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Art pale over angry Eupolis, with the very great old man,
pours, to evaporate : thus the metaphor is continued through both the lines,
127. Not he, who delights, &c.] Persius now marks out those who were not to be chosen for his readers.
The first class of men which he objects to, are those who can laugh at the persons and habits of philosophers; this bespeaks a despicable, mean, and sordid mind.
Slippers of the Grecians.] Crepidas Graiorum, a peculiar sort of slippers, or shoes, worn by philosophers--here put by sy.
for the whole dress; but it is most likely, that Persius here means the philosophers themselves, and all their wise sayings and in, stitutes ; these were originally derived from Greece. 128. Sordid.] See note, No. 1, above, at l. 127, ad fin.
Say to the blinkard, &c.] Luscus is he that has lost an eye, a one-eyed man.
Persius means those who can upbraid and deride the natural infire mities or misfortunes of others, by way of wit :
Can mock the blind; and has the wit to crym
BREWSTER: 129. Thinking himself somebody.] A person of great consequence.
-Lifted up &c.] Puffed up with self-importance, because bearing an office in some country.district of Italy; and therefore flippant of his abuse, by way of being witty, l. 127, 8.
130. An ædile, &c.] An inferior kind of country-magistrate, who had jurisdiction over weights and measures, and had authority to break and destroy those which were false. Juv. sat. x. l. 102.
Aretium.] A city of Tuscany, famous for making earthen ware, but, perhaps, put here for any country town.
So heminas, half sextaries, little measures holding about three quarters of a pint, are put for measures in general. Comp. Juv. Sat, x. 101, 2:
131. Nor who, arch, &c.] Another class of people, which Persius would exclude from the number of his readers, are those who laugh at and despise all science whatsoever.
Abacus signifies a bench, slate, or table, used for accounts by arithmeticians, and for figures by mathematicians-here put for arithmetic and mathematics.
132. Bounds in divided dust.] The geometricians made their de.
Si Cynico barbam petulans Nonaria vellat.
monstrations upon dust, or sanded floors, to the end that their lines might easily be changed and struck out again--here geometry is meant.
133. Petulant Nonaria, &c.] Who think it an high joke, If they see an impudent strumpet meet a grave Cynic in the street, and pull him by the beard ; which was the greatest affront that could be of. fered. Comp. Hor, sat. iii. lib. i. 1. 133, 4.
The ninth hour, or our three o'clock in the afternoon, was the time when the harlots first made their appearance, hence they were called Nonariæ. Perhaps our poet may allude, in this line, to the story of Diogenes, (mentioned by Athen. lib. xii.) who was in love with Lạis, the famous courtezan, and had his beard plucked by her.
134. In the morning, an edict.) To such people as these I assign employments suitable to their talents and characters. It has been usually thought, that edictum here means the pretor's edict, and that by Callirhoe is meant some harlot of that name ; and therefore this line is to be understood, as if Persius meant that these illiterate fellows should attend the forum in the morning, and the brothel in the evening: but the former seems too serious an employ for men such as he is speaking of
If petulant Nonaria should pluck a Cynic's beard.
Marcilius, therefore, more reasonably, takes edictum (consonant to the phrases edictum ludorum, edictum muneris gladiatorii, &c.) to signify a programma, a kind of play-bill, which was stuck up, as ours are, in a morning ; and Callirhoe to be the title of some wretched play, written on the story of that famous parricide (who slew her father because he would not consent to her marriage) by some of the writers at which this Satire is levelled, and which was announced to be performed in the evening.
d. Instead of wishing such to read my Satires, I consign these pretty gentlemen to the study of the play-bills in the morning, and to an attendance on the play in the evening. Thus this Satire concludes, in conformity with the preceding part of it, with lashing bad writers and their admirers.
Marcilius contends, that this line is to be referred to Nero, against whom, as a poet, this Satire is principally, though covertly, levelled -who, by ordering bills to be distributed, called the people together, in order to hear him sing over his poems on Callirhoe.
END OF THE FIRST SATIRE.
It being customary among the Romans, for one friend to send a present
to another on his birth-day-Persius, on the birth-day of his friend Macrinus, presents him with this Satire, which seems (like Juv. Sat. x.) to be founded on Plato's dialogue on prayer, called The Second
Alcibiades. The Poet takes occasion to expose the folly and impiety of those, who,
thinking the gods to be like themselves, imagined that they were to be bribed into compliance with their prayers by sumptuous presents ; whereas, in truth, the gods regard not ihese, but regard only the pure intention of an honest heurt.
AD PLOTIUM MACRINUM.
UNC, Macrine, diem numera meliore lapillo,
Line 1. Macrinus.] Who this Macrinus was does not sufficiently appear; he was a learned man, and a friend of Persius, who here salutes him on his birth-day.
Better stone. ] The ancients reckoned happy days with white pebbles, and unhappy days with black ones, and at the end of the year cast up the reckoning, by which they could see how many happy, and how many unhappy days had past.
The poet here bids his friend distinguish his birth-day among the happiest of his days, with a better, a whiter stone than ordinary, . See Juv. sat xii. 1. 2. Which.] i. e. Which day
White.] i.e. Happy, good, propitious.
Adds to thee sliding years.] Sets one more complete year to the score, and begins another.
Eheu fugaces, Posthume, Posthume,
Hor, ode ziv. lib. ii. Years that glide swiftly, and almost imperceptibly away.
3. Pour out wine to your genius.] The genius was a tutelar god, which they believed to preside at their birth, whom they worshipped every year on their birth-day, by making a libation of wine. They did not slay any beast in sacrifice to their genius on that day, be
In the course of this Satire, which seems to have given occasion to
the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, Persius mentions the impious and hurtful requests which men make, as well as the bad means which
they employ to have their wishes fulfilled. The whole of this Satire is very grave, weighty, and instructive ;
and, like that of Juvenal, contains sentiments, more like a Chris
tian than an heathen. Bishop Burnet says, that “this Satire may well pass for one of the
s best lectures in divinity.”
TO PLOTIUS MACRINUS. This day, Macrinus, number with a better stone, Which, white, adds to thee sliding years. Pour out wine to your genius. You do not ask with mercenary prayer, Which you cannot commit unless to remote gods : But a good part of our nobles will offer with tacit censer. 5
cause they would not take away life on the day on which they received it. They supposed a genius not only to preside at their birth, but to attend and protect them constantly through their life; there. fore, on other days, they sacrificed beasts to their genii.—Hence Hor. lib. iii. ode xvii. l. 14-16
-Cras genium mero
Cum famulis operum solutis. The libation of wine on their birth-day was attended also with strewing flowers. The former was an emblem of cheerfulness and festivity: the latter, from their soon fading, of the frailty and short. ness of human life. Hor. epist. i. lib. ii. 1. 143, 4.
Tellurem porco, Sylvanum lacte piabant.
Floribus et vino genium, memorem brevis ævi. 3. Mercenary prayer.] Emaci, from emo, to buy-i. c. with a prayer, with which, as with a bribe, or reward, you were to pur. chase what you pray
for. 4. Which you cannot commit, &c.] Which you must offer to the gods in secret, and as if the gods were taken aside, that nobody but themselves should hear what you say to them.
Committere, here, has the sense of-to intrust, to impart. 5. A good part.] A great many, a large portion.