7 Juvenal - satire I

Parag. 1
Parag. 2
Parag. 3
Parag. 4
Parag. 5
Parag. 6
Parag. 7
Parag. 1
WHAT? Am I to be a listener only all my days? Am I never to get my word in -
I that have been so often bored by the Theseid of the ranting Cordus? Shall
this one have spouted to me his comedies, and that one his love ditties, and I   _
be unavenged? Shall I have no revenge on one who has taken up the whole day
with an interminable Telephus or with an Orestes which, after filling the
margin at the top of the roll and the back as well, hasn't even yet come to an   _
end? No one knows his own house so well as I know the groves of Mars, and the
cave of Vulcan near the cliffs of Aeolus. What the winds are brewing; whose
souls Aeacus has on the rack; from what country another worthy is carrying off   _
that stolen golden fleece; how big are the ash trees which Monychus hurls as
missiles: these are the themes with which Fronto's plane trees and marble
halls are for ever ringing until the pillars quiver and quake under the   _
continual recitations; such is the kind of stuff you may look for from every
poet, greatest or least. Well, I too have slipped my hand from under the cane;
I too have counselled Sulla to retire from public life and take a deep sleep ;   _
it is a foolish clemency when you jostle against poets at every corner, to
spare paper that will be wasted anyhow. But if you can give me time, and will
listen quietly to reason, I will tell you why I prefer to run in the same   _
course over which the great nursling of Aurunca drove his horses.
Parag. 2
When a soft eunuch takes to matrimony, and Maevia, with spear in hand and
breasts exposed, to pig-sticking in Etruria; when a fellow under whose razor
my stiff youthful beard used to grate challenges, with his single wealth, the   _
whole nobility; when a guttersnipe of the Nile like Crispinus - a slave-born
denizen of Canopus - hitches a Tyrian cloak on to his shoulder, whilst on his
sweating finger he airs a summer ring of gold, unable to endure the weight of   _
a heavier gem - it is hard not to write satire. For who can be so tolerant of
this monstrous city, who so iron of soul, as to contain himself when the
brand-new litter of lawyer Matho comes along, filled with his huge self; after   _
him one who has informed against his noble patron and will soon sweep away the
remnant of our nobility already gnawed to the bone - one whom Massa dreads,
whom Carus propitiates by a bribe, and to whom Thymele was sent as envoy by   _
the terrified Latinus ; when you are thrust on one side by men who earn
legacies by nightly performances, and are raised to heaven by that now royal
road to high preferment - the favours of an aged and wealthy woman? Each of   _
the lovers will have his share; Proculeius a twelfth part, Gillo eleven parts,
each in proportion to the magnitude of his services. By all means let each
take the price of his own blood, and turn as pale as a man who has trodden   _
upon a snake bare-footed, or of one who awaits his turn to orate before the
altar at Lugdunum.
Parag. 3
Why tell how my heart burns dry with rage when I see the people hustled by a
mob of retainers attending on one who has defrauded and debauched his ward, or
on another who has been condemned by a futile verdict - for what matters   _
infamy if the cash be kept? The exiled Marius carouses from the eighth hour of
the day and revels in the wrath of Heaven, while you, poor Province, win your
cause and weep!   _

Must I not deem these things worthy of the Venusian's lamp? Must I not have
my fling at them? Should I do better to tell tales about Hercules, or Diomede,   _
or the bellowing in the Labyrinth, or about the flying carpenter and the lad
who splashed into the sea; and that in an age when the compliant husband, if
his wife may not lawfully inherits, takes money from her paramour, being well   _
trained to keep his eyes upon the ceiling, or to snore with wakeful nose over
his cups; an age when one who has squandered all his family fortunes upon
horse-flesh thinks it right and proper to look for the command of a cohort?   _
See the youngster dashing at break-neck speed, like a very Automedon, along
the Flaminian way, holding the reins himself, while he shows himself off to
his great-coated mistress!
Parag. 4
Would you not like to fill up a whole note-book at the street crossings when
you see a forger borne along upon the necks of six porters, and exposed to
view on this side and on that in his almost naked litter, and reminding you of   _
the lounging Maecenas one who by help of a scrap of paper and a moistened seal
has converted himself into a fine and wealthy gentleman?
Then up comes a lordly dame who, when her husband wants a drink, mixes toad's
blood with his mellow Calenian, and improving upon Lucusta herself, teaches
her artless neighbours to brave the talk of the town and carry forth to burial   _
the blackened corpses of their husbands. If you want to be anybody nowadays,
you must dare some crime that merits narrow Gyara or a gaol; honesty is
praised and left to shiver. It is to their crimes that men owe their   _
pleasure-grounds and palaces, their fine tables and old silver goblets with
goats standing out in relief. Who can get sleep for thinking of a money-loving
daughter-in-law seduced, of brides that have lost their virtue, or of   _
adulterers not out of their 'teens? Though nature say me nay, indignation will
prompt my verse, of whatever kind it be - such verse as I can write, or
Parag. 5
From the day when the rain-clouds lifted up the waters, and Deucalion climbed
that mountain in his ship to seek an oracle - that day when stones grew soft
and warm with life, and Pyrrha showed maidens in nature's garb to men - all   _
the doings of mankind, their vows, their fears, their angers and their
pleasures, their joys and goings to and fro, shall form the motley subject of
my page. For when was Vice more rampant? When did the maw of Avarice gape   _
wider? When was gambling so reckless? Men come not now with purses to the
hazard of the gaming table, but with a treasure-chest beside them. What
battles will you there see waged with a cashier for armour-bearer! Is it a   _
simple form of madness to lose a hundred thousand sesterces, and not have a
shirt to give to a shivering slave? Which of our grandfathers built such
numbers of villas, or dined by himself off seven courses? Look now at the   _
meagre dole set down upon the threshold for a toga-clad mob to scramble for!
Yet the patron first peers into your face, fearing that you may be claiming
under someone else's name: once recognised, you will get your share. He then   _
bids the crier call up the Trojan-blooded nobles - for they too besiege the
door as well as we: "The Praetor first," says he, "and after him the Tribune."
"But I was here first," says a freedman who stops the way; "why should I be   _
afraid, or hesitate to keep my place? Though born on the Euphrates - a fact
which the little windows in my ears would testify though I myself denied it -
yet I am the owner of five shops which bring me in four hundred thousand   _
sesterces. What better thing does the Broad Purple bestow if a Corvinus herds
sheep for daily wage in the Laurentian country, while I possess more property
than either a Pallas or a Licinus?" So let the Tribunes await their turn; let   _
money carry the day; let the sacred office give way to one who came but
yesterday with whitened feet into our city. For no deity is held in such
reverence amongst us as Wealth; though as yet, O baneful money, thou hast no   _
temple of thine own; not yet have we reared altars to Money in like manner as
we worship Peace and Honour, Victory and Virtue, or that Concord that clatters
when we salute her nest.
Parag. 6
If then the great officers of state reckon up at the end of the year how much
the dole brings in, how much it adds to their income, what shall we dependants
do who, out of the self same dole, have to find ourselves in coats and shoes,   _
in bread and smoke at home? A mob of litters comes in quest of the hundred
farthings; here is a husband going the round, followed by a sickly or pregnant
wife; another, by a clever and well-known trick, claims for a wife that is not   _
there, pointing, in her stead, to a closed and empty chair: "My Galla's in
there," says he; "let us off quick, will you not?" "Galla, put out your head!"
"Don't disturb her, she's asleep!"   _

The day itself is marked out by a fine round of business. First comes the
dole; then the courts, and Apollo learned in the law, and those triumphal   _
statues among which some Egyptian Arabarch or other has dared to set up his
titles; against whose statue more than one kind of nuisance may be committed!
Wearied and hopeless, the old clients leave the door, though the last hope   _
that a man relinquishes is that of a dinner; the poor wretches must buy their
cabbage and their fuel. Meanwhile their lordly patron will be devouring the
choicest products of wood and sea, lying alone upon an empty couch; yes, at a   _
single meal from their many fine large and antique tables they devour whole
fortunes. Ere long no parasites will be left! Who can bear to see luxury so
mean? What a huge gullet to have a whole boar - an animal created for   _
conviviality - served up to it! But you will soon pay for it, my friend, when
you take off your clothes, and with distended stomach carry your peacock into
the bath undigested! Hence a sudden death, and an intestate old age; the new   _
and merry tale runs the round of every dinner-table, and the corpse is carried
forth to burial amid the cheers of enraged friends!

Parag. 7
To these ways of ours Posterity will have nothing to add; our grandchildren
will do the same things, any desire the same things, that we do. All vice is
at its acme; up with your sails and shake out every stitch of canvas! Here   _
perhaps you will say, "Where find the talent to match the theme? Where find
that freedom of our forefathers to write whatever the burning soul desired?
'What man is there that I dare not name? What matters it whether Mucius   _
forgives my words or no? "' But just describe Tigellinus and you will blaze
amid those faggots in which men, with their throats tightly gripped, stand and
burn and smoke, and you trace a broad furrow through the middle of the arena.   _

What? Is a man who has administered aconite to half a dozen uncles to ride by
and look down upon me from his swaying feather-pillows? "Yes; and when he   _
comes near you, put your finger to your lip: he who but says the word, 'That's
the man!' will be counted an informer. You may set Aeneas and the brave
Rutulian a-fighting with an easy mind; it will hurt no one's feelings to hear   _
how Achilles was slain, or how Hylas was searched for when he tumbled after
his pitcher. But when Lucilius roars and rages as if with sword in hand, the
hearer, whose soul is cold with crime, grows red; he sweats with the secret   _
consciousness of sin. Hence wrath and tears. So turn these things over in your
mind before the trumpet sounds; the helmet once donned, it is too late to
repent you of the battle." Then I will try what I may say of those worthies   _
whose ashes lie under the Flaminian and Latin roads.