Readings Rome 2017
If this course lasted a semester instead of seven short days, I’d assign all of Tacitus, Suetonius’ Lives, a good deal of the poetry of Martial and Juvenal, Pliny’s Epistles, Seneca’s moral epistles, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and the Apologies of Justin Martyr. With limited time, however, this very brief selection should serve to illustrate the theme: How to live free in an imperial society, with a warning against making an extreme show of resistance. If you are up for more reading, dip into Seneca and Suetonius and read all of the Meditations.
I have also sent a copy of my 2005 very brief History of Rome, and, to registered students, I’ll be sending a revised and extended chapter on Roman imperial history, probably down to the murder of Caracalla.
Tacitus, Histories I.1-1.5
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Books I-II
Pliny the Younger, Epistles
 To Julius Genitor.
Our friend Artemidorus has so much goodness of heart that he always exaggerates the services his friends render him, and hence, in my case, though it is true that I have done him a good turn, he speaks of it in far too glowing language. When the philosophers were banished from the city * I was staying with him in his suburban residence, and the visit was the more talked about and the more dangerous to me, because I was praetor at the time. Moreover, as he stood in need of a considerable sum of money to discharge some debts which he had incurred for the most honourable of reasons, I borrowed the sum and gave it to him as a free gift, when certain of his powerful and rich friends held aloof. I did so in spite of the fact that seven of my friends had been put to death or banished; Senecio, Rusticus, and Helvidius having suffered the former, and Mauricus, Gratilla, Arria, and Fannia the latter punishment. With all these thunderbolts falling round me, I felt scorched, and there were certain clear indications that a like fate was hanging over my head, but I do not on that account think I deserve the splendid credit which Artemidorus assigns me - I only claim to have avoided the disgrace of deserting my friends. For I loved and admired his father-in-law, Caius Musonius, ** as far as the difference in our ages would permit, while as for Artemidorus himself, even when I was on active service as tribune in Syria, I was on terms of close intimacy with him, and the first sign I gave of possessing any brains at all was that I appeared to appreciate a man who was either the absolute sage, or the nearest possible approximation to such a character. For, of all those who nowadays call themselves philosophers, you will hardly find another to match him in the qualities of sincerity and truth. I say nothing of the physical fortitude with which he bears the extremes both of summer and winter, or of the way in which he never shrinks from work, never indulges himself in the pleasures of eating and drinking, and keeps constant restraint over his appetites and desires. In another man these would appear great virtues, but in Artemidorus they appear mere trifles compared with his other noble qualities, which obtained for him the distinction of being chosen by Caius Musonius as his son-in-law amid a crowd of disciples belonging to all ranks of society. As I think of all these things it is pleasant to know that he sings my praises so loudly, not only to others but also to you, but I am afraid he overdoes them, for - to go back again to the point whence I started - he is so good-hearted that he is given to exaggeration. It is one of his faults - an honourable one, no doubt, but still a fault - that, though he is otherwise most level-headed, he entertains a higher opinion of his friends than they deserve. Farewell.
(*) By Domitian, in 89 A.D.
(**) An eminent teacher of Stoicism, fragments of whose works are extant. He suffered banishment to an island under Nero (65 A.D.), but spent his later years in Rome.
 To Nepos.
I have often observed that the greatest words and deeds, both of men and women, are not always the most famous, and my opinion has been confirmed by a talk I had with Fannia yesterday. She is a granddaughter of the Arria who comforted her husband in his dying moments and showed him how to die. She told me many stories of her grandmother, just as heroic but not so well known as the manner of her death, and I think they will seem to you as you read them quite as remarkable as they did to me as I listened to them.
Her husband, Caecina Paetus, was lying ill, and so too was their son, both, it was thought, without chance of recovery. The son died. He was a strikingly handsome lad, modest as he was handsome, and endeared to his parents for his other virtues quite as much as because he was their son. Arria made all the arrangements for the funeral and attended it in person, without her husband knowing anything of it. When she entered his room she pretended that the boy was still alive and even much better, and when her husband constantly asked how the lad was getting on, she replied: "He has had a good sleep, and has taken food with a good appetite." Then when the tears, which she had long forced back, overcame her and burst their way out, she would leave the room, and not till then give grief its course, returning when the flood of tears was over, with dry eyes and composed look, as though she had left her bereavement at the door of the chamber. It was indeed a splendid deed of hers to draw the sword from its sheath, to plunge it into her breast, then to pull it out and offer it to her husband, with the words which will live for ever and seem to have been more than mortal, "Paetus, it does not hurt." * But at that moment, while speaking and acting thus, there was fame and immortality before her eyes, and I think it an even nobler deed for her without looking for any reward of glory or immortality to force back her tears, to hide her grief, and, even when her son was lost to her, to continue to act a mother's part.
When Scribonianus had started a rebellion in Illyricum against Claudius, Paetus joined his party, and, on the death of Scribonianus, he was brought prisoner to Rome. As he was about to embark, Arria implored the soldiers to take her on board with him. "For," she pleaded, "as he is of consular rank, you will assign him some servants to serve his meals, to valet him and put on his shoes. I will perform all these offices for him." When they refused her, she hired a fishing-boat and in that tiny vessel followed the big ship. Again, in the presence of Claudius she said to the wife of Scribonianus, when that woman was voluntarily giving evidence of the rebellion, "What, shall I listen to you in whose bosom Scribonianus was killed and yet you still live?" Those words showed that her resolve to die gloriously was due to no sudden impulse. Moreover, when her son-in-law Thrasea sought to dissuade her from carrying out her purpose, and urged among his other entreaties the following argument: "If I had to die, would you wish your daughter to die with me?" she replied, "If she had lived as long and as happily with you as I have lived with Paetus, yes." ** This answer increased the anxiety of her friends, and she was watched with greater care. Noticing this, she said, "Your endeavours are vain. You can make me die hard, but you cannot prevent me from dying." As she spoke she jumped from her chair and dashed her head with great force against the wall of the chamber, and fell to the ground. When she came to herself again, she said, "I told you that I should find a difficult way of dying if you denied me an easy one."
Do not sentences like these seem to you more noble than the "Paetus, it does not hurt," to which they gradually led up? Yet, while that saying is famous all over the world, the others are unknown. But they confirm what I said at the outset, that the noblest words and deeds are not always the most famous. Farewell.
(*) See Dio Cassius, lx.16 .
(**) Twenty-four years later, Thrasea was condemned for treason, under Nero, and ordered to choose the manner of his death (66 A.D.). His wife, the younger Arria, sought to die with him, but he persuaded her to live for the sake of their daughter, Fannia ( vii. 19 ).
THE EPIGRAMS OF MARTIAL
CASTA suo gladium cum traderet Arria Paeto,
quem de visceribus strinxerat ipsa suis,
"Si qua fides, vulnus quod feci non dolet ; " inquit
"sed tu quod facies, hoc mihi, Paete, dolet."
WHEN chaste Arria was offering to her Paetus that
sword which with her own hand she had drawn
from out her breast : " If thou believest me," she
said, " the wound I have inflicted has no smart ; but
the wound thou shalt inflict this for me, Paetus,
lies the smart."
Juvenal, Satire X translated by John Dryden
ARGUMENT OF THE Tenth Satyr.
The Poet's Design in this Divine Satyr, 〈…〉 repre∣sent the various Wishes and Desires of Mankind; and to set out the Folly of 'em. He runs through all the several Heads of Riches, Honours, Elo∣quence, Fame for Martial Atchievements, Long-Life, and Beauty; and gives Instances in Each, how frequently they have prov'd the Ruin of Those that Own'd them. He concludes there∣fore, that since we generally chuse so ill for our selves•〈…〉 it to the Gods, to make the choice for us. All we can safely ask of Heaven, lies within a very small Compass. 'Tis but Health of Body and Mind— And if we have these, 'tis not much matter, what we want besides: For we have al∣ready enough to make us Happy.
THE TENTH SATYR.
LOOK round the Habitable World, how few
Know their own Good; or knowing it, pursue.
How void of Reason are our Hopes and Fears!
What in the Conduct of our Life appears
So well design'd, so luckily begun,
But, when we have our wish, we wish undone?
Whole Houses, of their whole Desires possest,
Are often Ruin'd, at their own Request.
In Wars, and Peace, things hurtful we require,
When made Obnoxius to our own Desire. 10
With Laurels some have fatally been Crown'd;
Some who the depths of Eloquence have found,
In that unnavigable Stream were Drown'd.
The 1 Brawny Fool, who did his Vigour boast;
In that Presumeing Confidence was lost•
But more have been by Avarice opprest,
And Heaps of Money crouded in the Chest
Unwieldy Sums of Wealth, which higher mount
Than Files of Marshall'd Figures can account.
To which the Stores of Craesus, in the Scale, 20
Wou'd look like little Dolphins, when they sail
In the vast Shadow of the British Whale.
For this, in Nero's Arbitrary time,
When Virtue was a Guilt. and Wealth a Crime,
A Troop of Cut-Th•oat Guards were sent, to seize
The Rich Mens Goods, and gut their Palaces:
The Mob, Commission'd by the Government,
Are seldom to an Empty Garret, sent.
The Fearful Passenger, who Travels late,
Charg'd with the Carriage of a Paltry Plate, 30
Shakes at the Moonshine shadow of a Rush;
And sees a Red-Coat rise from every Bush:
The Beggar Sings, ev'n when he sees the place
Beset with Thieves, and never mends his pace.
Of all the Vows, the first and chief Request
Of each, is to be Richer than the rest:
And yet no doubts the Poor Man's Draught controul;
He dreads no Poison in his homely Bowl.
Then fear the deadly Drug, when Gems Divine
Enchase the Cup, and sparkle in the Wine. 40
Will you not now, the pair of Sages praise,
Who the same End pursu'd, by several Ways?
One pity'd, one contemn'd the Woful Times:
One laugh'd at Follies, one lamented Crimes:
Laughter is easie; but the Wonder lies
What stores of Brine supply'd the Weepers Eyes.
Democritus, cou'd feed his Spleen, and shake
His sides and shoulders till he felt 'em ake;
Tho in his Country Town, no Lictors were;
Nor Rods nor Ax nor Tribune did appear: 50
Nor all the Foppish Gravity of show
Which cunning Magistrates on Crowds bestow:
What had he done, had he beheld, on high
Our Praetor seated, in Mock Majesty;
His Charriot rowling o're the Dusty place
While, with dumb Pride, and a set formal Face,
He moves, in the dull Ceremonial track,
With Iove's Embroyder'd Coat upon his back:
A Sute of Hangings had not more opprest
His Shoulders, than that long, Laborious Vest. 60
A heavy Gugaw, (call'd a Crown,) that spred
About his Temples, drown'd his narrow Head:
And wou'd have crush'd it, with the Massy Freight,
But that a sweating Slave sustain'd the weight:
A Slave in the same Chariot seen to ride,
To mortifie the mighty Madman's Pride.
Add now th' Imperial Eagle, rais'd on high,
With Golden Beak (the Mark of Majesty
Trumpets before, and on the Left and Right,
A Cavalcade of Nobles, all in White: 70
In their own Natures false, and flatt'ring Tribes•
But made his Friends, by Places and by Bribes.
In his own Age Democritus cou'd find
Sufficient cause to laugh at Humane kind:
Learn from so great a Wit; a Land of Bogs
With Ditches fenc'd• a Heav'n Fat with Fogs,
May form a Spirit fit to sway the State;
And make the Neighb'ring Monarchs fear their Fate.
He laughs at all the Vulgar Cares and Fears;
At their vain Triumphs, and their vainer Tears: 80
An equal Temper in his Mind he found,
When Fortune flatter'd him, and when she frown'd.
'Tis plain from hence that what our Vows request,
Are hurtful things, or Useless at the best.
Some ask for Envy'd Pow'r; which publick Hate
Pursues, and hurries headlong to their Fate:
Down go the Titles; and the Statue Crown'd,
Is by base Hands in the next River Drown'd.
The Guiltless Horses, and the Chariot Wheel
The same Effects of Vulgar Fury feel: 90
The Smith prepares his Hammer for the Stroke,
While the Lung'd Bellows hissing Fire provoke;
Sejanus2 almost first of Roman Names,
The great Sejanus crackles in the Flames:
Form'd in the Forge, the Pliant Brass is laid
On Anvils; and of Head and Limbs are made,
Pans, Cans, and Pispots, a whole Kitchin Trade.
Adorn your Doors with Laurels; and a Bull
Milk white and large, lead to the Capitol;
Sejanus with a Rope, is drag'd along; 100
The Sport and Laughter of the giddy Throng!
Good Lord, they Cry, what Ethiop Lips he has,
How foul a Snout, and what a hanging Face?
By Heav'n I never cou'd endure his sight;
But say, how came his Monstrous Crimes to Light?
What is the Charge, and who the Evidence
(The Saviour of the Nation and the Prince?)
Nothing of this; but our Old Caesar sent
A Noisie Letter to his Parliament:
Nay Sirs, if Caesar writ, I ask no more 110
He's Guilty; and the Question's out of Door.
How goes the Mob, (for that's a Mighty thing.)
When the King's Trump, the Mob are for the King:
They follow Fortune, and the Common Cry
Is still against the Rogue Condemn'd to Dye.
But the same very Mob; that Rascal crowd
Had cry'd Sejanus, with a Shout as loud;
Had his Designs, (by Fortune's favour Blest.)
Suc•eded, and the Prince's Age opprest.
But long, long since, the Times have chang'd their Face, 120
The People grown Degenerate and base:
Not suffer'd now the Freedom of their choice,
To make their Magistrates, and sell their Voice.
Our Wise Fore-Fathers, Great by Sea and Land,
Had once the Pow'r, and absolute Command;
All Offices of Trust, themselves dispos'd;
Rais'd whom they pleas'd, and whom they pleas'd, Depos'd.
But we who give our Native Rights away,
And our Inslav'd Posterity betray,
Are now reduc'd to beg an Alms, and go 130
On Holidays to see a Puppet show.
There was a Damn'd Design, crys one, no doubt;
For Warrants are already Issued out:
I met Brutidius in a Mortal fright:
He's dipt for certain, and plays least in sight:
I fear the Rage of our offended Prince,
Who thinks the Senate slack in his defence!
Come let us haste, our Loyal Zeal to show,
And spurn the Wretched Corps of Caesar's Foe:
But let our Slaves be present there, lest they 140
Accuse their Masters, and for Gain betray.
Such were the Whispers of those jealous Times,
About Sejanus Punishment, and Crimes.
Now tell me truly, wou'dst thou change thy Fate
To be, like him, first Minister of State?
To have thy Levees Crowded with resort,
Of a depending, gaping, servile Court:
Dispose all Honours, of the Sword and Gown,
Grace with a Nod, and Ruin with a Frown;
To hold thy Prince in Pupill-Age and sway, 150
That Monarch, whom the Master'd World obey?
While he, intent on secret Lusts alone,
Lives to himself, abandoning the Throne;
Coopt 3 in a narrow Isle, observing Dreams
With flatt'ring Wisards, and erecting Schemes!
I well believe, thou wou'd'st be Great as he;
For every Man's a Fool to that Degree:
All wish the dire Prerogative to kill;
Ev'n they wou'd have the Pow'r, who want the Will:
But wou'dst thou have thy Wishes understood, 160
To take the Bad together with the Good?
Wou'dst thou not rather choose a small Renown,
To be the May'• of some poor Paltry Town,
Bigly to Look, and Bath rou•ly to speak;
To pound false Weights, and scanty Measures break?
Then, grant we that Sejanus went astray,
In ev'ry Wish, and knew not how to pray:
For he who grasp'd the World's exhausted Store
Yet never had enough, but wish'd for more,
Rais'd a Top-heavy Tow'r, of monst'rous height, 170
Which Mould'ring, crush'd him underneath the Weight.
What did the mighty Pompey's Fall beget?
And ruin'd 4 him, who Greater than the Great,
The stubborn Pride of Roman Nobles broke;
And bent their Haughty Necks beneath his Yoke?
What else, but his immoderate Lust of Pow'r,
Pray•rs made, and granted in a Luckless Hour:
For few Usurpers to the Shades descend
By a dry Death, or with a quiet End.
The Boy, who scarce has paid his Entrance down 180
To his proud Pedant, or declin'd a Noun,
(So small an Elf, that when the days are foul,
He and his Satchel must be born to School,)
Yet prays and hopes and aims at nothing less,
To 5 prove a Tully, or Demosthenes:
But both those Orators; so much Renown'd,
In their own Depths of Eloquence were Drown'd:
The Hand and Head were never lost, of those
Who dealt in Dogrel, or who punn'd in Prose:
Fortune6foretun'd the Dying Notes of Rome: 190
Till I, thy Consul sole, consol'd thy Doom.
His Fate had crept below the lifted Swords,
Had all his Malice been to Murther words.
I rather wou'd be Maevius, Thrash for Rhimes
Like his, the scorn and scandal of the Times,
Than 7 that Philippique, fatally Divine,
Which is inscrib'd the Second, should be Mine.
Nor he, the Wonder of the Grecian throng,
Who drove them with the Torrent of his Tongue,
Who shook the Theaters, and sway'd the State 200
Of Athens, found a more Propitious Fate.
Whom, born beneath a boding Horoscope,
His Sire, the Blear-Ey'd Vulcan of a Shop,
From Mars his Forge, sent to Minerva's Schools,
To learn th' unlucky Art of wheedling Fools.
With Itch of Honour, and Opinion, Vain,
All things beyond their Native worth we strain:
The 8 Spoils of War, brought to Feretrian Iove,
An empty Coat of Armour hung above
The Conquerours Chariot, and in Triumph born, 210
A Streamer from a boarded Gally torn,
A Chap-••ln Beaver loosly hanging by•
The cloven Helm, an Ar•h of Victory•
On whose high Convex sits a Captive Foe
And sighing casts a Mournful Look below;
Of ev'ry Nation, each Illustrious Name,
Such Toys as these have cheated into Fame:
Exchanging solid Quiet, to obtain
The Windy satisfaction of the Brain.
So much the Thirst of Honour Fires the Blood; 220
So many wou'd be Great, so few be Good.
For who wou'd Virtue for her self regard,
Or Wed, without the Portion of Reward?
Yet this Mad Chace of Fame, by few pursu'd,
Has drawn Destruction on the Multitude:
This Avarice of Praise in Times to come,
Those long Inscriptions, crowded on the Tomb,
Shou'd some Wild Fig-Tree take her Native bent,
And heave below the gaudy Monument,
Wou'd crack the Marble Titles, and disperse 230
The Characters of all the lying Verse.
For Sepulchres themselves must crumbling fall
In times Abyss, the common Grave of all.
Great Hannibal within the Ballance lay;
And tell how many Pounds his Ashes weigh;
Whom Affrick was not able to contain,
Whose length runs Level with th' Atlantick main,
And wearies fruitful Nilus, to convey
His Sun-beat Waters by so long a way;
Which Ethiopia's double Clime divides, 240
And Elephants in other Mountains hides.
Spain first he won, the P•raeneans past,
And steepy Alps, the Mounds that Nature cast:
And with Corroding Juices, as he went,
A passage through the living Rocks he rent.
Then, like a Torrent, rowling from on high,
He pours his head-long Rage on Italy;
In three Victorious Battels overrun;
Yet still uneasie, Cries there's nothing done:
Till, level with the Ground, their Gates are laid; 250
And Punick Flags, on Roman Tow'rs displaid.
Ask what a Face belong'd to this high Fame;
His Picture scarcely wou'd deserve a Frame:
A Sign-Post Dawber wou'd disdain to pain•
The one Ey'd Heroe on his Elephant.
Now what's his End, O Charming Glory, say
What rare fifth Act, to Crown this huffing Play?
In one deciding Battel overcome,
He flies, is banisht from his Native home:
Begs refuge in a Foreign Court, and there 260
Attends his mean Petition to prefer:
Repuls'd by surly Grooms, who wait before
The sleeping Tyrant's interdicted Door•
What wondrous sort of Death, has Heav'n design'd
Distinguish'd from the Herd of Humane Kind,
For so untam'd, so turbulent a Mind!
Nor Swords at hand, nor hissing Darts afar,
Are doom'd t' Avenge the tedious blood• War,
But Poyson, drawn through a Rings hollow plate,
Must finish him; a sucking Infant's Fate. 270
Go, climb the rugged Alps, Ambitious Fool,
To please the Boys, and be a Theme at School.
One World suffis•d not Alexander's Mind;
Coop't up, he seem'd in Earth and Seas confin'd:
And, strugling, stretch'd his restless Limbs about
The narrow Globe, to find a passage out.
Yet, enter'd in the 9 Brick-built Town, he try'd
The Tomb, and found the strait dimensions wide:
"Death only this Mysterious Truth unfolds,
"The mighty Soul, how small a Body holds. 280
Old 10Greece a Tale of Athos wou'd make out,
Cut from the Continent, and Sail'd about;
Seas hid with Navies, Chariots passing o're
The Channel, on a Bridge from shore to shore:
Rivers, whose depth no sharp beholder sees,
Drunk, at an Armies Dinner, to the Lees;
With a long Legend of Romantick things,
Which, in his Cups, the Bowsy Poet sings.
But how did he return, this haughty Brave
Who whipt the Winds, and made the Sea his Slave? 290
(Tho' Neptune took unkindly to be bound;
And Eurus never such hard usage found
In his Eolian Prisons under ground;)
What God so mean ev'n 11 he who points the way,
So Merciless a Tyrant to Obey!
But how return'd he, let us ask again?
In a poor Skiff he pass'd the bloody Main,
Choak'd with the slaughter'd Bodies of his Train.
For Fame he pray'd, but let th' Event declare
He had no mighty penn'worth of his Pray'r. 300
Iove grant me length of Life, and Years good store?
Heap on my bending Back, I ask no more.
Both Sick and Healthful, Old and Young, conspire
In this one silly, mischievous desire.
Mistaken Blessing which Old Age they call,
'Tis a long, nasty, darksom Hospital.
A ropy Chain of Rhumes; a Visage rough,
Deform'd, Unfeatur'd, and a Skin of Buff.
A stitch-fal'n Cheek, that hangs below the Jaw;
Such Wrinckles, as a skillful Hand wou'd draw 310
For an old Grandam Ape, when, with a Grace,
She sits at squat, and scrubs her Leathern Face.
In Youth, distinctions infinite abound;
No Shape, or Feature, just alike are found;
The Fair, the Black, the Feeble, and the Strong;
But the same foulness does to Age belong,
The self same Palsie, both in Limbs, and Tongue.
The Skull and Forehead one Bald Barren plain;
And Gums unarm'd to Mumble Meat in vain:
Besides th' Eternal Drivel, that supplies 320
The dropping Beard, from Nostrils, Mouth, and Eyes.
His Wife and Children loath him, and, what's worse,
Himself does his offensive Carrion Curse!
Flatt'rers forsake him too; for who would kill
Himself, to be Remembred in a Will?
His taste, not only pall'd to Wine and Meat,
But to the Relish of a Nobler Treat.
The limber Nerve, in vain provok'd to rise,
Inglorious from the Field of Battel flies:
Poor Feeble Dotard, how cou'd he advance 330
With his Blew-head-piece, and his broken Lance?
Add, that endeavouring still without effect,
A Lust more sordid justly we suspect.
Those Senses lost, behold a new defeat;
The Soul, dislodging from another seat.
What Musick, or Enchanting Voice, can chear
A Stupid, Old, Impenetrable Ear?
No matter in what Place, or what Degree
Of the full Theater he sits to see;
Cornets and Trumpets cannot reach his Ear: 340
Under an Actor's Nose, he's never near.
His Boy must bawl, to make him understand
The Hour o'th' Day, or such a Lord's at hand:
The little Blood that creeps within his Veins,
Is but just warm'd in a hot Feaver's pains.
In fine, he wears no Limb about him found:
With Sores and Sicknesses, beleaguer'd round:
Ask me their Names, I sooner cou'd relate
How many Drudges on Salt Hippia wait;
What Crowds of Patients the Town Doctor kills, 350
Or how, last fall, he rais'd the Weekly Bills.
What Provinces by Basilus were spoil'd,
What Herds of Heirs by Guardians are beguil'd:
How many bouts a Day that Bitch has try'd;
How many Boys that Pedagogue can ride!
What Lands and Lordships for their Owners know,
My Quondam Barber, but his Worship now.
This Dotard of his broken Back complains,
One his Legs fail, and one his Shoulders pain:
Another is of both his Eyes bere•t; 360
And Envies who has one for Aiming left.
A Fifth with trembling Lips expecting stands;
As in his Child-hood, cram'd by others hands;
One, who at sight of Supper open'd wide
His Jaws before, and Whetted Grinders try'd;
Now only Yawns, and waits to be supply'd:
Like a young Swallow, when with weary Wings,
Expected Food, her fasting Mother brings.
His loss of Members is a heavy Curse,
But all his Faculties decay'd, a worse! 370
His Servants Names he has forgotten quite:
Knows not his Friend who supp'd with him last Night:
Not ev'n the Children, he Begot and Bred;
Or his Will knows 'em not: For, in their stead,
In Form of Law, a common Hackney Jade,
Sole Heir, for secret Services, is made:
So lewd, and such a batter'd Brothel Whore,
That she defies all Commers, at her Door.
Well, yet suppose his Senses are his own,
He lives to be chief Mourner for his Son: 380
Before his Face his Wife and Brother burns;
He Numbers all his Kindred in their Urns.
These are the Fines he pays for living long;
And dragging tedious Age, in his own wrong:
Griefs always Green, a House-hold still in Tears,
Sad Pomps: A Threshold throng'd with daily Biers;
And Liveries of Black for Length of Years.
Next to the Raven's Age, the Pylian12 King
Was longest liv'd of any two-leg'd thing;
Blest, to Defraud the Grave so long, to Mount 390
His 13 Numbred Years, and on his Right Hand Count;
Three Hundred Seasons, guzling Must of Wine:
But, hold a while, and hear himself Repine
At Fates Unequal Laws; and at the Clue
Which, 14 Merciless in length, the midmost Sister drew.
When his Brave Son upon the Fun'ral Pyre,
He saw extended, and his Beard on Fire;
He turn'd, and Weeping, ask'd his Friends, what Crime
Had Curs'd his Age to this unhappy Time?
Thus Mourn'd Old Peleus for Achilles slain, 400
And thus Vlysses's Father did complain.
How Fortunate an End had Priam made,
Among his Ancestors a mighty shade,
While Troy yet stood: When Hector with the Race
Of Royal Bastards might his Funeral Grace:
Amidst the Tears of Trojan Dames inurn'd,
And by his Loyal Daughters, truly mourn'd.
Had Heaven so Blest him, he had Dy'd before
The fatal Fleet to Sparta Paris bore.
But mark what Age produc'd; he liv'd to see 410
His Town in Flames his falling Monarchy:
In fine, the feeble Syre, reduc'd by Fate,
To change his Scepter for a Sword, too late,
His 15 last Effort before Iove's Altar tries;
A Souldier half, and half a Sacrifice:
Falls like an Oxe, that waits the coming blow;
Old and unprofitable to the Plough.
At 16 least, he Dy'd a Man, his Queen furviv'd;
To Howl, and in a barking Body liv'd.
I hasten to our own; Nor will relate 420
Great 17Mithridates, and Rich 18Craessus Fate;
Whom Solon wisely Counsell'd to attend,
The Name of Happy, till he knew his End.
That Marius was an •xile, that he fled
Was ta'ne, in Ruin'd Carthage beg'd his Bread,
All these were owing to a Life too long:
For whom had Rome beheld so Happy, Young!
High in his Chariot and with Lawrel Crown'd,
When he had led the Cimbrian Captives round
The Roman Streets; descending from his State, 430
In that Blest Hour he should have beg'd his Fate:
Then, then he might have dy'd of all admir'd,
And his Triumphant Soul with Shouts expir'd.
Campania,19 Fortunes Malice to prevent,
To Pompey an indulgent Favour sent:
But publick Pray'rs impos'd on Heav'n, to give
Their much Lov'd Leader an unkind Reprieve.
The Cities Fate and his, conspir'd to save
The Head, reserv'd for an Egyptian Slave.
Cethegus,20 tho a Traytor to the State, 440
And Tortur'd, scap'd this Ignominious Fate:
And Sergius,21 who a bad Cause bravely try'd,
All of a Piece, and undiminish'd Dy'd.
To Venus, the fond Mother makes a Pray'r,
That all her Sons and Daughters may be Fair:
True, for the Boys a Mumbling Vow she sends;
But, for the Girls, the Vaulted Temple rends:
They must be finish'd Pieces: 'Tis allow'd
Diana's Beauty made Latona Proud;
And pleas'd, to see the Wond'ring People Pray 450
To the New-rising Sister of the Day.
And yet Lucretia's Fate wou'd bar that Vow:
And Fair 22Virginia wou'd her Fate bestow
On Rutila; and change her Faultless Make
For the foul rumple of Her Camel back.
But, for his Mother's Boy, the Beau, what frights
His Parents have by Day, what Anxious Nights!
Form join'd with Virtue is a sight too rare:
Chast is no Epithete to sute with Fair.
Suppose the same Traditionary strain 460
Of Rigid Manners, in the House remain;
Inveterate Truth, an Old plain Sabine's Heart;
Suppose that Nature, too, has done her part;
Infus'd into his Soul a sober Grace,
And blusht a Modest Blood into his Face;
(For Nature is a better Guardian far,
Than Sawcy Pedants, or dull Tutors are:)
Yet still the Youth must ne're arrive at Man;
(So much Almighty Bribes, and Presents, can:)
Ev'n with a Parent, where Perswasions fail, 470
Mony is impudent, and will prevail.
We never Read of such a Tyrant King,
Who guelt a Boy deform'd, to hear him Sing.
Nor Nero, in his more Luxurious Rage,
E're made a Mistress of an ugly Page:
Sporus, his Spouse, nor Crooked was, nor Lame
With Mountain Back, and Belly, from the Game
Cross-barr'd: But both his Sexes well became.
Go, boast your Springal, by his Beauty Curst
To •lls; nor think I have declar'd the worst: 480
His Form procures him Journey-Work; a strife
Betwixt Town-Madams, and the Merchant's Wife:
Guess, when he undertakes this publick War,
What furious Beasts offended Cuckolds are.
Adult'rers are with Dangers round beset;
Born under Mars, they cannot scape the Net;
And from Revengeful Husbands oft have try'd
Worse handling, than severest Laws provide:
One stabs, one slashes, one, with Cruel Art,
Makes Colon suffer for the Peccant part. 490
But your Endymion, your smooth, Smock-fac'd Boy,
Unrivall'd, shall a Beauteous Dame enjoy:
Not so: One more Salacious, Rich, and Old,
Out-bids, and buys her Pleasure for her Gold:
Now he must Moil, and Drudge, for one he loaths:
She keeps him High, in Equipage, and Cloaths:
She Pawns her Jewels, and her Rich Attire,
And thinks the Workman worthy of his Hire:
In all things else immoral, stingy, mean;
But, in her Lusts, a Conscionable Quean. 500
She may be handsom, yet be Chast, you say:
Good Observator, not so fast away:
Did it not cost the 23 Modest Youth his Life,
Who shun'd th' Embraces of his Father's Wife?
And was not t'other 24 Stripling forc'd to fly,
Who, coldly, did his Patron's Queen deny;
And pleaded Laws of Hospitality?
The Ladies charg'd 'em home, and turn'd the Tail:
With shame they redn'd, and with spight grew Pale.
•Tis Dang'rous to deny the longing Dame; 510
She loses Pity, who has lost her Shame.
Now 25Silius wants thy Counsel, give Advice;
Wed Caesar's Wife, or Dye• the Choice is nice.
Her Comet-Eyes she darts on ev'ry Grace;
And takes a fatal liking to his Face.
Adorn'd with Bridal Pomp she sits in State;
The ••blick Notaries and 〈◊〉 wait:
The Genial Bed is in the Garden drest;
The •ortion paid, and ev'ry Rite express'd,
Which in a Roman Marriage is profest. 520
'Tis no stol'n Wedding, this; rejecting awe,
She scorns to Marry, but in Form of Law:
In this moot case, your Judgment: To refuse
Is present Death, besides the Night you lose.
If you consent, 'tis hardly worth your pain;
A Day or two of Anxious Life you gain:
Till lowd Reports through all the Town have pa•t,
And reach the Prince: For Cuckolds hear the last.
Indulge thy Pleasure, Youth, and take thy swing:
For not to take, is but the self same thing: 530
Inevitable Death before thee lies;
But looks more kindly through a Ladies Eyes.
What then remains? Are we depriv'd of Will?
Must we not Wish, for fear of wishing Ill?
Receive my Counsel, and securely move;
Intrust thy Fortune to the Pow'rs above.
Leave them to manage for thee, and to grant
What their unerring Wisdom sees thee want:
In Goodness as in Greatness they excel;
Ah that we lov'd our selves but half so well! 540
We, blindly by our headstrong Passions led,
Are hot for Action, and desire to Wed;
Then wish for Heirs: But to the Gods alone
Our future Offspring, and our Wives are known;
Th' audacious Strumpet, and ungracious Son.
Yet, not to rob the Priests of pious Gain,
That Altars be not wholly built in vain;
Forgive the Gods the rest, and stand confin'd
To Health of Body, and Content of Mind:
A Soul, that can securely Death defie, 550
And count it Nature's Priviledge, to Dye;
Serene and Manly, harden'd to sustain
The load of Life, and Exercis'd in Pain;
Guiltless of Hate, and Proof against Desire;
That all things weighs, and nothing can admire:
That dares prefer the Toils of Hercules
To Dalliance, Banquets, and Ignoble ease.
The Path to Peace is Virtue: What I show,
Thy Self may freely, on Thy Self bestow:
Fortune was never Worshipp'd by the Wi•e; 560
But, set aloft by Fools, Usurps the Skies.
The End of the Tenth Satyr.
EXPLANATORY NOTES ON THE TENTH SATYR.
Milo, of Crotona; who for a Tryal of his strength, going to rend an Oak, perish'd in the Attempt: for his Arms were caught in the Trunk of it; and he was devour'd by Wild Beasts. Sejanus was Tiberius's first Favourite; and while he continu'd so, had the highest Marks of Honour bestow'd on him; Statues and Trium• phal Chariots were every where erected to him. But as soon as he fell into Disgrace with the Emperor, these were all immediately dismount∣ed; and the Senate and Common People insulted over him as meanly, as they had sawn'd on him before.
The Island of Capreae, which lies about a League out at Sea from the
Campanian Shore, was the Scene of Tiberius's Pleasures in the latter
part of his Reign. There he liv'd for some Years with Divi∣ners,
Soothsayers, and worse Company—And from thence, dispatch'd all
his Orders to the Senate.
Iulius Caesar, who got the better of P•mpey, that was stil'd the Great.Demosthenes and Tully, both dyed for their Oratory. Demosthenes gave himself Poyson, to avoid being carried to Antipater; one of Alexander's Captains, who had then made himself Master of Athens. Tully was Murther'd by M. Antony's Order, in Return, for those In∣vectives he had made against him. The Latin of this Couplet is a Famous Verse of Tully's, in which he sets out the Happiness of his own Consulship; Famous for the Vanity, and the ill Poetry of it. For Tully as he had a good deal of the one, so he had no great share of the other. The Orations of Tully, against M. A••ony, were stil'd by him Philippics, in imitation of Demosthenes; who had given that Name before to those he made against Philip of Macedon.
This is a Mock-Account of a Roman Triumph.
Babylon, where Alexander dy’d. Xerxes, is represented in History, after a very Romantick Man∣ner; affecting Fame beyond Measure, and doing the most Extrava∣gant things, to compass it. Mount Athos made a Prodigious Promon∣tory in the AEgaean Sea: He is said to have cut a Channel through it, and to have Sail'd round it. He made a Bridge of Boats over the Hellespont, where it was three Miles broad: •And order'd a Whipping for the Winds and Seas, because they had once crossed his Designs, as we have a very solemn account of it in Herodotus. But, after all these vain Boasts, he was shamefully beaten by Themistocles at Salamis; and return'd home, leaving most of his Fleet behind him. Mercury, who was a God of the lowest size, and employ'd al∣ways in Errands between Heaven and Hell. And Mortals us'd him accordingly: For his Statues were anciently plac'd, where Roads met; with Directions on the Fingers of 'em, pointing out the several ways to Travellers.
Nestor, King of Pylus; who was 300 Years old, according to Homer's account, at least, as he is understood by his Exposi∣tors. The Ancients counted by their Fingers. Their Left Hands serv'd 'em till they came up to an Hundred. After that, they us'd their Right, to express all greater Numbers.
The Fates were three Sisters, which had all some peculiar Busi∣ness assign'd 'em by the Poets, in Relation to the Lives of Men. The First held the Distaff; the Second Spun the Thread; and the Third cut it.
Whilst Troy was Sacking by the Greeks. Old King Priam is said to have Buckled on his Armour, to oppose 'em. Which he had no sooner done, but he was met by Pyrrhus, and Slain before the Altar of Iupiter, in his own Palace, as we have the Story finely told, in Virgil's 2d AEneid.
Hecuba, his Queen, escap'd the Swords of the Grecians, and out∣liv'd him. It seems, she behav'd her self so fiercely, and uneasily to her Husband's Murtherers, while she liv'd, that the the Poets thought fit to turn her into a Bitch, when she dy'd.
Mithridates, after he had disputed the Empire of the World for 40 Years together, with the Romans, was at last depriv'd of Life and Empire by Pompey the Great. Croesus, in the midst of his Prosperity, making his Boast to Solon, how Happy he was, receiv'd this Answer from the Wise Man, That no One could pronounce himself Happy, till he saw what his End should be. The truth of this Croesus found, when he was put in Chains by Cyrus, and Condemned to die.
Pompey, in the midst of his Glory, fell into a Dangerous Fit of Sickness, at Naples. A great many Cities then made Publick Suppli∣cations for him. He Recover'd, was beaten at Pharsalia, fled to Ptolomy King of AEgypt; and, instead of receiving Protection at his Court, had his Head struck off by his Order, to please Caesar. Cethegus was one that conspir'd with Catiline, and was put to Death by the Senate. Catiline dy'd Fighting.
Virginia was kill'd by her own Father, to prevent her being expos'd to the Lust of Appius Claudius, who had Ill Designs upon her. The Story at large is in Livy's Third Book; and 'tis a remarkable one, as it gave occasion to the putting down the Power of the Decem∣viri; of whom Appius was one. Hippolytus the Son of Theseus, was lov'd by his Mother in Law Phaedria. But he not complying with her, she procur'd his Death. Bellerophon, the Son of King Glaucus, residing sometime at the Court of Paetus King of the Argives, the Queen, Sthenobaea, fell in Love with him. But he refusing her, she turn'd the Accusation upon Him; and he narrowly scap'd Paetus's Vengeance. Messalina, Wife to the Emperor Claudius, Infamous for her Lewd∣ness. She set her Eyes upon C. Silius, a fine Youth; forc'd him to quit his own Wife, and Marry her with all the Formalities of a Wedding, whilst Claudius Caesar was Sacrificing at Hostia. Upon his Return, he put both Silius and her to Death.