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Came on their tongues P. Whence that disgrace, in which
from Your grey head, but you must wish to hear this lukewarm— Decentlv? Thou art a thief (says one to Pedius)—What Pedius 2 his crimes 85 He weighs in polished antitheses: to have laid down learned figures He is praised: this is fine!—this is fine F O Romulus, do you wag the tail P
For if a shipwreck'd mariner sings, could he move me, and a
shooti I bring forth 2 do you sing, when yourself painted on a broken plank
You carry from your shoulder P A true (misfortune), not pre
ared by night,
He shall deplore, who would bend me by his complaint.
great and virtuous ancestor Romulus, as to fawn and flatter on such an occasion, and be like a dog that wags his tail when he would curry favour? Ceved signifies to wag, or move the tail, as dogs do when they fawn upon one. Hence, metaph. it is used to express fawning and flattery. Persius uses the word Romule, as Ju v. sat. iii. 1. 67, uses Quirine. See the note there. 88. If a shipwreck'd mariner sings, &c.] If a poor sailor, that had been cast away, should meet me in the street, and ask an alms, at the same time appearing very jolly and merry, would this be the way io move my compassion; to make me pull some money out of my pocket and give it him 89. Do you sing, &c.] It was the custom for persons that had been shipwrecked, and had escaped with their lives, to have themselves, together with the scene of their misfortune and danger, painted on a board, which they hung by a string from their shoulders upon their breast, that the P.'. might be moved with compassion at the sight, and relieve them with alms. These tables were afterwards hung up in the temples, and dedicated to some god, as Neptune, Juno, &c. hence they were called votivae tabulae. See Hon. lib. i. ode v. ad fin. Juv. sat. xii. 1. 27.
The poet here allegorizes the case of Pedius. Do you sing, when you are carrying your miserable self painted on a board, and represented as suffering the calamity of shipwreck, in order to move compassion.—i.e. Are you studying and making fine flourishing speeches, filled with affected tropes and figures, at a time when you are accused of such a crime as theft, and are standing in the dangerous situation of an arraigned robber! Is this the way to move com-. passion towards you? 90. A true, &c.] There wants pluratum, dolorem, or some such word, after verum—plorare verum dolorem, like vivere vitam, for instance. —Not prepared by night.] Not conned, studied, or invented beforehand; over night, as we say. 91. Bend me by his complaint..] i. e. Make me bow or yield to the feelings of commiseration for his sufferings. The poet means, that the complainant who would move his pity must speak the true and native language of real grief from the heart, not accost him with an artful studied speech, as if "
he had conned it over beforehand.
—Si vis me flère, dolendum est
M. Sed numeris decorest, et junctura addita crudis. P. Claudere sic versum didicit: Berecynthius Attin,
Et qui coeruleum dirimebat Nerea delphin :
M. Arma virum, nonne hoc spumosum, et cortice pinguif P. Ut ramale vetus praegrandi subere coctum.
M. Quidnam igitur tenerum, et laxá cervice legendum ? P. “Torva Mimalloneis implerunt cornua bombis;
“Et raptum vitulo caput ablatura superbo
“Bassaris; et lyncem Maenas flexura corymbis,
applause of his hearers, by his figurative .. uence and flowery language, when *: trial, could never excite pity for his situation. 92. But there is beauty, &c.] Well, but however the flights which you have been mentioning, says the poetaster, and the studied and flowery style, may be suitable in declamation, especially on such occasions, yet surely they have a peculiar beauty in our verses, which would be quite raw, and appear crude and undigested without them. —And composition added, &c.] Junctura is literally a coupling, or joining together; hence a composition, or joining words in a particular form, as in verse. Notum si callida verbum Reddiderit junctura novum. HoR. de Art. Poet. l. 47, 8. The poetaster would fain contend for the great improvement made in writing
verses by the modern studied composition, and the introduction of figurative writing.
93. Thus hath he learnt to conclude a verse.] The didicit here, without a nominative case, is rather abrupt and obscure, but the poet affects to be so; he does not venture to name the person meant, though his quoting some verses of Nero, as instances of the great improvements which had been made in the composition of verse, plainly shews his design, which was to ridicule the emperor, whose affected, jingling, and turgid style, was highly applauded by his flatterers.
—“Berecynthian Attin.”] This and the next verse rhyme in the original.
94. “And the dolphin,” &c.] Alluding to the story of Arion, who was carried safe to land, when thrown overboard, on
the back of a dolphin. Nereus, a sea god, is here affectedly put for the sea itself. 95. “Thus we removed,” &c.] There is a jingle in this verse between the longo in the middle, and Apennino at the end. The writer of these three A. lines changes Atys or Attis into ttin, to make it rhyme with Delphin. Atys, or Attis, the subject of this poem, was a handsome youth of Phrygia, beloved by Cybele, who from Berecynthus, a mountain of Asia Minor, where she was worshipped, was called Berecynthia: hence the writer of the poem affects to call Atys Berecynthius. —“Thus we remoted a rib,” &c.] The end of this verse is spondaic, which Nero much affected in his heroics. He calls Hannibal's opening a way for his army over the Alps, removing a rib from the Apennine mountains—a strange, affected phrase ! 96. “Arms and the man,” &c.] Arma virumque—AEn. i. 1.1. Well, replies the oetaster, if you find fault with what you ave quoted, 1 suppose you will find fault with Virgil's arma virumque cano, and perhaps with his whole AEneid, as frothy, turgid, and, like a tree with a
othick bark, appearing great, but having
little of value within. 97. As an old bough, &c.] Ramale is a dead bough cut from a tree. Persius answers, Yes, Virgil is like an old bough with a thick bark; but then we must understand, such a bough as has been cut from the tree, and whose bark has been dried for many years by the sun, so that all its gross particles are exhaled and gone, and nothing but what is solid remains. Suber signifies the cork-tree, numbers.
M. But there is beauty and composition added to crude
P. Thus hath he learnt to conclude a verse: “Berecynthian
“And the dolphin which divided caerulean Nereus—
“Thus we removed a rib from the long Apennine.”
M. “Arms and the man”—is not this frothy, and with a
P. As an old bough dried with a very large bark.
P. “They fill'd their fierce horns with Mimallonean blasts,
“And Bassaris, about to take away the head snatched from
Maenas, about to guide a lynx with ivy,
“Redoubles Evion: the reparable echo sounds to it.”
which is remarkable for its thick bark– therefore put here for the bark; syn.thus cortex, the bark, is sometimes put for the tree, which is remarkably light. Hon. ode ix. lib. iii. 1. 22. 98. What then is tender, &c.] Well, says the opponent to Persius, let us have done with heroics, and tell me what you allow to be good of the tender ...] of writing. —With a loose neck.] With a head reclined, in a languishing, soft, and tender manner. This is humourously put in opposition to the attitudes made use of in reading the bombast and fustian heroics of these poetasters, who stood with the neck stretched as high as they could, and straining their throats, to give force and loudness to their utterance. 99. “They fill'd their fierce horns,” &c.] Giving a fierce and warlike sound. Some render torva here writhed, twisted, or crooked, quasi torta. Persius deriding the querist, quotes four more lines, which are supposed to have been written by Nero, and which exhibit aspecimen of one of the most absurd rhapsodies that ever was penned. —"Mimallonean blusts.”] The Mimallones were priestesses of Bacchus; they were so called from Mimas, a mountain of Ionia, sacred to Bacchus. Bombus signifies a hoarse sound or blast, as of a trumpet or horn. 100. “Bassaris.”] Agave, or any other of the priestesses; called Bassaris, from Bassarus, a name of Bacchus.
Having given the alarm, Agave and the rest of the Mimallones cut off the head of Pentheus (the son of Agave and Echion), and tore him to pieces, because he would drink no wine, and slighted the feasts of Bacchus. Pentheus is thought to be meant here by the superbo witulo.
101. “Manas.”] These priestesses of Bacchus were also called Maenades from Gr. Azawyeréau, insanire). See uv. sat. vi. l. 316.
—“To guide a lynr.”] These were beasts of the leopard or tyger kind, and represented as ão. the chariot of Bacchus. The word flexura here, like flectere, VIRG. G. ii. 357, means to guide.—So again, AEn. i. 156. flectit equos—“he guides or manages his “ horses.” Thus the priestesses of Bacchus might be said flectere, to guide or manage lynxes with bands or rods of ivy. This was sacred to Bacchus, because, returning conqueror from India, he was crowned with ivy.
102. “Redoubles Evion.”] Ingemino signifies to redouble—to repeat often, Evios, or Evius, a name of Bacchus, on which the Bacchantes used to call (Evel, Gr.) till they wrought themselves into a fury like madness. See Juv. sat. vii. l. 62, and note.
—“The reparable echo,” &c.]. So called from repeating, and so repairing . sounds, which would otherwise be OSt.
Haec fierent, si testiculi vena ulla paterni Viveret in nobis P Summâ delumbe salivá
Hoc natat in labris; et in udo est Maenas et Attin;
Nec pluteum caedit, nec demorsos sapit ungues.
Sonathic de nare canina
Litera—P. Per me, equidem, sint omnia protinus alba; 110
Euge, omnes, omnes bene mirae eritis res.
Hoc juvat ; hic, inquis, veto quisquam faxit oletum ;
103. Would these be made.] i. e. Would such verses as these be made, but more especially would they be commended. —If any vein, &c.] If there were the least trace of the manly wisdom of our ancestors among us? 104. This feeble stuff..] Delumbis— weak, feeble, broken-backed, as it were. 105. Swims in the lips.] The poet, by this phrase, seems to mean, that the flatterers of Nero had these lines always at their tongue's end, (as we say,) and were spitting them out, i.e. repeating and quoting them continually. —And in the wet.] In udo esse, and in summa saliva natare, seem to imply the same thing; viz. that these poems of Atys and Maenas were always in people's mouths, mixed with their spittle, as it were. 106. Nor does he beat his desk, &c.] The penman of such verses as these is at very little pains about them. . He knows nothing of those difficulties, which, at times, pains-taking poets are under, so as to make them smite the desk which they write upon, and gnaw their nails to the quick, with vexation. See Hon. lib. ii. sat. iii. l. 7, 8. Culpantur frustra calami, frustraque laborat Iratis natus paries Dis atque poetis. And again, lib. i. sat. x. l. 70, 1. —In versu faciendo Sarpe caput scaberet, vivos et roderet tungottes. 107. Where's the need, &c.] We are to recollect, that this Satire opens with
Secuit Lucilius urbem,
a dialogue between Persius and his friend: that the latter persuades Persius against publishing; that Persius says, he is naturally of a satirical turn of mind, and does not know how to refrain, (1.12.) and then launches forth into the severest censure on the writers of his day. His friend perceiving that what he first said .." publishing would not have its effect, still farther dissuades him, by hinting at the danger he ran of getting the ill-will of the great. “Where is the necessity, (says his “friend,) o: all you say to be “true, yet where is the necessity to hurt “ the ears of those who have been used “to hear nothing but flattery, and there“fore must be very tender and sus“ceptible of the acutest feelings of un“easiness and displeasure, on hearing “such bitter and stinging truths as you “ deliver.” 108. See to it..] Wide sis (i.e. si vis)— take care, if you please. —Lest haply the thresholds, &c.] Lest it fall out, that you should so offend some of the great folks, as to meet with a cool reception at their houses. So HoR. sat. i. lib. ii. l. 60–3. — Opuer, ut sis Vitalis metuo, et majorum me quis amicus Frigore te feriat. 109. Here.] i. e. In these Satires of ours, there is a disagreeable sound, ike the snarling of a dog, very unpleasant to the ears of such people. 109, 10. From the nostril sounds the canine letter.] R is called the dog’s letter, because the vibration of the tongue in pronouncing it resembles the snarling of a dog. See Alchymist, act ii. sc. vi.
Would these be made, if any vein of our paternal manliness Lived in us? This feeble stuff, on the topmost spittle,
Swims in the lips, and in the wet is Maenas and Attys.
Nor does he beat his desk, nor taste his gnawn nails.
See to it, lest haply the thresholds of the great
Should grow cold to you: here from the nostril sounds the
P. For my part, truly, let every thing be henceforward white.
I hinder not. derful.
This pleases.—Here, say you, I forbid that
a pissing place:
O brave! all things, ye shall all be very won
any should, make
Paint two snakes: boys, the place is sacred; without
110. For my part, truly, &c.] Well, answers Persius, if this be the case, I'll have nothing to do with them; all they do and say shall be perfectly right, for me, from henceforward. The ancients put black for what was bad, and white for what was good, according to that of Pythagoras: To us, Atwoor rn, Ayaşov protas, ro * Atxa, xazov. White is of the nature of good—black of evil. 111. I hinder not..] I shall say nothing to prevent its being thought so. Or nil moror may be rendered, I don't care about it. Comp. HoR. sat. iv. lib. i. l. 13. –O brave! &c.] Well done! every thing, good people, that ye say and do shall be admirable. Iron. This wretched verse is supposed to be written as a banter on the bad poets. 112. This pleases.] Surely this concession pleases you, my friend. —Here, say you, I forbid, &c.] Metaph. It was unlawful to do their occasions, or to make water, in any sacred place; and it was customary to paint two snakes on the walls or doors of such places, in order to mark them out to the people. The poet is ironically comparing the persons and writings of the great (glancing, no doubt, at Nero) to such sacred places; and as these were forbidden to be defiled with urine and excrement, so he understands his friend to say, that neither the persons or writ
ings of the emperor and of the nobles were to be j with the abuse and reproofs of satirists. 131. 113. Paint two snakes.] These were representatives of the deity or genius of the sacred place, and painted there as signals to deter people, children especially, who were most apt to make free with such places, from the forbidden defilement. Mark out, says Persius, these sacred characters to me, that I may avoid defiling them. Iron. 114. I depart.] Says Persius, I am gone—I shall not tarry a moment on forbidden ground, nor drop my Satires there. — Lucilius cut the city.] Lucilius, whose works are not come down to us, was almost the father of the Roman satire. He was a very severe writer; hence our poet's saying, secuit urbem, he cut up, slashed as with a sword, the city, i. e. the people of Rome, from the highest to the lowest. So Juv. sat. i. 1. 156. Ense velut stricto quoties Lucilius ardens Infremuit, &c. Comp. HoR. sat. iv. lib. i. 1.1–12. Persius seems to bethink himself. He has just said, I depart—i.e. I shall not meddle with the great people“But why should I depart? Lucilius “could lash all sorts of people, and “why should not I ?”