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your slaves may be properly attired and neat for waiting! Then, too, these risks besides—the canopy falling, as it did just now, or a numskull stumbling and breaking a dish! But one who entertains is like a general : mishaps oft reveal his genius, smooth going hides it.' hides it.” To this
To this replies Nasidienus : Heaven grant you every blessing you crave, so kind a man are you, so civil a guest ! and calls for his slippers. Then on each couch you might note the buzz of whispers in secret ears exchanged. HOR. No play would I have rather
seen ; but
pray tell me, what did
you find to laugh at next? FUN. While Vibidius is asking the servants whether the flagon also was broken, since cups were not brought him when called for, and while we were laughing at pretended jests, Balatro egging us on, back you come, Nasidienus, with altered brow, as if bent on mending misfortune by art. Then follow servants, bearing on a huge charger the limbs of a crane sprinkled with much salt and meal, and the liver of a white goose fattened on rich figs, and hares' limbs torn off, as being more dainty than if eaten with the loins. Then we saw blackbirds served with the breast burnt, and pigeons without the rumpsreal dainties, did not our host unfold their laws and properties. But off we ran, taking our revenge on him by tasting nothing at all, as though the things were blasted with Canidia's d breath, more deadly than African serpents.
• The remarkable accumulation of sibilants in l. 78 imitates the whispering.
• Nasidienus discourses upon the dishes with all the seriousness of a philosopher lecturing de rerum natura. d For Canidia see Sat. i. 8. 24.
The First Epistle, which serves as an introduction to the First Book, and is addressed to the poet's patron, Maecenas, professes to explain why Horace has given up the writing of lyric poetry. He is now too old for such folly, and his mind has turned to another field.
Why,” he asks, “ should you wish the gladiator, who has earned his discharge, to return to his former training-school ? A warning voice within bids me loose the old steed before he stumble at the end of his course.
And so I give up my verses with other toys, and turn all my thoughts to philosophy, following no special school but letting myself be borne along as the breeze may set, now behaving as a true Stoic, being all for action, and now relapsing into the passiveness of a Cyrenaic (1-19).
“With impatience do I await the day when I may devote myself to the serious problems of life ; meanwhile I must guide and comfort myself with what little knowledge I possess. A cure for all diseases of the soul may be found in the charms and spells of philosophy, if the patient will but submit to treatment (20-40).
The first step in virtue and wisdom is to eschew vice and folly. Men are anxious to avoid poverty and ought to be quite as eager to escape from evil desires, especially as the prize offered is so much greater (41-51).
True, the world takes a different view, but the children who sing 'You'll be king, if you do right' should teach us how much better than riches is the power to stand erect and free and to Aling defiance at Fortune (52-69).
“ If I were asked why I do not go along with the world and share its opinions, I should recall the fable of the fox declining the lion's invitation to enter his den, because the footprints point in only one direction. The man who once gives in to popular opinion becomes the victim of a hydra. Cutting off one head does no good. Men are capricious, and even the same man changes his views from hour to hour (70-93).
“ I am as bad as others, but though you are quick to notice some carelessness in my dress or appearance, you fail to observe my graver inconsistencies of life and thought (94-105).
“ In short, the Stoics are right : only the sage can be perfect, and even he may suffer from a cold !”