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The Poet dissuades Trebius, a parasite, from frequenting the tables
of the great, where he was certain to be treated with the utmost scorn and contempt. Juvenal then proceeds to stigmatize the
Si te propositi nondum pudet, atque eadem est mens,
Argument, line 1. Parasite.] From waga, to, and citos, .cornanciently signified an officer under the priests who had the care of the sacred corn, and who was invited as a guest to eat part of the sacrifice. Afterwards it came to signify a sort of flatterer, a buf. foon, who was invited to great men’s tables by way of sport, and who, by coaxing and flattery, often got into favour. See sat. i. 1. 139, and note.
1. Of your purpose.] Your determination to seek for admittance at the tables of the great, however ill you may be treated.
2. Highest happiness. Summa bona.- Perhaps Juvenal here ad. verts to the various disputes among the philosophers about the summum bonum, or chief good of man. To inquire into this, was the design of Cicero in his celebrated five books De Finibus, wherein it is supposed all along, that man is capable of attaining the perfection of happiness in this life, and he is never directed to look beyond it: upon this principle, this parasite sought his chief happiness in the present gratification of his sensual appetite, at the tables of the rich and great.
Another's trencher. 7 Quadra signifies, literally, a square trencher, from its form : but here, aliena vivere quadra, is to be taken metonymically, to signify-living at another's tableor at another's expense.
3. Sarmentus.] A Roman knight, who, by his flattery and buf. foonery, insinuated himself into the favour of Augustus Cæsar, and
is the same,
insolence and luxury of the nobility, their treatment of their poor dependents, whom they almost suffer to starve, while they
themselves fare deliciously. IF you are not yet ashamed of your purpose, and your mind
(trencher; That you can think it the highest happiness to live from another's If you can suffer those things, which neither Sarmentus at the
unequal Tables of Cæsar, nor vile Galba could have borne, I should be afraid to believe you as a witness, tho’ upon
oath. 5 I know nothing more frugal than the belly: yet suppose even
that To have failed, which suffices for an empty stomach, Is there no hole vacant? no where a bridge? and part of a rug
often came to his table, where he bore all manner of scoffs and af. fronts. See Hor. lib. i. sat. v. I. 51, 2.
3—4. The unequal tables.] Those entertainments were called iniquæ mensæ, where the same food and wine were not provided for the guests as for the master. This was often the case, when great men invited parasites, and people of a lower kind; they sat before them a coarser sort of food, and wine of an inferior kind.
4. Galba.] Such another in the time of Tiberius.
5. Afraid to believe.] 4. d. If you can submit to such treatment as this, for no other reason than because you love eating and drinka ing, I shall think you so void of all right and honest principle, that I would not believe what you say, though it were upon oath.
6. Nothing more frugal.] The mere demands of nature are easily supplied-hunger wants not delicacies.
Suppose even that, &c.] However, suppose that a man has not wherewithal to procure even the little that nature wants to satisfy his hunger.
8. Is there no hole, &c.] Crepidoma hole or place by the highway, where beggars sit.
A bridge.] The bridges on the highways were common stands for beggars. Sat. iv, 116.
Dimidiâ brevior ? tantine injuria cænæ ?
Primo fige loco, quod tu discumbere jussus
officiorum: Long alameling
9. Shorter by the half. ] Teges—signifies a coarse mug, worn by beggars to keep them warm. q. d. Is no coarse rug, or even a bit of one, to be gotten to cover your nakedness ?
Is the injury of a supper, &c.] Is it worth while to suffer the scoffs and affronts which you undergo at a great man's table ? Do you prize these so highly as rather to endure them than be ex. cluded ?--or than follow the method which I propose ? Comp. 1. 10, 11.-I should observe, that some are for interpreting injurią cænæ by injuriosa cæna: so Grangius, who refers to Virg. Æn. iii. 256, injuria cædis-pro-cæde injuriosa ; but I cannot think that this comes up to the point, as the reader may see by consulting the passage, which the Delphin interpreter expounds by injuria cædis nobis illatæ—and so I conceive it ought to be; and if so, it is no precedent for changing injuria cænæ into injuriosa cæna. However, it is certain that this is adopted in the Variorum edition of Schrevelius. Tantine tibi est injuriosa et contumeliosa cæna ; ut propter eam turpissimum adulatorem velis agere, et tot mala, tot opprobria et contumelias potius perferre velis, quam mendicare? LUBIN. To this purpose Marshall, Prateus, and others. Doubtless this gives an excellent sense to the passage ; but then this is come at, by supposing that Juvenal says one thing and means another : for he says, injuria cænæ-literally, the injury of a supper—i. e. the injury sustained by Nævolus, the indignity and affronts which he met with when he went to Virro's table. The poet asks—tantine injuria, not tantine cæna, meaning, as I conceive, a sarcasm on the parasite for his attendance where he was sure to undergo all manner of contempt and ill treatment, as though he were so abject as to prefer this, and hold it in high estimation, in comparison with the way of life which Juvenal recommends as more honourable. Hence the explanation of the passage which I have above given, appears to me to be most like the poet's meaning, as it exactly coincides with his manner of expression. I would lastly observe, that Prateus, Delph. edit. interprets—tantine injuria cænæ ? by-an tanti est contumelia convivii ?
10. Is hunger so craving.] As to drive you into all this, when you might satisfy it in the more honourable way of begging ?
More honestly.]. With more reputation to yourself.
There.] At a stand for beggars. 11. Tremble.] Shake with cold, having nothing but a part of a
Shorter by the half? is the injury of a supper of so great value?
rug to cover you, I. 8, 9. Or, at least, pretending it, in order to move compassion.
11. Gnar the filth, 8c.] Far-literally signifies all manner of corn; also meal and flour- hence bread made thereof. A coarser sort was made for the common people, a coarser still was given to dogs. But perhaps the poet, by farris canini, means what was spoiled, and grown musty and hard, by keeping, only fit to be thrown to the dogs.
The substance of this passage seems to be this viz. that the situ. ation of a common beggar, who takes his stand to ask alms though half naked shaking with cold and forced to satisfy his hunger with old hard crusts, such as were given to the dogs, ought to be reckoned far more" reputable, and therefore more eligible, than those abject and scandalous means, by which the parasite subsisted.
12. Fix, &c.] Fix it in your hand, as a certain thing, in the first place.
To sit down at table. ] Discumberem lit. means to lie down, as on a couch, after the manner of the Romans at their meals.
13. A solid reward.] Whatever services you may have rendered the great man, he thinks that an invitation to supper is a very solid and full recompence.
14. Food is the fruit, &c.] A meal's meat (as we say) is all you get by your friendly offices, but then they must have been very great. Or magnæ amicitiæ may mean, as in sat. iv. I. 74, 5. the friendship of a great man, the fruit of which is an invitation to supper.
The great man reckons, &c.] Rex-lit. a king, is often used to denote any great and high personage. See sat. i. 136. Hé sets it down to your account; however seldom you may be invited, yet he reckons it as a set-off against your services. Hunc relates to the preceding cibus.
17. Lest the third pillow, &c.] q. d. Only invites you to fill up a place at his table, which would be otherwise vacant.
In the Roman dining-room was a table in fashion of an half. moon, against the round part whereof they sat three beds, every one containing three persons, each of which had a (culcitra) pillow to lean upon: they were said, diseumbere, to lie at meat upon a bed. We say-sit at table, because we use chairs, on which we sit. See Virg. Æn. i. 1. 712.---Toris jussi discumbere pictis.
Una simus, ait: votorum summa; quid ultra
18. “ Let us be together,” says he.] Supposed to be the words of some great man, inviting in a familiar way, the more to enhance the obligation. The sum of your wishes.] The sum total of all
desires -what can you think of farther?
19. Trebius.] The name of the parasite with whom Juvenal is supposed to be conversing.
For which he ought, &c.] Such a favour as this is sufficient to make him think that he ought, in return, to break his rest, to rise before day, to hurry himself to the great man's levee in such a manner as to forget to tie his shoes; to rụn slip-shod, as it were, for fear he should seem tardy in paying his respects, by not getting there before the circle is completely formed, who meet to pay their compliments to the great man. See sat. iii. 127—30. where we find one of these early levees, and the hurry which people were in to get to them.
Ligula means not only a shoe-latchet, or shoe-tie, but any ligature which is necessary to tie any part of the dress; so a lace, or point
ligula cruralis, a garter. Ainsw.
22. The stars dubious.] So early, that it is uncertain whether the little light there is, be from the stars, or from the first breaking of the morning.-" What is the night?”_- Almost at odds with " morning, which is which."-SHAK. Macb. act III. sc. iv.
23. Bootes.] A constellation near the Ursa Major, or Great Bear--Gr. Bowtns-Lat. bubulcus, an herdsman-he that ploughs with oxen, or tends them. Called Bootes, from its attending, and seeming to drive on, the Ursa Major, which is in form of a wain drawn by oxen.
Cic. Nat. Deor. lib. ii. 42.
The greater Bear, yoked (as it were) to a wain.
We call the Ursa Major-Charles's wain, (see Ainsw. Arctos,) seven stars being so disposed, that the first two represent the oxen, the other five represent a wain, or waggon, which they draw. Bootes seems to follow as the driver.
22—3. The cold wains.] Sarraca, plur.--the wain consisting of