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ONLY THE WISE ARE FREE
The scene is laid in Rome during the Saturnalia, when slaves were treated with great indulgence (1. 4 and Sat. ii. 3. 5). Davus, the slave of Horace, is therefore permitted to speak his mind freely to his master (1-5)
He remarks that some men are consistent in their vices, others waver between vice and virtue. Horace is an inconsistent man. He praises the good old times, but would not go back to them if he could. In town he pines for the country, in the country he longs for the town. If not invited out, he pretends to be glad, but if an invitation from Maecenas comes at a late hour, off he runs in great excitement, leaving his expectant parasites in the lurch, and proving that he is no better than they (6-42).
6. What,” asks Davus, “ if you, the master, be found to be a greater fool than I, your slave ? ' Such an audacious remark provokes Horace's wrath, but Davus is allowed to report the lessons of wisdom, which a servant of Crispinus had overheard at the door of his master's lecture-room, and had passed on to him (42-45).
The so-called master, victim of his passions, pursues intrigues, stoops to mean devices to gain his ends, runs all sorts of risks, and sacrifices character and everything else that he has. He is a real slave, whom no manumission can free, and his Davus is but his fellow-slave. He is a mere puppet, worked by wires that others pull (46-82).
Who, then, is free ? Only the wise man, who is complete master of himself. He who is subject to passion is never that (83-94).
Again, the so-called master is not above his slave in other faults. The latter wastes time gazing on crude posters, the former is crazy over some great artist's paintings. The slave likes pasties and gets a thrashing, the master loves grand suppers and suffers from indigestion. The slave swaps the brush he has stolen for a bunch of grapes, the master sells off his estates to fill his belly. Why, this master cannot bear his own company. He is a runaway
and vagabond, ever seeking, though in vain, to baffle care (95-115).
This is too much for the angered master, who threatens to send his slave out to his Sabine farm (116-118).
This Satire is a close companion of the third, and deals with another Stoic paradox, viz. that only the philosopher is free, ότι μόνος ο σοφός ελεύθερος. Both
ó Satires have the Saturnalia—a time of free speechas their setting, and are much alike in substance, both dealing with the follies of mankind, and handling the theme in a very similar dramatic fashion. Here the Stoic teacher Crispinus corresponds to Stertinius. The slave Davus, who finds that, being wise, he is free, takes the place of the social outcast Damasippus, who discovered that he was no more mad than other sermon, the lessons of which he must apply to himself. In both he feigns an outburst of anger.
In both Satires Horace is the auditor of the
Though Horace thus allows his own name to be used, the dialogue is really between any slave and any master. It is true that, to heighten the humour of the scene, he introduces, at the beginning and perhaps at the end of the criticism of the master (so ll. 22-35 ; 111-115), some of the atmosphere of reality, but so far as the main features of the master's portrait are concerned, it would be more correct to regard the slave Davus, the preacher of wisdom, as the Horace of real life. That the poet is not describing himself with any consistency is clear from 11. 102, ff., where he is accused of gluttony, whereas we know that he was very abstemious (cf. Sat. i. 5. 7-9). The seeming self-accusation as to serious offences, therefore, we may put down to dramatic necessity or to comic exaggeration.
The dialogue form is maintained throughout, though during the delivery of Crispinus's lecture it is held in suspense.
Iamdudum ausculto et cupiens tibi dicere servus pauca reformido.” Davusne ? ita, Davus, amicum mancipium domino et frugi quod sit satis, hoc est, ut vitale putes.” age, libertate Decembri, quando ita maiores voluerunt, utere ; narra. 5
“ Pars hominum vitiis gaudet constanter et urget propositum ; pars multa natat, modo recta capessens, interdum pravis obnoxia, saepe notatus cum tribus anellis, modo laeva Priscus inani, vixit inaequalis, clavum ut mutaret in horas, 10 aedibus ex magnis şubito se conderet, unde mundior exiret vix libertinus honeste ; iam moechus Romae, iam mallet doctusAthenis vivere, Vertumnis, quotquot sunt, natus iniquis. scurra Volanerius, postquam illi iụsta cheragra 15 contudit articulos, qui pro se tolleret atque mitteret in phimum talos, mercede diurna
1 The Bland. mss. make no division between this and the previous Satire ; so too Bentley : not so aEl or Porph. 2 doctor V, II; so Lejay.
pyrgum Goth.; no doubt a gloss. a The Satire begins like a scene in comedy. The slave has had to listen to his master's preaching, and now would like to have his turn at fault-finding.
o Alluding to the familiar saying that the good die young.
c During the Saturnalia, which came in December, slaves were allowed great freedom, because, in the age of Saturn, all men were equal.
d As senator, Priscus would wear a broad stripe ; as eques,