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Principis, hâc ipsâ Sejanum diceret horã
76. Oppress’d.] By death, from the hands of Sejanus.—q.d. If the plot of Sejanus had succeeded, and the emperor dethroned.
Would, &c.] That very populace who now treat the poor fallen Sejanus so ill, would have made him emperor, and have changed his name to the imperial title of Augustus. .
This very hour.] Instead of his being put to death, dragged . by the hook, and insulted by the populace, they would, at that very hour, have been heaping the highest honours upon him. So preca. rious, fluctuating, and uncertain, is the favour of the multitude !
77. We sell, &c.] The poorer sort of plebeians used to sell their : votes to the candidates for public offices, before Julius Cæsar took from them the right of electing their magistrates. Since that 78. It.] The populace.
Done with cares. Effudit, literally, has poured out, as ar person empties a vessel by pouring out the liquor. The poet means, · that since the right of electing their magistrates was taken from them, and they could no longer sell their votes, they had parted with all their cares about the state." - For it.] That same populace.
- Which once gave, &c.] By their having the right of election, conferred public offices on whom they chose.
79. Authority.] Power, or government : this alludes to the great offices in the state, which were once elective by the people.
Fasces. Consuls and pretors, who had the fasces carried be. fore them.
Legions.] Military prefectures.
All things.] All elective offices.
80. Only wishes, &c.] Now they care for nothing else, at least with any anxiety, but for bread to be distributed to them as usual, by the command of the emperor, to satisfy their hunger ; and the games in the circus to divert them : of these last the populace were very fond. See sat. xi. 53.
81." I hear many,” &c.] Here begins a fresh discourse on the occasion and circumstances of the time.
6 Oppressed, would, in this very hour, have called Sejanus,
80 • Bread and the Cercenses." "I hear many are about to perish”• No doubt : the furnace is large: my friend Brutidius « Met me, a little pale, at the altar of Mars"« How I fear lest Ajax conquer'd should exact punishment, " As defended badly!—let us run headlong, and, while he 85 “ Lies on the bank, trample on the enemy of Cæsar.
I hear, says one of the standers by, that Sejanus is not the only one who is to suffer; a good many more will be cut off, as well as he, about this plot.-No doubt, says the other
82. The furnace is large.] And made to hold more statues for melting than those of Sejanus. See l. 61.
82—3. Brutidius met me.] This was a rhetorician and famous his. torian, a great friend of Sejanus, and therefore was horridly frightened, lest it should be his turn next to be apprehended and put to death, as concerned in the conspiracy
84. Lest Ajax conquer'd, &c.] Alluding to the story of Ajax, who, being overcome in his dispute with Ulysses about the armour of Achilles, (see Ovid, Met. lib. xiii.) went mad, fell upon man and beast, and afterwards destroyed himself.
These seem to be the words of Brutidius, expressing his fears of being suspected to have been concerned in the conspiracy with Seja. nus; and, in order to wipe off all imputation of the kind, not only from himself, but from the person he is speaking to, he advises, that no time should be lost, but that they should hasten to the place where the corpse of Sejanus was exposed, and do some act which might be construed into an abhorrence of Sejanus, and consequently into a zeal for the honour and service of the emperor.
" How I fear,” says Brutidius, looking aghast, “ lest the emperor, 65 thinking his cause not cordially espoused, and that he was badly " defended, should wreak his vengeance on such as he suspects to “ have been too remiss, and, like the furious Ajax, when overcome 65-like another victus Ajax-destroy all that he takes to be his “ enemies, as Ajax destroyed the sheep and oxen, when he ran mad « on his defeat, taking them for the Grecians on whom he vowed « revenge.” Other ex positions are given to this place, but I think this suits best with l. 82, 3. · 85. Let us run, &c.] As precipitately, as fast as we can-let us lose no time to avoid the emperor's suspicion of our favouring Seja. tius, and wreaking his vengeance upon us.
- While he.] Sejanus . e. his corpse. · 86. Lics on the bank.) i, e. Exposed on the bank, before it is thrown into the river Tiber.
Sed videant servi, ne quis neget, et pavidum in jus
86. Trample, &c.] Set our feet upon his corpse, to shew.our indignation against this supposed enemy of Tiberius. .
87. Let the slaves see, &c.] That they may be witnesses for their masters, in case these should be accused of not having done it, or of having shewn the least respect to Sejanus, and so be brought under the displeasure of the emperor, and hurried to judgment.
88. “ Shackled neck."'? Those who were dragged to punishment, had a chain or halter fastened about the neck : this was the condition of some when brought to trial; so, among us, felons, and others accused of capital offences, are usually brought to their trial with gyves or fetters upon their legs. · 88-9. The discourses, &c.] Thus do the people talk about poor Sejanus, the remembrance of his greatness being all passed and gone, and his shameful sufferings looked upon with the most ignominious contempt. '
90. Saluted, &c.] You, who think happiness to consist in the favour of the prince, in great power, and high preferment, what think you ?-do you now wish to occupy the place which Sejanus once held to have as much respect paid you to accumulate as many riches to have as many preferments and places of honour in your gift?
91. Chief chairs, &c.] Summas curules. The poet speaks in the plural number, as each of the great officers of Rome had a chair of state, made of ivory, carved, and placed in a chariot-curru-in which they were wont to be carried to the senate ; sò the pretor had his sella curulis, in which he was carried to the forum, and there sat in judgment. See before, I. 35, n. No. 4. When an ædile was a person of senatorial dignity, he was called curulis, from the curule chair in which he was carried.
Summas curules, here, is used in a metonymical sense, like curule ebur, Hor. lib. i. epist. vi. I. 53, 4. to denote the chief offices in the state, which had all been in the disposal of the once-prosperous Sejanus. See the last n. ad fin.
92. Guardian, 85c.] Who, in the absence of Tiberius, at his pa
6. But let the slaves see, lest any should deny it, and drag into
lace on the rock at Capreæ, (see note on 1. 71, 2, ad fin.) amidst a band of astrologers from Chaldæa, (who amused the prince with their pretended knowledge of the stars, and their goverment of human affairs,) governed all his affairs of state, and managed them, as a tu. tor or guardian manages the affairs of a youth under age. Thus high was Sejanus in the opinion and confidence of Tiberius—but do you envy him?
94. Javelins.] Pila were a kind of javelins with which the Ro. man foot were armed: therefore the poet is here to be understood as saying to the person with whom he is supposed to discourse “ You certainly wish to be an officer, and to have soldiers under 6 your command.”
- Cohorts. ] A cohort was a tenth part of a legion.
95. Domestic tents, &c.] The castra domestica were composed of horse, who were the body guards of the prince or pretor-hence called also prætoriani. These seem to have been something like our life-guards.
i Why should you not,” &c.] What harm, say you, is there in such a desire ? " I dont desire this for the sake of hurting or killsing any body.”Aye, that may be--but still, to know that such a thing may be in your power, upon occasion, gives you no small idea of self-importance.”
97. What renowned, &c.] But, to consider coolly of the matter, what is there so valuable in dignity and prosperity, since, amid the enjoyment of them, they are attended with an equal measure of uneasiness, and when a fatal reverse, even in the securest and happiest moments, may be impending ? the evil, therefore, may be said, at least, to counterbalance the good.
99. Of this man, &c.] Of Sejanus.--Had you rather be invested with his dignity? 100. The power.] The magistrate of some little town, like Fi.
Et de mensurâ jus dicere, vasa minora
Quid Cras3os, quid Pompeios evertit, et illum,
Eloquium ac famam Demosthenis, aut Ciceronis
denæ, or Gabii. See sat. vi. l. 56, 7. Called in Italy-Podestà. Something like what we should call-a country justice.
102. A ragged Ædile.] Pannosus signifies, patched or ragged. The Ædile, in the burghs of Italy, was an officer who had juris. diction over weights and measures, and if these were bad, he had au. thority to break them. He was an officer of low rank, and though, like all magistrates, he wore a gown, yet this having been delivered down from his predecessors, was old and ragged, very unlike the fine robe of Sejanus, and other chief magistrates at Rome. See PERS. sat. i. l. 130, and note.
Empity Ulubræ.] A small town of Campania, in Italy, very thinly inhabited. Comp. sat. iii. l. 2.
103. Therefore, &c.] In this, and the four following lines, the poet very finely applies what he has said, on the subject of Sejanus, to the main argument of this Satire ; viz. that mortals are too short. sighted to see, and too ignorant to know, what is best for them, and therefore those things which are most coveted, often prove the most destructive ; and the higher we rise in the gratification of our wishes, the higher may we be raising the precipice from which we may fall.
107. Enforced ruin] Impulsæ ruinæ-into which he was driven, as it were, by the envy and malice of those enemies, which his greatness, power, and prosperity had created. Impulsæ--metaph. alluding to the violence with which a person is thrown, or pushed, from an high precipice. Immane--dreadful-immense--hugegreat.
108. The Crassi.7 M. Crassus making war upon the Parthians for the sake of plunder, Surena, general of the enemy, slew him, and cut off his head and his hand, which he carried into Armenia to his master.
The Pompeys.] Pompey the Great, being routed at the bat. tie of Pharsalia, Aed into Egypt, where he was perfidiously slain.