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say, what pleasure can you hope to find, Even in this boast, this phænįx of her kind, If, warp'd by pride, on all around she low'r, And in your cup more gall than honey pour ? Ah! who so blindly wedded to the state, As not to shrink from such a perfect mate, Of every virtue feel the oppressive weight, And curse the worth he loves, seven hours in eight?
Some faults, though small, no husband yet can
'Tis now the nauseous cant, that none is fair,
VER. 272. A mere Cecropian of a Sulmoness !] The satire of this line will be understood by recollecting, that the inhabitants of Sulmo, a town of Pelignum, spoke a barbarous Latin dialect; while the Cecropians, or people of Athens, made use of the purest and most elegant Greek.
After this line there follows in the original, Cum sit turpe magis nostris nescire Latine ; which I believe, with Barthius and others, to be spurious, and have therefore omitted.
Ver. 282. And mumbles out, “ My life! my soul !" in Greek.)
Words which the secret sheets alone should hear,
But tell me; if thou CANST NOT love a wise,
guest, at parting, takes? And the rich present, which the bridal right Claims for the favours of the happy night, The charger, where, triumphantly inscroll'd, The Dacian hero shines in current gold?
Zwm nav fugen. These expressions were familiar to the Roman
“ Sed domus in vico, Lælia, patricio,-
“ Proh pudor! Hersiliæ civis, et Ægeriæ." Lib. x. 68. Ver. 296. The Dacian hero &c.] Dacicus, (says the Scholiast,) hoc est, solidi ita signati, qui pro virginitate deposita novæ nuptæ donantur. The custom was not peculiar to Rome; it prevailed, under the name of morgengab, or morning-present, over a great part of the North of Europe; where, indeed, some faint traces of it are still to be found.
The kind of money which was given to the bride, is not specified without reason.
It was coined, we may suppose, in consequence of Domitian's boasted victories in the Dacian war; and there is no doubt, as I have already said, (p. 124,) but that Juvenal mightily enjoyed this indirect allusion to them.
The Dacian war was one of the most dishonourable circumstances of Domitian's reign. He aspired to the conduct of it himself: and the consequences were precisely such as might have been predicted. . His cowardice kept him at a distance from
If thou canst love, and thy besotted mind
To a fond spouse, a wife no mercy shows,
“Go, crucify that slave.” For what offence ? Who's the accuser ? Where the evidence ? Hear all: no time, whatever time we take, To sist the charges, when man's life's at stake,
danger, and his voluptuousness ruined the discipline of the camp thus every thing went on ill under his auspices. Happily for the army, he left it at last: yet not till he had despatched his “ laurelld letters” to Rome : where the senate (nearly as contemptible as their master) decreed that MEDALS SHOULD BE STRUCK, and statues raised to his success; and that he should come among them at all times, in the habit of triumph! Ver. 316.
no time, &c.] Thus Amm. Marcel. linus: De vita et spiritu hominis laturum sententiam diu multumque cunctari oportere, nec præcipiti studio, ubi irrevocabile sit factum, agitari. But both Ammianus and our author had been long preceded in this humane sentiment, by the Grecian legislator:
Can e'er be long; hear all, then, I advise" Thou sniveller! is a slave a man?" she cries, " He's innocent; be't so :-'tis my command,
My will ; let that, sir, for a reason stand."
Thus the virago triumphs, thus she reigns: Anon she sickens of her first domains, And seeks for new; husband on husband takes, Till of her bridal veil one rent she makes. Again she tires, again for change she burns, And to the bed she lately left returns, While the fresh garlands, and unfaded boughs, Yet deck the portal of her wondring spouse. Thus swells the list; EIGHT HUSBANDS IN FIVE A rare inscription for their sepulchres ! [YEARS:
While thy wife's mother lives, expect no peace. She teaches her, with savage joy, to fleece
Νομος αλλος περι θανατε, μη μιαν μονον ημεραν κρινειν, αλλα πολλας. Plato Apol. de Socrat. i find a very notable piece of advice on this subject, among the wise sayings of D. Cato:
“ Nil temere uxori de servis crede querenti,” which every husband should get translated and hung over his
parlour chimney. VER, 330.
EIGHT HUSBANDS IN FIVE YEARS :] I have already mentioned the facility with which divorces might be obtained, (y. 49,) it only remains to add here, that the license was most grievously abused. Women of fashion do not now, says Seneca, reckon their years by the number of Consuls, but by the husbands they have taken.
Britannicus, interpreting an epigram of Martial too literally, (Lib. vi. 7,) affirms that Juvenal mentions eight husbands, because the law allowed no more ; all beyond that number being esteemed adultery. In this he is followed by Holyday ; but surely both are wrong: no such licentiousness ever was, or ever could be, allowed by law. But Juvenal adds, titulo res digna sepulchri ! Upon which Lubin says, it was customary to insc;ibe
A bankrupt spouse: kind creature ! she befriends
the number of husbands a woman had taken, on her sepulchre ; and he pretends to prove it by this distich, which, as usual, is little more than a transcript from our author:
“ Inscripsit tumulo septem celebrata virorum
“ Se fecisse Chloe. --Quid pote simplicius?" Chloe, however, gets rid of her husbands by a process somewhat more violent than that of the text, by poisoning them ! and on this the sting of the epigram depends; but I doubt the fact. To have been the wife of one man only, was looked upon as an honourable distinction, and therefore carefully noted on the tombs of such as were entitled to it; indeed, it is mentioned by Propertius, as the boast of Cornelia :
“ In lapide hoc uni nupta fuisse legar:” And again, in the same elegy, Lib. iv. 12 :
“ Filia, tu specimen censuræ nata maternæ,
“ Fac teneas UNUM, nos imitata, virum;" but, that a lady's executors ever recorded that she had buried seven or eight husbands, I cannot bring myself to believe. The exclamation of Juvenal is a bitter, perhaps an overcharged, sarcasm on the wives of his time, who'were so lost to every sense of the ancient honour, as to be ready to perpetuate their want of chastity on their tomb-stones !