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Omnis arena Tagi, quodque in mare volvitur aurum,
Quæ nunc divitibus gens acceptissima nostris,
Æstus serenos aureo franges Tago
Mart. lib. i. epigr. 50.
56. That you should want sleep, &c.] O thou, whoe'er thou art, that may be solicited to such criminal secrecy by the rich and great, reflect on the misery of such flagitious confidence, and prefer the repose of a quiet and easy conscience, to all the golden sands of Tagus, to all the treasures which it can roll into the sea! These would make you but ill amends for sleepless nights, when kept awake by guilt and fear.
Accept rewards to be rejected.] i. e. Which ought to be rejected-by way of hush-money, which, so far, poor wretch, from making you happy, will fill you with shame and sorrow, and which, therefore, are to be looked upon as abominable, and to be utterly refused, and laid aside. Ponenda, lit.—to be laid down—but here it has the sense of--abominanda-respuenda rejicienda-abneganda. See Hor. lib. iii. od. ii. 1. 19.
57. Feared, &c.] The great man who professes himself your friend, and who has heaped his favours upon you in order to bribe you to silence, will be perpetually betraying a dread of you, lest you should discover him. The consequence of which, you may have reason to apprehend, may be his ridding himself of his fears by ridding the world of you, lest you should prove like others--magni delator amici. See sat. i. 33. But whether the great man betrays this fear or not, you may be certain he will be constantly possessed with it; and a much greater proof of this you cannot have, than the pains he takes to buy your silence. When he grows weary of this method, you know what you may expect. Alas! can all the treasures of the whole earth make it worth your while to be in such a situation! Comp. 1. 113.
58. What nation, &c.] Umbritius proceeds in his reasons for retiring from Rome. Having complained of the sad state of the times, insomuch that no honest man could thrive there, he now attacks the introduction of Grecians and other foreigners, the fondness of the rich and great towards them, and the sordid arts by which they raised themselves.
60. Nor shall shame hinder.] In short, I'll speak my mind without reserve, my modesty shall not stand in my way.
O Romans.] Quirites--this anciently was a name for the Sabines, from the city Cures, or from quiris, a sort of spear used by them: but after their union with the Romans this appellation
Tagus the whole sand be, and the gold which is rolled into the sea,
55 That you should want sleep, and should accept rewards to be
rejected, Sorrowful, and be always feared by a great friend. What nation is now most acceptable to our rich men, And whom I would particularly avoid, I will hasten to confess ; Nor shall shame hinder. O Romans, I cannot bear 60 A Grecian city: tho' what is the portion of Achæan dregs ? Some while since Syrian Orontes has flow'd into the Tiber,
was used for the Roman people in gerieral. The name Quirinus was first given to Romulus. See sat. ii. 133.
Probably the poet used the word Quirites here, as reminding them of their ancient simplicity of manners and dress, by way of contrast to their present corruption and effeminacy in both ; owing, very much, to their fondness of the Greeks and other foreigners, for some time past introduced among them.
61. A Grecian city.] Meaning Romeñow so transformed from what it once was, by the rage which the great people had for the language, manners, dress, &c. of those Greeks whoin they invited and entertained, that, as the inferior people are fond of imitating their superiors, it was not unlikely that the transformation might become general throughout the whole city: no longer Roman, but Grecian. Umbritius could not bear the thought.
Tho' what is the portion, &c.] 'Though, by the consider the multitudes of other foreigners, with which the city now abounds, what, as to numbers, is the portion of Greeks? they are comparatively few. See sat. xiii. 157. Hæc quota pars scelerum, &c. What part is this (i. e. how small a part or portion) of the crimes, &c.
Achæan dregs.] Achæa, or Achaia, signifies the whole country of Greece, anciently called Danaë, whence the Greeks are called Danas. Ainsw. Dregs—metaph. taken from the foul, turbid, fila thy sediment which wiñe deposits at the bottom of the cask. A fit emblem of these vile Greeks, as though they were the filth and re: fuse of all Greece.
Sometimes the word Achæa, or' Achaia, is to be understood in a more confined sense, and denotes only some of that part of Greece called Peloponnesus, or Pelops' island, now the Morea, anciently divided into Arcadia, and Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital : the inhabitants of this city were proverbially lewd and wicked-sogioticw was a usual phrase to express doing acts of effeminacy, lewdness, and debauchery—what then must the dregs of Corinth, and its environs have been ? See 1 Cor. vi. 9-11, former part. · 62. Syrian Orontes.] Orontes was the greatest river of Syria, a large country of Asia. Umbritius had said (at l. 61.) that the por. tion of Grecians was small in comparison ; he now proceeds to explain himself, by mentioning the inundation of Syrians, and other
Et linguam, et mores, et cum tibicine chordas
Rusticus ille tuus sumit trechedipna, Quirine,
Asiatic strangers, who had for some time been flocking to Rome : these were in such nunibers from Syria, and they had so introduced their eastern manners, music, &c. that one would fancy one's self on the banks of the Orontes, instead of the Tiber. The river Orona tes is here put for the people who inhabited the tract of country through which it ran. Meton. So the Tiber for the city of Rome, which stood on its banks.
62. Has flow'd.) Metaph. This well expresses the idea of the numbers, as well as the mischiefs they brought with them, wbich were now overwhelming the city of Rome, and utterly destroying the morals of the people.
63. With the piper.] 'Tibicen 'signifies a player on a flute, or pipe. A minstrel. They brought eastern musicians, as well as mu. sical instruments. The flute was an instrument whose soft sound tended to mollify and enervate the mind.
63-4. Harps oblique.] Chordas, literally strings : here it signifies the instruments, which, being in a crooked form, the strings must of course be obliquely placed.
64. National timbrels.] Tabours, or little drums, in form of a hoop, with parchment distended over it, and bits of brass fixed to it to make a jingling noise; which the eastern people made use of, as they do to this day, at their feasts and dancings, and which they beat with the fingers.
64-5. With itself hath brought.] As a river, when it breaks its bounds, carries along with it something from all the different soils through which it passes, and rolls along what it may meet with in its way; so the torrent of Asiatics has brought with it, from Syria to Rome, the language, morals, dress, music, and all the enervating and effeminate vices of the several eastern provinces from whence it came.
65. And girls bidden to expose, &c.] Prosto, in this connexion, as applied to harlots, means to be common, and ready to be hired of all comers for money. For this purpose, the owners of these, Asiatic female slaves ordered them to attend at the Circus, where they might pick up gallants, and so made a gain of their prostitu. tion. Or perhaps they had stews in the cells and vaults which were under the great Circus, where they exercised their lewdaess. Sce Holyday on the place, note f.
The word jussas may, perhaps, apply to these prostitutes, as expressive of their situation, as being at every body's command. Thus Or. lib. i. eleg. 10.
Stat meretrix certo cuivis mercabilis ere,
And its language, and manners, and, with the piper, harps
65 Go ye, who like a Barbarian strumpet with a painted mitre,
. That rustic of thine, O Quirinus, assumes a Grecian dress, And carries Grecian ornaments on his perfumed neck.
65. Circus.] There were several circi in Rome, which were places set apart for the celebration of several games : they were generally oblong, or almost in the shape of a bow, having a wall quite round, with rånges of seats for the convenience of spectators.
The Circus maximus, which is probably meant here, was an immense building; it was first built by 'Tarquinius Priscus, but beautified and adorned by succeeding princes, and enlarged to such a prodigious extent, as to be able to contain, in their proper seats, two hun. dred and sixty thousand spectators. See KENNETT, Ant. part II. book i. C. 4.
66. Go ye, &c.] Umbritius may be supposed to have uttered this with 10 small indignation.
Strumpet.] Lupa literally signifies a she-wolf--but an ap. pellation fitly bestowed on common whores or bawds, whose profession led them to support themselves by preying at large on all they could get into their clutches. Hence a brothel was called lu.' panar. The Romans called all foreigners barbarians.
4 painted mitre.] A sort of turban, worn by the Syrian women as a part of their head-dress, ornamented with painted linen.
67. O Quirinus.] 0 Romulus, thou great founder of this now degenerate city! See note on l. 60.
Thut rustic of thine.] In the days of Romulus, and under his government, the Romans were an hardy race of shepherds and husbandmen. See sat. ii. I. 74, and 127. Sat, viii, l. 274, 5. rough in their dress, and simple in their mannerse. Butalas! how changed!
A Grecian dress.] Trechedipna~from tpexw, to run, and destvov, a supper. A kind of garment in which they ran to other people's suppers. Ainsw. It was certainly of Greek extraction, and though the form and materials of it are not described, yet we must suppose it of the soft, effeminate, or gawdy kind, very unlike the garb and dress of the ancient rustics of Romulus, and to speak; a sad change in the manners of the people. Dryden renders the passage
Is turn'd a beau in a loose tawdry gown. 68. Grecian ornaments.] Niceteria--rewards for victories, as rings, collars of gold, &c. Prizes. From Gr. vixm, victory. On his perfumed neck.] Ceromatico collo.
The ceroma (Gr. xnpwjaxy
from xngos, cera) was an oil tempered with wax, wherein wrestlers anointed themselves.
Hic altâ Sicyone, ast hic Amydonę relictâ, Hic Andro, ille Samo, hic Trallibus, aut Alabandis, 70 Esquilias, dictumque petunt a vimine collem; Viscera magnarum domuum, dominique futuri,
Ingenium velox, audacia perdita, sermo Promptus, et Isæo torrentior: ede quid illum Esse putes ? quemvis hominem secum attulit ad nos : 175 Granimaticus, Rhetor, Geometres, Pictor, Aliptes, Augur, Sphænobates, Medicus, Magus: omnia novit. Græculus esuriens in cælum, jusseris, ibit.
But what proofs of effeminacy, or depravation, doth the poet set forth in these instances ?
Using wrestlers' oil, and wearing on the neck collars of gold, and other insignia of victory, if to be understood literally, seems but ill to agree with the poet's design, to charge the Romans with a loss of all former hardiness and manliness: therefore we are to understand this line in an ironical sense, meaning, that, instead of wearing col, lars of gold as tokens of victory, and rewards of courage and activity, their niceteria were trinkets and gewgaws, worn merely as or, naments, suitable to the effeminacy and luxury into which, after the example of the Grecians, Syrians, &c. they were sunk. By the ceroma he must also be understood to mean, that, instead of wrestlers? oil, which was a mere compound of oil and wax, their ceroma was some curious perfumed unguent with which they anointed their per, sons, their hair particularly, merely out of luxury. See sat. ii, 40—2, Thus Mr, Dryden:
His once unkem'd and horrid locks behold
Which, bought at greater cost, becomes him less. 69. High Sicyon.] An island in the Ægean sea, where the ground was very high. The Ægean was a part of the Mediterranean sea, near Greece, dividing Europe from Asia. It is now called the Ar. chipelago, and by the Turks, the White sea.
Amydon.] A city of Macedonia. 70. Andros.] An island and town of Phrygia the Lesser, situate in the Ægean sea.
Samos.] An island in the Ionian sea, west of the bay of Corinth, now under the republic of Venice, now Cephalonie.
Tralles.] A city of .Lesser Asia between Caria and Lydia.
Alabanda.] A city of Caria in the Lesser Asiá. 71. Esquiliæ.] The mons esquilinus, one of the seven hills in Rome; so called from esculus-a beech-tree, of which many grew upon it. See Ainsw.
The hill named, &c.] The collis viminalis, another of the seyen hills on which Rome was built; so called from a wood or grove of osiers which grew upon it. There was an altar there to Jupiter, under the title of Jupiter Viminalis.