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"' a 66
soon have sped, since Maecenas began to count me among his friends-merely thus far, as one he would like to take in his carriage when on a journey, and confide to his ears trifles like this: What's the time? Is the Thracian Chicken a match for Syrus ? The morning frosts are nipping now, if people are careless," and such chat as is safely dropped into a leaky ear. For all these years, every day and hour, our friend has been more and more the butt of envy. Has he viewed the games, or played ball in the Campus with Maecenas? "Fortune's favourite!" all cry. Does a chilly rumour run from the Rostra through the streets? Whoever comes my way asks my opinion: "My good sir, you must know-you come so much closer to the gods you haven't heard any news about the Dacians, have you?" None whatever.' "How you will always mock at us!" But heaven confound me, if I have heard a word! Well, is it in the three-cornered isle, or on Italian soil, that Caesar means to give the soldiers their promised lands?" When I swear I know nothing, they marvel at me as, forsooth, the man of all men remarkably and profoundly reticent.
59 Amid such trifling, alas! I waste my day, praying the while: O rural home: when shall I behold you! When shall I be able, now with books of the ancients, now with sleep and idle hours, to quaff sweet forgetfulness of life's cares! O when shall beans, brethren of Pythagoras, be served me, and
a Pythagoras forbade the eating of beans as well as of the flesh of animals, in the latter case because of his doctrine of transmigration of souls. Horace humorously applies this doctrine to beans as well.
uncta satis pingui ponentur holuscula lardo!
sermo oritur, non de villis domibusve alienis,
nec male necne Lepos saltet ; sed quod magis ad nos pertinet et nescire malum est, agitamus: utrumne divitiis homines an sint virtute beati ;
quidve ad amicitias, usus rectumne, trahat nos; 75 et quae sit natura boni summumque quid eius. Cervius haec inter vicinus2 garrit anilis
ex re fabellas. si quis nam laudat Arelli
1 humescit E.
2 vicino E: vicinos V.
3 frustra Ep Goth. : furta Peerlkamp.
Another plausible interpretation of libatis dapibus is after due offering," i.e. to the Lares, before the mensa secunda with its wine-drinking began.
with them greens well larded with fat bacon! O nights and feasts divine! When before my own Lar we dine, my friends and I, and feed the saucy slaves from the barely tasted dishes." Each guest, as is his fancy, drains cups big or small, not bound by crazy laws, whether one can stand strong bumpers in gallant Style, or with mild cups mellows more to his liking. And so begins a chat, not about other men's homes and estates, nor whether Lepos dances well or ill; but we discuss matters which concern us more, and of which it is harmful to be in ignorance-whether wealth or virtue makes men happy, whether self-interest or uprightness leads us to friendship, what is the nature of the good and what is its highest form.
77 Now and then our neighbour Cervius rattles off old wives' tales that fit the case. Thus, if anyone, blind to its anxieties, praises the wealth of Arellius, he thus begins : Once on a time-such is the tale -a country mouse welcomed a city mouse in his poor hole, host and guest old friends both. Roughly he fared, frugal of his store, yet could open his thrifty soul in acts of hospitality. In short, he grudged not his hoard of vetch or long oats, but bringing in his mouth a dried raisin and nibbled bits of bacon he served them, being eager by varying the fare to overcome the daintiness of a guest, who, with squeamish tooth, would barely touch each morsel. Meanwhile, outstretched on fresh straw, the master of the house himself ate spelt and darnel, leaving the titbits to his friend. At last the city mouse cries to him: 'What pleasure can you have, my friend, Cf. Sat. ii. 2. 123 and note.
• Fundamental questions of ethical philosophy.
praerupti nemoris patientem vivere dorso? vis tu homines urbemque feris praeponere silvis ? carpe viam, mihi crede, comes. terrestria quando mortalis animas vivunt sortita, neque ulla est
aut magno aut parvo leti fuga, quo, bone,1 circa, 95 dum licet, in rebus iucundis vive beatus;
vive memor, quam sis aevi brevis." haec ubi dicta agrestem pepulere, domo levis exsilit; inde ambo propositum peragunt iter, urbis aventes moenia nocturni subrepere.
Iamque tenebat nox medium caeli spatium, cum ponit uterque in locuplete domo vestigia, rubro ubi cocco tincta super lectos canderet vestis eburnos, multaque de magna superessent fercula cena, quae procul exstructis inerant hesterna canistris. 105 ergo ubi purpurea porrectum in veste locavit agrestem, veluti succinctus cursitat hospes continuatque dapes, nec non verniliter2 ipsis3 fungitur officiis, praelambens omne quod adfert.4 ille cubans gaudet mutata sorte bonisque rebus agit laetum convivam, cum subito ingens valvarum strepitus lectis excussit utrumque. currere per totum pavidi conclave, magisque exanimes trepidare, simul domus alta Molossis personuit canibus. tum rusticus," haud mihi vita 115 est opus hac," ait et valeas me silva cavusque tutus ab insidiis tenui solabitur ervo."
1 bene E.
in living so hard a life on the ridge of a steep grove ? Wouldn't you put people and the city above these wild woods? Take my advice: set out with me. Inasmuch as all creatures that live on earth have mortal souls, and for neither great nor small is there escape from death, therefore, good sir, while you may, live happy amid joys; live mindful ever of how brief your time is!" These words struck home with the rustic, who lightly leaped forth from his house. Then both pursue the journey as planned, eager to creep under the city walls by night.
100 And now night was holding the mid space of heaven, when the two set foot in a wealthy palace, where covers dyed in scarlet glittered on ivory couches, and many courses remained over from a great dinner of the evening before, in baskets piled up hard by. So when the town mouse has the rustic stretched out on purple covers, he himself bustles about in waiter-style, serving course after course, and doing all the duties of the home-bred slave, first tasting everything he serves. The other, lying at ease, enjoys his changed lot, and amid the good cheer is playing the happy guest, when of a sudden a terrible banging of the doors tumbled them both from their couches. In panic they run the length of the hall, and still more terror-stricken were they, as the lofty palace rang with the barking of Molossian hounds. Then No use the rustic: says have I for such a life, and so farewell: my wood and hole, secure from alarms, will solace me with homely vetch."