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This Satire is almost twice the length of any of the rest, and is u
bitter invective against the fair sex. The ladies of Rome are here · represented in a very shocking light. The Poet takes occasion
CREDO pudicitiam Saturno rege moratam
Line 1. Saturn. The son of Cælum and Vesta. Under bis reign in Italy, the poets place the Golden Age, when the earth, not forced by plough or harrow, afforded all sorts of grain and fruit, the whole world was common, and without inclosure.
2. Was seen long. 7 During the whole of the Golden Age.
3. The household god.] Lar signifies a god, whose image was kept within the house, and set in the chimney, or on the hearth, and was supposed to preside over and protect the house and land.
5. The mounice; il-wife.] Living in dens and caves of the mountains.
7. Cynthia.] Mistress to the poet Propertius.
7-8. Norihee whose bright eyes, &c.] Meaning Lesbia, mistress to Catullus, who wrote an elegy on the death of her sparrow. The poet mentions these ladies in contrast with the simplicity of life and mamers in ancient times.
9. Her great children. According to Hesiod, in the Golden Age, men were accounted infants, and under the care of their mother, till near an hundred years old. Potanda well suits this idea, for such might rather be said to drink, than to suck,
to persuade his friend Ursidius Posthumus from marriage, at the expense of the whole sex. See Mr. DRYDEN's Argument.
I BELIEVE that chastity, in the reign of Saturn, dwelt Upon earth, and was seen long: when a cold den afforded Small habitations, and fire, and the household-god, And inclosed the cattle, and their masters, in one common shelter :: When the mountain-wife would make her rural bed With leaves and straw, and with the skins of the neighbouring 5 Wild beasts : not like thee, Cynthia, nor thee, whose bright Eyes a dead sparrow made foul (with weeping :) But carrying her dugs to be drunk by her great children, And often more rough than her husband belching the acorn. 10 . For then, in the new orb of earth, and recent heaven, Men lived otherwise—who, born from a bursten oak, And composed out of clay, had no parents. Perhaps many traces of chastity remained,
10. Belching the acorn.] The first race of men were supposed to have fed on acorns; a windy kind of food. So DRYDEN :
“ And fat with acorns belch'd their windy food.” 11. Recent heaven.] Cælum here means the air, firmament, or atmosphere.
12. From a bursten oak.] Antiquity believed men to have come forth from trees. So VIRG. Æn. viii. 315.
Gensque virûm truncis et duro robore nata. The notion came from their inhabiting the trunks of large trees, and from thence they were said to be born of them.
13. And composed out of clay.] Or mud-by Prometheus, the son of Japetus, one of the Titans. See Ainsw. Prometheus. So this poet, sat. xiv. 35.
Et meliore luto finxit præcordia Titan,
Aut aliqua extiterant, et sub Jove, sed Jove nondum
15. Under Jupiter, &c.] When Jove had driven his father Saturn into banishment, the Silver Age began, according to the poets. Jove was the supposed son of Saturn and Ops.
16. Bearded.] The most innocent part of the Silver Age was before Jove had a beard; for when once down grew upon his chin, what pranks he played with the female sex are well knowo: iron bo's and locks could not hold against his golden key. See Hor. lib. iii. ode xvi. 1-8.
17. By the head of another.] The Greeks introduced forms of wearing, not only by Jupiter, who was therefore called Ogrios, but by other gods, and by men, by themselves, their own heads, &c. Like Ascanius, Æn. ix. 300.
Per caput hoc juro, per quod pater ante solebat. 18. Lived wilh an open garden.] They had no need of inclosures to secure their fruits from thieves.
19. Astræa.] The goddess of justice, who, with many other dei ties, lived on earth in the Golden Age, but, being offended with men's vices, she retired to the skies, and was translated into the sign Virgo, next to Libra, who holdeth her balance. See Ov. Met, lib.i. 1. 150.
20. The two sisters.] Justice and Chastity.
22. Genius.] Signifies a good or evil dæmon, attending each man or woman at every time and place; hence, to watch over the marriage bed, and to preserve it, or punish the violation of it.
Of the sacred prop.] Fulcrum not only denotes the prop which supports a bed, (i. e. the bedstead, as we call it) but, by synec. the couch or bed itself.'
The poet is here describing the antiquity of the sin of adultery, or violation of the marriage bed.
Or some, even under Jupiter, but Jupiter not as yet 15
23-4. The Iron Age-the Silver Age.] Of these, see Ovın. Met, Lib. i. fab. iv, and v.
25. Yet, &c.] Here Juvenal begins to expostulate with his friend Ursidius Posthumus on his intention to marry. You, says he, in these our days of profligacy, are preparing a meeting of friends, a marriage contract, and espousals. The word sponsalia sometimes denotes presents to the bride.
- 26. By a master barber.] You have your hair dressed in the sprucest manner, 'to make yourself agreeable to your sweethearta
27. Pledge to the finger. The wedding-ring--this custom is very ancient.--See CHAMBERS_Tit. Ring.
28. Once sound (of mind).] You were once in your senses, be fore you took marriage into your head.
29. What Tisiphone.] She was supposed to be one of the furies, with snakes upon her head instead of hair, and to urge and irritate men to furious actions. 30. Any mistress.] A wife to domineer and govern.
So many halters are sufe.] Are left unused, and therefore readily to be come at, and you might so easily hang yourself out of the way.
31. Dizzening windows. Altæ, caligantesque i.e. so high as to make one's head dizzy by looking down from them. Caligo-inis signifies sometimes dizziness. See Ainsw.
The poet insinuates, that his friend might dispatch himself by throwing himself out at window.
32. Æmilian bridge.] Built over the Tiber by Æmilius Scaurus about a mile from Rome.
Aut si de multis nullus placet exitus ; illud
Ursidius might throw himself over this, and drown himself in the river.
34–7. In these four lines our poet is carried, by his rage against the vicious females of his day, into an argument which ill suits with his rectitude of thought, and which had better be obscured by decent paraphrase, than explained by literal translation. See sat. ii. 1. 12, note.
38. The Julian law.] Against adultery. Vid. sat. ii. 37.
Ursidius delights himself to think that, if he marries, the Julian law will protect the chastity of his wife. 39. An heir.] To his fortune and estate.
About to want, &c.] Now, at a time of life to be courted, as a single man, he'll have no presents of fish, and other dainties, from people who wish to ingratiate themselves with him, in hopes of being his heirs. (Comp. sat. v. 1: 136-140.) This was very usual, and the people who did it were called captatores. See sat. x. 1. 202, -Ainsw. Turtur.
40. Inveigling market-place.] Macellum--the market-place for fish and other provisions, which were purchased by these fatterers to make presents of to those they wished to inveigle; and this seems to be the reason of the word captatore being placed as an epithet to macello in this line.
42. Once the most noted of adulterers.] From this it appears that Juvenal's friend, Ursidius, had been a man of very profligate character, a thorough debauchee, as we say.
43. Now reach, &c.] A metaphor, taken from beasts of burden, who quietly reach forth their heads to the bridle or halter.