus once was, (he calls him) his chicken; this child with knock-knees (lit. with distorted legs) (the father) obscurely calls a Varus, another with club-feet (lit. supported on badly deformed ankles) (he calls) one of the Scauri. (If) this (friend) of yours lives too sparingly, let him be styled (by you as) frugal; (if) that (one) is somewhat tactless and too boastful, he needs to appear entertaining to his friends; but (if) he is too rude and more free (in what he says) than is fitting, let him be regarded (as) forthright and fearless; (if) he is too passionate, let him be classed among (men) of spirit.

In my opinion, this approach both unites friends and preserves (them) in a state of union. We, however, turn upside down (lit. invert) the very virtues themselves, and are desperate to encrust a clean jar. Someone of probity lives among us, a man of very unassuming (character); we give him the nickname of (someone) slow and fat. Another avoids every trap and does not expose an open flank to any evil-doer, since we live our lives among such a race, where keen envy and slander flourish: instead of a very sensible and wary (man), we call (him) crafty and artful. Someone is rather uninhibited - I have often freely presented myself to you, Maecenas, (as) such (a man) - as perhaps to interrupt (someone) reading or (musing) quietly with some kind of chatter: "This troublesome (fellow)," we say, "actually lacks common sense." Alas, how rashly we endorse an unjust law against ourselves. For no one is born without faults; he is the best (man) who is burdened with the least. Let a kind friend, when he balances my good (qualities), as is just, incline, if he wishes to be beloved, to the former (as) the more (numerous), so long as there are more good (qualities) in me: by this principle he will be placed in the same balance. (He) who requires his friend not to be offended by his own boils should forgive that (friend's) warts; it is fair that he who entreats a pardon for his own faults should give (one) back in return.

Finally, since the vice of anger, as well as other (vices) attached to foolish (men), cannot be totally eradicated, why does (human) reason not make use of its own weights and measures, and thus curb offences according to the nature of each particular case (lit. according as each case is)? If any (man) should punish on the cross that slave who, when ordered to take away a dish, should feast on the half-eaten fish and lukewarm sauce, among sane (people) he would be called madder than Labeo. How much more insane and greater than this is your crime! A friend commits a trivial offence,and, if you do not overlook it, you would be regarded (as) unkind; (yet) you loathe (him) heartily, and avoid (him) like someone who owes money to Ruso, who, when the gloomy Kalends comes upon that unfortunate (man), unless he can clear up the interest and the principal somehow or other, (is compelled to) listen to his wretched stories  with his neck stretched like a prisoner of war. Should he, (while) drunk, have wet my couch, or have knocked off the table a small dish worn smooth by the hands of Evander, for this reason or, because in his hunger he has grabbed a chicken that had been placed before me in my part of the dish, shall this friend be less agreeable to me due to this? What would I do, if if he carries out a robbery, or if he betrays (secrets) committed (to him) in confidence or breaks a contract? (Those) who think (lit. to whom it is pleasing) that all offences should be (ranked) almost equal, are troubled when they come to real (life): common sense and (established) customs are against (them), as is expediency itself, the virtual mother of justice and equity.

When, (as) animals, (men) crawled forth from the earth in its early days, the speechless and ugly herd fought for their acorns and lairs with their nails and fists, then with clubs, and so, in turn, with weapons which experience had afterwards forged, until they discovered words, by which they marked their cries and feelings and names (for things); then, they began to avoid (lit. abstain from) war, to build towns and to enact laws, so that no one should be a thief or a brigand or an adulterer. For before Helen's (time), a cunt was the foulest cause of war, but those (men) perished by unknown deaths, and, while they were pursuing uncertain love in the manner of wild beasts, a stronger (rival) (lit. [someone] more elevated in strength), like the bull in a herd, did them to death. If you are willing to unroll the circumstances and annals of world (history), you must (lit. it is necessary to) acknowledge that laws were invented through fear of injustice. Nor can Nature separate what is unjust from what is just, as she distinguishes good (things) from their opposites, (and) what should be avoided from what should be sought, nor will reason convince (us) of this, that (a man) who breaks off the juicy cabbage-stalks from another man's garden, and (one) who makes off at night with the sacred (emblems) of the Gods, sin as greatly and in the same manner. Let there be a (fixed) standard, which imposes proportionate punishments for sins, lest you should pursue with the terrible lash (something which is [only]) worthy of the strap. For I do not fear that you should strike with the cane (someone) who deserves to meet with severer stripes, since you assert pilfering to be a crime equal to highway robbery and threaten that, if men were to entrust the supreme power to you, you would prune off with a similar hook small (offences equally) with great (ones). If (he) who is wise (is) rich, and a good cobbler is alone both handsome and a king, why do crave what you possess? "You do not understand," he says, "what Chrysippus, the father (of your sect) is saying: the wise (man) never made (either) sandals or slippers; nevertheless, the wise (man) is (still) a cobbler." How (can that be)? "In the same way as Hermogenes, although he may be silent, is still a fine singer and musician; in the same way as the subtle Alfenus, after he had thrown away every instrument of his trade and had shut up his shop, was (still) a cobbler. Thus the wise (man) is the best craftsman in every kind of trade, thus (he) alone (is) a king." Cheeky boys will pluck your beard, and, unless you restrain them with your staff, you will be jostled by the mob standing (all) round you, and you, (poor) wretch, may burst (with rage) and bark (at them), (O) greatest of great kings.

Let me not make a long (speech): while you, my king, shall go to the farthing bath (lit. to bathe for a farthing), and no guardsman shall attend you, except the ridiculous Crispinus, my kind friends will both forgive me, if I foolishly make any mistake, and I, in turn, shall readily put up with their faults, and, (though) a commoner, I shall live more happily than you, (who is) a king.


4.  Against his own detractors.  (It would appear that, during the lifetime of Horace, the public were divided in their judgment concerning his Satires - some blaming them as too severe while others thought them weak and trifling. In order to vindicate himself from the charge of undue asperity, Horace shows in a most prepossessing manner that he has been less harsh than many other poets, and pleads, as his excuse foe practising this form of composition at all, the education which he had received from his father, who, when he wished to deter him from any vice, showed its bad consequences in the example of others.)

The poets, Eupolis and Cratinus and Aristophanes and others of those men whose comedy is of the old (school), if anyone deserved to be exposed (lit. marked out), because he was a rascal or a thief, or because (he was) an adulterer or a cut-throat, they branded (him) an infamous (fellow). From this Lucilius derives (lit. hangs) entirely, having imitated them, only changing the feet and rhythms (of their verse), a witty (fellow), with a keen discernment (lit. nose), (but) harsh in the composition of his verses. For in this (respect) he was at fault: as if (it were) a great (feat), he would often dictate two hundred verses in an hour without effort (lit. standing on one foot); when he flowed muddily along, there was always (something) which you would wish to remove; (he was) verbose and unwilling to endure th effort of writing, of writing correctly; for with regard to the quantity (of his works), I do not care about that at all. See, Crispinus offers me long odds (lit. challenges me in the smallest [sum]) - "Take your tablets, if you wish, I shall take (mine);let a place, a time (and) umpires be granted to us; let us see which of us can write the most." The god have done well by me, because they have have fashioned me with a poor and humble mind, which speaks seldom and (then only) a very little; but you (go ahead and) , as you prefer (this), imitate the air in goat-skin bellows,puffing constantly until the fire softens the iron. Fannius (is) a happy (man), his writings (lit. his book-cases) and his bust having been presented (to the Palatine Apollo, i.e. the public library), since no one reads my writings, as I fear to give public recitals, because there are (certain people) whom this kind (of writing. i.e. satire) does not please, as there are very many who deserve to be censured. Pick anyone you like from the midst of the crowd: he labours either on account of avarice or wretched ambition. One is obsessed with the love of married (women), another (with the love) of boys:  a third is captivated by the glitter of silver; Albius is enraptured by bronze. Another exchanges his merchandise from (beneath) the rising sun (i.e. the east), (even) to that (sun) by which the evening quarter is made warm (i.e. the west), nay rather, like the dust gathered by a whirlwind he is borne headlong through (the midst of) dangers, dreading that he should lose any of his capital, or (hoping) that he should increase his profits. They are all afraid of verse, they hate poets. "He has hay on his horn, (i.e. he is a dangerous creature) (they cry), give him a wide berth (lit. avoid [him)] from a long off); if only he can raise a laugh for his own (amusement), he will not spare any friend, and whatever he has once scribbled on his paper, he will be eager that all the boys and old women should know (about it), as they return from the bakehouse and the basin." (But) come on, attend to a few (words) in reply.

In the first place, I shall exclude myself from the number of those whom I allow to be poets: for you would not consider it to be enough to complete a verse, nor, if any (person) writes like me (in a style) rather close to conversation would you consider him to be a poet. You should give the honour of this name (to him) who has (lit. to whom there is) genius, who has (lit. to whom [there is]) an inspired soul and (one which is) noble in respect of the expression of music. For this reason some have asked (whether) comedy is is poetry or not, because an animated spirit and force is neither in the style (lit. words) nor in the subject matter, (and,) except that it differs from prose by a certain fixed measure, it is mere prose. "But an inflamed father rages because his dissolute son, obsessed by his prostitute mistress, refuses a wife with a fat dowry, and, (something) which is a great scandal, he rambles about drunk  with torches before nightfall." But could Pomponius hear any less severe (lit. lighter) (reproofs) in these (matters) if his father were alive? Therefore, it is not sufficient to write verse in plain words, which, if you were to reassemble (it), any father would rage in the same manner as the (one) represented on the stage. If you were to take away from these (verses), which (I am writing) at this present moment (or) which Lucilius wrote formerly, the regular pauses (lit. times) and rhythms (lit. measures), and you were to make that word which was first in order last (by) placing the latter (words) before the earlier (ones), you will not find the limbs of a poet, even if dismembered in the same manner as if you were to release (these lines of Ennius): "when loathsome Discord shattered the iron-bound portals and gates of war".

(I have brought) these (things) thus far: at some other time (I shall discuss whether comedy is genuine poetry or not. Now I shall only ask this (question), whether this kind of writing (i.e. satire) should deservedly be an object of your suspicion. The zealous Sulgius and Caprius prowl around, hoarse in their malignancy and with their indictments, each of them (is) a terror to robbers; but, if a man lives honestly and with clean hands, he may despise (them) both. Although you may be like the highwaymen Caelius and Birrus, I am not (like) Caprius or Sulgius; why should you be afraid of me? No shop or stall keeps my books, over which the hand of the rabble and of Hermogenes Tigellus may sweat, nor do I recite (what I have written) to anyone, except my friends, and (I only do) that (when) pressed, not anywhere or before anyone you like. nor do I recite (what I have written) to anyone except my friends, and (I only do) that (when) pressed, not anywhere or before anyone you like.

There are many who recite their writings in the middle of the forum and (who do it while) bathing: being shut in (on every side), the place echoes with their voice. This pleases empty-headed (people), who do not (stop to) ask whether they do this to no purpose (lit. without sense) or at the wrong time. "(But) you," he says, "delight to to hurt (people), and, (being) wicked, you do this through inclination." From what (source) do you throw this charge upon me? So is anyone of those with whom I have lived its author? (He) who backbites an absent friend, who does not stand up for (him), when another is running (him) down, who keenly seeks the unrestrained laughter of those men (around him) and the reputation of a wit, who can invent (things) which he did not see, (but) who cannot keep secrets quiet: he is a black(-hearted man), beware of him, you Roman. You may often see four (men) dining on three couches, one of whom delights to besprinkle the others with every kind of (witticism), except him who provides the water (for the bath), (and) him too (when he is) drunk, and when truth-telling Liber opens up the secrets of his heart (lit. his concealed heart):this (man) seems affable and humourous and frank to you, (who are) hostile to the malignant: (but) do I, if I have laughed because that absurd Rufillus smells of perfume (and) Gargonius (of) goat, appear to you spiteful and vicious? If any mention is made of the thefts of Petillius Capitolinus, you would defend (him) as is your habit: "Capitolinus has had me as a companion and a friend from boyhood, and, at my request, has done very many favours on my (account), and I am glad that he lives safely in the city; but, nevertheless, I do wonder, by what means he avoided that sentence": this (is) the (very) essence of black malignity (lit. juice of the black cuttlefish), this is pure malignity; I promise that this crime shall be far away from my writings and, before (I turn to write) from my mind, if I can ever sincerely promise anything of myself. If I say anything too freely, if perhaps too jokingly, you will grant me this privilege with your indulgence: my excellent father accustomed me to this (practice), so that, by noting, by means of examples, each particular vice, I might avoid (them) . When he exhorted me to live thriftily, frugally, and content with what (lit. that which) he himself had provided for me: (he would say) "Don't you see how wretchedly the son of Albius lives, and how miserably Baius (lives)? A salutary warning, lest anyone wishes to squander away his patrimony!" When he sought to deter (me) from the shameful love of a prostitute, (he would say): "Don't be like (lit. You should be different from) Scetanus."

(He said) that I should not follow adulteresses, when I could enjoy a permitted love-affair: "Having been caught (in the act), the reputation of Trebonius is not good," he cried. "A philosopher will give you reasons (for what) it is better to avoid and what to pursue; for me it is sufficient, if (I can) preserve the customs handed down from our forefathers, and, while you stand in need of guardians, I can keep your life and reputation safe; as soon as age shall have strengthened your limbs and your mind, you shall swim without cork." So he formed me (when I was) a boy by such words, and whether he ordered me to do anything (in particular) (he would say), "You have an authority for doing this." (Then) he presented to my view one (person) out of those chosen magistrates, or if he forbade (me to do anything), (he would say), "Can you doubt whether this is a wrong and useless (thing) to do, or not, when this (person) and that (one) are the victims of an evil reputation? As the funeral of a neighbour terrifies the sick (who are) greedy (for food), and forces them to spare themselves through fear of death, so other (men's) disgraces often deter tender minds from vice. On account of this. I (am)free from such (things) as bring destruction (in their wake). And even perhaps from the number of these a maturer age, a candid friend (or) my own reflection may largely remove; for neither, when (I am) in bed or the public portico has welcomed me, am I failing myself. "This is a better (way to proceed); (by) doing this, I shall live better; thus I shall appear agreeable to my friends; a certain (person) did not do well. Shall I, imprudently, ever do anything like that? I revolve these (things) with compressed lips; when some leisure is granted (to me), I shall amuse myself with my writings. This is one of those foibles (I have mentioned); to this, if you do not grant (your indulgence), a numerous band of poets shall come, which will be of assistance to me - for we are many (in number), and, like the Jews, we shall force you to submit to this numerous party (of ours).


5.   A journey to Brundisium.  (This little poem contains the account of a journey from Rome to Brundisium, in 38 or 37 B.C., which Horace undertook in the company of Maecenas, Virgil, Plotius and Varius. Though travelling on affairs of state, resembled an excursion of pleasure, rather than a journey involving the dispatch of plenipotentiaries. They stayed at their own villas on the way, swhere they entertained each other in turn, and declined no amusement which they met with on the road. They must, indeed, have proceeded only one or two stages daily, for the distance was about 350 miles; and, according to those critics who have minutely traced their progress, and ascertained their resting places, the journey must have occupied twelve to fifteen days. The poet satirically and comically describes the inconveniences encountered on the road, and all the ludicrous incidents which occurred.)

Having left great Rome, Aricia received me in a middling inn; Heliodorus, the rhetorician, by far the most learned of the Greeks, (was) my companion; from there (we went) to Forum Appi, (which was) crammed with boatmen and surly innkeepers. This (stage of) our route, (though) one for more active travellers than ourselves, we, (being) lazy, divided (into two). Here, on account of the water, which was very bad, I declare war on my stomach (i.e. I ate nothing), waiting impatiently (lit. not with a patient mind) for my companions (while) they dine.

Now night was preparing to draw her shadows upon the earth and to spread constellations over the heavens: then our slaves began to hurl abuse at the boatmen, (and) the boatmen upon our slaves: "Bring (her) over here"; "You are letting in three hundred"; "Whoa! that is enough now."

While the fare is collected, (and) while the mule is being harnessed, a whole hour goes by. The troublesome gnats and the marsh frogs make sleep impossible (lit. avert sleep); a boatman, drenched with plenty of flat wine, sings of his absent mistress, and a traveller tries to vie (with him); at last, the weary traveller begins to fall asleep, and the lazy boatman fastens the halter of the mule, (which has been) turned out to graze, to a stone, and snores, (while) lying on his back. And now the day was at hand, when we see that the boat has made no progress at all, while one (of the travellers), an irritable (fellow), leaps out (of the boat) and wallops the head and the sides of the mule and the boatman with a stick of willow. At last we are set ashore at almost the fourth hour (i.e. ten o'clock). We wash our faces and hands in the water of your (spring), (O) Ferronia. Then, having breakfasted, we  crawl three miles and come up to Anxur, perched on its rocks (which look) white from afar. The excellent Maecenas was due to come here, along with Cocceius, both (being) ambassadors sent on matters of great (importance), having been accustomed to reconciling friends (who had) quarrelled. Here, having sore eyes, I smeared black ointment on my eyes. Meanwhile, Maecenas arrives, and also Cocceius, and likewise Fonteius Capito, a man of the most polished manners (lit. a man made to the nail), (and) an intimate of Antony, no one more so.

Gladly we leave Fundi, (where) Aufidius Luscus (was) praetor, laughing at the insignia of that outrageous official, his (toga) praetexta, his broad-striped (tunic) and his pan of incense. Next, (being) weary, we stop in the city of the Mamurrae (i.e. Formiae), where Murena gives (us) his house and Capito his kitchen.

The next day arises, much the most agreeable (to us all); for Plotius, Varius and Virgil meet (us) at Sinuessa, no souls more sincere than these has the world (ever) produced, nor is there anyone more strongly attached to them than myself. O what embraces and what joys there were! So long as I am in my right mind, I cannot compare anything to a smiling friend. A small house, which (is) next to the Campanian bridge, provided (us) with lodgings, and the official purveyors (with) fuel and salt. From here, the mules laid down their saddle-packs at Capua in good time. Maecenas goes to play (ball), Virgil and I (go) to sleep; for to play ball (is) harmful to sore eyes and dyspeptic (stomachs).

Hence, the most plentiful villa of Cocceius, which overlooks (lit. is [situated] above) the inns of Caudium, receives us. Now, my Muse, I beg (you to) recall in a few (words) the clash between the clown Sarmentus and Messius Cicirrus, and descended from what ancestry (lit. born to which father) each engaged in the conflict.  The Oscans (are) the illustrious stock of Messius; Sarmentus' mistress is still alive: sprung from such ancestors, they came to the combat. Sarmentus (spoke) first: "I declare that you are like a wild horse." We laugh, and Messius, himself, accepts (the challenge), and tosses his head. "O (what) a forehead you would have (lit. there would be to you), if your horn had not been cut off!" he said. "What would you do, since, mutilated (as you are), you threaten us thus?" For an ugly scar had disfigured his hairy brow on the left (side) of his face. After having made numerous jokes about his Campanian disease and about his face, he asked (him) to dance (the part of) the Cyclopean shepherd (i.e. Polyphemus). (He said) that he had (lit. there was to him) no need for a mask or for tragic buskins. Cicirrus (said) many (things in response) to these (questions): he asked whether he had already offered his chain to the household gods in accordance with his vow. Although he was a clerk, his mistress's claim (on him) was no less. Finally, he asked, why had he ever run away, (a man) so meagre and so insignificant, for whom one pound of meal (a day) would be ample. We happily extend that dinner forwards (into the night).

From here we proceed straight to Beneventum, where our bustling host almost burned down (his house), while turning skinny thrushes on the fire. For, when the fire fell through the old kitchen (floor), the flickering flame hastened to lick the top of the roof. Then, you could have seen the hungry guests and the frightened slaves snatch up their dinner, and everyone trying to extinguish (the flames).

From that (point onwards), Apulia displayed to me her familiar mountains, which the Atabulus (wind) (i.e. the Scirocco) scorches, and over which we should never have crawled, if the neighbouring villa of Trivicus had not received (us), (although) not without smoke that brought tears to our eyes, (coming) from a furnace burning green boughs with the leaves (still on them). Here I, utter fool (that I was), wait for a deceitful girl right up to midnight; sleep, however, overtakes (me), (while) thinking about love; then dreams, caused by a dirty vision, stain my night-gown and stomach as I lie on my back.

From here we are whirled along in carriages for twenty-four miles, intending to stop at a little town, which it is not possible to name in verse (i.e. Equotuticum), (but which) is very easily (recognised) by its features: here water is sold, (though) the most vile of (all) commodities, but their bread (is) so exceedingly fine that the prudent traveller is accustomed to carry (it) further (on the journey) upon his shoulders. For (the bread) of Canusium (is) gritty, (though) your pitcher is no better off for water (than it is here). This place was once founded by the valiant Diomedes. Here, a sad Varius departs from his weeping friends.

Thence, we arrived at Rubi, exhausted, because we were travelling on a long journey, and it was rendered worse (than usual) by rain. On the next (day) the weather (was) better, (but) the road as far as the walls of Bari, renowned for its fish, (was) worse (than before). Then, Gnatia, (which had been) built by the angry water-nymphs, gave (us occasion) for laughter and jokes, while it tries to persuade (us) that, at this sacred portal, incense melts without a flame. The Jew Apella may believe (this), not I; for I have learned that the gods pass their time in a carefree (state), and that, if nature performs anything wonderful, the gods have not, in their anxiety (about us), sent it down from their lofty canopy in the sky.


6.  Against snobbery. (In this poem Horace expresses his deep gratitude both to Maecenas, for his patronage to himself, a man of humble origin, and to his father, a freedman, to whom he attributes, in the most sincere and touching manner, the credit for any good qualities he himself may possess. Although he has no ambitions to pursue a political career of his own, he makes clear that he thinks positions of power should be open to all men of ability, not just to those of the upper class. This satire is also valuable for the information it contains about Horace's early education, and the circumstances surrounding the first introduction to Maecenas. He also heralds the virtue and frugality of his own life, and mentions candidly some of his foibles, and describes his table, equipage and amusements. Here very detail is of interest. We behold him, though a courtier, simple in his pleasures, and honest, warm and candid, in his temper and his manners.) 

Maecenas, you do not, as most are wont (to do), regard with a sneer (lit. a curled nose) obscure (people) like me, born to a freedman father, because no one of the Lydians whoever settled in the territories of the Etruscans is nobler than you, nor because you had an ancestor on (both) your mother's and on your father's side who in the past commanded mighty armies. Since you say that it does not matter to what parent any (man) is born, provided that (he is a man) of worth, you rightly persuade yourself of this, that before the sway of (Servius) Tullius, and his ignoble reign many men, sprung from no (long line of) ancestors, both lived the lives (of men) of merit, and were blessed with splendid honours; on the other hand, Laevinus, a descendant of that Valerius, by means of whom Tarquinius Superbus (was) expelled from his kingdom (and) fled into exile, was never rated more highly than the value of a single penny by the verdict of the people, that judge whom you know (so well), (the people) who often foolishly bestow offices on unworthy (candidates) and who are, in their stupidity, lost in admiration amongst inscriptions and busts. What ought we (lit. does it behove us) to do, far, far removed from the masses (as we are)? For suppose (this) (lit. let [this] be [the case]): the people would prefer to entrust office to a Laevinus than to a new (man like) Decius, and a censor (like) Appius would remove (me from the roll of the Senate), if I were not born to a freeborn father: deservedly perhaps, since I was not resting content in my proper sphere (lit. in my own skin). But glory drags the obscure no less than the high-born chained to her gleaming chariot: of what (advantage has it been) to you, Tillius, to resume the the broad-striped (tunic) which you had laid aside and to become a tribune (once more)? Resentment increased, which would have been less (if you had been) a private (citizen). For, when any mad (fellow) has bound the middle of his legs with those black buskins, and has let the broad stripe flow down from his chest, he hears at once: "Who is this man? Whose son is he (lit. To what father [is he] born)?" Just as if someone suffers from the illness that Barrus (does), and wants to be thought handsome, let him go wherever (he wishes), he incites a concern in girls to enquire about particular (personal details), as to what sort of face (and) leg, (and) what sort of feet, teeth and hair he has (lit. there is [to him]). Thus, (he) who promises that the citizen body, the city, the empire, Italy and the temples of the gods will be his charge, forces every mortal to show interest (in him) and to ask whose son he is (lit. to what father is he born), (or) whether (he is) dishonoured by virtue of an unknown mother. "Do you, the son of a Syrus, a Dama or a Dionysius (i.e. a slave), presume to throw (Roman) citizens down from the (Tarpeian) rock or hand (them) over to Cadmus (i.e. the executioner)? "But," (you may say), "Novius sits one row behind me; for he is what my father was." Do you think (lit. Does it seem to you) that you are a Paulus or a Messalla? But, if two hundred waggons and three enormous funerals were to meet together in the forum, he would speak out loudly enough to drown the (sound of) the horns and trumpets: at least this (ability) holds our (attention)."

Now, I revert to myself, the son of a freedman (lit. born to a freedman father), (and) at whom everyone carps as being the son of a freedman (lit. as having been born to a freedman father), (and) now, Maecenas, (they do so) because I am your companion and because once a Roman legion obeyed me when I was its military tribune. The latter (point) is different from the former, in that, although any (person) might perhaps justly envy me this (post of) honour, (he can)not in the same way also (envy me getting) you (as) a friend, especially as you are careful to take up (only persons) worthy (of your friendship), (and those) far removed from any base currying of favour. I cannot say that  I (was) lucky on this account, in that I obtained you (as) a friend by chance. For indeed it was no chance that brought you into my (life): a long time ago, that best (of men), Virgil, (and), after him, Varius, told (you) what (sort of a man) I was. When I came into your presence, speaking a few (words) in a halting voice - for childish shyness prevented (me) from speaking more - I do not tell (you) that I am the son of (lit. I was born to) an illustrious father, I (do) not (tell you) that I rode around the country on my Tarentine horse. You, as is your custom, answer in a few (words); I depart, and you invite (me) back nine months (lit. in the ninth month) afterwards, and bid me be in the ranks (lit. number) of your friends. I consider it a great (thing) that I pleased you, who can distinguish decency from baseness, not by means of a noble father but by a (clean) life-style and a pure heart.

Now, if my character is flawed by a few moderate blemishes but (is) otherwise perfect, just as if you might find fault with some moles scattered over a fine body, if no one can truthfully accuse me of greed or meanness or wicked debauchery, if, although I am praising myself very highly, I live a clean and innocent (life), and I am dear to my friends, the cause of all these (things) was my father, who, (though) a poor (man) on a lean little farm, was unwilling to send me to Flavius' school, to which great boys sprung from great centurions used to go, hanging their satchels and writing-tablets over their left arms, bearing eight bronze asses each on the Ides, but he ventured to take his boy to Rome to be taught the accomplishments which any knight or senator causes their progeny (lit. [those] sprung from themselves) to be taught. If anyone had noticed my dress and the slaves accompanying (me), as (he might have done ) amidst such a large (throng of) people, he would have been thinking that those expenses were supplied to me from some hereditary estate. Why (should I say) much (more)? He kept (me) chaste, which is the first ornament of virtue, not only from every (shameful) deed, but also from (every) shameful allegation, nor was he afraid lest anyone should assign (it) to him (as) a fault, if some day I should follow a humble trade (lit. small rewards) (as) an auctioneer or (as) a tax-collector, as he was himself. Nor should I have complained (if I had). On this (account) praise is now due to him, and a greater gratitude from me. (So long as I am in) my right mind, I cannot be ashamed of (lit. it cannot repent me in respect of) such a father in any way at all, and, for this (reason), I shall not seek to excuse myself in such a manner as when a great number state that it did not happen through any fault of theirs that they do not have freeborn and illustrious parents. My language and sentiments are far different from (those of) such (people). For, if nature ordered (us) to go over past time for a fixed (period of) years and to choose (other) parents to (suit) our pride, each one might choose for himself whatever parents he pleased, (but,) content with mine, I would not wish to take to myself (those who might be) honoured by the rods and (curule) chairs, (being) a madman in the judgment of the people, but in yours, I hope, (a man) of sense, because I should not be willing to bear a troublesome burden (to which I had) never been accustomed. For it would be necessary for me immediately to seek a larger fortune and to greet more (people), and this and that companion must be taken along, so that I could not go out, either into the country or away from home on my own, and more servants and horses must be fed, and carriages must be drawn. Now, if it pleases (me), I can (lit. it is permitted [to me] to) go even as far as Tarentum on my gelded mule, whose flanks my portmanteau might chafe with its weight, as the rider (does) its withers. No one will charge me with such stinginess, as (they do) you, Tillius, when five slaves follow you, a praetor, along the road to Tibur, carrying a cooking-pot and a casket of wine. In this, and in a thousand other (ways), I live more comfortably than you (do), (O) illustrious senator. Wherever I have the fancy (there is the fancy [to me]), I stroll by myself, I ask how much (is the price of) cabbage and bread, and  wander around the tricking circus and the forum frequently in the evening, I stand (listening) among the fortune-tellers, thence I return home (betake myself homewards) to a plate of leaks and lentils and pancakes; my supper is served by three slaves, and a white stone (slab) supports two cups with a ladle, (and) a salt-cellar stands nearby, a cruet with a little bowl, of Campanian ware. Then, I go to sleep, not concerned that tomorrow I must rise in the morning, to meet (the statue of) Marsyas, who says that he cannot bear the face of the younger Novius. I lie (in bed) till (lit. to) the fourth hour (i.e. ten o'clock); after this I go for a walk or, after reading or writing what pleases (me) in my quiet moments, I am anointed with oil, (but) not such as that filthy Natta (uses), when he has robbed the lamps.

But when the warmer sun reminds me, tired (as I am), to go to bathe, I avoid the Campus (Martius) and the (ball) game for three. After lunching, not greedily (but) just enough to prevent (me) from having to endure the day on an empty stomach, I idle around at home. This is the life of those who are freed from wretched and burdensome ambition; in such (circumstances) I reassure myself that I am destined to live more pleasantly than if my grandfather and father and uncle had been a quaestor.


7.  Against the scurrilous and the uncivil. (In this satire a law-suit is featured for the purpose of introducing a somewhat indifferent witticism on the part of one of the litigants. The case was pleaded before Marcus Brutus, one of the principal assassins of Julius Caesar, when he was Governor of Asia in 43 B.C. and making progress through the province for the sake of dispensing justice. The parties being named Persius and Rupilius Rex, the former asked Brutus, during the hearing of the case, why, as it was the practice of his family, to destroy kings, he did not cut the throat of his adversary. At this distance of time, the pun has lost its impact, but the faces and gestures of the parties, and the impudence of addressing this piece of folly to such a man as Brutus may have diverted the audience, and made an impression on Horace, who was perhaps present, as he was at that time following the fortunes of the conspirator.)

In what manner the half-breed Persius took vengeance upon the malice and venom of the outlawed King Rupilius, is, I think, known to all (men) with sore-eyes and barbers. This Persius, a wealthy (man), had a very great business at Clazomenae, and then a troublesome lawsuit with King, a hard (man) and (one) who was able to surpass King in rudeness, confident and blustering, (and) so bitter in his speech that he far excelled men like Sisenna and Barrus (lit. he surpassed the Sisennae and Barri on their white horses).

I revert to King. After nothing is agreed upon between the two (of them) - for all (those) between whom face-to-face war breaks out are by this law as stubborn as (they are) valiant: the feud (lit. wrath) between Hector, the son of Priam and the furious Achilles was so murderous that in the end (only) death could separate (them), for no other reason than that there was the highest (degree of) courage in both (of them); if strife troubles two faint-hearted (men) or if a clash breaks out between (men) of unequal (strength), such as Diomedes and the Lycian Glaucus, the weaker (of the two) should withdraw, sending gifts on a voluntary basis: when Brutus was holding rich Asia as praetor, the pair Rupilius and Persius fight in such a manner as Bacchius was no better matched with Bithus. They rush eagerly into court, each (of them) a fine sight.

Persius sets out his case; he is laughed at by the whole assembly; he praises Brutus, and he praises his retinue, he calls Brutus "the sun of Asia", and he calls his companions "healthy stars", with the exception of King; (he says) that he has come upon (them like) that Dog, the star so hateful to farmers; he rushes on like a wintry torrent (in places) where an axe is seldom wielded.

Then the man from Praeneste, that tough and unconquered vine-dresser, to whom the traveller often has to yield, (after) calling (him) "Cuckoo" in a loud voice, hurls back abuse squeezed from the vineyard (upon him) a she flows along so wittily and copiously.

But the Greek Persius, after he has been drenched in Italian vinegar, exclaims: "By the mighty gods, Brutus, I beg you, who are accustomed to getting rid of kings, why do you not kill this King? Believe me, this is (one) of your tasks."


8.  Against the superstitious and sorceresses. (The purpose of this satire is to ridicule the superstitions of the Romans. Priapus is introduced describing the incantations performed by Canidia, in a garden of the Esquile Hill, which he was protecting from thieves. But he could not guard it from the intrusion of Canidia and a sister hag, who resorted to it for the celebration of their unhallowed rites.) 

Once I was the trunk of a fig-tree, a useless lump of wood (N.B. because of its brittleness), when the carpenter, uncertain whether (to) make a stool (or) a Priapus, preferred that I should be a god. Then I (was) a god, the great terror of thieves and birds; for (the club in) my right hand checked the thieves as did the red stake which stretched from my obscene crotch, and  also the (crown of) reeds fixed on the top (of my head) frightens off the birds, and stops (them) settling in these new gardens. Before this, a slave had deposited into a cheap coffin corpses which had been tossed out of their narrow cells; this stood (as) the common burial-ground of the wretched mob; here a tombstone assigned a thousand feet in breadth (lit. in front, i.e. along the road) and three hundred (feet) in depth (lit. [extending] into the field), (with the added injunction) that this monument (i.e. the land denoted by it) should not go to any heirs. Now it is possible to live on the Esquiline (Hill) and its healthy (surroundings), and to walk on an open terrace, where a short time ago melancholy (passers-by) beheld the ground hideous with whitened bones, although both the thieves and the birds of prey that are accustomed to worry this place are not as great a concern and (source of ) trouble to me as (those hags) who turn men's minds by their incantation and drug potions: these I cannot by any means eradicate, or prevent, as soon as the fleeting moon has brought forward her beautiful face (i.e. when it is full), from gathering bones and harmful herbs.

I, myself, saw Canidia, with her black robe tucked up (lit. tucked up in respect of her black robe), walk with bare feet and dishevelled hair, shrieking together with the elder Sagana: their pallor had rendered both (of them) horrible to behold. They began to scrape away the earth with their nails and to tear a black ewe into pieces with their teeth; the blood (was) poured into a ditch, so that by these means they might entice the shades (of the dead) (as) the ghosts that would give (them) answers. There was also a woollen effigy, and another (one) of wax: the woollen (one) was the larger, in order to keep the smaller in check; the waxen (one) stood in a suppliant posture, seeing that (it was) now expecting to perish like (lit. in the manner of) a slave. One (of the hags) invokes Hecate, the other the savage Tisiphone: (then) you might have seen serpents and infernal bitches wandering about, and the blushing moon, hiding behind the lofty tombstones, lest she serve (as) an eye-witness to these (horrors). But, if I lie in any way, may my head (lit. may I in respect of my head) be defiled with the white droppings of crows, and may Julius and the mincing Pediatia and the thief Voranus come to piss and shit upon me. Why should I recall every single (detail), (that is) in what manner the shades, speaking in turn with Sagana, uttered plaintive and shrill (sounds), and how, in stealth, they buried a wolf's beard, together with a spotted snake, and (how) a great (flame) of fire blazed forth from the waxen image, and (how) I (as) a not (to be) unavenged witness, shuddered at the voices and the actions of these two furies? For, I, (being made of (the wood of) a fig-tree, with my buttocks split asunder, farted as loudly as a burst bladder sounds; but these two (hags) ran into the city. With great laughter and jocularity, you might have seen Canidia's (false) teeth and Sagana's towering wig fall down, as well as the herbs and the enchanted bands from their arms.


9.  Against impudent and useless parasites.  (In this well-known satire, Horace describes the unavailing efforts which he employs to rid himself of the persistent attentions of an importunate bore, who tires and overwhelms him with his loquacity, while he is walking through the centre of Rome. Sometimes he stops short, at other times he walks fast, but all his endeavours to shake off this pest are unavailing. A few of the touches of this finished portrait, which is unsurpassed in terms if its delicacy of colouring and accuracy of delineation, have been taken from the characters of Theophrastus.) 

By chance I was going along the Via Sacra, meditating on some (lit. I know not what) trifling (matters), as is my habit, (and being) totally (absorbed) in them: a certain (person) known to me only by name runs up (to me), and, seizing me by the hand, (says) "How are you doing, my very dearest of fellows?"

"Very well (lit. Pleasantly), at present (lit. as it now is)," say I, "and I wish (you) everything that you desire." When he continued to follow me, I interject, "(There's) nothing you want, is there?

But he says, "(I wish) you would become acquainted with me (lit. get to know me), for I am a man of letters (lit. a learned [man])."

Hereupon I say, "You will be of more (esteem) to me on this (account)." Seeking sadly to get away (from him), at one moment I went more quickly, then I stopped (and) spoke something (lit. I know not what) to my slave, into his ear, while the sweat trickled into my ankles. "O Bolanus, how lucky you (are) with your temper!" said I quietly, while that (man) prattled away, (saying) anything that came into his head (lit. whatever he liked), (and) he praised the streets (and) the city.

When I did not reply to him at all, he said, "You desperately desire to get away (from me): I saw (that) some time ago; but it's no use (lit. you are getting nowhere): I shall stick close (to you); from here I shall follow (you to the place) to which your journey is now (directed)."

"There is absolutely no need for you to be dragged out of your way (lit. dragged around): I want to visit someone who is not known to you; he is (ill) in bed some distance away across the Tiber near Caesar's gardens."

"I have nothing to do, and I am not lazy: I shall follow you right up (to your destination)." I dropped my ears, like a young ass with a surly disposition, when he suffers a heavier load (than usual) on his back. He begins (again): "If I know myself (at all) well, you will not regard Viscus or Varius (as) a friend more (than me); for who can write more verses, or (write them) more quickly, than me? Who can dance (lit move his limbs) more gracefully (than me)? I sing in such a way that even Hermogenes would envy (me)."

Here there was an opportunity of interrupting (him): "Do you have a mother (Is there a mother to you), or any relations, who are interested in your welfare (lit. for whom there is a need for you [to be] safe)?"

" I have no one (lit. There is not anyone to me). I have laid (them) all to rest."

"How lucky (they are)! Now I am left. Finish (me) off! For my dismal fate is at hand, which an old Sabine woman, after shaking her fortune-teller's urn, prophesied (when I was) a boy: 'That (boy) neither cruel poison nor an enemy's sword, nor pleurisy (lit. pain of the lungs) or a cough, nor crippling gout shall carry off: (but) some day or other a babbler shall destroy him: if he is wise, let him avoid talkative (people), as soon he has come of age (lit. his age has increased).' "

When a quarter (lit. a fourth part) of the day had passed, we had come (lit. there was a coming [on our part]) to Vesta's (temple), and, as it happened, he was due to put in an appearance in court for (a man) who had been bound over on bail, (and) unless he did this he would lose his lawsuit. "If you love me," he says, "(support) me a little."

"May I perish, if I have the strength  to stand (throughout the case), or (if) I know the civil laws; and I am hastening (to the place) to which you are aware."

"I am in doubt (as to) what I should do," he says, "whether I should abandon you or the case."

"Me, I beg of you."

"I will not do (it)," he (says), and he begins to go ahead of me. As it is hard to contend with one's conqueror, I follow. "How (does) Maecenas (get on) with you?" At this point he resumes (his prattle).

"(He is a man) of few acquaintances and of a very sound mind."

"No one has made use of fortune more skilfully (than I). You should have a powerful assistant who could undertake secondary (roles), if you were willing to introduce your truly (lit. this man, i.e. himself); may I perish, if you would not have supplanted every (rival)."

"We do not live there in that fashion which you imagine; there is not any house (which is) freer (lit. cleaner) or more  remote from such evils; it does not prejudice me in any way, " I say, "that any particular (person) is richer or more learned (than I am); every single  (person) has (lit. there is to every single [person]) his own place."

"You inflame (me) all the more as to why I should desire to be very close to him."

"You have only to wish (it): your merit (is such) that you will take (him) by storm: and yet he is (someone) who can be won over, and, for that (reason), he keeps initial approaches (to him) difficult."

"I shall not be (found) wanting on my own behalf: I shall bribe his servants with gifts; if today I am excluded, I shall not desist; I shall seek the right moments; I shall meet (him) in the street (lit. at the crossroads, I shall escort (him) home. Life gives nothing to mortals without great labour."

While he blathers on (lit. pushes forth these [words]), behold, Aristius Fuscus meets (us), (a man) very dear to me, and who knew that man very well. We stop.

"Where are you coming from and to where are you going to?" he asks, and replies (to the same question). I begin to pluck (at his cloak), and press his sluggish (lit. very slow) arms with my hand, nodding and winking (lit. distorting my eyes) (at him) in order that he should rescue me. Cruelly arch and laughing, he pretended (not to understand me); bile burned in my liver.

"To be sure, (Fuscus)," (said I), "you said that you wanted to discuss something (lit. I know not what) with me in private."

"I remember (it) well, but I shall speak (with you) at a better time; today (is) the thirtieth sabbath: do you wish to affront the circumcised Jews?

"I have (lit. There are to me) no scruples at all (on that account)," say I.

"But I have (lit. there are to me). I am somewhat weaker (than you), one of the multitude. May you forgive (me); I shall speak (with you) at another time." (To think that this day (lit. sun) should have arisen so unluckily (lit. black) for me! The wicked (rogue) runs off, and leaves me under the knife.

(But,) as luck would have it (lit. by chance), his opponent meets him (lit. comes in his way), and shouts (at him) in a loud voice, "Where are you going to, (you) blackguard (lit. most shameful [man])?", and (to me), "Will you (lit. It is permitted [to you] to) be a witness (to the arrest)? Assuredly, I offer my ear (to him). He hurries (that man) into court; there is a clamour on both sides, (and) a throng on all sides. Thus Apollo saved me.


10.  Against the foolish promoters of Lucilius. (In this piece, which is entirely critical, Horace supports, and, where necessary modifies, an opinion which he had previously pronounced - see Satire I. 4. above - concerning the stylistic shortcomings of Lucilius, which had given offence to the numerous admirers of that ancient satirist.)

To be sure, I did say that Lucilius' verses ran (along) in an irregular metre. Who is so foolish an admirer of Lucilius that he would not confess this? But the same (writer) is applauded in the same piece because he lashed the city with abundant wit. But while I grant (him) this, I will not yet give up the other (considerations), for by so doing I might even (have to) admire the mimes of Laberius as fine poems. So it is not enough to open up your listener's jaw in a grin  - and yet there is a certain kind of merit here also. There is a need for terseness, in order to let the thought run, and not entangle itself with verbiage that overloads the tired ears, and sometimes there is a need for a grave, (or) frequently a playful, style, which now assumes the function of an orator or a poet, (and) at times (that) of a refined (speaker), who spares the strength (of his rhetoric) and purposely weakens it. Ridicule generally decides important matters more effectively and in a better manner than severity (of satire). That strength with which ancient comedy was written depended (lit. stood) upon this (foundation); and in this they are worthy of imitation; (they were writers) whom neither pretty Hermogenes nor that ape,(who is) skilled in nothing except to sing (the compositions of) Calvus and Catullus, have ever read.

"But Lucilius did a great (thing) in that he intermingled Greek with Latin words." O (you) late learners, how can you think (it) difficult and wonderful because Pitholeon of Rhodes happened (to write it)? "But an elegant style in both tongues (is) more pleasant, as if Falernian (wine) is blended with Chian." When you write verses, I ask you this very (question): (do you only do it then) or also when you have (lit. it is necessary for you) to undertake the difficult cause of the accused Petillius? Doubtless forgetful of your country and your father, while Pedius Poplicola and Corvinus sweat through their cases, would you prefer to intermingle words sought from abroad with (those) of your father, in the manner of the two-tongued Canusian? And I, who was born on this side of the sea, when I tried to write some Greek verses, Quirinus, appearing after midnight, when dreams (are) true, forbade me (to do so) in a voice of this kind: "It is not madder for you to carry (logs of) timber into a wood than if you were to make up the mighty ranks of the Greeks."

While the bombastic Alpinus murders Memnon, and while he deforms the head of the Rhine with mud, I play at these competitive emulations which cannot ring out in the temple (of the Muses), with Tarpa as the judge, nor can they be rerun (lit. return) again and again to be watched in theatres. You (O) Fundanius, the one man of those alive, are able to prattle forth delightful tales of how an artful courtesan and Davus cheat on an old Chremes, (and) Pollio sings of the actions of kings in iambic trimeters (lit. with a three foot metre being struck); the spirited Varius marshals manly epics as no one (else can do), and the Muses that delight in rural (scenes) have granted a soft and charming (touch) to Virgil: After the Atacinian Varro, and certain others, had attempted (it) in vain, this was what I was able to write with better (results), (though) inferior to the inventor. Nor would I presume to pull off the (laurel) crown, attached to his head with great applause.

But I did say that he flowed muddily (along), frequently indeed bearing more things which ought to be removed than left. Well now, I pray, do you, a learned (critic), find no fault at all in mighty Homer? Does the courtly Lucilius make no changes to the tragic Accius? Does he not laugh at those lines of Ennius (which are) inferior to the gravity (of the subject), and when he speaks of himself (does he) not (do so) as in a superior (position) to (those) with whom he has found fault? So what stops us, when we read Lucilius' writings from enquiring whether (it is) his (genius) or the difficult nature of his subjects (which) has denied his verses from being more finished and from running more smoothly than if someone (who is) satisfied merely with this, (namely) to confine anything whatever to hexameters (lit. to a six feet metre), should be fond of writing two hundred lines before eating (lit. food) (and) as many after having dined; such was the genius of the Etruscan Cassius, more impetuous than a rapid river, whom, the story goes (lit. is), that he was burned (on the funeral-pyre) with his own book-cases and books. Let it be (granted), I say, that Lucilius (was) a courtly and witty (writer), (and) that he (was) more polished than the author of a crude (kind of) verse untouched by the Greeks, and (more polished) than the crowd of our older poets; but if he had been brought down by fate to this age of ours, he would have reduced his (writings) a great deal, have pruned everything which had been drawn beyond (the limits of) perfection, and, in having to polish his verse, he would often have scratched his head and bitten his finger-nails to the quick.

If you intend to write (things) that are worthy to be read a second time, you must often make corrections (lit. turn your pen), and not trouble (yourself) that the multitude should admire you, (but be) content with a few readers. Would you be so mad as to want your poems to be taught in shabby schools? Not I; for it is enough (for me) that a knight applauds me, as that courageous (actress) Arbuscula said, in contempt of the rest (of the audience), after she had been hissed (off the stage). Should that louse Pantilius (i.e. the Carper) worry me, or should it torment (me) that Demetrius taunts (me) in my absence, or that the foolish Fannius, who sponges on (lit. the guest of) Hermogenes Tigellius, slanders (me)? May Plotius and Varius, Maecenas and Virgil, Valgius and Octavius, approve these (satires), and the excellent Fuscus as well, and would that both of the Visci praise them! Flattery apart (lit. having been banished), I can mention you, Pollio, (and) you, Messalla, together with your brother, and at the same time you, Bibulus and Servius, and along with them, you, (O) candid Furnius, (and) several others, whom, (although) men of letters and my friends, I purposely omit, to (all of) whom I wish that these (satires of mine) should bring pleasure, and I should be mortified if they please (them) less than my expectation. Demetrius and Tigellius, I bid you (go and) moan (elsewhere) among the armchairs of your female pupils. Go, boy, and add these (words) at once to my little production..


APPENDIX A:  FAMOUS QUOTATIONS FROM "SATIRES BOOK I"

1.  Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te /  fabula narratur.  Why do you laugh? Change the name and the story is about you. (1.69-70.)

2.  Est modus in rebus.  There is a measure in things. (1.106.)

3.  Hoc genus omne.  All this tribe. (2.2.)

4.  Dum vitant stulti vitia, in contraria currunt.  While fools shun faults of one kind, they rush into opposite ones. (2.24.)

5. Cur in amicorum vitiis tam cernis acutum?  Why do you see so acutely in relation to the foibles of your friends? (3.26.)

6.  Stans pede in uno.  Without effort (lit. Standing on one foot). (4.10.)

7.  Faenum habet in cornu.  He is dangerous (lit. He has hay on his horn, viz. from the Roman practice of tying hay to the horn of difficult cattle). (4.34.)

8.  Eripias si /  tempora certa modosque, et quod prius ordine verbum est / posterius facias, praepones ultima primis / ...... invenias etiam disiecta membra poetae. If you take away the regular pauses (lit. times) and rhythms (lit. measures) and put the first word last and the last word first (lit. make that word which was first in order last by placing the latter words before the earlier ones) ...... you will find the limbs of a poet, even if they are dismembered. (4.57-59 and 62.)

9.  Ad unguem / factus homo.  A highly accomplished man (lit. a man made to the nail (viz. from the testing of marble work by drawing the finger-nail over it). (5.32-33.)

10.  Credat Iudaeus Apella, / non ego.  Apella the Jew may believe this, not I. (5.100-101.)

11.  Sic me servavit Apollo.  Thus Apollo saved me. (9.78.)

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