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Nec manus auriculas imitata est mobilis albas ;
• Quis populi sermo est ?-Quis enim, nisi carmina molli
Ecce, modo, heroas sensus afferre videmus
jeers, which our nobles receive behind their backs, from those who Aatter them to their faces.
58. Whom no stork pecks, &c.] There were three methods of scoff and ridicule : one was holding out the finger, and crooking it a little to imitate the bill of storks; they held it towards him who was the object of derision, moving it backwards and forwards, like the pecking of the stork. See Ainsw.
59. The moveable hand, &c.] Another mode of derision was, put. ting the thumbs up to the temples, and moving them in such manner as to imitate asses' ears, which, in the inside, are usually white.
60. Nor so much of the tongue, &C.] A third method was to loll out the tongue, like a dog when thirsty.
Apulia was the hottest part of Italy, of course the dogs most thirsty, and most apt to loll out their tongues the farthest.
None of all this could happen to Janus without his seeing it.
61. O patrician blood, &c.] Ye sons of senators, ye nobles of Rome, whose fortune it is to be born without eyes at the back of your heads, and who therefore can't be apprized of what passes be. hind your backs.
62. Prevent flouts, &c.] By avoiding all occasions of them ; by not writing verses, for which your flatterers will commend you to your face, and laugh at you behind your backs. * 63. What is the speech, &c.] Persius here seems to go back to the de me, l. 55; all between which, and this l. 63, is to be under. stood as a parenthesis, very properly introduced in the course of the subject.
Now, says the great man to his flatterer, after having treated him with a good dinner (l. 53.), what does the world say of me and my writings ?
What forsooth.] i. e. What should they say, what can they say, unless to commend ?
64. Now at last, &c.] That after all the pains you have taken, you have at last produced a charming work--the verses flow in soft and gentle numbers.
-- Across the polish, &c.] Your verses are so highly finished, that they will stand the test of the severest and nicest critics.
Metaph. taken from polishers of marble, who run their nail over
Nor has the moveable hand imitated white ears,
: [joining Now at last flow with soft measure, so that, across the polish, the May pour forth severe nails. He knows how to extend a verse, 65 Not otherwise than if he should direct the rubric with one eye ; Whether the work is on manners, on luxury, or the dinners of kings, The Muse gives our poet to say great things.
Behold now we see those bring heroic thoughts,
the surface, in order to try if there be any unevenness; and if the nail passes freely, without any stop or hindrance whatsoever, even over where there are joinings, then the work is completely finished. (Comp. Hor. de Art. Poet. l. 294.) The surface being perfectly smooth, was said effundere unguem, it passing as smoothly as water poured forth over it.
65. How to extend a verse.] This period is also metaphorical, and ailudes to the practise of carpenters and others, who work by line and rule, and who, when they would draw a strait line, shut one eye, the better to confine the visual rays to a single point. So, says the flatterer, this poet of ours draws forth his verses to their proper length, and makes them as exact as if he worked by line and rule.
66. The rubric.] Rubrica, a sort of ruddle, or red chalk, with which carpenters draw their lines on their work.
67. On manners.] Whatever the subject may bewhether he writes comedy, and ridicules tbe humours of the times.
- On luxury.] Or if he write satire, and lash the luxury of the great.
- Or the dinners of kings.] Or writes tragedy, and chooses for his subject the sad feasts of tyrants. Perhaps Persius here alludes to the story of Thyestes, the son of Pelops, and brother of Atreus, with whose wife he had committed adultery; to revenge which, Atreus dressed the child born of her, and served him up to his brother at his own table. On this Seneca wrote a tragedy.
68. The Muse gives our poet, &c.] In short, be what may the subject, a Muse is ever at hand, to inspire our poet with the most sublime and lofty poetry.
Such is the account which the great man receives of himself from his fatterer, as an answer to his question, l. 63, “What does the 66 world say 'of me?"
69. Behold now we see, &c.] Our poet proceeds to satirize other writers of his time, who allured with the hopes of being flattered, attempted the sublime heights of epic writing, though utterly unfit for the undertaking.
Heroic thoughts, &c.] Heroas sensus.--Sensus siguifies, not only sense, meaning, understanding, but also thought.
Nugari solitos Græce ; nec ponere lucum
Est nunc, Brissei quem venosus liber Accî,
Heroas, from herous-a-um, heroic, stands here for heroos, masc.
i. e. heroicos. Heroi sensus is to be understood of sublime matters for poetry, such as heroic or epic subjects.
Now-a-days, saith Persius, we see certain writers attempting and bringing out heroic poems, who used to be writing trifles in Greek. such as little epigrams, or the like. Some copics, instead of videmus, read docemus, as if the poet attacked schoolmasters, and other instructor3 of children, for teaching boys to write in heroics, at a time when they are not fit for it : but as it is not the purpose of these pa. pers to enter into controversy with editors and commentators, I take videmus, as it stands in the Delphin edition, Farnaby, and Mar. shall.
70. Nor to describe a grove, &c.] They are so unskilled, and such bad artists even in the lighter style of composition, that they know not how to describe, as they ought, the most trite and common subjects, such as a grove, fields, &c. Pono-ere, literally siguifics to put or place : but it also signifies to paint, draw, or portray, and so to describe. See Hor. lib. iv. ode viii, 1. 8.
Hic saxo, liquidis ille coloribus
Soleres nunc hominem ponere, nunc deum. 71. Nor to praise a fertile country.] So as to set forth its beauties. .
Where are baskets, &c.] Instead of describing the great and · leading features of a fine plentiful country, they dwell upon the most trivial circumstances : '
His lay Recounts its chimnjes, panniers, hogs, and hay. BREWSTER. 72. Feasts of Pales, &c.] Pales was the goddess of shepherds, who kept feasts in honour of her, in order to procure the safe pare turition of their cattle. The reason of the epithet fumosa is, that during the feast of Pales the rustics lighted fires with hay, straw, or stubble, over which they leaped, by way of purifying themselves. These feasts of Pales were sure to be introduced by these jejune poets.
73. From whence Remus.] Another circumstance which they in. troduce, is a description of the birth-place of Remus and Romulus.
- Thou, o Quintius, &c.] Cincinnatus, who was called from the plough to be made dictator of Rome-he too ja introduced ou the occasion.
Who used to trifle in Greek, nor to describe a grove
70 Skilful ; nor to praise a fertile country, where are baskets, . And a fire-hearth, and swine, and the feasts of Pales smoky with
hay : From whence Remus, and thou, O Quintius, wearing coulters in a
furrow, Whom thy trembling wife clothed dictator before the oxen, And thy ploughs the lictor carried home. Well done, () poet ! 75
There is now, whom the veiny book of Brisæan Accius; There are those whom both Pacuvius, and rugged Antiopa Might detain, having propp'd her mournful heart with sorrows.
74. Thy trembling wife, &c.] They tell us, how his wife Racilia was frightened at the sight of the messengers from Rome, and how she helped him on with his dictator's robe, as he stood by the oxen which were in the plough and how one of the Roman officers, who had attended the embassy to call him to the dictatorship, carried his plough home upon his shoulders.
75. Well done, O poet!] Iron. Finely done, to be sure, to introduce such weighty matters as these into thy poem! thou art in a fair way to gain the highest applause !
Persius, in this passage, glances at some poetaster of his time, who, in a poem on the pleasures of a country life, had been very particu. lar and tedious upon the circumstances here recited. See Casaubon.
76. There is now, &c.] The poet now proceeds to censure those who affected antiquated and obsolete words and phrases, and who professed to admire the style of antiquated authors.
--The veiny book.] Venosus--metaph. from old men, whose veins stand out and look turgid, owing to the shrinking of the flesh, through old age. Venosus Liber hence signifies a book of some old and antiquated author--a very old book.
Brisæan Accius.] Brisas was a town in Thrace, where Bacchus was worshipped with all the mad rites used at his feasts ; hence ke was called Brisæus. Persius gives this name to Accius, on account of the wild and strange bombast which was in his writings.
77. Pacuvius.] An ancient tragic poet of Brundusium, who wrote the tragedy of Antiopa, the wife of Lycus, king of Thebes, who was repudiated by her husband, on account of her intrigue with Jupiter. The poet says, verrucosa Antiopa, to express the roughness and ruggedness of the style in which this tragedy was written.-Verrucosus, full of warts, tumps, or hillocks--so uneven, rugged. 78. Might detain.] Moretur--i.e. might detain their attention.
Having propr’d, E&c.] This strange fustian expression is probably to be found in the tragedy. The poet appears to cite it as a sample of the style in which the play is written.
There are those says Persius, who, now-a-days can spend their time in reading these authors.
Hos pueris monitus, patres infundere lippos
Fur es, ait Pedio : Pedius quid ? crimina rasis
79. Blear-ey'd fathers, &c.] In old men the eyes are apt to be weak, moist, and to distil corrosive matter. When you see such advising their children to study the old barbarous Latin poets, and to be fond of obsolete words
80. Do you seek, &c.] Are you at a loss to know whence this jar. gon, of obsolete and modern words, is heard in our common speech?
Sartago literally signifies a frying-pan; and the poet, perhaps, calls the mixture or jargon of old words and new, sartago loquendi, in allusion to the mixture of ingredients, of which they made their fried cakes, as bran, fat, honey, seeds, cheese, and the like.
Some think that he alludes to the crackling, bouncing, and hissing noise of the frying-pan, with these ingredients in it, over the fire ; this seems to relate to the manner of utterance, more than to what was uttered. See Aisnw. Sartago, No. 2.
81. Whence that disgrace.] That style of writing, and of speak. ing, so disgraceful to the purity and smoothness of the Latin language.
82. Smooth Trossulus, &c.] The Roman knights were called Trossuli, from Trossulus, a city of Tuscany, which they took without the assistance of any infantry. Here the poet joins it with the epithet lævis, soft, effeminate ; therefore Trossulus, here, appears to signify a beau, a coxcomb, a petit-maitre. See 'Ainsw. Trossulus; and Casaubon in loc. . Thro' the benches. 7 Subsellia- the seats at the theatre, or at the public recitals of poetry, and other compositions. These fine gentlemen were so pleased with the introduction of obsolete words and phrases, that they could hardly keep their places; they spread a general applause through all the benches where they sat, and leap. ed up with ecstacy in their seats, charmed with such a poet.
83. Does it nothing shame you, &c.] Persius now proceeds to censure the vanity of the orators, who paid more regard to the commendatione of their auditories, than to the issue of the most important causes, even where life or fame was at stake.
Are you not ashamed, says Persius, ought you not to blush at your vanity and folly, that, if accused of some capital crime,* instead of using plain arguments to defend your life from the danger which awaits it, and to make that your end and aim, you are endeavouring so to speak, as to catch the applause of your judges, and of the auditory,