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Desputat in mores ; penemque arcanaque lumbi
Cædimus, inque vicem præbemus crura sagittis :
charge the young emperor Nero with certain lewd and unnatural actions, which, however hitherto he might keep from the public eye, were yet practised by him in secret.
42. We lash.] Or we strike others, in censuring and publishing their faults.
We expose our legs to arrows.] Metaph, from the gladiators, who, while they strike at the adversary, expose their own persons to be wounded where most easily vulnerable. So while we lash or strike others with our tongues, we expose ourselves to be lashed by them in our turn, and to receive the arrows of detraction and de. famation into whatever part of our character is most vulnerable. The gladiators could guard the body, but the legs and lower parts were much exposed to the stroke of the adversary.
43. Thus we live.] Vivitur, impers.-9. d. This is the manner of common life, censuring and being censured. Seç sat. iii, l. 20, luditur, note.
Thus we know.] Thus we became acquainted with men's characters, by hearing their faults published by their revilers.
44. A blind wound ] i. e. You practise wickedness, which is concealed from the eyes of the world, but yet wounds your conscience ; guilt lurks within, and wounds
you inwardly, 44--5. A belt --covers it--] Metaph. from the practice of the gladiators, who, when they received a wound, covered it with the broad belt which they wore, in order to keep it from the eyes
of the spectators. Thus Nero, by the greatness of his power, and by the splendor of his appearance and situation, (here meant by the figure of a broad belt of gold,) covered his iniquities from the animadversion of the laws, and from the observation of the people.
45. Cheat--and deceive, &c.] Impose upon others, and deceive your own feelings, as much as you please, that is, if you sible so to do.
Cheat.] Da verbà. See before, note, sat. iii. l. 19.
find it poss
“ Spit down on your manners : who by vile arts
35 “ Are making your body smooth and delicate. “ When you can comb a long anointed beard 66 On
your cheeks, why are you shorn elsewhere? “ When, after all the pains that can be taken, “ Tho' assisted, in the depilation of your person, by
40 " Five strong wrestlers, you can never succeed.
" We lash, and in our turn we expose our legs to arrows. « Thus we live-thus we know--under
bowels “ You have a blind wound: but a belt with broad gold 6 Covers it: as you please, cheat-and deceive your nerves, 45 " If you can. "When the neighbourhood says I am excellent, “Shall I not believe it?" If noney being seen, O wicked man,
“ your are pale “ If you do whatever your lust
prompts you to “ If cautious, you scourge the puteal with many a wale, “ In vain shall you give your soaking ears to the rabble.
45. “ Nerves.”] Nervos.--The nerves are the orgaus of sensation, 46. “If you can”.] i. e. But this you cannot do.
« When the neighbourhood says," &c.] These are the words of Alcibiades (i. e. Nero)-in answer to what has been said.
“ All the world,” says he, “ speak of my excellence as a man, “ and as a prince, and would you not have me believe what they
47. “ If money," &c.] Socrates (i. e. Persius) answers_-" Instead " of taking the idea of your own character from the flatteries of the
populace, examine yourself; and if you find that you grow pale, “ as it were, at the very sight of money, from an envious and covet. ous desire after it if you give the reins to your abominable lusts—if you are committing robberies, murders, and other acts “ of cruelty in the streets, cautious to secure yourself by taking “guards with you—in vain,” &c.
-Puteal (from puteus, a well.) When lightning fell in any place, the old Romans covered the place over, like a public well, and such a place they properly called puteal. There was one in the Roman forum, and near it was the tribunal of the pretor. This was the scene of many of Nero's nightly frolicks, who was a kind of Mohock in his diversions and committed numberless enormities, even murders and robberies, disguised in the habit of a slave : but at last, having been soundly beaten, he grew cautious, and went attended by gladiacors. It is to this Persius here alludes. And Nero might well be called the scourge of every place where he transacted such enormities, and be said to leave many marks and wales behind him in those places which were the scenes of his flagitious practices. 50. “In vain," &c.] It will be of very
little use to you to let your ears imbibe the applause and flattery of the mob (see before, 1. 15.) which of yours are as prone to this as a sponge to soak in water.
If your own conscience accuses you of what I have above spoken
Respue quod non es: tollat sua munera cerdo :
of, the applauses, which you know yourself to be utterly undeserving of, can give you but little comfortnor can they make you better than you are.
51. " Reject what you are not."'] Persius concludes this Satire with two lines of salutary advice to Nero
Reject, put away from you, what does not belong to you-lay aside the feigned character under which you appear.
“Let the Cobbler," &c.] Cerdo--put here for the lower peo ple in general. See Juv. sat, iv. 1. 153.q.d. “Give them back “the presents which they make you of adulation and applause ; 6 let them carry them away, and keep them to themselves, or be,
stow them elsewhere--have nothing to do with them.”
« Reject what you are not-Let the cobbler take away his gifts : “ Dwell with yourself, and you will know how short your household
66 stuff is."
52. “ Dwell with yourself.”] i. e. Retire into thyself ; let thine own breast be the abode of thy constant thoughts.
“ Tour household stuff" &c.] You will then find out how poorly furnished you are within, how short your abilities, and how little fitted for the arduous task of government, or indeed for the purposes of civil society.
Metaph. from the furniture of an house here applied to those qualities of the mind which are necessary to furnish and adorn it, for the purposes of civil and social life.
END OF THE FOURTH SATIRE.
This Satire is justly esteemed the best of the six.— It consists of three
parts : in the first of which the Poet highly praises Annæus Cornutus, who had been his preceptor, and recommends other young men to his care.--in the second part, he blames the idleness and sloth of young men, and exhorts them to follow after the liberty and enfranchisement
of the mind.--Thirdly, he shews wherein true liberty consists, and PERSIUS.
VATIBUS hic mos est, centum sibi poscere voces,
CORNUTUS. Quorsum hæc? aut quantas robusti carminis offas 5
Line 1. A custom, &c.] Of epic poets, and sometimes of orators, to adopt this idea. Hom. Il. ii. for instance :
dcera μεν γλωσσαι, δεκα δε σοματα ειεν. So VIRG. Geor. ii. l. 43 ; and Æn. vi. 1. 625.
Non mihi si centum linguæ sint, oraque centum. And, Quint. ad fin. Decl. vi.—Universorum vatum, scriptorumque ora consentiant, vincet tamen res ista mille linguas, &c.
-- An hundred voices.] Alluding perhaps to the responses of the Sibyl-VIRG. Æn. vi. l. 43, 4.
--Aditus centum, ostia centum
Unde ruunt totidem voces responsa Sibyllæ. 2. For verses,] i.e. That, when they compose their verses, their style and language might be amplified and extended, adequately to the greatness and variety of their subjects.
3. Whether a fable.] The subject or story on which they write is called the fable.
Bawled out, &c.] i. e. Whether they write tragedy, to be acted on the stage. Comp. Juv. sat. vi. 1. 635.
Grande Sophocleo carmen bacchamur hiatu,