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Martial, Epigrams. Book 9. Bohn's Classical Library (1897)



O poet, celebrated, even against your will, for your sublimity of conception, and to whom the tomb will one day bring due honours, let this brief inscription live beneath my bust, which you have placed among those of no obscure persons:----"I am he, second to none in reputation for composing trifles, whom, reader, you do not admire, but rather, I suspect, love. Let greater men devote their powers to higher subjects: I am content to talk of small topics, and to come frequently into your hands."


Hail, my beloved Toranius, dear to me as a brother. The preceding epigram, which is not included in the pages of my book, I addressed to the illustrious Stertinius, who has resolved to place my bust in his library. I thought it well to write to you on the subject, that you might not be ignorant who Avitus really is. Farewell, and prepare to receive me.


As long as Janus shall give the years their winters, Domitian1 their autumns, and Augustus their summers; as long as the glorious day of the Germanic kalends 2 shall recall the mighty name of the subdued Rhine; as long as the Taipeian temple of the chief of the gods shall stand; as long as the Roman matron, with suppliant voice and incense, shall propitiate the sweet divinity of Julia;3 so long shall the lofty glory of the Flavian family remain, enduring like the sun, and the stars, and the splendour of Rome. Whatever Domitian's unconquered hand has erected, is imperishable as heaven.

1 Domitian desired that the month of October should be after himself; as Sextilis had been after Augustus.
2 The first day of the month of September, on which Domitian pretended to have subdued the Germans.
3 Daughter of Titus, Domitian's brother.


Although you are poor to your friends, Lupus, you are not so to your mistress, and your libidinous desires cannot complain of want of indulgence. The object of your affections fattens upon the most delicate cakes, while your guests feed on black bread. Setine wine, cooled in snow, is placed before your mistress; we drink the black poison of Corsica out of the cask. A small portion of her favours you purchase with your hereditary estates: while your neglected friend is left to plough lands not his own. Your mistress shines resplendent with Erythraean pearls; your client, whilst you are immersed in pleasure, is abandoned to his creditor and dragged to prison. A litter, supported by eight Syrian slaves, is provided for your mistress; while your friend is left to be carried naked on a common bier. It is time for you, Cybele, to mutilate contemptible voluptuaries; such are the characters that deserve the infliction.


If you, O Caesar, were to assume the rights of a creditor, and to demand payment for all that you have given to the gods and to heaven, Atlas, even though a great auction were to take place in Olympus, and the deities were compelled to sell all they have, would be bankrupt, and the father of the gods would be obliged to compound with you in a very small dividend. For what could he pay you for the temple on the Capitol? What for the honour of the glorious Capitoline games? What could the spouse of the Thunderer pay for her two temples? Of Minerva I say nothing; your interests are hers. But what shall I say of the temples to Hercules and Apollo, and the affectionate Lacedemonian twins?1 What of the Flavian temple which towers to the Roman sky? You must needs be patient and suspend your claims, for Jove's treasury does not contain sufficient to pay you.

1 Castor and Pollux.


When Galla will grant you her favours for two gold pieces, and what you please for as many more, why is she presented with ten gold pieces on each of your visits, Aeschylus? She does not estimate her utmost favours at so high a price: why then do you give her so much? To stop her mouth?

When for two guilders Galla you might have, 
And bring her to do aught, if four you gave, 
Why, Aeschylus gave you ten? Was it, in sooth, 
To tie her tongue? Or, rather, gain her mouth?


You wish, Paula, to marry Priscus; I am not surprised; you are wise: Priscus will not marry you; and he is wise.

That you would wed Sir John is very wise: 
That he don't care to wed is no surprise.


To you, chaste prince, mighty conqueror of the Rhine, and father of the world, cities present their thanks: they will henceforth have population; it is now no longer a crime to bring infants into the world. The boy is no longer mutilated by the art of the greedy dealer, to mourn the loss of his manly rights; nor does the wretched mother give to her prostituted child the price paid by a contemptuous pander. That modesty, which, before your reign, did not prevail even on the marriage conch, begins, by your influence, to be felt even in the haunts of licentiousness.1

1  Comp. Ep. 2, 5; and Ep.9 below.

O you, who could the Rhine restore, 
Dread guardian of mankind;
Meek modesty, with blushing love, 
Was to your care consigned.
To you their everlasting praise
Let town and country pay; 
Who fairly may their offspring raise,
To people and obey.
By avarice no more beguiled,
Virility shall mourn: 
Nor shall the prostituted child
Be from the mother torn.
Shame, though, before your blest decree,
The bridal bed's disdain; 
Now, sanctified again by you,
Ubiquitous must reign.


I have been desirous for five whole days, Afer, to greet you on your return from among the people of Africa. "He is engaged," or "he is asleep," is the answer I have received on calling two or three times. It is enough, Afer; you do not wish me to say "How do you do?" so I'll say "Good bye!"


As if it were but a trifling crime for our sex to bargain away our male children to public lust, the very cradle had become the prey of the pander, so that the child, snatched from its mother s bosom, seemed to demand, by its wailing, the disgraceful pay. Infants born but yesterday suffered scandalous outrage. The father of Italy, who but recently brought help to tender adolescence, to prevent savage lust from condemning it to a manhood of sterility, could not endure such horrors. Before this, Caesar, you were loved by boys, and youths, and old men; now infants also love you.


Fabius has bequeathed you nothing, Bithynicus, although you used to present him yearly, if I remember right, with six thousand sesterces. He has bequeathed nothing more to any one; so do not complain, Bithynicus; he has at least saved you six thousand sesterces a year.


Though you willingly dine at other people's houses, Cantharus, you indulge yourself there in clamour, and complaints, and threats. Lay aside this fierce humour, I advise you. A man cannot be both independent and a glutton.


A name born among violets and the roses, a name which is that of the most pleasant part of the year;1 a name which savors of Hybla and Attic flowers, and which exhales a perfume like that of the nest of the superb phoenix; a name sweeter than the nectar of the gods, and which the boy, beloved of Cybele, as well as he who mixes the cups for the Thunderer, would have preferred to his own; a name which, if even breathed in the Imperial palace, would be responded to by every Venus and Cupid; a name so noble, soft, and delicate, I wished to utter in not inelegant verse. But you, obstinate syllable,2 rebel! Yet some poets say Eiarinos; but then they are Greek poets, to whom every license is permitted, and with whom it is lawful to pronounce the word Ares 3 long or short just as they please. We Romans, who court severer muses, dare not take such liberties.

1 The name Earinus is from the Greek for "spring."
2 The first syllable, which the Greek poets lengthened by writing Eiarinos. 
Homer makes the a in Ares, "Mars," long and short in the same line.


If Autumn had given me a name, I should have been called Oporinus; if the slivering constellations of winter, Cheimerinus. If named by the summer months, I should have been called Therinus. What is he, to whom the spring has given a name?


You have a name, which designates the season of the newborn year, when the Cecropian bees plunder the short-lived vernal flowers; a name, which deserves to be written with Cupid's arrow, and which Cytherea would delight in tracing with her needle: a name, worthy of being traced in letters of Erythraean pearls, or gems polished by the fingers of the Heliades,1 a name which the cranes flying to the sides might describe with their wings,2 and which is fit only for Caesar's palace.

1 See B. iv. Ep. 25; B. v. Ep. 38.
2 The cranes as they fly form the letter V, the first of the word [Greek], "spring."


Do you think that this fellow, whom your dinners and hospitality have made your friend, is a model of sincere attachment? He loves your wild boars, and your mullets, and your sows' teats, and your oysters----not yourself! If I dined as sumptuously, he would be my friend.


The shameless Chloe placed on the tomb of her seven husbands the inscription, "The work of Chloe." How could she have expressed herself more plainly?


The youth, who is dearest to the emperor of all that compose his court, and who has a name that denotes the season of spring, has presented his mirror, which showed him how beautiful he was, and his graceful locks, as sacred offerings to the god of Pergamus.1 Happy is the land that is honoured by such a present! It would not have preferred even the locks of Ganymede.

1 Aesculapius, who had a magnificent temple at Pergamus.


Venerable grandson of Latona, who mitigates with healing herbs the rigorous threads and rapid distaffs of the Fates, these tresses, which have attracted the praise of the emperor, are sent to you by the youth, your votary, as his consecrated offerings, from the city of Rome. He has sent with his sacred hair, too, a shining mirror, by the aid of which his beauteous tresses were arranged. Do you preserve his youthful beauty, that be may prove not less handsome with his hair short than long.


I possess, and pray that I may long continue to possess, under your guardianship, Caesar, a small country seat; I have also a modest dwelling in the city. But a winding machine has to draw, with laborious effort, water for my thirsting garden from a small valley; while my dry house complains that it is not refreshed even by the slightest shower, although the Marcian fount1 babbles close by. The water, which you will grant, Augustus, to my premises, will be for me as the water of Castalis or as showers from Jupiter.

1 Ep.42.


You praise, in three hundred verses, Sabellus, the baths of Ponticus, who gives such excellent dinners. You wish to dine, Sabellus, not to bathe.


This piece of land, which lies so open to all, And is covered with marble and gold, witnessed the birth of the infant lord of the world. Happy land, that resounded with the cries of so illustrious an infant, and saw and felt his little hands spreading over it! Here stood the venerable mansion, which gave to the earth that which Rhodes,1 and pious Crete, gave to the starry heaven. The Curetes2 protected Jupiter by the rattling of their arms, such as Phrygian eunuchs were able to bear. But you, Caesar, the sire of the Immortals protected, and the thunderbolt and aegis were your spear and buckler.

1 Neptune was born in Rhodes; Jupiter in Crete.
2  Priests of Cybele; originally from Phrygia.


Artemidorus possesses a favourite boy, but has sold his farm: Calliodorus received his farm in exchange for the boy. Say, which of the two has done best, Auctus? Artemidorus plays the lover; Calliodorus the ploughman.3

3  Artemidoras, whose name is from the chaste Artemis, or Diana, is a lover; Calliodorus, whose name is from kallos, "beauty," is turned a mere ploughman.


You think, perhaps, Pastor, that I ask riches with the same motive with which the vulgar and ignorant herd ask them; that the soil of Setia may be tilled with my ploughshares, and our Tuscan land resound with the innumerable fetters of my slaves; that I may own a hundred tables of Mauretanian marble supported on pedestals of Libyan ivory, and that ornaments of gold may jingle on my couches; that my lips may press only large cups of crystal, and that my Falernian wine may darken the snow in which it is cooled; that Syrian slaves, clad in Canusian wool, may perspire under the weight of my litter, while it is surrounded by a crowd of fashionable clients; that my guests, full of wine, may envy me the possession of a cupbearer, whom I would not change even for Ganymede; that I may ride a prancing mule to bespatter my Tyrian cloak; or goad with my whip a steed from Marseilles. It is not, I call the gods and the heavens to witness, for any such objects. For what, then? That I may bestow gifts, Pastor and build houses.


O you, whose lot it was to bare your head decorated with the golden virgin crown,1 say, Carus, where is now your Palladian trophy? "You see the countenance of our emperor resplendent in marble; my crown went of its own accord to place itself on those locks." The sacred oak 2 may be jealous of the Alban olive, for being the first to surround that unconquered head.

1  The crown, in the form of an olive wreath, presented by the emperor to the victor m the games of the Quinquatria, celebrated in honour of Minerva on the Alban mount.
2 The crown of oak-leaves usually worn by Domitian. See B. viii. Ep. 8.


What sculptor, imitating the lineaments of the imperial bust, has surpassed in Roman marble the ivory of Phidias? This is the face that rules the world; these are the features of Jove in his calm majesty; such is the god when he hurls his thunder in a cloudless sky. Pallas has given you, Carus, not only her crown, but the image of your lord, which you have thus honoured.


Whenever I glance at your Hyllus as he pours out my wine, Afer, you fix upon me an eye full of mistrust. What harm is there, I ask, in admiring a pretty attendant? We gaze at the sun, the stars, the temples, the gods. Am I to turn away my head and hide my eyes and countenance, as though a Gorgon were handing me the cups? Alcides was severe; yet he permitted Hylas to be looked at; and Mercury is allowed to play with Ganymede. If you do not wish your guests, Afer, to look at your youthful attendants, you should invite only such as Phineus and Oedipus.1

1 Both were blind. Phineus was a king of Salmydessus in Thrace, and an augur.


He who ventures to send verses to the eloquent Nerva, will present common perfumes to Cosmus,3 violets and privet to the inhabitant of Paestum, and Corsican honey to the bees of Hybla. Yet there is some attraction in even a humble muse; the cheap olive is relished even when costly daintiest are on the table. Be not surprised, however, that, conscious of the mediocrity of her poet, my Muse fears your judgment. Nero himself is said to have dreaded your criticism, when, in his youth, he read to you his sportive effusions.

2  See B. viii. Ep. 70.
3  Probably the Cosmus elsewhere mentioned as a perfumer.


Although you carry about one part of your person, Chrestus, plucked of hair, and another matching a vulture's neck, and a head smoother than prostituted ----, and not a single bristle sprouts on your shanks, and pitiless pluckings clear your bloodless lips, you prate of Curii, Camilli, Quinctii, Numas, Ancuses, and of all the bristly philosophers we read of anywhere, and you vociferate in loud and threatening words, and quarrel with the theatres and the age.  But if, in the midst of that pother of yours, there meet you, now freed from his pedagogue, some pervert whose belt an artisan has unbuckled, you summon him with a nod, and I am ashamed to say what you do with your Catonian tongue.

[Adapted from Ker]


I, that lie here, am Latinus, the pleasing ornament of the stage, the honour of the games, the object of your applause, and your delight; who could have fixed even Cato himself as a spectator, and have relaxed the gravity of the Curii and Fabricii. But my life took no colour from the stage, and I was known as an actor only in my profession. Nor could I have been acceptable to the emperor without strict morality. He, like a god, looks into the inmost recesses of the mind. Call me, if you please, the slave of laurel-crowned Phoebus, provided Rome knows that I was the servant of her Jupiter.


After having lived through a period as long as the age of Nestor, are you then so suddenly carried off; Philaenis, to Pluto's streams below? You had not yet counted the long years of the Cumaean Sibyl; she was older by three months. Alas! what a tongue is silent! a tongue that not a thousand cages full of slaves, nor the crowd of the votaries of Serapis, nor the schoolmaster's curly-headed troop hurrying to their lessons in the morning, nor the bank resounding with flocks of Strymonian cranes, could overpower. Who will henceforth know how to draw down the moon with Thessalian circle?1 Who will display such skill in managing an amorous intrigue for money? May the earth lie lightly on you, and may you be pressed with a thin covering of sand, that the dogs may not be prevented from rooting up your bones!

1 Thessaly was celebrated for magic arts.


Antistius Rusticus has perished on the barbarian frontiers of the Cappadocians, land guilty of a lamentable crime! Nigrina brought back in her bosom the bones of her dear husband, and complained that the way was not sufficiently long;1 and, when she was confiding the sacred urn to the tomb, which she envied, she seemed to herself to lose her husband a second time.

1 That she might have had his relics longer in her possession.


Velius, while accompanying Caesar on his northern expedition, vowed, for the safety of his leader, to immolate a goose2 to Mars. The moon had not fully completed eight revolutions,3 when the god demanded fulfilment of his vow. The goose itself hastened willingly to the altar, and fell a humble victim on the sacred hearth. Do you see those eight medals hanging from the broad beak of the bird?4 They were recently hidden in its entrails.5 The victim which offers proptious sacrifices for you, Caesar, with silver instead of blood, teaches us that we have no longer need of steel (the sword).

2  The preserver of the Roman empire.
3  The war lasted only eight months.
4 A silver image of the goose, to the beak of which sight medals were suspended, indicative of the eight months of the war.
5  In allusion to the taking of omens by inspecting the entrails of birds.


I prefer one who is free and easy, and who goes about clad in a loose robe; one, who has just before granted favours to my young slave; one, whom a couple of pence will buy. She who wants a great deal of money, and uses grand words, I leave to the fat and foolish Gascon.


In whatever bath, Flaccus, you hear sounds resembling applause, know that there Maron's yard is to be found.

[From Ker]


Jupiter, when he saw the Flavian temple rising under the sky or Rome, laughed at the fabulous tomb erected to himself on Mount Ida, and, having drunk abundantly of nectar at table, exclaimed, as he was handing the cup to his son Mars, and addressing himself at the same time to Apollo and Diana, with whom were seated Hercules and the pious Arcos, "You gave me a monument in Crete; see how much better a thing it is to be the father of Caesar!"


These are the contrivances, Philomusus, by which you are constantly trying to secure a dinner; inventing numbers of fictions, and retailing them as true. You are informed of the counsels of Pacorus at the court of Parthia; you can tell the exact numbers of the German and Sarmatian armies. You reveal the unopened despatches of the Dacian general; you see a laurelled letter, announcing a victory, before its arrival. You know how often dusky Syene has been watered by Egyptian floods; you know how many ships have sailed from the shores of Africa; you know for whose head the Julian olives grow, and for whom the Father of Heaven1 destines his triumphal crowns. A truce to your arts; you shall dine with me to-day, but only on this condition, Philomusus, that you tell me no news.

1 Jupiter Capitolinus.


When the Phrygian youth, the well-known favourite of the other Jupiter, had seen the Ausonian attendant 2 with his hair just shaved off, "O sovereign ruler," said he, "concede to your youth what your Caesar has granted to his. The first down upon my chin is now succeeded by longer hairs; your Juno now laughs at me and calls me a man." To whom the Father of Heaven answered, "Oh, sweetest boy, not I, but necessity, denies your request. Our Caesar has a thousand cupbearers like you; and his palace, large as it is, scarcely holds the brilliant troop. But if your hair be shaved, and give you a man's visage, what other youth will be found to mix my nectar for me?"

2 Earinus. See Ep. 17 and 18.


Though, while you yourself, Galla, are at home, you are being dressed out in the middle of the Suburra, and your locks are prepared for you at a distance; though you lay aside your teeth at night with your silk garments, and lie stowed away in a hundred boxes; though even your face does not sleep with you, and you ogle me from under eyebrows which are brought to you in the morning; though no consideration of your faded charms, which belong to a past generation, moves you; though all this is the case, you offer me six hundred sesterces. But nature revolts, and, blind though she be,1 she sees very well what you are.

1 See B. vi. Ep. 23 and 33.


Though, Agathinus, you play dangerous tricks with the utmost nimbleness, you still cannot contrive to let your shield fall. It seems to follow you, even against your will, and, returning through the thin air, seats itself either on your foot, or your back, or your hair, or your finger. However slippery the stage may be with showers of saffron, and however the violent south winds may tear the canvass opposed to its fury, the shield, without apparent guidance, freely traverses your limbs, unimpeded by either wind or water. Even though you wished to fail, whatever your endeavours, you could not; and the fall of your shield would be the greatest proof of your art.


This is the anniversary of the first day on which the Palatine Thunderer 1 saw light, a day on which Cybele might have desired to give birth to Jove. On this day, too, the chaste Caesonia was born, the daughter of my friend Rufus; no maiden owes more than she to her mother. The husband rejoices in the double good fortune which awaits his prayers, and that it has fallen to his lot to have two reasons for loving this day.

1 Domitian.


When Diodorus left Pharos for Rome, to win the Tarpeian crowns,1 his Philaenis made a vow for his safe return, that a young girl, such as even the chastest woman might love, should prepare her for his embraces. The ship being destroyed by a terrible storm, Diodorus, submerged and overwhelmed in the deep, escaped by swimming, through the influence of the vow. Oh husband too tardy and too sluggish! If my mistress had made such a vow for me upon the shore, I should have returned at once.

1 In the Quinquatrian games. See Ep. 23, and B. iv. Ep. 54.


[Not translated]


So may you ever be rich, Apollo, in your sea-girt plains; so may you ever have delight in your ancient swans; so may the learned sisters ever serve you, and your Delphic oracles never speak falsely; so may the palace of Caesar worship and love you; as the kind Domitian shall speedily grant and accord to Stella, at my request, the twelve fasces. Happy then shall I be, and, as your debtor for the fulfilment of my prayer, will lead to the rustic altar a young steer with golden horns, as a sacrifice to you. The victim is already born, Phoebus; why do you delay?


This great deity, represented by a small bronze image, who mitigates the hardness of the rocks on which he sits by spreading over them his lion's skin; who, with upraised countenance, gazes on the heaven which he once supported; whose left hand is engaged with his club, and his right with a cup of wine, is not a new-born celebrity, or a glory of our own sculptor's art. You behold the noble work of Lysippus, which he presented to Alexander the. Great. This divinity adorned the table of the monarch of Pella, so soon laid in the earth which he had subdued. By this god, Hannibal, when a child, took his oath at the Libyan altar; this god bade the cruel Sulla lay down his kingly power. Offended by the proud despotism or various courts, he now delights to inhabit a private house; and, as he was formerly the guest of the benevolent Molorchus, so he desires now to be the god of the learned Vindex.


I lately asked Vindex to whose happy toil and workmanship his Hercules owed his existence. He smiled, as is his wont, and, with a slight inclination of head, "Pray," said he, "my dear poet, can you not read Greek? The pedestal bears an inscription which tells you the name." I read the word Lysippus, I thought it had been the work of Phidias.


You are now about to set out, Marcellinus, as a soldier to the northern climes, to brave the sluggish constellations of the Getic sky: there the Promethean rocks and the fabled mountains, to which you must now go, will be close to your eyes! When you have beheld the rocks, the confidants of the mighty plaints of old Prometheus, you will say, "He was more enduring than they." And you may add, "He who was able to bear such sufferings, was well qualified to fashion the race of mortals."


Gellius is always building; sometimes he is laying down thresholds, sometimes fitting keys to doors, and buying locks; sometimes he is changing or replacing windows. He does anything to be engaged in building, and all this that he may be able to say to any friend who asks him for a loan, "I am building."


Of Democrituses, Zenos, and enigmatic Platos, and of every philosopher shown, dirty and hirsute, on a bust, you prate as if you were successor and heir of Pythagoras; and before your chin hangs a beard certainly no less than theirs. But what is ... and shameful to the hairy, you willingly accept. You who know the origins of the schools and their arguments, tell me this: what dogma, Pannychus, is it to be a pathic?

[Adapted from Ker]

Your words with deep recondite lore resound 
Of Plato, Zeno, what's severest found 
Of those whose horrid images affect 
To doom all vice, by their austere aspect; 
You play Pythag'ras successor and heir, 
Nor 'bate you him in bush of beard a hair. 
You've yet, what's shameful, and shou'd ne'er be said, 
A wanton mind to this your awful head. 
Say you, who th' axioms of all sects do know, 
Whose dogma 'tis, the scars of lust to show?
                                                Anon. 1695.


As you swore to me, Garricus, by your gods and by your head, that I was to inherit the fourth of your estate, I believed you, (for who would willingly disbelieve what he desires?) and nursed my hopes by continually giving you presents; among which I sent you a Laurentian boar of extraordinary weight; one that you might have supposed to be from Aetolian Calydon. But you forthwith invited the people and the senators; and glutted Rome is not yet free from the taste of my boar. I myself (who would believe it?) was not present even as the humblest of your guests; not a rib, not even the tail, was sent me. How am I to expect from you a fourth part of your estate, Garricus, when not even a twelfth part of my own boar came to me?


This is that toga much celebrated in my little books, that toga so well known and loved by my readers. It was a present from Parthenius; a memorable present to his poet long ago; in it, while it was new, while it shone brilliantly with glistening wool, and while it was worthy the name of its giver, I walked proudly conspicuous as a Roman knight. Now it is grown old, and is scarce worth the acceptance of shivering poverty; and you may well call it snowy.2 What does not time in the course of years destroy? this toga is no longer Parthenius's; it is mine.

1 See B. viii. Ep. 28.
2 See Note on B. iv. Ep. 34.


You pretend to consider my talent as small, Gaurus, because I write poems which please by being brief. I confess that it is so; while you, who write the grand wars of Priam in twelve books, are doubtless a great man. I paint the favourite of Brutus,1 and Langon,2 to the life. You, great artist, fashion a giant in clay.

1 See B. xiv. Ep. 171.
2  Of whom an elegant statuette was made by Lyciscus. Plin. H. N. xxxv. 8.


That which you constantly asked of the gods, Lucanus, has, in spite of your brother's remonstrances, fallen to your lot; it has been your fate to die before him. Tullus envies you the privilege; for he desired, though the younger, to go first to the Stygian waters. You are now an inhabitant of the Elysian fields, and, dwelling in the charming grove, are content, for the first time, to be separated from your brother; and if Castor in his turn now comes from the brilliant stars, you, as another Pollux, exhort him not to return to them.

3  See B. i. Ep. 37.


If you but believe me, Quintus Ovidius, I love, as you deserve, the first of April, your natal day, as much as I love my own first of March. Happy is either morn! and may both days be marked by us with the whitest of stones! The one gave me life, but the other a friend. Yours, Quintus, gave me more than my own.


On your birth-day, Quintus, I wished to make you a small present: you forbade me; you are imperious. I must obey your injunction: let that be done which we both desire, and which will please us both. Do you, Quintus, make me a present.


If I had thrushes fattened on Picenian olives, or if a Sabine wood were covered with my nets; or if the finny prey were dragged on shore by my extended rod, or my branches, thickly limed, held fast the fettered birds; I should offer you, Carus, as an esteemed relative, the usual presents, and neither a brother nor a grandfather would have the preference over you. As it is, my fields resound only with paltry starlings and the plaints of linnets, and usher in the spring with the voice of the shrill sparrow. On one side, the ploughman returns the salutation of the magpie; on the other, the rapacious kite soars towards the distant stars. So I send you small presents from my hencoop; and if you accept such, you will often be my relative.


On the day sacred to relatives,1 on which many a fowl is sent as a present, there throngs around me, while I am preparing some thrushes for Stella, and some for you, Flaccus, an immense and troublesome crowd, of which each individual thinks that he ought to be the first in my affections. My desire was to show my regard for two; to offend a number is scarcely safe; while to send presents to all would be expensive. I will secure their pardon in the only way that remains to me; I will neither send thrushes to Stella nor to you, Flaccus.

1 The first of March.


Spendophorus, the armour-bearer of our sovereign lord, is setting out for the cities of Libya. Prepare weapons, Cupid, to bestow on the boy; the arrows with which you strike youths and tender maids. Let there be also, however, a smooth spear in his delicate hand. Omit the coat of mail, the shield, and the helmet; and that he may enter the battle in safety, let him go uncovered; Parthenopaeus 1 was hurt by no dart, no sword, no arrow, whilst he was unencumbered with a head-piece. Whoever shall be wounded by Spendophorus, will die of love. Happy is he whom a death so fortunate awaits! But return while you are still a boy, and while your face retains its youthful bloom, and let your Rome, and not Libya, make a man of you.

1 One of the seven chiefs against Thebes. His beauty is said to have been his defence.


Nothing is worn smoother than Hedylus' mantles: not the handles of antique Corinthian  vases, nor a shank polished by a ten-years-worn fetter, nor the scarred neck of a broken-winded mule, nor the ruts that intersect the Flaminian Way, nor the pebbles that shine on the sea beach, nor a hoe polished by a Tuscan vineyard, nor the shiny toga of a defunct pauper, nor the ramshackle wheel of a lazy carrier, nor a bison's flank scraped by its cage, nor the tusk, now aged, of a fierce boar.  Yet there is one thing - he himself will not deny it: Hedylus' rump is worn smoother than his mantle.

[From Ker]


Nymph, queen of the Sacred Lake, to whom Sabinus, with pious munificence, dedicates an enduring temple; receive with kindness, I pray you, (so may mountainous Umbria ever worship your source, and your town of Sassina never prefer the waters of Baiae!) my anxious compositions which I offer you. You will be to my muse the fountain of Pegasus. Whoever presents his poems to the temple of the Nymphs, indicates of himself what should be done with them.

1 See B. vii. Ep. 97.


Mamurra, after having walked long and anxiously in the squares, where golden Rome ostentatiously displays her riches, viewed the tender young slaves, and devoured them with his eyes; not those exposed in the open shops, but those which are kept for the select in private apartments, and are not seen by the people, or such as I am. Satiated with this inspection, he uncovers the tables square and round; and aaks to see some rich ivory ornaments which were displayed on the upper shelves. Then, having four times measured a dinner-couch for six, wrought with tortoise-shell, he sorrowfully regretted that it was not large enough for his citron table. He consulted his nose whether the bronzes had the true Corinthian aroma, and criticised the statues of Polyclitus! Next, complaining that some crystal vases had been spoiled by an admixture of glass, he marked and set aside ten myrrhine cups. He weighed ancient bowls, and inquired for goblets that had been ennobled by the hand of Mentor. He counted emeralds set in chased gold, and examined the largest pearl ear-pendants. He sought on every counter for real sardonyxes, and cheapened some large jaspers. At last, when forced by fatigue to retire at the eleventh hour, he bought two cups for one small coin, and carried them home himself.


Whether you were produced in the fields of Paestum or of Tivoli, or whether the plains of Tusculum were decked with your flowers; whether a bailiffs wife culled you in a Praenestine garden, or whether you were recently the glory of a Campanian villa, that you may seem more beauteous to my friend Sabinus, let him think that you come from my Nomentan grounds.


In the regions about the Tartessus, where the rich lands of Cordova are watered by placid Baetis, where the yellow flocks shine with the gold of the river, and living metal decks the fleece of Hesperian sheep, stands a well-known mansion, and in the midst of its courts, overshadowing the whole of the surrounding buildings, rises the plane-tree of Caesar, with its thick foliage, which was planted by the auspicious right hand of that invincible guest, and tended by it while yet a sapling. This tree seems to acknowledge by its vigour its parent and lord; so richly does it flourish, and lift its branches towards the stars. Often, under this tree, have the playful Fauns sported with their midnight music, and the pipe has startled the quiet homestead; often has the woodland Dryad, while flying from the nocturnal marauder Fan across the solitary fields, sought shelter beneath it; and often have the household gods retained the odour of the Bacchanalian banquets, which by their libations have developed its luxuriance. The turf has been strewed and vermilioned with the chaplets of yesterday, and no man could distinguish the roses that had belonged to his own. O tree, favourite of the gods, tree of the great Caesar, fear not the axe nor the impious fire. You may hope for the glory of an ever-verdant foliage; you were not planted by Pompeian hands.


If Philaenis wears all day and night garments dyed with Tyrian purple, it is not that she is extravagant or proud; it is the odour that pleases her,1 not the colour. 

1 To disguise the odour of her own person. Compare B. vii. Ep. 67, and B. iv. Ep. 4.


All the perverts invite you to their tables, Phoebus. He who gets his living with his _____, is not, I consider, respectable company.1

1 Ad caenam invitant omnes te, Phoebe, cinaedi:
Mentula quem pascit, non, puto, parus homo est.


Caesar, haying deigned to assume the form of the mighty Hercules, adds a new temple to the Latian way, at the spot where the traveller, who visits the grove of Diana, reads the inscription on the eighth milestone from the Queen of Cities. Formerly, O Romans, you used to worship Hercules, as the superior, with prayers and abundant blood of victims, now Hercules, as the inferior, worships Domitian. We address our more important prayers, some for wealth, others for honours, to Domitian, who, unsolicitous about inferior requests, leaves the fulfilment of these to Hercules.


O Hercules, whom the Latian Jupiter must now recognise, since you have assumed the glorious features of the divine Caesar, if you had borne those lineaments and that air when the wild beasts yielded to your prowess, nations would not have beheld you a slave to the Argive tyrant, and submitting to his cruel role; but you would have issued orders to Eurystheus, and the deceiver Lichas would not have brought you the perfidious gift of Nessus. Saved from the torment of the funeral pyre upon mount Oeta, you would have ascended to the heaven of your father above, free from all care, that heaven to which your labours entitled you. Nor would you have twirled the Lydian spindles of a proud mistress, or have looked upon Styx and the dog of Tartarus. Now Juno is favourable to you, now your Hebe indeed loves you; now, if the nymph that carried off your Hylas were to see your majestic appearance, she would send him back to you.


When you have a wife, handsome, chaste, and young, Fabullus, why should you supplicate for the rights of a father of three children? 1 That which you ask of our ruler and deity, you will obtain from yourself if you deserve the name of a man.

1 See B. ii. Ep. 91, 92.


All night I was with a lascivious girl, whose naughtiness no other could surpass. Worn out in a thousand ways, I asked her to pretend to be a boy: she agreed at the first words, and before I'd finished asking. Between laughing and blushing I asked for something more embarrassing: she said "yes" without the least coy delay. But for me she was chaste: she won't be for you, O Aeschylus, if you are willing to receive a gift by means of an ugly agreement.

[Translated by RP.  The meaning of the last sentence is unclear.  Ker suggests, "Some disgraceful complaisance was required in return, which M. says he refused, but which Aeschylus would not."]


What right have you to disturb me, abominable schoolmaster, object abhorred alike by boys and girls? Before the crested cocks have broken silence, you begin to roar out your savage scoldings and blows. Not with louder noise does the metal resound on the struck anvil, when the workman is fitting a lawyer on his horse;1 nor is the noise so great in the large amphitheatre, when the conquering gladiator is applauded by his partisans. We, your neighbours, do not ask you to allow us to sleep for the whole night, for it is but a small matter to be occasionally awakened; but to be kept awake all night is a heavy affliction. Dismiss your scholars, brawler, and take as much for keeping quiet as you receive for making a noise.

1 A sneer at the equestrian statues of lawyers. See Juv.vii. 128.


When you have sex, Polycharmus, you are in the habit of going to the toilet afterwards; when you are sodomised, what, Polycharmus, do you do then?

Cum futuis, Polycharme, soles in fine cacare, 
Cum paedicaris, quid, Polycharme facis:

[Note to the online edition: I have translated this one, as inoffensively as possible, as an example of why the remainder are unfit for translation. RP]


"O times! O manners!" was of old the cry of Cicero, when Catiline was contriving his impious plot; when father-in-law and son-in-law were engaging in fierce war, and the sad soil of Italy was soaked with civil bloodshed. Bat why do you, Caecilianus, now exclaim "O times! O manners?" What is it that displeases you? We have no cruel leaders, no maddening warfare, but may enjoy settled peace and happiness. It is not our morals, Caecilianus, that disgrace the age of which you complain, but your own.


It is astonishing with what attachment this lion, the glory of the Massylian mountains and this husband of the fleecy flock, are united. Behold with your own eyes; they dwell in one stall, and take their social meals in company. Nor do they delight to feed on the brood of forests, or the tender grass; but a small lamb satisfies their joint appetites. What were the merits of the terror of Nemea,1 or the betrayer of Helle,2 that they should shine among brilliant constellations in the high heaven? If cattle and wild beasts are worthy of a place m the heavens, this ram and this lion deserve to become stars.

1 The Nemaean lion slain by Hercules; afterwards the constellation of Leo.
2  The ram with the golden fleece, that was to carry Helle across the Hellespont, and allowed her to drop into the water, afterwards the constellation Aries.


O Liber, whose brows are adorned with the Spartan crown, and whose Roman hand strikes blows worthy of Greece, when you send me a dinner, why does the wicker basket, in which it is conveyed, contain no wine-flask as an accompaniment? If you mean to make presents worthy of your name,3 you are aware, I suppose, what you ought to have sent me.

3  Liber was a name for Bacchus.


You, whose business it once was to stretch old skins with your teeth, and to bite old soles of shoes besmeared with mud, now enjoy the lands of your deluded patron at Praeneste, where you are not worthy to occupy even a stall. Intoxicated with strong Falernian wine, too, you dash in pieces the crystal cups, and plunge yourself in debauchery with your patron's favourite. As for me, my foolish parents taught me letters. What did I want with grammarians and rhetoricians? Break up, my muse, your flowing pen, and tear up your books, if a shoe can secure such enjoyments to a cobbler.


This picture preserves the likeness of Camonus as a child; it is only his early features, when he was an infant, that remain to us. The affectionate father has kept no likeness of his countenance in the bloom of manhood, dreading to look on so fine a face deprived of animation.


Tucca has not constructed his bath of hard flint, or of quarry stone, or of baked bricks, with which Semiramis encircled great Babylon, but of the spoils of the forest and masses of pine planks, so that he may sail in his bath. The same magnificent personage has built splendid warm baths of every kind of marble; that which Carystos produces; that which Phrygian Synnas,1 and African Numidia, sends us; and that which the Eurotas has washed with its verdant stream. But there is no wood in it; put your wooden bath, therefore, Tucca, beneath your warm baths.

1 A town of Phrygia.


The features you here see are those of my Camonus; each was his face and figure in early youth. That countenance had grown more manly in the coarse of twenty years; a beard seemed delighted to shade his cheeks; and, once clipped, had scattered its ruddy hair from the points of the scissors. One of the three sisters looked with malice on such beauty, and cut the thread of his life before it was fully spun. An urn conveyed his ashes to his father from a far distant pyre; but that the picture may not alone speak of the youth, there shall be a more impressive description in my page.


The eloquent page of Priscus considers "what is the best kind of feast?" and offers many suggestions with grace, many with force, and all with learning. Do you ask me, what is the best kind of feast? That at which no flute-player is present.1

1 One that does not require the attractions of music, but is sufficiently recommended by the dishes and the conversation.


After the deaths of seven husbands, Galla has espoused you, Picentinus. Galla, I suppose, wishes to follow her husbands.


Before your reign, Rome hated the crowd attendant on the emperors, and the haughtiness of the court; but now, such is our love, Augustus, for all that belongs to you, that every one makes the care of his own family of but secondary consideration; so sweet are the tempers of your courtiers, so considerate are they towards us, so much of quiet good-feeling do thev display, and so much modesty is there in their bearing. Indeed, no servant of Caesar (such is the influence of a powerful court) wears his own character----but that of his master.


The poor and hungry Gellius married a woman old and rich. He eats and enjoys himself.

An old rich wife starv'd Gellius, bare and poor, 
Did wed: so she cramm'd him and he cramm'd her.


My readers and hearers, Aulus, approve of my compositions; but a certain critic says that they are not faultless. I am not much concerned at his censure; for I should wish the dishes on my table to please guests rather than cooks.


An astrologer declared, Munna, that you would soon come to an end; and I believe he spoke the truth. For, through fear of leaving anything behind you, you have squandered your inheritance in luxuries; your two millions have dwindled away in less than a year. Tell me, Munna, is not this coming soon to an end?


Among the numberless wonders of your arena, Caesar. which surpasses the splendid shows of the old emperors, our eyes confess that they owe you much, but our ears more; inasmuch: as those who used to recite upon the stage are now only spectators.


When vour affectionate fidelity, Norbanus, was standing in defence or Caesar against the raging of sacrilegious fury, I, the well-known cultivator of your friendship, was amusing myself with the composition of these verses, in the calm security of Pierian retreats. The Rhaetian spoke of me to you on the borders of Vindelicia, nor was the Northern Bear ignorant of my name. Oh how often, not renouncing your old friend, did you exclaim, "It is my poet, my own!" All my compositions, which for six whole years your reader has recited to you, their author will now present to you in a body.


If our friend Paulus is ever out of health, Atilius, it is not himself, but his guests, that he deprives of a dinner. You suffer, Paulus, with a sudden and fictitious ailment; but my sportula has given up the ghost.


While Silius, whose powers have been displayed in more than one department of Roman literature,1 was lamenting the premature death of his friend Severus, I expressed my sympathy with him to the Pierian choir and to Phoebus: "I too," said Apollo, "wept for my Linus;" and, looking round at Calliope, who stood next to her brother, he added: "You also have your own sorrow.2 Behold the Tarpeian and the Palatine Thunderer; Lachesis has audaciously presumed to wound both Jupiters.3" When you see the divinities exposed to the harsh rule of destiny, you may acquit the gods of injustice.

1 Silius Italicus, orator and poet. See also B. vii. Ep. 62.
2  In the loss of her son Orpheus.
3  By causing the deaths of Sarpedon, and of Domitian's infant son. See B. vi. Ep. 3.


After I have taken seven cups of Opimian wine, and am stretched at full length, and beginning to stammer from the effects of my heavy potations, you bring me some sort of papers, and say, "I have just made Nasta free -- he is a slave that I inherited from my father;----please to give me your signature." The business may be better done to-morrow, Lupercus; at present my signet is wanted for the bottle.1

1 The Romans put seals on their wine-vessels, as a security against their slaves.


While you were trying to catch me, Rufus, you used to send me presents; since you have caught me, you have given me nothing. To keep me when caught, send presents to me now as you did before, lest the boar, being badly fed, escape from his cage.


By too severe a decree, Stella, you compel your guest to write verses at table. Under such a decree I may certainly write verses, but bad ones.


So, reclining upon the flowery meads, where rolling pebbles sparkle in the brook, its winding banks glowing on every side, may you break the ice into the goblet of dark wine, far removed from all cares, and your brow wreathed with chaplets of roses; so may you enjoy alone the caresses of a favourite, and the pleasures of a chaste love, as you keep on your guard, I warn and pray you, Flaccus, against the climate of Cyprus, too well known for its excessive heat, when the threshing-floor receives the crackling harvest, and the mane of the tawny lion glows in its fierceness. And do you, goddess of Paphos, send back the youth, send him back unharmed, to my prayers. So may the kalends of March be ever consecrated to you, and may many a slice of cake, with incense, and wine, and offerings, be laid upon your fair altars.


If two messengers were to invite me to dine in different heavens, the one in that of Caesar, the other in that of Jupiter, I should, even if the stars were nearer, and the palace at the greater distance, return this answer: "Seek some other who would prefer to be the guest of the Thunderer; my own Jupiter detains me upon earth."


Of the troubles of a master, and the pleasures of a slave, Condylus, you are ignorant, when you lament that you have been a slave so long. A common rug gives you sleep free from all anxiety; Caius lies awake all night on his bed of down. Caius, from the first dawn of day, salutes with trembling a number of patrons; you, Condylus, salute not even your master. "Caius, pay what you owe me," cries Phoebus on the one side, and Cinnamus on the other; no one makes such a demand on you, Condylus. Do you fear the torturer? Caius is a martyr to the gout in his hands and feet, and would rather suffer a thousand floggings than endure its pains. You indulge neither gluttonous nor licentious propensities. Is not this preferable to being three times a Caius?


Why, my slave, do you delay to pour in the immortal Falernian? Fill double measures from the oldest cask. Now tell me, Calocissus, to which of all the gods shall I bid you fill six cups? It shall be Caesar. Let ten wreaths of roses be fitted to my locks, to honour the name 1 of him who raised the noble monument to his sacred family.2 Next give me twice five kisses, the number which denotes the name3 our divinity acquired from the Sarmatian countries,

1 Domitianus, a word of ten letters. 
The Flavian temple. See Ep. 24 and 34.


Hippocrates has given me a cap medicated with wormwood, and now has the presumption to ask of me honeyed wine in return. I do not suppose that even Glaucus was so stupid, who gave his golden armour to Diomede for armour of brass. Can any one expect a sweet gift in return for a bitter one? Let him have it, but on condition that he drink it in hellebore.1

1 The supposed cure for madness. 


Athenagoras was once Alphius; now, since he has taken a wife, he has begun to call himself Olphius. Do you believe, Callistratus, that his real name is Athenagoras? May I die if I know who Athenagoras is! 1 But suppose, Callistratus, I call him by his real name; if I call him otherwise, it is not I who am at fault, but your friend Athenagoras himself.

1 That is, what is his true name.


The doctor Herodes had filched a cup belonging to his patients. Being detected, he exclaimed, "Fool! what need have you of drink?"


A certain person, my dearest Julius, is bursting with envy because Rome reads me; he is bursting, I say, with envy. He is bursting with envy, too, bursting with envy, because in every assembly I am pointed out by the finger of admiration. He is bursting with envy, bursting with envy, because both Caesars 1 accorded me the rights of a father of three children. He is bursting with envy, bursting with envy, because I have an agreeable suburban villa and a small house in town. He is bursting with envy, bursting with envy, because I am dear to my friends, and because I am their frequent guest. He is bursting with envy, because I am loved and praised. Whoever is bursting with envy, let him burst.

1 Titus and Domitian.


The produce of the vineyards has not failed everywhere, Ovidius. The heavy rains have been productive. Coranus made up a hundred jars by means of the water.


Marcus Antonius loves my muse, Atticus, if his complimentary letter but speaks the truth,----Marcus, who is the undeniable glory of Palladian Toulouse, and whom repose, the child of peace, has nurtured. You, my book, who can bear the toil of a long journey, go to him, as a pledge of love from his absent friend. You would be worthless, I admit, if a dealer were to send you: but your coming from the author will give value to the present. It makes a great difference, believe me, whether a draught be taken from the fountain-head, or from the stagnant waters of a sluggish pool.


You invite me to a supper, Bassus, worth three denarii,1 and expect me to dance attendance in your antechamber in the morning clad in my toga; and afterwards to keep close to your side, or walk before your chair, while I attend you in your visits to ten or a dozen widows. My toga is threadbare, shabby, and even ragged; yet I could not buy one as good, Bassus, for three denarii.

1  The price of the sportula.


O Appian way, which Caesar consecrates under the form of Hercules,1 and renders the most celebrated of Italian roads, if you desire to learn the deeds of the ancient Hercules, listen to me. He subdued the Libyan giant; he carried off the golden apples; he disarmed the Amazonian queen of her shield, though secured by a Scythian girdle; by feat of arms be added the lion's skin to that of the Arcadian boar; he delivered the forest from the brazen-footed stag and the lakes of Arcadia from the Stymphalian birds; he brought from the waters of Styx the infernal dog Cerberus; he prevented the fruitful Hydra from renewing its heads after they had been cut off; he plunged the horned bulls of Hesperia in the Tuscan Tiber. Such were the achievements of the ancient and leaser Hercules. Listen now to the deeds of the greater Hercules, whom the sixth milestone from the citadel of Alba celebrates. He freed the palace from the thralldom of a bad rule. His first wars, as a boy, were waged in defence of his patron Jupiter.2 When already in sole possession of the Caesarean reins of government, he resigned them to his father, contenting himself to become the third citizen in his own world.3 Thrice he broke the perfidious horns of the Sarmatian Danube; thrice he cooled his sweating steed in the Getic snows. For bearing to accept the honours of a triumph, and often refusing them, he acquired a title, as a conqueror, from the Northern climes. He gave temples to the gods, morals to his people, rest to the sword, heaven to his family,4 constellations to the skies, garlands to Jupiter. The divinity of a Hercules is not sufficient for acts so great; our deity should be represented under the form of Tarpeian Jupiter.

1 See Ep. 65. Domitian erected on the Appian Way a temple to Hercules, in which he himself was to be worshipped.
2 In the Vitellian war he took refuge in the Capitol, and defended it. Suetonius, Domit. c 1. 
Being inferior to Vespasian and Titus. 
Enrolling his father, brother, and wife, among the gods.


You give me back, Phoebus, my bond for four hundred thousand sesterces; lend me rather a hundred thousand more. Seek some one else to whom you may vaunt your empty present: what I cannot pay you, Phoebus, is my own:


What new Leda has produced you these attendants so like each other? What fair Spartan has been captivated by another swan? Pollux has given his face to Hierus, Castor his to Asillus; and in the countenance of each gleams the beauty of their Tyndarean sister (Helen). Had these beautiful figures been in Therapnaean Amyclae, when the inferior present prevailed over those of the two other goddesses,1 Helen would have remained at Sparta, and Trojan Paris have returned to Phrygian Ida with two Ganymedes.

1 When Venus promised Helen to Paris, while Juno offered him empire, and Minerva wisdom.

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