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Standing forth, and sublime in the midst of the dust of the circus,
45 Whom the sportula, buried in his coffers, has made his friends.
Then also he found matter of laughter at all
44. The trumpeters.] Or blowers of the horn, or cornet. These, with the tubicines, which latter seem included here under the general name of cornicines, always attended the camp, and, on the return of the conqueror, preceded the triumphal chariot, sounding their instru. ments.
- The preceding offices, &c.] Officium signifies, sometimes, a solemn attendance on some public occasion, as on marriages, funerals, triumphs, &c. (see sat. ii. 1. 132.) Here it denotes, that the pretor was attended, on this occasion, by a long train of his friends and de. pendents, who came to grace the solemnity, by marching in processi. on before his chariot. ,- 45. Snowy citizens, &c.] Many of the citizens, as was usual at triumphs, dressed in white robes, walking by the side of the horses, and holding the bridles.
46. The sportula.] The dole-basket. See sat. i. 1. 95.
---- Buried in his coffers.] The meaning of this passage seems to be, that these citizens appeared, and gave their attendance, not from any real value for him, but for what they could get.
He is supposed to have great wealth hidden, or buried, in his coffers, which this piece of attention was calculated to fetch out, in charity to his poor fellow-citizens that attended him on this occasion. Q. d. All this formed a scene which would have made Democritus shake his sides with laughing. Comp. I. 3, 34.
47. Then also he.] Democritus in his time. -47-8. At all mectings of men.] Every time he met people as he walked about--or, in every company he met with.
48. Whose prudence. ] Wisdom, discernment of right and wrong.
50. Of blockheads.] Verves literally signifies a wether-sheep, but was proverbially used for a stupid person : as we use the word sheep. ish, and sheepishness, in something like the same sense, to denote an awkward, stupid shyness.
The poet therefore means, a country of stupid fellows. Plaut. Pers. act II. has---Ajn' vero vervecum caput ?' • VOL. II.
Ridebat curas, necnon et gaudia vulgi,
Quosdam præcipitat subjecta potentia magnæ
50. Thick air.] Democritus was born at Abdera, a city of Thrace, where the air, which was foggy and thick, was supposed to make the juhabitants dull and stupid.
So Horace speaking of Alexander the Great, as a critic of little or no discernment in literature, says-Bæotum in crasso jurares aere natum. Epist. i. lib. ii. l. 241. By which, as by many other testimonies, we find that the inhabitants of Bæotia were stigmatized also in the same manner. Hence Beoticum ingenium was a phrase for dulness and stupidity..
52. Present a halter, &c.] Mandare laqueum alicui, was a phrase made use of to signify the utmost contempt and indifference, like send. ing a halter to a person, as if to bid him hang himself. · Democritus is here represented in this light, as continually laughing at the cares and joys of the general herd, and as himself treating with scorn the frowns of adverse fortune.
53. His middle nail.] i. e. His middle finger, and point at her in derision. To hold out the middle finger, the rest being contracted, and bent downwards, was an act of great contempt; like pointing at a person among us. This mark of contempt is very ancient. See Is, lviii. 9.
54. Therefore, &c.] It follows, therefore, from the example of Democritus, who was happy without the things which people so anxiously seek after, and petition the gods for, that they are superfluous and unnecessary. It likewise follows, that they are injurious, because they expose people to the fears and dangers of adverse fortune; whereas Democritus, who had them not, could set the frowns of for. tune at defiançe, possessing a mind which carried him above worldly. cares or fears.
55. Lawful.] Fas signifies that which is permitted, therefore lawful to do.
- To cover with wax, &c.] It was the manner of the an. cients, when they made their vows to the gods, to write them on paper, (or waxen tables,) seal them up, and, with wax, fasten them to the knees of the images of the gods, or to the thighs, that being supposed the seat of' mercy. When their desires were
He derided the cares, and also the joys of the vulgar,
granted, they took away the paper, tore it, and offered to the gods what they had promised. See sat. ix. I. 139. The gods permit us to ask, but the consequences of having our petitions answered are ; often fatal. Comp. 1. 7, 8.
56. Precipitates some.] viz Into ruin and destruction.
57. Catalogue, &c.] Pagina, in its proper and literal sense, signi. fies a page of a book, but here alludes to a plate, or table of brass, fixed before the statues of eminent persons, and containing all the titles and honours of him whose statue it was.
- Overwhelms.] With ruin, by exposing them to the envy and malice of those, in whose power and inclination it may be to disgrace and destroy them. 58 Statues descend.] Are pulled down.
Follow the rope.] With which the populace (set on work by a notion of doing what would please the emperor, who had dis. graced his prime minister Sejanus) first pulled down all the statues of Sejanus, of which there were many set up in Rome, and then dragged them with ropes about the streets.
59. The driven axe.] Impacta-driven--forced against. ---There : were some statues of Sejanus, by which he was represented on horseback ; others in a triumphal car, drawn by two horses (comp. sat. viii. 1. 3 ); all which were broken to pieces, the very chariots and horses demolished, and, if made of brass. carried to the fire and melted.
60. Undeserving horses, &c.] Their spite against Sejanus, who could alone deserve their indignation, carried them to such fury, as to demolish even the most innocent appendages to his state and dig. nity.
61. The fires roar, &c.] From the force of the bellows, in the forges prepared for melting the brass of the statues.
Stoves.] Or furnaces. 62. The head adored, &c.] Of Sejanus, once the darling of the people, who once worshipped him as a god. 63. Cracks.] By the violence of the flames.
-- Second face, &c. Sejanus was so favoured by Tiberius, tha: be raised him to the highest dignity next to himself.
Fiunt urceoli, pelves, sartago, patellæ.
64. Water-pats, &c.] The meanest household utensils are made. from the brass, which once conferred the highest honour on Sejanus, when representing him in the form of statues.
65. Laurels, &c.] Here the poet shews the malicious triumph of envy. It was customary to adorn the doors of their houses with crowns, or garlands of laurel, on any public occasion of joy—such was the fall of poor Sejanus to his enemies.'
66. A white bull.] The beasts sacrificed to the celestial gods were white (cretatum, here, lit. chalked, whited); those to the infernal gods were black. This offering to Jupiter, in his temple on the ca. pitol hill, must be supposed to have been by way of thanksgiving for the fall of Sejanus. A lively mark of the hatred and prejudice which the people had conceived against him, on his disgrace--as it. follows—
-- Dragg'd by a hook, &c.] To the Scalze Gemoniæ, and then thrown into the Tiber.
67. To be look'd upon.] As a spectacle of contempt to the whole city.
All rejoice.] At his disgrace and misery the people triumph. ;
" What lips," &c.] The poet here suppose a language to be : holden, which is very natural for a prejudiced, ignorant people to utter on such an occasion, as they saw him dragging along by the hands of the executioner, or perhaps as they viewed him lying dead on the bank of the Tiber, (comp. 1. 86.) before his body was thrown into it. •
What a blubber-lipp'd ill-looking fellow! say they.
69. What crime, &c.] What was charged against him (says one) that he should be brought to this. 70. Informer.] Delator-his accuser to the emperor.
- What discoveries, &c.] Of the fact, and its circumstances ? and on what evidence hath he (i. e. the informer) proved the crime alleged against him?
71. “ Nothing of these.”] Says the answerer-mi. c. there was no regular form of conviction.
- A great epistle, &c.] It, some how or other, came to the
Are made water-pots, basons, a frying-pan, platters,
This man :--but under what crime did he fall ? who was • The informer? from what discoveries? by what witness hath he « prov'd it?"
70 “ Nothing of these : a verbose and great epistle came from " Capreæ :"_" It is very well, I ask no more: but what did “ The mob of Remus :"-" It follows fortune, as always, and
• The condemn'd--The same people, if Nurscia had favour'd • The Tuscan if the secure old age of the prince had been
ears of Tiberius, that his favourite Sejanus had a design upon the empire, on which he wrote a long pompous epistle to the senate, who had Sejanus seized, and sentenced him to be punished, as is mentioned above : viz. that he should be put to death, then have an hook fixed in him, be dragged through the streets of Rome to the Scalæ Gemoniæ, and thrown at last into the Tiber.
Tiberius was at that time at Capreæ, an island on the coast of Naples, about twenty-five miles south of that city, indulging in all manner of excess and debauchery.
The Scalæ Gemoniæ was a place, appointed either for torturing criminals, or for exposing their bodies after execution. Some derive the name Gemoniæ from one Gemonius, who was first executed there ; others from gemere, to groan, becaise the place rang with the groans and complaints of those who were put to death. It was on the hill Aventinus, and there were several steps led up to it, whence the place was called Scalæ Gemoniæ. The dead bodies of those who died under the hands of the executioner were dragged thither by an iron hook, and after they had been some time exposed to public view, were thrown into the Tiber. See Ant. Univ. Hist. vol. xii. p. 214, note f.
73. Mob of Remus, &c.]... e. The people in general; sá called because descended from Romulus and Remus. How did they behave ? says the querist.
"It follows fortune," &c.] It is answered— The common people behaved as they always do, by changing with the fortune of the condemned, and treating them with the utmost spite.
74. Nurscia, &c.] Sejanus was a Tuscan, born at Volscinium, where the goddess Nurscia, the same as fortune, was worshipped.q. d. If fortune had favoured Sejanus.
75. Secure old age, &c.] If Tiberius had thought himself secure from any plot against him, and therefore had taken no measures to prevent the consequences of it.