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Sed libertinus prior eft: prior, inquit, ego adfum:
to be the officer here meant-but for a further account of the Prætor, fee Ainsw.Prætor.
101. The Tribune.) A chief officer in Rome. - The Tribunes, at their first institution, were two, afterwards came to be ten-they were keepers of the liberties of the people, againft the incroachments of the ferrate. They were called Tribunes, because at first set over the three tribes of the people. See Ainsw.-Tribunus and Tribus.
Juvenal fatirically represents fome of the chief magistrates and officers of the city, as bawling out to be first served out of the sportula.
102. The libertine.] An infranchised flave. There were many of these in Rome, who were very rich, and very
insolent; of one of these we have an example here.
Is first, &c.] “ Hold' (says this upstart) a freed. s6
man, rich as I am, is before the Prætor; besides I came first, is and I'll be firit ferved."
103. Why should I fear, &c.] i, e. I'm neither afraid nor aihamed to challenge the first place.-I'll not give it up to any body.
103—4. Altho' born at the Euphrates.] He owns that he was born of servile condition, and came from a part of the world from whence many were fold as slaves. The river Euphrates took its rise in Armenia, and ran through the city of Babylon, which it divided in the midft.
104. The soft holes, &c.] The ears of all flaves in the East were bored, as a mark of their servitude. They wore bits of gold by way of ear-rings; which cuftom is still in the East Indies, and in other parts, even for whole nations ; who bore prodigious holes in their ears, and wear valt weights at them. DRYDEN.
Plin. Lib. xi. c 37. The epithet moiles may, perhaps, intimate, that this cuftom was looked upon at Rome (as among us) as a mark of effeminacy. Or the poet, by Hypallage, says - Molles in aure feneftræ--for-fenestræ in molli aure.
105. Five houses.] Tabernæ, here, may be understood to mean, tops or warehouses, which were in the forum, market.
But the libertine is first: I the first, says he, am here present.
place, and which, by reason of their situation, were let to merchants and traders at a great rent.
106. Procure 400.] In reckoning by festerces, the Ro. mans had an art which may be underltood by these three rules.
1. If a numeral noun agree in number, case, and gender, with festertius, then it denotes so many sestertii-as decem sestertii.
2. If a numeral noun of another case be joined with the genitive plural of sestertius, it denotes so many thousand, as decem sestertiâm fignifies 10,000 sestertii.
3. If the adverb numeral be joined, it denotes fo many 100,000 : as decies feftertiâum fignifies ten hundred thousand feftertii. Or if the numeral adverb be put by itself, the signification is the fame : decies or vigefies stand for so many 100,000 feftertii, or, as they say, so many hundred sestertia.
The seftertium contained a thousand sestertii, and amounted to about 171, 16s. 3 d. of our money. Kennett, Ant. 374-5.
After 400--quadringenta-feltertia must be understood, according to the 3d rule above.
The freedman brags, that the rents of his houses brought him in 400 sestertia, which was a knight's estate.
What does the purple, &c.] The robes of the nobility and magistrates were decorated with purple. He means, that, though he can't deny that he was born a llave, and came to Rome as such (and if he were to deny it, the holes in his ears would prove it) yet, that he was now a free citizen of Rome, poffeffed of a larger private fortune than the Prætor or the Tribune.-What can even a patrician wish for more ? Indeed, " when I see a nobleman reduced to keep sheep for his liveli“ hood, I can't perceive any great advantage he derives from “ his nobility ; what can it, at beft, confer, beyond what I “ possess?”
107. Corvinus.] One of the noble family of the Corvini, but fo reduced, that he was obliged to keep sheep, as an hired thepherd, near Laurentum, in his own native country. Lau. rentum is a city of Italy, now called Santo Lorenzo.
Pallante, & Licinis : expectent ergo Tribuni.
Sed cum summus honor finito computet anno,
109. Pallas.] A freedman of Claudius.
- The Licini.] The name of several rich men, particularly of a freedman of Augustus ; and of Licinius Crassus, who was furnamed Dives.
110. Let riches frevail.] Vincant-overcome-defeat all other pretensions.
Sacred honour.] Meaning the Tribunes, whose office was held so facred, that if any one hurt a Tribune, his life was devoted to Jupiter, and his family was to be sold at the temple of Ceres.
111. With white feet.] It was the custom, when foreign slaves were exposed to sale, to whiten over their naked feet with chalk. This was the token by which they were known.
112. The majesty of riches.] Intimating their great and univerfal sway among men, particularly at Rome, in its corrupt ftate, where every thing was venal, which made them reverenced, and almost adored. This intimates too, the command and dominion which the rich assumed over others, and the felf. importance which they affumed to themselves
a notable in stance of which appears in this impudent freedman.
113. Baleful money.) i.e. Destructive-the occasion of many cruel, and ruinous deeds.
114. Altars of money.) i. e. No temple dedicated, no altars called Aræ nummorum, as having facrifices offered on them to riches, as there were to peace, faith, concord, &c.
116. Which chatters, &c.] Crepito, here, fignifies to chatter like a bird. The temple of Concord, at Rome, was erected by Tiberius, at the request of his mother Livia. About this, birds, such as choughs, storks, and the like, used to build their
Than Pallas and the Licini: let the Tribunes, therefore, wait.
accounts, What will the attendants do, to whom from hence is a
gown, from hence a fhoe, And bread, and smoke of the house? A thick crowd of
nests. What the poet says, alludes to the chattering noise made by these birds, particularly when the old ones revisited their nests, after having been out to seek food for their young. See Ainsw.--Salutatus, N° 2.
117. The highest honour, &c.] i. e. People of the first rank and dignity.
Can compute, &c.] i. e. Can be fo sunk into the most fordid and meanest avarice, as to be reckoning, at the year's end, what they have gained out of these doles which were provided for the poor.
119. The attendants, &c.] The poor clients and followers, who, by thefe doles, are, or ought to be, supplied with clothes, meat, and fire. What will these do, when the means of their support is thus taken from them by great people ?
A shoe.] Shoes to their feet-as we say.
From hence.] i. e. By what they receive from the dole-basket.
120. Smoke of the house.] Woad, or other fewel for firinga or firing, as we fay. The effect, smoke--for the cause, fire, Meton.
Crowd of litters.] The word denfiffima, here, denotes a very great number, a thick crowd of people carried in Jitters,
121. AB 128. The
Quadrantes lectica petit, fequiturque maritum
Ipfe dies pulchro distinguitur ordine rerum ;
121. An hundred farthings.] The quadrans was a Roman coin, the fourth part of an as, in value not quite an halfpenny of our money.
An hundred of these were put into the sportula, or dole-basket: and for a share in this paltry sum, did the people of fashion (for such were carried in litters) seek in so eager a manner, as that they crowded the very door up, to get at the Sportula.
122. Is led about.] The husband lugs about his fick or breeding wife in a litter, and claims her dole.
123. This asks for the absent.] Another brings an empty litter, pretending his wife is in it.
Cunning in a known art.] i. e. He had often practised this trick with success.
125 “ It is my Galla.] The supposed name of his wife.
126. “ Put out your head.] i. e. Out of the litter, that I may see you are there,”-says the dispenser of the dole.
Don't vex her.] “ Don't disturb her, replies the hus. “ band ; don't disquiet her, she is not very well, and is taking
a nap.” By these methods he imposes on the dispenser, and gets a dole for his absent wife ; though, usually, none was given but to those who came in person and in order to this, the greatest caution was commonly used. See 1.97–8.
The violent hurry which this impoitor appears to be in (1. 125.) was, no doubt, occafioned by his fear of a discovery, if he staid too long.
Thus doth our poet satirize, not only the meanness of the rich in coming to the sportula, but the tricks and fifts which they made use of to get at the contents of it.
127. The day itself, &c.] The poet having satirized the mean avarice of the higher sort, now proceeds to ridicule their idle manner of spending time.
128. The sportula. See before, 1.95. The day began with attending on this.