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THE EPIGRAMS OF THOMAS CAMPION
1. TO THE MOST EXCELLENT AND PROSPEROUS CHARLES, PRINCE OF GREAT BRITAIN
Perhaps, great Prince, when you have grown greater this man who now speaks these trifles for you will sing great things, which will be able to celebrate your family and your brilliant deeds, whether occurring at home or accomplished abroad. But, oh best of youths, do not overly condemn my slender Muses, for great poetry prevails by weight, while small efforts please by wit. Athletes used to entertain kings in the sunny open spaces, jesting and play indoors. Great Alexander applauded at Homer, admiring his tales and his gods between battles. Caeser, yet greater, read Roman epigrams; indeed he wrote a few himself with his scepter-wielding hand. But, great Prince, let others recite such things to you; always do great things, but read small ones. Since contemplation, lengthy or brief, matched to one’s character, halts the active live, it is beneficial..
Why should I prefer this newborn book to my former one? It is fitting for my foremost work to occupy first place.
Galen did not elect to write his works for the benefit of barbarians who had not learned to exercise moderation at the dinner-table. Nor am I too keen to commend my works to those readers who read any old trash without discrimination.
4. ON NERVA
Nerva is invited to many a meal free of charge because of his salty wit. He can lick any salt he wants.
5. ABOUT TOBACCO
The Spaniard transports gold from his Indies, complaining of the long voyage. But an Englishman sails even farther to the same ports in order to bring back your smoke, uncured tobacco; thus the Spaniard cleverly employs smoke to fleece the English. No wonder numb-nosed Englishmen cannot sniff out Spanish tricks
6. ON DRINKABLE GOLD
Pomponius, you manage to vend that medical gold to the extent that the gullible throng places its trust in you. Some patients are cured, but not by the power of this ineffectual gold: assuredly, they are saved by their trust alone.
Love took his name, Berinus, from the roiling sea, whence his mother, the brine, was born (if colorful antiquity told the truth), and I believe this did not occur without a terrific storm. Nor imagine that I am speaking fancifully, Berinus. For lovers rage like the sea, and often complain that their fortunes have been shipwrecked, their devotion yet more so. Voracious Charybdis is a harlot, more bitter than the angry ocean.
Nerva, ever loyal and upright, has buried his brothers, cousins, sons, and both his parents. The sole survivor of such a great family, now he concentrates the the whole glory of his bloodline in his veins. Thus this foresightful man cruises the dinner-tables of the wealthy, to find families whence his line might grow anew. Now, Nerva, your father, mother, brothers, and nephews come from the alien stock you disdain.
10. ABOUT MATHO
Matho took a wife while drunk, and now shudders at her, sober; his only course of action is to stay drunk.A man wise in many things will never been deemed foolish in any one matter: a good reputation is that good.
12. TO CALVUS
A singer and a dancer are quarreling about priority, Calvus, but music was created before the dance. For movement of the mind, when governed by art, is more worthy than physical motion, just as the mind is superior to the body.
A woman full of virtue is a good and precious thing, Cosmus; but things that are precious tend to be rare.Lycus does not pick his friends with an eye to those mutual favors which friends are duty-bound to do for each other, but out of considerations of self-advantage. Nor does he keep quiet about it, thinking himself the only man who is clever. A good and wise man will be recognized by his heart’s candor, but not a bad one. He, being clever, keeps everything concealed. Although you may already be enriched by your usury, Lycus, don’t expect to earn any interest on your feigned friendship.
15. TO EURUS
It is an old thing for a man without sense to say much, Eurus; but it is novel for lawyer Caccula to display any sense at all
Though I have you a good turn in many a thing, you are unaware of me. Had I done harm, Haedus, I would be more familiar to you.
17. TO BARNES
You crave to be dissolved in Aufilena’s wine, so that you may happily bestow a kiss on her as she drinks. Perhaps you will also arrive at her heart. But Barnes, what kind of lover will you be when you land in her piss-pot!
18. ON CACCULA
Why shouldn’t lawyer Caccula be the richest man alive? Nobody talks more, and his every word’s for sale.
19. ABOUT SABELLA
Sabella, if I ask for my money back you laugh. If I refuse you a dinner you grow enraged. Both these things annoy me equally. I cannot stand humor about a serious matter, or seriousness about a humorous one.
20. ON THE MAKER OF LADIES’ UNDERGARMENTS
The maker of ladies’ undergarments is the only honest workingman who turns a profit wherever he may be. For when he is finished with his work, without any fuss or delay he receives his reward in his very own hand.
21. TO NERVA
You congratulate yourself on your temperature, Nerva, and wish me to feel your forehead. I confess, you are very lukewarm to the touch. But let me explain what “lukewarm” means in English: we use the word for a man who is neither good nor bad.
22. ON TUCCA
When Lycus met you he did not say hey but rather pay. But in your urbanity, Tucca, you said nothing but good day.
23. ON CALUS
Calus keeps a collection of lampoons written against himself, which amuse himself. You would scarcely believe how such imprecations please the fellow, as if unpopularity is useful for a great man, as if it is better to be feared than to please others. So thinks Calus. But sometimes his guardian angel whispers in is ear that unpopularity frequently has a grave downfall for its companion.
24. ABOUT MARINA
When she was less skilled at these things, Marina rode around in a two-horse carriage and was content with only one pair of lovers. Now she’s got two pair, and proudly drives a four-in-hand.
25. ON TATIUS
Scarce any man was a better fellow than Tatius, or more amiable. But Calus is more agreeable. Life at Court has taught him how. For power yet untasted renders men polite, while modesty with its pristine reputation forbids more. Thus with bashfulness a virgin raised in simplicity declines sportiveness or over-bold words. But as our girl becomes more acclimatized, even if her lip should object she learns to repay kisses tit for tat. Next she lets you take her hand, fondle her breasts, nor does she shrink, no matter how much her lover presses. As soon as she gets a taste of venery and furtive liaisons, the ruined slut lets anything happen with impunity. Her reputation shattered, what then will she not dare? Or, acting in the open, what limit will she set on her naughtiness? Thus the depraved courtier is created by bad usage. And no wonder, for he is not governed by Venus alone!
26. ON ACERRUS
Acerrus is a cautious man and has as many eyes as once had Argus. But these eyes see everything with difficulty — or nothing at all.
27. ON CALVUS
Have no fear that anyone will write black satires against you: can anyone darken an Ethiopian? What need is there to plant a fresh arrow in a heart already shot to pieces? Who would offer a poisoned cup to a man dying of wretched consumption? Calvus, your only concern should be about your funeral, as if you are already a dead man, even if you hope for some words of optimism.
28. TO LICINIUS
Licinius, he can be a good man who is dominated by no womanbut he can also be a bad man.
29. ABOUT GAURUS
Gaurus, for a suit you procure skilled lawyers and refuse them no recompense for their services. But when you’re ill you hire useless doctors as cheaply as possible. Are you thus wise, Gaurus? For a man leaves property to his heir, but not his life. Does one live for one’s heir or for one’s self?
30. ABOUT PARDALUS
This man says that as long as living things have existed, spagyrus has been nourished along with them. It’s true, logic proves it. Bodies are composed of salt, mercury, and sulfur, and the air of Paracelsus’ academy rings with this teaching. And so Pardalus, that alchemist and self-important professor, has changed from a bashful soul into a bushel of salt. He says he does this assiduously, so that he might be better nourished. Would that he’d also gobble some sulfur and mercury!
31. ABOUT CORVINUS
Corvinus is very indebted to Bassanus. He owes him honor in its own right as well as a grateful mind in exchange for his generosity. But Bassanus doesn’t care a whit for Corvinus, so the ingrate has turned his back on obligations that are common to all mankind.
32. ON HISTRICUS
I wonder why Histricus wears threadbare clothing. Is his money gone, or his credit? He says no. I ask what prevents him from buying new ones. He answers that he cannot stand the tailor taking his measurements: he’s ticklish.
33. ON ALBIUS
Albus, is it because strange little boys greet you on the street that you puff yourself up, strutting along like a newly elected M. P., with stiff-set face and stalking gait? You fool yourself. They do this not to honor you, but out of fear. For what little boy, remembering the dire switch, would not think of his schoolmaster when he saw your silly self-importance?
34. ON AN EPIGRAM
A witty epigram’s no more welcome to every palate than pepper. But nobody will deny that it has its use
35. ABOUT CORVINUS
Who won’t admit, Corvinus, that you are worthy of receiving all favors, and set an example of gratitude? For Galla lets you hump her and you boast about it to everybody, lest you seem forgetful of the favor.
36. ON USEFULNESS
No man is useful who neglects himself. And, when all usefulness is disdained, no man can be good.
37. ON NERVA
Nerva dotes on wine but shudders at water, and recoils at its sight, Amatus, just as if he had been bitten by a rabid dog. When you offer a cup of wine the dog fleeswhen you want to get rid of Nerva, just show him some water.
38. TO PONTICUS
Argus has six sons, Ponticus, but no daughter. If you believe common repute, Argus is a sober man.
39. TO COSMUS
A man who never murders a verse after he has fathered it, Cosmus, does not delight in numbers, but in infinities.
40. ON HENRI IV, KING OF FRANCE
He who could not have killed Henri with a sword was able to do so with a dagger. It is good to fear small things.
41. TO HER SERENE MAJESTY, QUEEN ANNE
Anne, if your name is taken from the word “year,” every annual thing is in harmony with your name. Annually gifts are given you, annual rites are performed in your honor, and the seasons are reborn with the passage of time.
42. TO THE SAME
Anne’s august name signifies the four elements, and the year has the same number of seasons. Anna is the same, backwards or forwards, but in this it does not reflect the year. For that comes to an end, but she safely returns to her beginning.
43. TO THE MOST SERENE PRINCE CHARLES
Scotland bore you, and England soon received you as a small boy. But, Charles, I trust you will be neither Scots or English. Great Britain alone will enlarge you, great names and great deeds that suit you.
44. TO THE MOST NOBLE KING JAMES
Why do these short epigrams stand in awe of your name? Even the greatest Muse is indebted to your reputation.
45. TO CASTRICIUS
Castricius, you are spreading the tale that you were admitted to the games in my stead, and that I was taken and ejected in yours. You have no grounds to complain for resembling me, whereas I regret resembling you.
46. TO ROBERT CAREY, MOST NOBLE KNIGHT
Once, in that harsh time when France was raging against herself, I had the opportunity of witnessing what kind of man you were. Then, Carey, I, together with your captain and your sovereign, long observed you at Court, when that was your interest. The tenor of your life was all of a piece, and prudence conjoined with gravity were yours as if by birthright. Neither honor nor mutable age changed you. Who knew you as a lad recognizes you in your elderly years.
47. ABOUT TUCCA
Tucca consulted a doctor about palpitations of the heart, also a common soldier’s disease.
48. ON CACCULA
Common sawbones tend to coughs, fevers, and maladies whose causes are self-evident. But diseases of the brain such as cause convulsions or paralyses require the aid of no mean skill. In the same way, contentious Caccula accepts no brief that is just or good. He delights in accepting only unjust cases. And these he always pleads, intrepidly emerging triumphant, no less than the physician who drove the plague out of Attica.
49. ON THE TERMS OF THE COURTS
English lawyers require four terms per annum, though in fact they have only two: the terminus from which and the terminus to which they drag out their cases — and they often switch their names.
50. TO PONTICUS
Seek for other dinner-guests, Ponticus. Today I am dining at home, more elegantly and more safely. For your red-headed servant who issued me my invitation yesterday stank as if he were made entirely out of cheese, old cheese at that, cheese that had been reheated ten times. My sense of taste (in both senses of the world) abominates this stench. Ponticus, I am dining at home.
51. ON TOBACCO
Since inhaled tobacco fumes induce stupor in the brain, ought I not to regard as tobacco addicts as stupid?
52. TO SABELLUS
Should your daughter or wife go astray, Sabellus, it’s your fault. No girl is good or bad per se. In this life, whatever a woman does for good or for ill should be credited to her guardian.
53. ON GAURUS
While Gaurus does nothing rashly, he does nothing at all.
54. ON ACME
Titus is rich, Acme, and you admit it, and he is wooing your poor impoverished self. But you shun him, though he be prosperous. Why? You say he is unintelligent. So what? If a man were more loyal to his wife than Ulysses, wouldn’t you yield to yourself to him as soon as you clasped him to your bosom as your husband, even if he were stupider than Batillus?
55. ON GLAUCUS
Even if a fellow’s an impotent eunuch he still ought to have his balls cut offto that degree the whole male sex is repugnant to Glaucus.
56. ON LAURENTIA
Laurentia preferred to marry a beardless man, if anyone at all. This reputation earned her many suitors. But her dithering in love turned all these striplings into graybeards, and thus she dies a spinster.
57. ON LALUS
Lalus owns a fine enough mansion, but the whole place is befouled by cobwebs, and he tolerates them. The more the merrier, and he alone loves and cherishes the nasty little creatures. But not because he thinks spiders are cute, or because cobwebs heal cuts, or because he’s concocting poisons. The truth is that he’s incurably hostile towards flies. He chases them dementedly, killing them in any way he can. His bonny girl friend imposed this task on him after her eye was injured by a fly’s wing.
58. ON NERVA
Should you dissect Nerva’s head, surgeon, you’d find no brain. Seek elsewhere. Where? In his gut.
59. TO APER
Aper, a lawyer who lives in the country is doing a good deed if he does not harm someone in the neighboring fields.
60. TO PONTILIANUS
On his wedding day Lycus suddenly went out of his mind. Why do you marvel as if this were miraculous? Who, Pontilianus, is not crazy on his wedding day?
61. TO BERINUS
You saw a devil, Berinus. Of what appearance? Of a black dog, you say. Bah. I prefer to say, Berinus, that you saw a black dog having the appearance of a devil.
62. TO AULUS
Aulus, since Corvinus only writes on a full tummy, how come his verses are from hunger?
63. TO LAURA
You sing wonderfully, Laura, but only in the dark. There’s nothing you don’t do well in the dark.
64. TO PONTICUS
In no wise, Pontanus, does my nature agree with one that is sluggish, and they mingle as well as fire and water. But business seems to creep along for both natures equally, sleep overcomes them both. My mind grow wholly dull, like a plant affected by a nearby poison, or rages like a repressed fire. Thus, Ponticus, your great patron Decius acts on me like nightshade. I don’t know how he affects you.
65. ON DUTY
The man who takes on a burden beyond his capacity can rightly be called Duty’s donkey.
66. TO SALUSTIUS
I congratulate you on yesterday’s dinner, Salustius, more for the harmless jokes and pleasant sallies of wits warmed by new red wine, unhesitatingly quaffed, than on those birds, dead four times over, selected as dishes to delight your palate. Set on your table, but in need of purification, they stank like the Styx, and even now their foul reek assaults my nose. But I restrain myself, annoyed though I be, for the reputation of the dead is always a fair one.
67. ON COSSUS
Cossus buried his infant son’s tiny remains in a huge tomb, encasing them in much marble, a tomb such as would accommodate two giants. He alone was aware of his scheme, with the result that the passer-by is astounded at this creation. But it adumbrates the character of its creator. The great structure that contains the poor little boy could house two Peers of the Realm with their retinues.
68. ON WEDDINGS
For you to celebrate your wedding properly, you need two torches: it is necessary for Hymen to supply the one and Love the other.
69. ON WILLIAM CAMDEN
Long ago, Camden, I have read your laborious tome, in which you described the British people and their land, a work of happy talent and solid industry. The splendor of your subject and of your writing shines equally. As befits a devoted reader, I express my gratitude, since thanks to you I know my nation so well.
70. ON HIS COUNTRYMEN
Now what transformation has come over British life? Old-time sobriety has completely disappeared. Gluttony, an insolent frenzy for luxury, and empty display are ruining this people, strong of hand. Thus few men live on their own resources, and you can scarcely find a man who is not either paying or receiving interest.
71. TO GLAUCUS
Precedent is held to justify anything. But, Glaucus, bad things happen because of bad precedents.
72. ON DOCTORS
The experienced goldsmith judges metals, assigning gems their proper price and value. But in the same way, learned and well-deserving doctors are only judged by the unskilled mob.
73. ON LIGO
However much he may envy British lawyers their Latin learning, Ligo now rides on an erudite horse. He even acts the part of a doctor, famous everywhere. I scarcely think Alleyn himself can gain more distinction on the stage.
74. ON OLD AGE
Old age is like a fine wine: the older it gets, the more it turns to vinegar.
75. TO CALVUS
Antiquity pronounced lovers insane, Calvus; one can’t say they’re any saner today.
76. TO MAURUS
Maurus, you write fine epigrams with that pen of yours. For not a single erasure appears on your page. Even if your meter limps or a word is inappropriate, you never cross out anything, so much do they please you. But no matter how much they please the eye, they still offend the ear. For you, you purblind fool, “erasure” has been an altogether dirty word.
77. ON CINNA
Cinna greets friends and strangers of high and low degree. So as a joke he is called the Public Greeter.
78. ON TUCCA
Though Tucca be oppressed and burdened by debt, he is insensible. What a clever stupor!
79. ON NERVA
On grill or in pan Nerva cooks his meat to a cinder, and calls the stuff his dainties. What would this hapless glutton chose to be other than a charcoaller, since he dotes on emberloin?
80. ON EURUS
Macer the pauper dotes only on girls who are well-off and elegant, yet quite dense. He wants to be congratulated, Eurus, not loved.
81. TO PONTICUS
If the liver be the seat of love, and also supplies the fuel that makes it burn, than your loving can scarcely be wholesome.
82. ON LIGO
Ligo wanted to call a certain drink by its Latin name of culnerarium. But what he said was vulverarium.
83. ON DAEDALUS
Daedalus, you loudly boast that you have crossed the great ocean in a small ship. What is it to me if you should cross the Styx in the same boat?
84. TO JUSTINIANUS
You crave to acquire a reputation for being a good man and not a litigious one, and you argue your cases gently at the bench. I neither love you nor am taking any measures so that the popularity of your pleading might increase. Ah, you have no idea of the envy, the hatred, the strife which your plain speaking is earning you, or the sneers you are eliciting from the bystanders, by ruining the work of litigation, so profitable for our lawyers, or how your goodness appears to the masses. This morning some men are drawing up three suits against you; soon more and more will join in. Now are you trembling?
85. ON CACCULA
Caccula, when you twist the meaning of the law, perhaps you do this with legal authority, but not with good legal authority.
86. ON PAPILIUS
I love you not, Papilius, nor would I gladly dine with you, albeit I confess this is not because you deserve such. Rather, your face greatly resembles that of Picus mixing his dire poisons, and so your handsomeness renders you suspect. Everybody fears an eel, thinking it to be a snake. Even if he knows this is untrue, he gets to thinking.
87. ON LYCUS
“Let no man rend asunder what God has joined together.” Thus Lycus does not allow this battling couple to be pulled apart.
88. ON BOSTILLUS
At Court Bostillus offers himself for sale as if he were a great man; at Court, however, a great jug of milk fetches a higher price.
89. TO EURUS
You live happily, but not lavishly. You neglect the city, Eurus, and yet you are full of urbane wit. You are living so pleasantly that the very countryside becomes more urbane than the city; your rural setting has nothing rustic about it.
90. ON MATHO
Matho limps along, not wounded by Mars (as he claims) but by Venus, and he knows how to conceal his condition. With his doctor’s indulgence, he speaks of an imaginary battle. But he claims he was wounded while lying down.
91. ON MYRTILLA
Oh Myrtilla, you dire plague on both the sexes, melting them with your Siren’s voice. Do you account it nothing that you destroy all your trusting lovers and by the same arts corrupt the minds of our most excellent girls, so that thanks to you none of them lives in her own fashion once she has had her polluted ears filled with your songs? The sacred disease which the old man of Cos warded off from Athens’ walls scarce raged so greatly, nor that languid sweat which so terrified the minds of all us English with its novel wastage of life, nor that scourge which long beset us and created a sad desolation by its frequent sneezing. Nor do we hear of its equal in the works of the poets, but rather this single plague outdoes all plaguesbe it genuine or be it feigned.
92. ON A QUACK DOCTOR
The man who fancies himself a doctor on the basis of some book he’s stumbled across is no son of Art, but rather of Chance.
93. TO MANTALUS
It is not enough, Mantalus, that you think deeper thoughts than the common run of mankind, if you do not offer your advice with grave countenance. Reason distinguished men from the beasts, but speech, the speaking light and image of the soul, distinguishes men from each other.
94. ON FRANCIS DRAKE’S SHIP
See how Drake’s ship rots on dry land; but it was a rival to your orb, Apollo. For borne on her the great man circumnavigated the globe, and saw regions scarce known to the Thymbraean god. Its fame has lately surpassed yours, Argo, just as much as the Delian sphere surpasses an ordinary mortal’s boat.
95. ON MORACHUS
“Death is a perpetual night” — so Morachus, who suffers from night-blindness, persuades himself not to die, lest he stumble in the solitary shades.
96. ON THE DEATH OF PRINCE HENRY OF GREAT BRITAIN
Gaining in maturity and putting his earlier vicissitudes behind him, achieving a mental grasp of his new realm, this British prince was laid low by a common fever. Thus he died, like a flower that wilts as soon as it blooms. Shall we die thus? Are we born for this farce? Are men’s hopes and fortunes to crumble so quickly?
97. ABOUT SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
Drake’s name consigned him to a life on the waves. For in English a duck is called a drake.
98. ON THE DEATH OF JAMES HUISHE
Alas, sweet Huishe, you died a death I deem untimely, being worthy of Methuselah’s years. You died of a disease bred by fraud and Synertus’ grasping malice, upon whom may God send many a plague. With all the tears they shed at your funeral, may turn these into maledictions and slay him with hatred and wrath.
99. ON BOSTILLUS
When Bostillus the adulterer heard cucumbers were on the menu, he departed, fearful and on his guard.
100. ON FANNIUS
Fannius drinks a flagon of Spanish wine daily, always causing a bellyache. But this is because nine or ten years ago he ate a single unripe cucumber. And it remains lodged in there to this very day, troubling his stomach, not permitting him to forget his Spanish wine.
101. ON APRUS
Aper the debaucher, who did not limit his whoring to a single sex, died of an obstructed urinary tract. So his urine was his ruin, and he paid the penalty in his offending prick.
102. TO CALVUS
Calvus, the French do not claim the English abandoned Calais for want of roast beef, but rather of that hot condiment, mustard. All France is amused by this jest. But when France recently surrendered this city to her scarlet-clad enemy, I think the Frenchman had no supply of either foodstuff.
103. ON CORVINUS
Calvus, let Corvinus gouge out his eyes; he still will not be Homeric, as he wishes.
104. ON CINNA
Cinna seduced a girl while wearing a devil’s costume. Later he took holy orders and so he can cast out demons, as he had wanted to do. But the pregnant girl had no idea whether the father was the devil or a consecrated host.
105. TO NAEVOLUS
Whenever you meet a drunken man, Naevolus, you never say that he has had too much, but only that he has been drinking bad wine.
106. ON CALVUS
Calvus, you are always predicting good things in your future. But I imagine they’ll always be in your future.
107. TO EURUS
Lyctus has a voice like a cicada or such as they say ghosts have when howling on Styx-side. Should a stranger hear him speaking, he might imagine he has been wasted by consumption. But if he measures the man himself with his eyes, he will fear him as Cyclopian with his huge limbs and paunch. Shall I tell you why his voice is so out of character? I will explain it thus, Eurus: I fancy Nature had wanted to make Lyctus a mute, but erred and made him a half-mute.
108. TO THE SAME
Metellus’ mind was unhinged by a great loss, Lysiteles’ by an unexpected windfall. Do you wonder which man suffers from the greater dementia? The man bearing the loss. For he, Eurus, is seeking double trouble.
109. TO PONTICUS
Whatever manner of woman has scorn for her reputation, Ponticus, loves no man, even if she swears it ten times over.
110. ABOUT LYCHE
Greece did well in calling pretty girls dowry-getters, since suitors provide gifts and beauty provides suitors. But fair Lyche lives neglected, for all the men whom Venus attracts are repelled by gloomy Minerva.
111. ON FLORA
Though knowing everything, Flora tells her lover only the good; thus reputation goes limp while love stiffens.
112. TO AREANA
Areana, I deny you are chaste, I shall deny it ten times over, even if you are thought such throughout the city. For while your husband chases after rotten whores while he is dying, broken by his shameful, miscellaneous loving, believe me, Areana, all the men known to these whores are also familiar to you. Be they knights or high-born, hayseed or city-man, fruit vendor or cook, all of them (even if they add up to a thousand) have had you, and thus you are infected and catch all their diseases.
113. TO PONTICUS
Ponticus, when dogs bark because they suspect someone’s a thief, what more accurate things could they say of him if they could speak?
114. TO LABIENUS
In the eyes of many men new drugs are pleasing, while old ones grow tiresome. But, Labienus, you should prefer safe remedies to novelties.
115. ON ALBUS
Albus, you’ve become a doddering old coot while trying to make up your mind what manner of life, what hopes, what fortune you ought to pursue; the result is that you can’t carve I HAVE LIVED on your tomb. When you die you’ll still be an embryo, or less.
116. ON LYCORIS AND BERINUS
Lycoris does not love without payment, and is wise. Berinus does not pay the whore, and is wise.
117. TO GALLA
Galla, when you speak that rotten nasal honk betrays you. If you wish to be pleasing, shut up.
118. ON NERVA
Nerva, both poor and voracious, hopes to get the gout, which normally visits only the rich. He is mistaken if he imagines that this wish is advantageous for gluttons, for how does gourmet cookery help a man when hunger lies upon him?
119. TO PONTICUS
A [ . . . ] woman quickly fall in love? Ponticus, if you speak thus you’re a greater prophet than Phoebus.
120. TO LABIENUS
Writers of antiquity called wine the great theriac. This wine, too, is welcome to you, Labienus. Thus you blithely fill yourself with wine, without end or limit. It’s all the same to you whether you’re healthy or sick in the guts. But don’t get it wrong. For this very theriac is a dire poison, Labienus, if you consume too much.
121. ON LAUSUS
Lausus lives under a perpetual tobacco-cloud, whereas his wife takes her pleasure in fire-water. He drinks smoke, she drinks fire. Someday the husband will be smoked like a ham, while his wife will be fried.
122. TO PONTICUS
Tradition has it that Midas repented his greedy wish when all his meat and drink turned to gold. But nowadays an alchemist could teach him to drink gold and cheat the angry gods. What wonder if they are allured into devising such concoctions which render them immune to disease and make them godlike? But they who are deceived by this golden ambition are not godlike. Therefore, Ponticus, they are quite unlike gods.
123. ON AULUS
Aulus the painter executed a self-portrait with the aid of a mirror, so as to give the painting to his girl-friend. She’d prefer the mirror.
124. ABOUT PRINCE HENRY
Great Prince Henry died in the flower of his youth, no spoil for Death but rather Death’s disgrace.
125. TO PARIS
When ancient Britain was getting its name, Paris, both sexes began to paint themselves. Not without injury did the old Britons put on woad, and they had no fear of lacerating their hides. But the Court has taught our modern Picts how to spare themselves and to smoothen their cheeks by gentle science. Our ancient customs smacked of barbarism, our new ones of degeneracy. And so, Paris, I approve of neither.
126. ON VACCERA
As often as Vaccera basely becomes involved in telling filthy jokes, he does not speak imprudently (as he seems to be trying to say with his stammering tongue), but impudently.
127. TO FURIUS
Aper caught an adulterer on the job with his wife. Do you now call this bull a steer?
128. TO BERINUS
You complain, Berinus, that your wife’s too fecund. But such are chaste wives. You add that she is stern-visaged, difficult, and combative. But such are chaste wives. But you say that she is sweeter and kinder to other men than to yourself. Such are not chaste wives.
129. TO EURUS
Hermus has been dead these three or four years. But you protest that he’s still live. Eurus, he’s dead as far as I’m concerned.
130. TO CRISPUS
Even if a friend should ask to borrow many pounds, Crispus, your religion consists of saying no. But you count up the sum with tears in your eyes, so that you are imagined to resent having to do your duty. You lack nothing, Crispus, save the aspect of a worthy friend. For you always do what suits, not what’s suitable.
131. TO CHLOE
Chloe, you boast that your beauty catches many poor fellows in its noose. The hangman may brag on this same score.
132. ON LABIENUS
Labienus could fart at willwith this talent he could destroy an Irishman when he wanted.
133. ON BRUSSILIUS
Brussilius’ wife burns with love for an actor, he for a little tightrope-walker. This fire rages in both, unquenchable by any water. First it consumed a great forest, then three cottages and flocks of sheep and cattle, bellowing in the charred fields. This frenzy scarce left untouched the ancestral manor. And if it is right to predict misfortune for these wretches, in the end it will burn down the master along with his hall.
134. AGAINST CACCULA
Caccula, as you are an experienced accuser, exaggerating the charges, how you resemble the Devil in your pleading!
135. ON CINNA
Call Cinna clever and he’s smart. Call him silly and he plays the fool. If you say he’s mad he acts insane, if you insist he will fall ill. Just speak and he’s exactly what you say. Nor has he learned to dissimulatethus words have the power of sorcery.
136. TO CALVUS
Calvus, do not seek true friends in matters of the heart. If you are afraid of losing what you love, love it all by yourself. In the night a single bitch in heat can make a hound, loyal to its master and household, betray all. Our nocturnal thieves know full well how much lust can tempt and overthrow firm fidelity.
137. TO HARPALUS
Harpalus, you sing neither well nor pleasantly. Learn the art, and thus you will sing less but better.
138. ON PORCUS AND NERVA
When he hears bells Porcus ceases his pissing, no matter how full his bladder. On the contrary, at the sound of a flute Nerva can scarcely hold his water: against his will it flows freely, so that the poor fellow gets drenched. Nor is the piss-pot of any use, thus the deluge summons forth the raging currents. Let Aquinas determine by what power this very incongruous response occurs. We derive sufficient profit from the humor.
139. ON AMATEUR POETS
The poetical itch is curable by no sulfur, nor by mercury, for it puts that god to rout.
140. ON GERMANS
Your German, the least bad man imaginable, acts justly because his whole nation is amiable and they have abolished legal loopholes. For when the law delights in twists and turnings, it gives deceit an opportunity and does not allow many men to be good.
141. ON GLAUCUS
Glaucus has lost his wings: once he was a dragon, now he’s a mere snake, not lacking in strong venom.
142. ON APER
Aper has lived seven years in the city, and the same number of years at Court. He knows how to live, Labienus, better than he knows how to die.
143. ON CRISPINUS
Crispinus keeps a wife but is so poverty-stricken that he can barely maintain her, and both of them are starvelings. Wealthy Florus loves her, and so her husband roars, although he perceives that these days a rival is needful. He often calls Florus an adulterer, but since it is Florus who keeps the lady he enjoys in food, clothing, and money, hang me if Crispus isn’t the actual adulterer and Florus the husband, for Florus is doing the husband’s job.
144. ON THE ENGLISH SWEAT
Why shouldn’t our English pestilence be a dire sweat? Our citizens take pleasure in Irish cloaks even when the sun shines.
145. TO THESPILIS
Why gnaw your lower lip, Thespilis? Don’t ruin it, if you want to enjoy kissing. Although the other one, even if immobilized, would serve the purpose for your lustful lover, an adroit mobility gives more pleasure.
146. TO PONTICUS
Just as I inveigh against a lawyer if he is a bad man, Ponticus, so I praise him if he be good.
147. TO GALLA
Whether your tongue has greater thirst, Galla, or talks more, is a difficult thing to decide and a controversial one. For whenever it grows dry, you drink, and when you are good and drunk you chatter, and all this talk engenders further thirst. And so you unwillingly fall silent while in the act of drinking, and there’s no end to your tongue. With tireless zeal you either drink or talk.
148. ON LONDONERS
Londoners are Midlanders, or hale from Yorkshire, or are Welshmen. Our capacious city supports few native-born. Thus this mixed stock produces Londoners, among whom the average citizen is only half a city man, altered with difficulty. For every citizen who turns a profit on his investment hastens into the countryside and buys a farm himself, if age does not hinder. At the very least they bequeath their heir new lands as a place, and he strikes the locals as half citified (sort of like a hermaphrodite). For nothing pleases these people about the country save being there. They’re always chattering about dogs, horses, and plows, but the rest of it is the height of barbarism. Would that city men dealt with city matters in the same way as does the man for whom country matters are not alien when he’s on the farm!
149. TO ARETHUSA
A stain on fine white linen is quickly seen. The same principle applies to beautiful women, Arethusa.
150. TO JUSTINIANUS
A single thing enriches lawyers and ruins clients, Justianus. To put it in a worddelay.
151. ON A PORTABLE CLOCK
Time’s interpreter, packed in a tiny globe, who day and night recalls the hour with a chime, how cheerfully, when once wound up, you tirelessly transverse twenty-four hours with your little moving wheels. Nor do you complain that I carry you as my comrade wherever I go, counting out the loss of my life, but also lightening its burden.
152. TO EURUS
The ambition of poets is not shameful profit, or glory, or invidious power over the people, but fame. For this is a goal of all good men, but for poets it is the sole, only, and unique one. This is a reward which the raging might of the wealthy knows not how to steal. By it Aulus lives, as does free Junius and amiable Flaccus, and every other man, Eurus, who disdains the common run of mankind.
153. TO LABIENUS
Labienus, if you are so good as to allow your servant to lie for you, why do you forbid him to tell lies on his own behalf?
154. TO HAEMUS
It is hard to find loyalty, if you seek it at Court. Just about every third fellow, Haemus, is a slanderer. Discard the man who clings overmuch to new factions. Is a man officious? Then he will prove to be a sneak.
155. TO JUSTINIANUS
Arthur’s royal table fed four and twenty guests, for it was round. Today’s kings use long ones, Justianus, but there’s scarce room for a single guest. When Augustus dominated the world, Vergil was well enough welcome at his table. But though Vergil may be without peer, in the same way a king called beloved by his subjects is peerless.
156. TO FAUSTINUS
Would, Faustinus, that your girl friend were wry-necked. Thus she would always be properly adjusted when you wanted to kiss her.
157. TO JUSTINIANUS
When it comes to the pursuit of wealth, honor, and pleasure, Justinianus, scarce any man has enough. For enough is what satisfies nature and, Justinianus, whatever else the mind craves is superfluous.
158. ON HAEDUS
After Haedus had married a well-dowered wife, this fellow exercised no vigilant care for his clients. Now springtime is passed, the wife has perished along with her dowry, and our bereft friend’s new haughtiness has deserted him. He is taking great pains to lure back his clients: he must either plead or need.
159. TO EURUS
The man who imagines that his fellow-drinker is his friend, Eurus, is not in control of his fancy.
160. TO GLUBUS
Glubus, heir of a greedy moneylender who now cries tears that burn like poison-tipped scourges because of you, go ahead and sell off your estates, feed your whores and buffoons, waste your substance in gaming, gluttony, and vice, and when you are bankrupt borrow at triple interest. Keep on, even if the bankers sneer, nor desist until, as the meanest of beggars, you admit to being a the son of a usurer.
161. TO AMATUS
When Paetus had seen many lands and cities, at last he joyfully returned to his homeland. As is usual, the townsman asked him about trade, the soldier about wars; a peasant was interested in good farmland, a courtier about the latest fashions in dress, and a lady-in waiting about cosmetics and oil of talc. Each person was concerned with his own subject. Amatus, only the man properly raised on good British soil is curious about nothing.
162. ON TUCCA
Tucca, the man who trusts overmuch in his sword during peacetime often dies without aid of a sword.
163. TO LUCY
Lucy, that man is worthless who cares about the size of his bride’s dowry: better for him to attend a horse-fair. Brides vie in vain about this matter of dowries. A modest life blesses unwed girls more than does money.
164. ON CACCULA
On the verge of arguing a case, Caccula lost his voice. Straightway he sought it among the bailiffs and lawyers themselves, who were accustomed to vociferate with high shrieks. Next he abandoned the courthouse and inquired of the fishmongers, and then badgered the town criers. Soon he came to the Tower, asking everyone, peering in every quarter. His voice remained hidden. Finally a cannon went off, such as could demolish the Tower. Thus Caccula rediscovered his voice and went back to court.
165. ON HIS SERVANT
Having begun my journey, I turn my sword over to my man. Soon we are alone and without witnesses. “Master, you are carrying gold,” says my man. “This is no secret and an armed man could rob you, as you are defenseless. Who would reveal the deed? But I refuse to plunder my master. Nevertheless, the thing would be easy if I wished (but I don’t).” “I believe you,” I say, and for the moment I praise him. The fool goes on to tell me what a hero he’d be,and how trusty. When I return home, to my happiness, I recover my sword and throw him out empty-handed, disdaining his loyalty. Repaying him tit for tat, I say “I have found you to be loyal and I could retain you if I wanted (but I don’t).” For a servant is neither to be trusted nor kept who can conceive such thingsor not keep his mouth shut about them.
166. TO HAEDUS
Why do you thrust this ignorant, defenseless lad into the city? Who would take an unexplored route without procuring a guide? That treacherous house at Cnossos, Haedus, didn’t have as many twistings and turnings, though a thread was needed there, as city life casts shadows for one of immature years, as many unclean and shady paths it offers. Don’t leave your little son, who falters day and night, without a guide, Haedus, if you wish to keep him safe.
167. TO JUSTINIANUS
As wise men of old related, Labienus, Apollo knew three arts, which I myself have plied, and always shall. Everybody knows that Campion is a musician, poet, and healer.
168. TO CALATHE
I admire fluency in Greek, Latin, and French. But if a girl has an honest tongue, Calathe, why should she employ one other than her own?
169. ON NAEVOLA
Naevola has promised Cinna three excuses because he doesn’t want to pay up. He offers them, viz.: 1.) he doesn’t owe anything; 2.) he has nothing; 3.) he has no third excuse, he owes this too.
170. TO EURUS
If anybody has claimed, Eurus, that he wishes to die for his sweet nation, you sneeringly point out that this greedy citizen lives for himselfthat Caccula saves himself for the courtrooms, and Calus so that he may shine with his embroidered suits and painted carriage. Thus say you. But perhaps each man will die for his country. If it is a good one, it deserves this; if not, it is sweet to die.
171. ON CRASSUS
Crassus, about to quit the city, clings to it as firmly as possible for the sake of its amusements, and loves it in his idle way. Even if he’s only going to be in the country for three days, and can complete the trip in half a day, he invites his dearest friends to a solemn banquet which he prepares to celebrate as if it were his birthday. With great ceremony he takes his seat as the curved trumpet blasts, and a glass, charged with a full toast, makes its way through the guests without discrimination. He happily finds in this a good omen for the journey. But soon, as if he were required to make his way back from the faraway Indies, Crassus draws up his will. Hence the need for a new toast, so that his guests can wish their friend a fortunate return. At length the appointed day for departure is at hand. No wonder: he will depart on May Day (weather permitting), but all these things happened in mid-December.
172. TO LOLLIUS
It is a preposterous thing for a pauper to enrich a wealthy man. The only thing to give the rich, Lollius, is glory.
173. TO LAURA
While I admire each of your features, Laura, your lips, your eyes, your cheeks, whichever I mention you modestly deprecate. But if I praise your hair you turn red and fall silent. How unhappily you confess that it is not your own.
174. TO PONTICUS
Ponticus, the law is here, there, everywhere, nowhere. When you grasp it in your clutches it elusively slips away. We know for certain that for the ancient Britons the law was laconic and certain; for us it is ambiguous and chatters away lawlessly.
175. TO AFRA
Sublime poetry spurns everyday words; it does not just narratein its ambition it invents things. If it chooses to be playful, Afra, it can put the bloom back on old age, be you as ancient as Hecuba, more effectively than can asses’ milk, white lead, Venetian rouge, the ivory teeth implanted by Argus, or the whole medicine-chest of Lamus the slave-dealer. Poetry will sing to you sweetly of longed-for marriage, and do so for free. But you should forbid this, Afra. Let a young girl give kisses; an old woman who wishes to be celebrated in good poetry must offer bribes of gold.
176. TO ALBERICO
One thing, Alberico, can render any man well-disposed, and at no costto harm nobody, no matter how deserving.
177. ON LARGUS
Largus sells lambs and praises them to his customers for their tenderness. To himself he praises tender birds.
178. TO CHARLES FITZGOEFFREY
The high reputation of your writings, and also your candidly confessed affection towards me, Charles, would have produced delights long ago, had not fortune obstructed me though I strove in vain. But I have fashioned these new trifles, of whatever quality they may be, so that with friendly disposition you might embrace me.
179. TO STELLA
Do you wish your name included in my compendious verses? Or does it suffice, delicious girl, to shine among lesser stars?
180. TO EDWARD MYCHELBURNE start,e
What are you doing, forgetful of me? For this great birthday has not come around again in vain, always a new reminder of our old friendship, and now a year in which you stand in my debt. So be the first to accept my songs (though they be of only modest elegance), songs such as were snatched from their master’s protracted deathbed-scene. If your Muse produces something polished hereafter, such as a swift letter may bring bearing witty verse, you alone will surpass all remedies. Meanwhile receive these few lines, trifling gift though they are, which this new year deservedly dedicates to you, as is customary, and which the law of friendship protects, exercising its every duty. You see how inclement the weather is. You need wood to maintain your health. If you wise you will take your pruning-hook and refuse to spare even your rampant Priapus.
181. ON GLAUCUS
Fruit, no matter how bitter, is improved by time, and its taste, lately unripe, grows welcome. But as Glaucus advances in years he becomes ever severer. Following his wife’s example let him cease being a grouch. For she’s pleasant and wittyand she’s not harsh to men.
182. TO RUTH
Ruth, did you indiscreetly tell your sister that such a pretty a girl as yourself needs take no shame in being fickle. Stung, she immediately retorted that since you aren’t pretty it would be a good idea not to be fickle.
183. ON GAURUS
You talk constantly, and won’t stop. This is troublesome to everyone, and you know it. But, Gaurus, you are pleasing to yourself.
184. ON AURICIUS
Auricius, you scarcely allow anyone to approach you, no matter how humble his address. But we address the Ruler of both the poles, He who thunders with His gleaming hand. Aren’t you a trifle over-proud for a priest?
185. ON HERENNIUS
After you had so often threatened to kill Alcinous, Herennius, why were you so mild when you finally met him? Although you cannot hold your tongue, you can hold your hand.
186. TO THE RIGHT NOBLE CHARLES, PRINCE OF GREAT BRITAIN, ABOUT TO BE INSTALLED AS PRINCE OF WALES ACCORDING TO THE ANCIENT RITE, NOVEMBER 4
Behold, the sacred Fifth of November, so happy for the British, now hastens on. Hurry, thrice-blessed day, which will be marked on our calendar as a holiday. Charles, Prince of the British, mature in years and no less so in mind, is this day to be decorated with royal insignia so that he may come forth like a new bridegroom, surrounded by unblemished young men and the company of Peers, like a gem mounted in gold, received with the happy murmurs of the congregated multitude and the Commons’ loud applause. Come forward, blessed one, enter public life; you have long tarried in obscurity. Accustom yourself to follow in the distinguished footsteps of your forefathers, in imitation of them. Let this day be your first step towards a fair reputationbut nobody knows your last.
187. TO GREAT BRITAIN
A great king gave you back your ancient name, Britain, as he renders his subjects a great people.
188. ON THE ROYAL RETURN FROM SCOTLAND
Ptolemy is ineffectual, ignorant of heaven’s turnings. For, Phoebus, now you return from the icy pole and fair Aurora gleams with the roses of springtime. I pray that Apollo may make this day everlasting.
189. TO THE RIGHT NOBLE FRANCIS BACON, CHANCELLOR OF ALL ENGLAND
Venerable Poetry owes you much, Bacon, for that erudite and delightful book which endures under the title Wisdom of the Ancients, a work which will survive through all the ages of your reputation. Although many of your writings will bring you glory, I frankly aver, learned man, that in this one you prove gloriously wise.
190. TO THE SAME
Though your honor was sterling because of your father, and not undeservedly so, it has grown apace with your virtue. How great a man you show yourself, Bacon, whether you are called into action by the law’s thorny tomes, by the academy, or by your sweet Muse! How Prudence rules over your great affairs, and your tongue, tripping with heaven’s nectar! How well you devise witticisms under the guise of taciturn gravity! How constant remains your fostering affection for those once admitted into your favor! Your mind is scarcely dazzled by the glare of heaped-up gold, you have never thought to bestow on others property which is not your own. Oh excellent accomplishment, noblest sovereign, that your favor is held in esteem by such a great man!
191. TO HYMETTUS
No matter how upright you may be, as a timid man you forsake yourself, for self-effacement must have its limit. He will be a man of no account, Hymettus, who counts himself as nothing before the world. Not all modesty is good or useful.
192. TO EDWARD MYCHELBURNE
Whenever disgust for my affairs overcomes me, Edward, I gladly take up your book, fragrant as a garden in bloom, containing the rays of a springtime sky. With it I recreate my worn-out mind and spirit, smiling at your jests and sallies, and at your serious observations, clothed in wit not to be scorned: everything is all the more splendid for its argumentation. Why suppress this stuff? Who writes such things so that they might perish? If you do not wish to publish them for everybody, at least do so for your own sake.
193. TO THIRST
Thirst, worst of our evils, troublesome to sober men in sickness, harmful to drunkards in health (if a man is in any sense healthy who drinks only that he might drink, always wetter than a marsh yet thirstier than sand parched by many a sun), now there is need that you be kindly, Thirst, and that day and night you sit by the tomb of greedy Castor, who in life tolerated you willingly. As his companion protect your friend, perched on his painted marble. On cloudy days take care lest it grow rainy so that Castor’s arid bones grow wet. Let him experience you alone, for he worshipped you alone, together with your sister Hunger. But do not abandon me, who loves, at the same time as the fever, Thirst, worst of our evils.
194. TO LUPUS
Nobody fails to praise virtue, and to rail against advice; but, Lupus, this is only human habit. For who gives a groat to needy Virtue? Or who does not love and cherish a vice, when it is his own?
195. TO EURUS
Touch not insane Bacchus with lustful lips, Eurus, for thus Venus will drag you along with your boldness diminished. Nor indulge in Venus, though her fine beauty entice you. For thus you will crave Bacchus the less.
196. TO GALLUS
Gallus, you are doing what no sane man does, nor would ever do, when you envy Faber his misfortune. Troubled, he now haunts his great lord’s; halls, but you don’t know how thus he dies, for he is ready to serve his patron on the condition that he does not seek a free household for himself. And his master takes care, in giving him a small bit more, to feed his hopes with perpetual fuel, but fuel sparingly doled out. Thus he holds him forever in unbreakable chains, manipulating him day and night in various ways, to that he might never think of enjoying his own freedom. Now, envious Gallus, do you wish to enjoy Faber’s lot?
197. TO LEICESTERLAND
Leicesterland, you are wont to bluster with large, impressive-sounding words, as your wife complains that you have a tiny mistress — a size-limit that ought also to be imposed on your vocabulary.
198. TO HIPPUS
Although this is no simple wish, Hippus, you have but one: for you seek naught beyond good wine.
199. TO FAUSTINUS
Give to me, always keep on giving, Faustinus, for what you gave me I would have preferred not to have been given. A small thing quickly perishes. If this bores you, make an end of giving trifles: give once, in such a way that I shall never be obliged to be in need of another present.
200. TO PHLOE
Why boast of the virginity you have preserved, Phloe, though now you can reckon up thrice three lustra? For when you had seen scarce three lustra as a virgin, a pimp could hardly have sold you for a chestnut. Virginity is a glory for the fair but a disgrace for the homely, if both she and it are elderly.
201. TO VOLUMNIUS
Many men laugh at the partridge, the gosling, at humble donkeys, sheep, and cows. But, Volumnius, there is no animal sillier than an ignorant man. And he seems more ridiculous to the degree that he gains the outward appearance of wisdom. For who does not greet Dr. Ligo with a secret chuckle, riding along on his donkey, the medico who worships Hippocrates and Galen? But in the view of many men he is learned, and is the master of life and the one at whom Death shudders. So he is all the more ridiculous, Volumnnius.
202. TO MYCILLUS
There is nobody you don’t praise, be they like Suffenus or Cherillus, or those circus performers dear to unschooled youth. You seek thereby to be called a fair critic but, Mycillus, he who praises everybody praises nobody.
203. TO FURIUS
Furius, you are in the habit of always yelling “to arms!” whether you are lying or abed or standing at a crowded crossroads. But you never explain whether you mean the arms of Venus or those of Mars. Whichever you mean, the soldier will be unlucky who fights under your generalship.
204. TO HELYS
He hunts for lovers a often as he says he’s in love. This self-abasement is deceptive, and Helys is a lecher, not a lover.
205. TO VINCENTIUS
When I please you, Vincentius, you ask me for more loans. But at the same time you grow annoyed you send back the money, no matter how badly you managed to husband it. Vincentius, it is profitable to have annoyed you.
206. ON HEBRA
She is not difficult, nor spurns a single lover. Indeed, Hebra scarcely loves a single man for the length of one day.
207. TO CACCULA
Caccula, when you swear an oath to anyone’s harm you aver that you do so unwillingly. Are you a lawyer against your will?
208. TO CALVUS
A sharp tongue, a grasping hand, and a bottomless belly. These, Calvus, are the only three endowments of your friend Davus. Hounds howl when he passes, and my dog can sense him as soon as he comes to the outer door. When he arrives the cooks hide the food and the crockery, and everybody clings a bit tighter to his cloak. When he is heard, the serving-girls flee. Though Caccula be a born litigant, he dreads the sight of this fellow. Nowadays this picture of Hell deters me from visiting you, for Cerberus himself is guarding the gates against him. Seek those born to the gods as your friends, unless you get rid of this fellow, seek the sons of Amphitryon, armed with their clubs.
209. TO PHILOCHERMUS
You wonder why no music pleases you. I wonder, Philochermus, why you are pleasing to nobody.
210. TO OUR LEARNED POETS
In this age of the world no Maecenas will bestow livings upon poets. But high Reputation will be more generous.
211. TO A RUSTIC
Stay, rustic, while I detain you with a few words, lend me an ear. Tell me, whence do you hale? You say from Salisbury? Then are you familiar the widowed Sidney woman of Pembroke? No? Then at least with her children? Both are puissant, and one is a very well-known Gentleman of the Bedchamber. Do you say no, dunce? Then is the famous old man of Hertford known to you? Just the same. What about the old man’s brilliant wife? No. No? Do you know your own name? If you don’t know you that either, on this score I’ll forgive you the rest.
212. TO CACCULA
Inasmuch as you are the most notorious lawyer in the city and tirelessly meddle with other men’s affairs, Caccula, why do you shrink from taking a wife? Certainly not to avoid quarrels, for you are a quarrelsome man.
213. TO CALVUS
How you praise Atriona as comely and fair! But possibly the Colossus of Rhodes was smaller. Head and shoulders she overtops the Amazons and, in comparison to her, Penthesilea would have been like a little girl, puling with her ancient nurse. One can only think she is born of the seed of giants. When I look at her, Calvus, I imagine I am witnessing some apparition and not seeing the truth with my eyes. So don’t rashly try to steal kisses from hershe can fit your whole head in her mouth.
214. ON THE SACRED GIFT
The word sacerdos consists of two elements, sacer and dos. But often an ungifted man gets consecrated.
215. TO RUFUS
For me it is an article of religion, Rufus, to say no as often as you ask me for money. But perhaps it would be harder on you if I gave it. For my gold is unlucky for one and all, and my gifts always bring more harm than good. Hence either Bacchus or the cheating dice start a battle, or Venus drips with a contagion acquired unwisely . Poverty would automatically escape all these banesyou have no idea what woes are conferred by a full wallet. Against his better judgment Apollo gave that boy the fatal chariot, and so, Rufus, I deny you my money. Not even the god was able to revoke a promise once granted, but I promise and grant you nothing. Search for luck-bearing patrons such as may help you. But I shall take precautions on your behalf, lest my property harm you.
216. TO GALLUS
The bottle has ruined many a man, Gallus, but has helped you alone, albeit it is hard on your frame and your skull. Hence you are feigning an illness and grave perils on the day after, stretched out on your bed, scarce breathing. At that time you put an end to your quarrels, pacify your heart, exposed to great hatreds and troubled by fear, and make peace with your enemies, whom you have summoned. For it befits all men at death’s door to be pious. Then you spring back to life, thus teaching Bacchus how to play a trick on Mars.
217. TO CACCULA
It is true, Caccula, that you appear to have that which puts a fair appearance on these actions, but not in appearance!
218. TO STELLA
Stella, you complain that a painter represented Minerva as comely — but thus she more resembles yourself.
219. TO PONTICUS
You are aware, Ponticus, of Camerinus’ wife, of how deformed she is of body and foul of face. She strikes you as chaste, quite plausibly. But she has been proven an adulteress. Yesterday her husband caught her in flagrante. How outraged do you think he was? Not at all, Ponticus; rather, he happily praised her and loved her all the more. For he said that hitherto he had thought her so unhandsome that nobody other than himself could bear to touch her.
220. TO BLANDINUS
I should be called forgetful, Blandinus, if none of my pages bore your name. But, Blandinus, again and again you may read “Blandinus” lest, Blandinus, I be thought forgetful of you.
221. TO MARIANUS
A prudent pharmacist often vends something for your complaint. But, wine-merchant, you do this invariably.
222. TO THOMAS MONSON, KNIGHT AND BARONET
Whatever constancy could garner to your credit in hard times, Monson, it added to your merits. The goddess Justice rightfully prevailed, and now you will remain unblemished, enlarged in fortune and fame.
223. TO THE SAME
Let not hope nor the slippery brilliance of Court summon you back. Monson, your greater hope lies in yourself.
224. TO WILLIAM STRACHEY
My Muse, be not reluctant to spin a few playful verses for an old friend, nor find it boresome to take part in this sport. For he, so dear to me, always takes pleasure in witty lines and makes many himself, being an expert, unique devotee of the Pieridan sisters. So sing a brief song for my old friend Strachey.
225. TO THE READER
Let my book be disorderly, from which I may remove some details or add new ones without ruining the whole. Its numbers suffice, if for you it is sufficient in its numbers. For you are more pleased by numbers than by numerosity.
Perge ad Lib. II