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How comes it, Maecenas, that no man living is content with the lot which either his choice has given him, or chance has thrown in his way, but each has praise for those who follow other paths? O happy traders!" cries the soldier, as he feels the weight of years, his frame now shattered with hard service. On the other hand, when southern gales toss the ship, the trader cries: "A soldier's life is better. Do you ask why? There is the battle clash, and in a moment of time comes speedy death or joyous victory." One learned in law and statutes has praise for the farmer, when towards cockcrow a client comes,kocking at his door." The man yender, who has given surety and is dragged into town from the country cries that they only are happy who live in town. The other instances of this kind -so many are they could tire out the chatterbox Fabius. To be brief with you, hear the conclusion to which I am coming. If some god were to say: contrasted a countryman, who is a defendant in some case and must, therefore, come to the city against his will.
Horace imagines a dramatic scene where a god appears ex machina. Cf. Sat. ii. 7. 24; Ars Poetica, 191.
"iam faciam, quod voltis: eris tu, qui modo miles, mercator; tu, consultus modo, rusticus; hinc vos, vos hinc mutatis discedite partibus: eia! quid statis?"—nolint.1 atqui licet esse beatis. quid causae est, merito quin illis Iuppiter ambas 20 iratus buccas inflet neque se fore posthac tam facilem dicat, votis ut praebeat aurem ? Praeterea, ne sic, ut qui iocularia, ridens2 percurram quamquam ridentem dicere verum quid vetat? ut pueris olim dant crustula blandi doctores, elementa velint ut discere prima : sed tamen amoto quaeramus seria ludo : ille gravem duro terram qui vertit aratro, perfidus hic caupo, miles nautaeque per omne audaces mare qui currunt, hac mente laborem sese ferre, senes ut in otia tuta recedant, aiunt, cum sibi sint congesta cibaria: sicut parvola, nam exemplo est, magni formica laboris ore trahit quodcumque potest atque addit acervo quem struit, haud ignara ac non incauta futuri. quae, simul inversum contristat Aquarius annum, non usquam prorepit et illis utitur ante quaesitis sapiens,3 cum te neque fervidus aestus demoveat lucro neque hiems, ign. mare, ferrum, nil obstet tibi, dum ne sit te ditior alter.
Quid iuvat immensum te argenti pondus et auri
furtim defossa timidum deponere terra?
quod si comminuas, vilem redigatur ad assem.'.
1 nolent B.
2 ll. 22, 23 with order inverted BK.
3 sapiens V, II: patiens I.
a The sun enters the sign of Aquarius in January, chilliest month of a Roman winter, when the year's cy begins anew.
"Here I am! I will grant your prayers forthwith. You, who were but now a soldier, shall be a trader; you, but now a lawyer, shall be a farmer. Change parts; away with you-and with you! Well! Why standing still?" They would refuse. And yet
'tis in their power to be happy. What reason is there why Jove should not, quite properly, puff out both cheeks at them in anger, and say that never again will he be so easy-going as to lend ear to their prayers?
23 Furthermore, not to skim over the subject with a laugh like a writer of witticisms—and yet what is to prevent one from telling truth as he laughs, even as teachers sometimes give cookies to children to coax them into learning their A B C ?—still, putting jesting aside, let us turn to serious thoughts: yon farmer, who with tough plough turns up the heavy soil, our rascally host here, the soldier, the sailors who boldly scour every sea, all say that they bear toil with this in view, that when old they may retire into secure ease, once they have piled up their provisions; even as the tiny, hard-working ant (for she is their model) drags all she can with her mouth, and adds it to the heap she is building, because she is not unaware and not heedless of the morrow. Yet she, soon as Aquarius saddens the upturned year," stirs out no more but uses the store she gathered beforehand, wise creature that she is; while as for you, neither burning heat, nor winter, fire, sea, sword, can turn you aside from gain--nothing stops you, until no second man be richer than yourself.
41 What good to you is a vast weight of silver and gold, if in terror you stealthily bury it in a hole in the ground? But if one splits it up, it would
at ni id fit, quid habet pulchri constructus acervus ? milia frumenti tua triverit area centum,
non tuus hoc capiet venter plus ac1 meus; ut si reticulum panis venalis inter onusto
forte vehas umero, nihilo plus accipias quam qui nil portarit.
Vel dic, quid referat intra
naturae finis viventi, iugera centum an
mille aret?" at suave est ex magno tollere acervo." dum ex parvo nobis tantundem haurire relinquas, cur tua plus laudes cumeris granaria nostris ?
ut tibi si sit opus liquidi non amplius urna
vel cyatho, et dicas magno de flumine mallem2 55 quam ex hoc fonticulo tantundem sumere." plenior ut si quos delectet copia iusto, cum ripa simul avolsos ferat Aufidus acer. at qui tantuli eget, quanto est opus, is neque limo turbatam haurit aquam, neque vitam amittit in undis.
At3 bona pars hominum decepta cupidine falso 61 "nil satis est" inquit, “quia tanti quantum habeas sis."
quid facias illi? iubeas miserum esse, libenter
2 malle B: malim, II, Bentley, Vollmer.
a Here and below, the miser speaks for himself.
The picture is that of a gang of slaves driven to the market for sale. One of them carries the provisions for all.
The Aufidus, a stream in Horace's native Apulia, at times became a raging torrent, undermining its banks.
dwindle to a paltry penny." Yet if that is not done, what beauty has the piled-up heap? Suppose your threshing-floor has threshed out a hundred thousand bushels of grain; your stomach will not on that account hold more than mine: 'tis as if in the slave-gang you by chance should carry the heavy bread-bag on your shoulder, yet you would receive no more than the slave who carries nothing.b
49 Or, tell me, what odds does it make to the man who lives within Nature's bounds, whether he ploughs a hundred acres or a thousand? 'But what a pleasure to take from a large heap!" So long as you let us take just as much from our little one, why praise your granaries above our bins ? It is as if you needed no more than a jug or a cup of water, and were to say, "I'd rather have taken the quantity from a broad river than from this tiny brook.' So it comes about that when any find pleasure in undue abundance, raging Aufidus sweeps them away, bank and all; while the man who craves only so much as he needs, neither draws water thick with mud, nor loses his life in the flood.c
61 But a good many people, misled by blind desire, say, You cannot have enough for you get your rating from what you have." What can you do to a man who talks thus ? Bid him be miserable, since that is his whim. He is like a rich miser in
Athens who, they say, used thus to scorn the people's talk: "The people hiss me, but at home I clap my hands for myself, once I gaze on the moneys in my chest."
68 Tantalus, thirsty soul, catches at the streams that fly from his lips-why laugh? Change but