SATIRE IN ANCIENT GREECE AND ROME
The Greeks had no word for what later would be called "satire", although the terms cynicism and parody were used. Modern critics call the Greek playwright Aristophanes one of the best known early satirists: his plays are known for their critical political and societal commentary, particularly for the political satire by which he criticized the powerful Cleon (as in The Knights). He is also notable for the persecution he underwent. Aristophanes' plays turned upon images of filth and disease. His bawdy style was adopted by Greek dramatist-comedian Menander. His early play Drunkenness contains an attack on the politician Callimedon. [Source: Wikipedia +]
The oldest form of satire still in use is the Menippean satire by Menippus of Gadara. His own writings are lost. Examples from his admirers and imitators mix seriousness and mockery in dialogues and present parodies before a background of diatribe. As in the case of Aristophanes plays, menippean satire turned upon images of filth and disease.
The first Roman to discuss satire critically was Quintilian, who invented the term to describe the writings of Gaius Lucilius. The two most prominent and influential ancient Roman satirists are Horace and Juvenal, who wrote during the early days of the Roman Empire. Other important satirists in ancient Latin are Gaius Lucilius and Persius. Satire in their work is much wider than in the modern sense of the word, including fantastic and highly coloured humorous writing with little or no real mocking intent. When Horace criticized Augustus, he used veiled ironic terms. In contrast, Pliny reports that the 6th-century-BC poet Hipponax wrote satirae that were so cruel that the offended hanged themselves. +
In the 2nd century AD, Lucian wrote “True History”, a book satirizing the clearly unrealistic travelogues/adventures written by Ctesias, Iambulus, and Homer. He states that he was surprised they expected people to believe their lies, and stating that he, like they, has no actual knowledge or experience, but shall now tell lies as if he did. He goes on to describe a far more obviously extreme and unrealistic tale, involving interplanetary exploration, war among alien life forms, and life inside a 200 mile long whale back in the terrestrial ocean, all intended to make obvious the fallacies of books like Indica and The Odyssey.
Categories with related articles in this website: Early Ancient Roman History (34 articles) factsanddetails.com; Later Ancient Roman History (33 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Roman Life (39 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Greek and Roman Religion and Myths (35 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Roman Art and Culture (33 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Roman Government, Military, Infrastructure and Economics (42 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy and Science (33 articles) factsanddetails.com; Ancient Persian, Arabian, Phoenician and Near East Cultures (26 articles) factsanddetails.com
Websites on Ancient Rome: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ;
“Outlines of Roman History” forumromanum.org; “The Private Life of the Romans” forumromanum.org|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; Lacus Curtius penelope.uchicago.edu;
The Roman Empire in the 1st Century pbs.org/empires/romans;
The Internet Classics Archive classics.mit.edu ;
Bryn Mawr Classical Review bmcr.brynmawr.edu;
De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors roman-emperors.org;
British Museum ancientgreece.co.uk; Oxford Classical Art Research Center: The Beazley Archive beazley.ox.ac.uk ;
Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/greek-and-roman-art;
The Internet Classics Archive kchanson.com ;
Cambridge Classics External Gateway to Humanities Resources web.archive.org/web; Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy iep.utm.edu;
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy plato.stanford.edu; Ancient Rome resources for students from the Courtenay Middle School Library web.archive.org ; History of ancient Rome OpenCourseWare from the University of Notre Dame /web.archive.org ; United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV) History unrv.com
Life of Juvenal
The Juvenal scholar G. G. Ramsay (1839-1921) wrote:“The only certain evidence as to the facts of Juvenal's life is to be found in casual allusions in his own Satires; such external authorities as there are possess only an uncertain value, and do not even give us the dates of his birth and death. The following passages give us what certain landmarks we possess: 1) Satire IV 153 refers to the murder of the Emperor Domitian, which took place upon the 18th of September, A.D. 96. 2) Satire II 29-33 contains a gross attack upon Domitian. 3) Satire I 49, 50 mentions the recent condemnation of Marius Priscus for extortion in the province of Africa. That trial, made famous by the fact that the younger Pliny was the chief prosecutor, took place in January, A.D. 100. The allusion to a comet and an earthquake in connection with Armenian and Parthian affairs in Satire vi. 407 has been held, with some probability, to refer to events in the year 115. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“4) Satire VII begins with a prophecy that bright days are in store for literature, since it has now been assured of the patronage of Caesar. The probability is that the Caesar thus referred to is Hadrian, who succeeded Trajan in the year A. D. 117. The attempts to prove that Trajan was the emperor intended have not been successful. Trajan was by no means a literary emperor, whereas Hadrian was himself a poet and surrounded himself with literary and artistic persons of various kinds. 5) In Satire XIII 17 Juvenal describes Calvinus, the friend to whom the Satire is addressed, as one. There were consuls of the name of Fonteius Capito in three different years, A.D. 12, 59, and 67. The first date is obviously too early; the year referred to is probably A.D. 67, since in that year, and not in the other two, the name of Fonteius stands first in the Fasti. This would fix Satire xiii. to the year A.D. 127. 6) Lastly, in Satire XV 27 : the reading Iunco, now satisfactorily established for Iunio, refers to Aemilius Iuncus, who was consul in the year 127. Satire xv. must therefore have been written in the year A.D. 127, or shortly after it (nuper).
“It will be noted that these dates, supported by various other considerations, suggest that the Satires are numbered in the order of their publication. This view is confirmed by the fact recorded that the Satires were originally published in five separate books; the first book consisting of Satire i. to v. inclusive, the second of Satire vi., the third of Satire vii. to ix., the fourth of Satire x. to xii. inclusive, and the fifth of the remaining satires. Satire i. may have been written, as a preface, after the rest of Book i. Leo thinks Books i.-iv. were re-edited, with Book v. added, after Juvenal's death.
“Such are the only certain indications as to date which can be discovered in Juvenal's own words. They suggest that the literary period of his life (apart from his earlier recitations) was embraced within the reigns of the emperors Trajan (A.D. 98-117) and Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), probably not extending to the end of the latter's reign. And as in Satire XI 203 he seems to speak of himself as an old man, we may perhaps, with some certainty, put his birth between the years .A.D. 60 and 70.
“Other indications of a personal kind are few and insignificant. When Umbricius, on leaving Rome, bids good-bye to his old friend Juvenal, he speaks of the chance of seeing him from time to time when he comes, for the sake of his health, "to his own Aquinum"; from which we may fairly infer that the Volscian town of Aquinum was the poet's native place. In Satire XI we find Juvenal in Rome, offering to his friend Persicus a frugal banquet to which his Tiburtine farm was to contribute a fat kid, with other farm produce, pears, grapes, and apples, together with asparagus gathered in the intervals of her spinning by his bailiff's wife. A passage in XV 45 records the fact that Juvenal had visited Egypt.
“That Juvenal had received the best education of his time and had been trained in the moral principles of the Stoics is apparent from the whole tenour of his teaching. The statement in XII 121-123 that he had not studied the doctrines of the Cynics, Epicureans, or Stoics seems only to refer to the more philosophical parts of those systems.
“There are three passages in the poet Martial (Epp. VII. xxiv. and xci. and Epp. XII. xviii.) in which Juvenal is named — if we presume, as seems certain, that the Satirist is the person there mentioned. These epigrams show that the two poets lived on terms of friendship and familiarity with one another, but they throw no light upon Juvenal's personal history and career. In the epigram VII. xci. written in A.D. 93, Juvenal is styled facundus, an epithet which implies that by that time Juvenal's reputation, either as a declaimer or as an author, was established; while in XII. xviii. Martial contrasts his own peaceful and happy life in a rural district of Spain with the noisy, restless life led by Juvenal in the Suburra. As Martial's twelfth book was written and collected between the years 102 and 104, that date would correspond pretty closely with that estimated above for the beginning of Juvenal's literary activity. As Duff puts it, "the facts go to prove that Martial ceased to write about the time that Juvenal began."
Old Biographies on Juvenal
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “Amid the scanty external evidence as to the life of Juvenal, it is necessary to pay some attention to the statements made in the old Biographies which are attached to many of the ancient manuscripts of Juvenal. Early scholars were inclined to attribute these Biographies, or at least the oldest of them, from which the others were copied, either to Suetonius, the author of the Lives of the first twelve Caesars, or to Valerius Probus, a distinguished grammarian of the second century. It is now generally admitted that there is no ground for these attributions, and that in all probability the earliest of them, from which the others were evidently copied with some difference of detail, are not older than the fourth century A.D. For all that, they seem to represent, more or less, an ancient tradition, and it is worth while considering how far some of their statements seem probable in themselves, and fit in with our other sources of information, or present improbabilities which cannot be accepted. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“The oldest and best form of the Biography is as follows: ‘The first sentence of this Life contains no information that we are not prepared to accept. Nothing is more probable than that Juvenal had long practised himself in the art of declamation, and only embarked on publication when his reputation was established, and he felt confident of success. His recitations would at first be delivered to select coteries of congenial friends, in whose company he would forge out and perfect his biting epigrams, just as Tacitus is supposed to have done with his famous sententiae. It is quite probable, therefore, that such a passage as that quoted from Satire vii. may originally have formed part of a private recitation, and have afterwards been incorporated in the more finished edition of the Satire when published. But in explaining the rest of the Life the early commentators were sadly at fault.
“The person satirised in the passage quoted in the Life was a dancer of the name of Paris, who had just been mentioned in connection with the poet Statius. "A monstrous thing," says Juvenal, "that after charming the town with his beautiful voice, Statius would have to starve if he did not sell to Paris his unpublished Agave": Esurit, intactam Paridi nisi vendit Agaven (vii. 87).
“Now there were two famous dancers of the name of Paris, to either of whom the passage in Satire vii. might apply. The one flourished, and was put to death, in the reign of Nero; while the other met a similar fate under Domitian. The early commentators on the Biography took it for granted, naturally enough, that the Paris mentioned in the Biography was the same Paris that is mentioned by Juvenal himself in Satire vii. But the dates given above for the life of Juvenal prove conclusively that neither of the artists who bore the name of Paris could possibly have brought about the banishment of Juvenal in the manner stated. The later of the two was put to death in the reign of Domitian; and it has been shown above that the period of Juvenal's literary activity did not begin, and that Satire vii. was not published, till some years after the death of that Emperor. All attempts to bring the banishment within the period of Domitian's reign have broken down.
“But though the story of Juvenal's banishment as usually told cannot possibly be true, it has been ingeniously suggested that the words of the Biography may be read in such a way as to give it some measure of probability. Having stated that Juvenal had scored a success by his Satire against Paris-a Satire evidently declaimed among private friends-we are told that he was subsequently encouraged to insert the passage among his published works. The biography then goes on : Erat tum in deliciis aulae histrio, multique fautorum eius cottidie provehebantur. Venit ergo Iuvenalis in suspicionem, quasi tempora figurate notasset. Filled with resentment at this attack, the histrio prevailed upon the emperor to send Juvenal into exile in Egypt under pretence of a military command, where he died shortly after of a broken heart.
“Now we are not obliged to translate the words erat tunc in deliciis aulae histrio by "The actor [i.e. Paris] was at that time a favourite of the Court." The words indeed would more naturally mean "There was at that time an actor who was a favourite at Court," who resented the attack upon a member of his own profession as an indirect attack upon himself. The words which follow show that the offence did not consist of the personal attack on Paris, but that the attack on Paris was considered to contain a sidelong indirect attack (quasi figurate notasset) upon some other actor. Such an incident is not at all likely to have happened in the reign of either Nerva or Trajan, but it may well have occurred under Hadrian, who became emperor in A.D. 117. Hadrian himself was a patron of actors and artistes of every kind, and he was quite a person who might have taken offence at a supposed insult offered to one of his favourites. The words of Sidonius Apollinaris, in the sixth century, who says of Juvenal irati fuit histrionis exul, show how steadily the tradition of the banishment had maintained itself. There is a certain convergence of dates in Juvenal's life towards the year 119; and though the above explanation can only be looked upon as a conjecture, it presents a story which may not impossibly be true, while the traditional version of the story is demonstrably false.
G. G. Ramsay wrote: Juvenal “is a realist of the realists; he grapples with the real things of life, and derives all his inspiration from the doings of the men and women of his own day. He belonged to the generation which had suffered from the enormities of Caligula, Claudius and Nero; his childhood probably witnessed the concluding and worst phases of the reign of Nero, and he lived through the whole of the gloomy tyranny of Domitian. He thus knew what Rome was in the period of her worst corruption. Impregnated with the moral teaching of the Stoics, he was no mere repeater of the commonplaces of the Schools. An ardent admirer of the simple and hardy virtues of ancient Rome, he holds up a mirror to every part of the private life of the Rome of his day, and by the most caustic and trenchant invective seeks to shame her out of her vices. He was thus eminently fitted on the ground of personal experience to describe the manners of Imperial Rome at the period of her worst corruption, and long practice had put in his hands a weapon which enabled him to castigate them with matchless power and severity. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“Juvenal's pictures are doubtless exaggerated; all brilliant rhetoric is more or less overstrained, and the peculiar doctrines of Stoicism naturally lent themselves to paradox and exaggeration. But apart from Stoicism, there are certain fundamental prejudices in Juvenal's mind which, though honestly entertained, and natural in one who was always looking back to the worthies of old Rome for examples, are pressed upon us with a frequency and an emphasis which seem excessive. His belief in the virtue of primitive times; his hatred of the foreigner, especially one coming from Greece and the East; his tirades against wealth and the wealthy, and his suggestion that wealth is always acquired by unworthy means; his laudation of mere poverty; his incapacity to see any object in trade except that of self-enrichment, or any value at all in humble or menial occupations, however useful to the community (Sat. iii. 7I-2) — all these ideas belong to what we may call the old Roman part of Juvenal's prepossessions. They serve to account for the singular want of proportion which is to be observed in some of his moral judgments, and they have to be reckoned with in estimating the value of his censures.
“With these modifying elements in view, it has often been asked, How far can we depend upon the denunciations of Juvenal as presenting a faithful picture of the Rome of his day? His sincerity cannot be questioned. It is impossible, as we read through his satires, not to feel that he speaks what in his conscience he believes to be the truth, and appraises everything and everybody in accordance with the standard of morality which he has accepted as his guide in life. His pictures of Rome, and of life in Rome, are so vivid, so full of characteristic detail, that they carry with them a conviction of their fidelity; while his shrewd knowledge of human nature, and the truly noble lines on which he lays down some of the great principles of human conduct-many of them in harmony with the best ideas of modern times-make us feel a general confidence in his moral judgments.
“But we have more than internal evidence to rely upon. The poet Martial, who was a contemporary and friend of Juvenal, lived through the very period from which Juvenal's sketches are taken. His epigrams deal with the same topics of social life which form the staple of Juvenal's satires. The Rome of Martial is the Rome of Juvenal. He describes, in the minutest detail, the same vices and the same manner of living; and the correspondence between them acquires a double force from the fact that the two authors looked at these same things from a totally different angle. Juvenal was a moralist; he regarded the vices and follies of his day as affording material for reprobation; Martial looked upon the same facts as affording material for quips and epigrams. Juvenal hardly ever casts off the attitude of a preacher; Martial gives an identical picture of Roman life without a touch of moral indignation.
“But although we cannot but accept Juvenal's account of the corruption of his day as true in the main, it does not follow that it was true of all Rome, and that there was no reverse side to the picture. We know from Pliny, Seneca, and other writers, that there were many quiet, thoughtful and well-conducted homes in Rome, in which a high level of morality was reached, which had no share in the corruptions of the time, and were preparing the ground for that period of philosophical reflection and moral regeneration which distinguished the second century. We may, therefore, console ourselves by the reflection that the castigations of Juvenal, though justified on the whole, referred mainly to what might be called the seamy side of Roman life-a side to which some parallel may be found in our own boasted centres of civilization.
“Juvenal was no politician; he never casts an eye on the political conditions of his day. He is as blind as Persius to the effects on Roman life and character of the loss of public freedom. Though a passionate admirer of the Republican heroes of old Rome, he never expends a sigh upon the downfall of the Republic; he has none of the belated and despairing republicanism which inspires the sonorous hexameters of Lucan. He does not hesitate to dwell on the crimes and vices of individual emperors; but he accepts their rule as a matter of course. He never connects the autocratic character of the government with the degradation of the Roman people which he deplores. He is essentially the moralist of private life; perhaps the only distinctly political observation that can be discovered in his satires is when he declares that Rome was free in the days when she called Cicero the "Father of his Country":
Lucilius: the Father of Roman Satire?
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “C. Lucilius, proclaimed by Horace, Persius, and Juvenal as the founder of Roman Satire, was born at Suessa Aurunca, in Campania, in B.C. 180; he died about B.C. 103. If not actually the inventor of Roman Satire, he was the first to mould it into that form which subsequently acquired consistency and full development in the hands of his distinguished successors. Juvenal has no hesitation in acknowledging him as its father: [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“Horace says of him that he was the first to compose poems in this style. Like Quintilian, Horace proclaims Lucilius as a writer in a style unknown to Greece: He was a man of good social position. He served in the Numantine war, and seems to have been on intimate terms with Scipio, and the literary society which gathered round him. He was a prolific writer, having written no less than thirty books of Satires, each book probably containing several pieces. The subjects treated were of the most miscellaneous kind, embracing questions of religion, morals, politics, and literary criticism; some of them even touched on questions of spelling. Living in the days of the free republic, he indulged in broad and coarse personalities, attacking his enemies by name:
“Horace tells us, Lucilius took his model from the writers of the old Attic comedy; but while commending his freedom and his wit, Horace is severe upon his style, which he pronounces rough, redundant, and inartistic. In the general tone of his writings, and in the purity of his aims, he seems to have represented on its best side the literary and moral ideas of the Scipionic circle. His poems have been described as open letters to the public, embracing the whole life of a cultivated man of the world in good position, ready to criticise everything and everybody in politics, literature, and social life.
Types and Evolution of Roman Satire
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “With regard to the metre which he employed, the great body of his poems, with some exceptions, were written in dactylic hexameters; and from that time forward this became the recognised metre of Roman satire. And now for the bond which linked together these various forms of composition under the common name of Satura. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“1) The first kind of entertainment to which the word was applied was that described by Livy vii. 2, consisting of rough dialogue set to music (impletas modis saturas), with singing and dancing. The whole might appropriately be called a Dramatic Miscellany or Medley. 2) Ennius and Pacuvius removed Satura from the stage, and gave the name to a number of pieces composed on a variety of subjects and in a variety of metres. The whole, viewed as a collection, might be called a Poetical Miscellany.
“3) Varro, taking as his model the dialogues of Menippus, wrote a vast number of pieces on a multitude of different subjects, some purely comic, some on grave themes drawn from recondite philosophy, but even these treated with a certain liveliness of manner (conspersas hilaritate quadam), and all thrown into the form of a dialogue, mostly in prose, possibly with some admixture of verse, and forming what may be called a serio-comic Philosophic Miscellany.
“4) Finally comes the Satura Luciliana, the great characteristic of which was the variety of subjects dealt with. Of these, however, politics ceased to be one after the time of Lucilius. If we admit the limits marked out for himself by Juvenal we might define it as a Moral Miscellany. Unlike previous forms of Satire, it eliminated prose and restricted itself to one form of verse, the dactylic hexameter. It devoted itself mainly to social and moral topics, castigating the vices and follies of mankind as depicted in their lives and occupations. Almost any subject relating to man or society might be dealt with in a Satura. Horace allowed himself a very wide field, including critical disquisitions and such anecdotes as might lead to humorous or caustic comment; while Lucilius went further still, entering even on the discussion of questions of grammar and orthography. Having originated on the stage, Satire retained to the last evident traces of its dramatic origin. Varro's Satires consisted largely of dialogue; dialogue is constantly appearing in Horace; Juvenal is full of dramatic touches; while the proper unravelling of obscurely marked dialogue forms one of the main difficulties in the interpretation of Persius.”
Juvenal Complains About All the Foreigners in Rome
Like most Roman satirists, Juvenal wrote in from a conservative viewpoint. His Third Satire is an aggressive attack on the internationalization of the city Rome. Juvenal wrote in Satire III: On the City of Rome (A.D. c. 118): ““Since at Rome there is no place for honest pursuits, no profit to be got by honest toil — my fortune is less to-day than it was yesterday, and to-morrow must again make that little less — we purpose emigrating to the spot where Daedalus put off his wearied wings, while my grey hairs are still but few, my old age green and erect; while something yet remains for Lachesis to spin, and I can bear myself on my own legs, without a staff to support my right hand. Let us leave our native land. There let Arturius and Catulus live. Let those continue in it who turn black to white; for whom it is an easy matter to get contracts for building temples, clearing rivers, constructing harbors, cleansing the sewers, the furnishing of funerals, and under the mistress-spear set up the slave to sale. [Source: “The Satires of Juvenal, Persius, Sulpicia and Lucilius,” translated by Rev. Lewis Evans (London: Bell & Daldy, 1869), pp. 15-27]
“It is that the city is become Greek, Quirites, that I cannot tolerate; and yet how small the proportion even of the dregs of Greece! Syrian Orontes has long since flowed into the Tiber, and brought with it its language, morals, and the crooked harps with the flute-player, and its national tambourines, and girls made to stand for hire at the Circus. Go thither, you who fancy a barbarian harlot with embroidered turban. That rustic of yours, Quirinus, takes his Greek supper-cloak, and wears Greek prizes on his neck besmeared with Ceroma. One forsaking steep Sicyon, another Amydon, a third from Andros, another from Samos, another again from Tralles, or Alabanda, swarm to Esquiliae, and the hill called from its osiers, destined to be the very vitals, and future lords of great houses. These have a quick wit, desperate impudence, a ready speech, more rapidly fluent even than Isaeus. Tell me what you fancy he is? He has brought with him whatever character you wish — grammarian rhetorician, geometer, painter, trainer, soothsayer, ropedancer, physician, wizard — he knows everything. Bid the hungry Greekling go to heaven! He'll go. In short, it was neither Moor, nor Sarmatian, nor Thracian, that took wings, but one born in the heart of Athens. Shall I not shun these men's purple robes? Shall this fellow take precedence of me in signing his name, and recline pillowed on a more honorable couch than I, though imported to Rome by the same wind that brought the plums and figs? Does it then go so utterly for nothing, that my infancy inhaled the air of Aventine, nourished on the Sabine berry? Why add that this nation, most deeply versed in flattery, praises the conversation of an ignorant, the face of a hideously ugly friend, and compares some weak fellow's crane-like neck to the brawny shoulders of Hercules, holding Antaeus far from his mother Earth: and is in raptures at the squeaking voice, not a whit superior in sound to that of the cock as he bites the hen.
“Besides, there is nothing that is held sacred by these fellows, or that is safe from their lust. Neither the mistress of the house, nor your virgin daughter, nor her suitor, unbearded as yet, nor your son, heretofore chaste. If none of these are to be found, he assails his friend's grandmother. They aim at learning the secrets of the house, and from that knowledge be feared. And since we have begun to make mention of the Greeks, pass on to their schools of philosophy, and hear the foul crime of the more dignified cloak. It was a Stoic that killed Bareas — the informer, his personal friend — the old man, his own pupil — bred on that shore on which the pinion of the Gorgonean horse lighted. There is no room for any Roman here, where some Protogenes, or Diphilus, or Erimanthus reigns supreme; who, with the common vice of his race, never shares a friend, but engrosses him entirely to himself. In exact proportion to the sum of money a man keeps in his chest, is the credit given to his oath. Though you were to swear by all the altars of the Samothracian and our own gods, the poor man is believed to despise the thunder-bolts and the gods, even with the sanction of the gods themselves. Why add that this same poor man furnishes material and grounds for ridicule to all, if his cloak is dirty and torn, if his toga is a little soiled, and one shoe gapes with its upper leather burst; or if more than one patch displays the coarse fresh darning thread, where a rent has been sewn up. Poverty, bitter though it be, has no sharper pang than this, that it makes men ridiculous. "Let him retire, if he has any shame left, and quit the cushions of the knights, that has not the income required by the law, and let these seats be taken by the sons of pimps, in whatever brothel born! Here let the son of the sleek crier applaud among the spruce youths of the gladiator, and the scions of the fencing-school.
“Who was ever allowed at Rome to become a son-in-law if his estate was inferior, and not a match for the portion of the young lady? What poor man's name appears in any will? When is he summoned to a consultation even by an aedile ? All Quirites that are poor, ought long ago to have emigrated in a body. Difficult indeed is it for those to emerge from obscurity whose noble qualities are cramped by narrow means at home; but at Rome, for men like these, the attempt is still more hopeless; it is only at an exorbitant price they can get a wretched lodging, keep for their servants, and a frugal meal. A man is ashamed here to dine off pottery ware, which, were he suddenly transported to the Marsi and a Sabine board, contented there with a coarse bowl of blue earthenware, he would no longer deem discreditable. Here, in Rome, the splendor of dress is carried beyond men's means; here, something more than is enough, is taken occasionally from another's chest. In this fault all participate. Here we all live with a poverty that apes our betters. Why should I detain you? Everything at Rome is coupled with high price. What have you to give, that you may occasionally pay your respects to Cossus? that Veiento may give you a passing glance, though without deigning to open his mouth? One shaves the beard, another deposits the hair of a favorite; the house is full of venal cakes.
Juvenal on the Dangers in Rome
“I must live in a place, where there are no fires, no nightly alarms. Already is Ucalegon shouting for water! already is he removing his chattels: the third story in the house you live in is already in a blaze. Yet you are unconscious! For if the alarm begin from the bottom of the stairs, he will be the last to be burnt whom a single tile protects from the rain, where the tame pigeons lay their eggs. Codrus had a bed too small for his Procula, six little jugs the ornament of his sideboard, and a little can besides beneath it, and a Chiron reclining under the same marble; and a chest now grown old in the service contained his Greek books, and mice gnawed poems of divine inspiration. Codrus possessed nothing at all; who denies the fact? and yet all that little nothing that he had, he lost. But the climax that crowns his misery is the fact, that though he is stark naked and begging for a few scraps, no one will lend a hand to help him to bed and board. But, if the great mansion of Asturius has fallen, the matrons appear in weeds, the senators in mourning robes, the praetor adjourns the courts. Then it is we groan for the accidents of the city; then we loathe the very name of fire. The fire is still raging, and already there runs up to him one who offers to present him with marble, and contribute towards the rebuilding. Another will present him with naked statues of Parian marble, another with a chef-d'oeuvre of Euphranor or Polycletus. Some lady will contribute some ancient ornaments of gods taken in our Asiatic victories; another, books and cases and a bust of Minerva; another, a whole bushel of silver. Persicus, the most splendid of childless men, replaces all he has lost by things more numerous and more valuable, and might with reason be suspected of having himself set his own house on fire. [Source: “The Satires of Juvenal, Persius, Sulpicia and Lucilius,” translated by Rev. Lewis Evans (London: Bell & Daldy, 1869), pp. 15-27]
“If you can tear yourself away from the games in the circus, you can buy a capital house at Sora, or Fabrateria, or Frusino, for the price at which you are now hiring your dark hole for one year. There you will have your little garden, a well so shallow as to require no rope and bucket, whence with easy draft you may water your sprouting plants. Live there, enamored of the pitch-fork, and the dresser of your trim garden, from which you could supply a feast to a hundred Pythagoreans. It is something to be able in any spot, in any retreat whatever, to have made oneself proprietor even of a single lizard. Here full many a patient dies from want of sleep; but that exhaustion is produced by the undigested food that loads the fevered stomach. For what lodging-houses allow of sleep? None but the very wealthy can sleep at Rome. Hence is the source of the disease. The passing of wagons in the narrow curves of the streets, and the mutual reviles of the team drivers brought to a standstill, would banish sleep even from Drusus and sea-calves. If duty calls him, the rich man will be borne through the yielding crowd, and pass rapidly over their heads on the shoulders of his tall Liburnian, and, as he goes, will read or write, or even sleep inside his litter, for his sedan with windows closed entices sleep. And still he will arrive before us. In front of us, as we hurry on, a tide of human beings stops the way; the mass that follows behind presses on our loins in dense concourse; one man pokes me with his elbow, another with a hard pole; one knocks a beam against my head, another a ten-gallon cask. My legs are coated thick with mud; then, anon, I am trampled upon by great heels all round me, and the hob-nail of the soldier's caliga remains imprinted on my toe.
“Tunics that have been patched together are torn asunder again. Presently, as the tug approaches, the long fir-tree quivers, other wagons are conveying pine-trees; they totter from their height, and threaten ruin to the crowd. For if that wain, that is transporting blocks of Ligustican stone, is upset, and pours its mountain-load upon the masses below, what is there left of their bodies? Who can find their limbs or bones? Every single carcass of the mob is crushed to minute atoms as impalpable as their souls. While, all this while, the family at home, in happy ignorance of their master's fate, are washing up the dishes, and blowing up the fire with their mouths, and making a clatter with the well-oiled strigils, and arranging the bathing towels with the full oil-flask. Such are the various occupations of the bustling slaves.
“Now revert to other perils of the night distinct from these. What a height it is from the lofty roofs, from which a potsherd tumbles on your brains. How often cracked and chipped earthenware falls from the windows! with what a weight they dint and damage the flint-pavement where they strike it! You may well be accounted remiss and improvident against unforeseen accident, if you go out to supper without having made your will. It is clear that there are just so many chances of death, as there are open windows where the inmates are awake inside, as you pass by. Pray, therefore, and bear about with you this miserable wish, that they may be contented with throwing down only what the broad basins have held. One that is drunk, and quarrelsome in his cups, if he has chanced to give no one a beating, suffers the penalty by loss of sleep; he passes such a night as Achilles bewailing the loss of his friend; lies now on his face, then again on his back. Under other circumstances, he cannot sleep.
“In some persons, sleep is the result of quarrels; but though daring from his years, and flushed with unmixed wine, he cautiously avoids him whom a scarlet cloak, and a very long train of attendants, with plenty of flambeaux and a bronzed candelabrum, warns him to steer clear of. He stands right in front of you, and bids you stand! Obey you must. For what can you do, when he that gives the command is mad with drink, and at the same time stronger than you! "Where do you come from?" he thunders out: "With whose vinegar and beans are you blown out? What cobbler has been feasting on chopped leek or boiled sheep's head with you? Don't you answer? Speak, or be kicked! Say where do you hang out? In what Jew's begging-stand shall I look for you?" Whether you attempt to say a word or retire in silence, is all one; they beat you just the same, and then, in a passion, force you to give bail to answer for the assault. This is a poor man's liberty ! When thrashed he humbly begs, and pummeled with fisticuffs supplicates to be allowed to quit the spot with a few teeth left in his head.
“Nor is this yet all that you have to fear, for there will not be wanting one to rob you, when all the houses are shut up, and all the fastenings of the shops chained, are fixed and silent. Sometimes too a footpad does your business with his knife, whenever the Pontine marshes and the Gallinarian wood are kept safe by an armed guard. Consequently they all flock thence to Rome as to a great preserve. What forge or anvil is not weighed down with chains? The greatest amount of iron used is employed in forging fetters; so that you may well fear that enough may not be left for plowshares, and that mattocks and hoes may run short. Well may you call our great-grandsires happy, and the ages blest in which they lived, which, under kings and tribunes long ago, saw Rome contented with a single jail.
“To these I could subjoin other reasons for leaving Rome, and more numerous than these; but my cattle summon me to be moving, and the sun is getting low. I must go. For long ago the muleteer gave me a hint by shaking his whip. Farewell then, and forget me not! and whenever Rome shall restore you to your native Aquinum, eager to refresh your strength, then you may tear me away too from Cumae to Helvine Ceres, and your patron deity Diana. Then, equipped with my caliga, I will visit your chilly regions, to help you in your satires — unless they scorn my poor assistance.”
Juvenal Misogynist View of Roman Women
William Stearns Davis wrote: “About 100 CE. a keen and bitter satirist delivered himself as follows against the women of Rome. Some of his charges are clearly overwrought; but there is no doubt that the Roman ladies often abused the very large liberties allowed them, and that divorce, unfaithfulness, wanton extravagance, and many other like evils were direfully common. Also the women were invading the arts and recreations of men — a proceeding the present age will view more leniently than did Juvenal.”
On women in general, the satirist Juvenal (c.55-c.130 A.D.) wrote in Satire 6 exc L: “Eppia, though the wife of a senator, went off with a gladiator to Pharos and the Nile on the notorious walls of Alexandria (though even Egypt condemns Rome's disgusting morals). Forgetting her home, her husband, and her sister, she showed no concern whatever for her homeland (she was shameless) and her children in tears, and (you'll be dumbfounded by this) she left the theatre and Paris the actor behind. Even though when she was a baby she was pillowed in great luxury, in the down of her father's mansion, in a cradle of the finest workmanship, she didn't worry about the dangers of sea travel (she had long since stopped worrying about her reputation, the loss of which among rich ladies' soft cushions does not matter much). Therefore with heart undaunted she braved the waves of the Adriatic and the wide-resounding Ionian Sea (to get to Egypt she had to change seas frequently). [Source: Diotma, Women’s Life in Greece & Rome by Mary R. Lefkowitze and Maureen B. Fant]
“You see, if there's a good reason for undertaking a dangerous voyage, then women are fearful; their cowardly breasts are chilled with icy dread; they cannot stand on their trembling feet. But they show courageous spirit in affairs they're determined to enter illicitly. If it's their husband who wants them to go, then it's a problem to get on board ship. They can't stand the bilge-water; the skies spin around them. The woman who goes off with her lover of course has no qualms. She eats dinner with the sailors, walks the quarter-deck, and enjoys hauling rough ropes. Meanwhile the first woman gets sick all over her husband.
“And yet what was the glamour that set her on fire, what was the prime manhood that captured Eppia's heart? What was it she saw in him, that would compensate for her being called Gladiatrix? Note that her lover, dear Sergius, had now started shaving his neck, and was hoping to be released from duty because of a bad wound on his arm. Moreover, his face was deformed in a number of ways: he had a mark where his helmet rubbed him, and a big wart between his nostrils, and a smelly discharge always dripping from his eye. But he was a gladiator. That made him look as beautiful as Apollo's friend Hyacinth. This is what she preferred to her children and her homeland, her sister and her husband. It's the sword they're in love with: this same Sergius, once released from service, would begin to seem like her husband Veiento.
“Do you care about a private citizen's house, about Eppia's doings? Turn your eyes to the gods' rivals. Hear what the Emperor Claudius had to put up with. As soon as his wife thought that he was asleep, this imperial whore put on the hood she wore at night, determined to prefer a cheap pad to the royal bed, and left the house with one female slave only. No, hiding her black hair in a yellow wig she entered the brothel, warm with its old patchwork quilts and her empty cell, her very own. Then she took her stand, naked, her nipples gilded, assuming the name of Lycisca, and displayed the stomach you came from, noble Brittanicus. She obligingly received customers and asked for her money, and lay there through the night taking in the thrusts of all comers. Then when the pimp sent the girls home, at last she went away sadly, and (it was all she could do) was the last to close up her cell-she was still burning, her vagina stiff and erected; tired by men, but not yet satisfied, she left, her face dirty and bruised, grimy with lamp smoke, she brought back to her pillow the smell of the brothel.
“Isn't there anyone then in such large herds of women that's worth marrying? Let her be beautiful, graceful, rich, fertile, let her place on her porticoes her ancestors' statues; let her be more virginal than the Sabine women (the ones that with their dishevelled hair brought the war with Rome to an end); let her be a phoenix on earth, something like a black swan-but who could stand a wife who has every virtue? I'd rather have (much rather) a gal from Venusia than you, Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if along with your great excellence you bring a snob's brow and count your family's triumphs as part of your dowry.
“All chance of domestic harmony is lost while your wife's mother is living. She gets her to rejoice in despoiling her husband, stripping him naked. She gets her to write back politely and with sophistication when her seducer sends letters. She tricks your spies or bribes them. Then when your daughter is feeling perfectly well she calls in the doctor Archigenes and says that the blankets are too heavy. Meanwhile, her lover, in hiding shut off from her, impatient at the delay, waits in silence and stretches his foreskin. Maybe you think that her mother will teach her virtuous ways-ones different from her own? It's much more productive for a dirty old lady to bring up a dirty little girl.
“There's hardly a case in court where the litigation wasn't begun by a female. If Manilia can't be defendant, she'll be the plaintiff. They'll draw up indictments without assistance, and are ready to tell Celsus the lawyer how to begin his speech and what arguments he should use.
“Who doesn't know about the Tyrian wrappers and the ointment for women's athletics? Who hasn't seen the wounds in the dummy, which she drills with continual stabbings and hits with her shield and works through the whole course of exercise-a matron, the sort you'd expect to blow the trumpet at the Floralia -unless in her heart she is plotting something deeper still, and seriously training for the actual games? How can a woman who wears a helmet be chaste? She's denying her sex, and likes a man's strength. But she wouldn't want to turn into a man, since we men get so little pleasure.
“Yet what a show there would be, if there were an auction of your wife's stuff-her belt and gauntlets and helmet and half-armour for her left leg. Or she can try the other style of battle-lucky you, when she sells her greaves. Yet these same girls sweat even in muslin, even the thinnest little netting burns their delicacies. Look at the noise she makes when she drives home the blows her trainer showed her, at the weight of her helmet, how solidly she sits on her haunches (like the binding around a thick tree), and laugh when she puts her armour aside to pick up her chamber-pot.
“You ask where these monsters come from, the source that they spring from? Poverty made Latin women chaste in the old days, hard work and a short time to sleep and hands calloused and hardened with wool-working, and Hannibal close to the city,  and their husbands standing guard at the Colline Gate-that kept their humble homes from being corrupted by vice. But now we are suffering from the evils of a long peace. Luxury, more ruthless than war, broods over Rome and takes revenge for the world she has conquered. No cause for guilt or deed of lust is missing, now that Roman poverty has vanished. Money, nurse of promiscuity, first brought in foreigners' ways, and effete riches weakened the sinews of succeeding generations. What does Venus care when she's drunk? She can't tell head from tail when she eats big oysters at midnight, and when her perfume foams with undiluted wine, when she drinks her conch-shell cup dry, and when in her dizziness the roof turns round and the table rises up to meet two sets of lights.
“An even worse pain is the female who, as soon as she sits down to dinner, praises Vergil and excuses Dido's suicide: matches and compares poets, weighing Vergil on one side of the scale and Homer in the other. Schoolmasters yield; professors are vanquished; everyone in the party is silenced. No one can speak, not a lawyer, not an auctioneer, not even another woman. Such an avalanche of words falls, that you'd say it's like pans and bells being beaten. Now no one needs trumpets or bronzes: this woman by herself can come help the Moon when she's suffering from an eclipse. As a philosopher she sets definitions on moral behaviour. Since she wants to seem so learned and eloquent she ought to shorten her tunic up to her knees and bring a pig to Sylvanus and go to the penny bath with the philosophers. Don't let the woman who shares your marriage bed adhere to a set style of speaking or hurl in well-rounded sentences the enthymeme shorn of its premise. Don't let her know all the histories. Let there be something in books she does not understand. I hate the woman who is continually poring over and studying Palaemon's treatise, who never breaks the rules or principles of grammar, and who quotes verses I never heard of, ancient stuff that men ought not to worry about. Let her correct her girl-friend's verses she ought to allow her husband to commit a solecism.
“Pauper women endure the trials of childbirth and endure the burdens of nursing, when fortune demands it. But virtually no gilded bed is laid out for childbirth-so great is her skill, so easily can she produce drugs that make her sterile or induce her to kill human beings in her womb. You fool, enjoy it, and give her the potion to drink, whatever it's going to be, because, if she wants to get bloated and to trouble her womb with a live baby's kicking, you might end up being the father of an Ethiopian-soon a wrong-coloured heir will complete your accounts, a person whom it's bad luck to see first thing in the morning.
More Misogyny from Juvenal
Juvenal (c.55-c.130 A.D.) wrote in Satire VI (xi.199-304, 475-503): The Women of Rome:
“Now tell me — if you can not love a wife,
Made yours by every tie, and yours for life,
Why wed at all? Why waste the wine and cakes,
The queasy-stomach=d guest, at parting, takes?
And the rich present, which the bridal right
Claims for the favors of the happy night,
The platter where triumphantly inscroll'd
The Dacian hero shines in current gold?
If you can love, and your besotted mind
Is so uxoriously to one inclined,
Then bow your neck, and with submissive air,
Receive the yoke you must forever wear.
[Source:William Stearns Davis, ed., “Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources,” 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West, pp. 224-225, 239-244, 247-258]
“To a fond spouse, a wife no mercy shows
But warmed with equal fires, enjoys his woes.
She tells you where to love and where to hate,
Shuts out the ancient friend, whose beard your gate
Knew from its downy to its hoary state:
And when rogues and parasites of all degrees
Have power to will their fortune as they please,
She dictates yours, and impudently dares
To name your very rivals for your heirs.
“"Go crucify that slave." "For what offence?
Who=s the accuser? Where=s the evidence?
Hear all! no time, whatever time we take
To sift the charges, when man's life's at stake,
Can e'er be long: hear all, then, I advise!" —
“"You sniveler! is a slave a man" She cries:
"He's innocent? - be it 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 wondering spouse.
Thus swells the list - "Eight husbands in five years"
“A rare inscription on their sepulchers!
While your wife's mother lives, expect no peace.
She teaches her with savage joy to fleece
A bankrupt spouse; kind creature! she befriends
The lover's hopes, and when her daughter sends
An answer to his prayer, the style inspects,
Softens the cruel, and the wrong corrects. . .
“Women support the bar, they love the law,
And raise litigious questions for a show,
They meet in private and prepare the bill
Draw up instructions with a lawyer's skill,
Suggest to Celsus where the merits lie,
And dictate points for statement or reply.
“Nay more, they fence, who has not marked their oil,
Their purple rugs, for this preposterous toil?
Equipped for fight, the lady seeks the list
And fiercely tilts at her antagonist,
A post! which with her buckles she provokes,
And bores and batters with repeated strokes,
Till all the fencer's art can do she shows,
And the glad master interrupts her blows.
“The house appears like Phalaris' court,
All bustle, gloom and tears.
The wretched Psecas, for the whip prepared,
With locks disheveled, and with shoulders bared,
Attempts her hair; fire flashes from her eyes,
And Awretch! why this curl so high? she cries.
Instant the lash, without remorse, is plied,
And the blood stains her bosom, back and side.
Another trembling on the left prepares
To open and arrange the straggling hairs
To ringlets trim; meanwhile the council meet,
And first the nurse, a personage discreet,
Gives her opinion; then the rest in course
As age or practice lend their judgment force,
So warm they grow, and so much pains they take,
You'd think her honor or her life at stake,
So high they build her head, such tiers on tiers,
With wary hands, they pile, that she appears
Andromache before; — and what behind?
A dwarf, a creature of a different kind!”
Juvenal's First Satire
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “In his 1st Satire, which was probably written as a Preface, either to the whole of the Satires, or to one of the five separate books which made up the whole, Juvenal again follows in the steps of Persius. Among the reasons which impelled him to write satire he puts first of all his disgust at the popular poetry of the day, and at the recitations on hackneyed mythological subjects to which he is compelled to listen. He has heard enough of Theseus, Jason, and Orestes; he is bored by perpetual descriptions of the grove of Mars, of the cave of Aeolus, and of the exploits of Monychus. He prefers to deal with realities; he must describe the men of his own time:[Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“Juvenal and Martial may thus be said to have developed a school of practical poetry. Just as Socrates is said to have called down the attention of men from the heavens to the earth, so did Juvenal and Martial call men from the barren repetition of mythological tales and fancies, and the no less barren field of rhetorical declamation, to describing the life of men as lived in their own time and city.
“Juvenal ends his 1st Satire with the announcement that he is not to follow the example of Lucilius in attacking his contemporaries; his shafts are to be directed, not against the living, but against the dead. This is not to be taken merely as a sign of caution on Juvenal's part, as though he were afraid of rousing resentments like those aroused by Lucilius, but is rather an indication that his main purpose is to expose the vices and follies of the day, not to attack the individuals who had committed them. He is to be a preacher of morality, not a chastiser of persons. And this promise is to a large extent made good. Juvenal makes no effort to describe or ridicule individual characters, nor did he possess the special talent for the purpose. His subject, no doubt, requires him frequently to quote names; but such names are usually given merely as typical of some special kind of failing. They are taken either from books, or from persons who had in some way or other made themselves notorious ; some of them may have been invented for the occasion. In no case do we recognise any special feeling of animosity against the person named; nowhere can we discover any trace of that personal vindictiveness which sharpens the point, and impairs the truthfulness, of so much of our most famous modern satire. And Juvenal's most exaggerated invectives are relieved by the feeling that they are the sincere outpourings of that saeva indignatio which has so often been coupled with his name.
Juvenal's Second, Third, Forth and Fifth Satires
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “In his 2nd Satire Juvenal attacks false philosophers — men who, while exhibiting in public the stern looks and uncouth manners of Stoics, practise the worst vices in secret. It is characteristic of Juvenal that he quotes as instances of the worst depravity the fact that a Roman noble wore clothes of almost transparent texture, and that the Emperor Otho used cosmetics and carried with him a mirror as part of his paraphernalia for war. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“The 3rd Satire, from an artistic point of view, is perhaps Juvenal's finest performance. It contains a brilliant picture of the living Rome of his day, of its sights and sounds, its physical dangers and annoyances, its luxury and its meanness, its wearisome social observances, and of the intolerable inequalities which made it impossible for a poor man with any self respect to continue any longer to live in it. In lines 18-20 we find a charming indication of the poet's natural good taste when he exclaims how much nearer to us would be the spirit of Egeria "if her fountain were fringed by a margin of green grass, and there were no marble ornament to outrage the native tufa."
“The 4th Satire is of a lighter kind; it is in the nature of a skit upon the solemn importance with which an exacting emperor like Domitian might invest the most frivolous act of obsequious flatterers. A turbot of huge size is sent up as a present to the emperor, who at once summons a meeting of his cabinet council to consider how the fish is to be treated.”
The 5th Satire, in a tone of bitter irony, gives us the most perfect picture we possess of the manner in which a patron of the Imperial times might discharge the old historical duty of entertaining his clients. The picture is taken from the life; and we cannot doubt that Juvenal had experienced in his own person the humiliations which he describes. Nothing can be more revolting, nothing more repugnant to every idea of hospitality, than the manner in which the host Virro entertains his guest, who as a full reward for faithful daily service receives at length the long-hoped-for invitation to dinner. He sits, or rather reclines, at the same table, but on a lower couch. He is subjected to every kind of indignity at the hands both of the host and of his menial attendants. For every course a different and inferior dish is served to the client; so also with the drink. It is not that Virro grudges the expense of the entertainment; it is his deliberate object to insult his client, and he rejoices in his humiliation.
Juvenal's Sixth Satire: A Dream of Unlovely Women
G. G. Ramsay wrote: ““The longest, the most elaborate, and the most brilliant of Juvenal's Satires is the 6th, which puts before us, in long procession, a “Dream of Unlovely Women.” What, Postumus? Are you, in your sober senses, going to take to yourself a wife? Do you not know that Chastity has fled this earth? She may have stayed with us in Saturn's time, and perhaps lingered awhile under Jupiter before he grew his beard, in the days when men still made their home in caves, and when wives spread couches of leaves and beast-skins on the mountain-side. But know you not that since the Silver Age came in adultery has been all the vogue? Are you actually thinking of making a marriage contract and presenting an engagement ring? By what Fury are you possessed? Have you no halter by you? is there no high window from which you can take a leap? (1-37.) [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“And is Ursidius, once the most notorious of gallants, preparing to obey the Julian law and to rear an heir? ready to forgo all the turtles and mullets and other dainties which his childlessness now brings him in? Bleed the simpleton, ye doctors, if he thinks he can find a virtuous wife; if he finds one, let him sacrifice a heifer with gilded horns to Juno! Why, nowadays a wife would sooner be contented with one eye than with one husband! (38-59.)
“Can you, in all the tiers of the circus or the theatre, find a single honest woman? Women love the stage; if you marry a wife it will be to make a father of some harpist or flute-player. Or perhaps, like Eppia, the Senator's wife, she will run off to Egypt with a gladiator, leaving home and husband and sister, and brave all the perils of the deep. Had her husband bidden her go on board a ship, she would have deemed it an act of cruelty; no woman has boldness but for acts of shame! (60-135.)
“If a husband believes in his wife's virtue, it is because of the dowry that she has brought him; the Cupid that inflamed him was in her money-bags! If he love her for her beauty, she will lord it over him as long as that lasts, and ruin him by her extravagance; once her charms are faded, he will put her to the door. If, again, she be virtuous, comely, rich, fertile, and high-born, what husband can endure a woman who is all perfection, and is for ever casting her high qualities in his teeth? Away with your high ancestry, Cornelia! away with your Hannibal, your Syphax, and your Carthage! Remember the fate of Niobe! (136-183.)
“How nauseous is the female habit of using Greek for every act and circumstance of life! Women now do everything, even their loves, in Greek. You might forgive it in a girl; but what can be more revolting than to hear Greek terms of endearment in the mouth of an old woman? (184-199.)
“If you marry without love, why marry at all? Why be at the expense of a marriage-feast and all the other costs of matrimony? If you are really and truly in love with your wife, then bow your head submissively to the yoke. She will take full toll of you; she will rejoice in stripping you bare; she will do all your buying and your selling for you; she will show your old friends to the door, and make you leave legacies to her lovers. She will crucify your slaves for little or no offence; if you expostulate, and plead for delay, she will tell you "It is my will; the thing must be done!" In the end she will leave you, and wear out her veil in other bridals. What think you of one who ran through eight husbands in five seasons? (200-230.)
“No hope of peace so long as your mother-in-law is alive. She rejoices to see you fleeced; she helps her daughter in her intrigues, and teaches her to be like herself. Women are desperately litigious; never yet was there a lawsuit which did not have a woman at the bottom of it. If Manilia is not a defendant, she is a plaintiff; she instructs her learned counsel how to adjust his pleas. (231-245.)
“Then there is the athletic woman, with her wrappers and her ointments, her belts, greaves, and gauntlets; puffing and blowing all the time, she belabours a stump with wooden sword or shield; and though her skin is so delicate that she must needs wear garments of silk, she goes through all the exercises, all the attitudes and postures, of the gymnasium. What gladiator's wife would stoop to do the like ? (246-267.)
“The connubial couch is ever full of bickerings and reproaches: no sleep to be got there! It is there that the wife assails her husband with the fury of a tigress that has lost her whelps; she rakes up every imaginary grievance against him, and has always floods of tears at her command; he, poor fool, imagines they are tears of love. If she herself be caught in a delinquency, she brazens it out: "We agreed," says she, "that you should go your way and I mine." (268-285.)
“Whence came all these monstrosities among us? When Latian homes were poor and humble, when hands were hard with toil, when Hannibal was thundering at our gates, our homes were pure; Roman virtue perished along with Roman poverty. Long peace and enervating riches have been our ruin, pouring all the corruptions of Rhodes, Miletus, and Tarentum into our city. Little wonder that we have deserted the simple rites of Numa and adopted the foul practices of the Good Goddess! (286-351.)
“Ogulnia wishes to make a show at the games: she hires a gown, a litter and followers, with a maid to run her messages; she presents to some smooth-skinned athlete the last remnants of the family plate. Such women never think what their pleasures cost them; men sometimes have an eye to economy, women never. (352-365.)
“If your wife have a taste for music, she will abandon herself to the musicians; her bejewelled fingers will for ever be strumming on their instruments; she offers wine and meal to Janus and to Vesta that her Pollio may win a crown of oak-leaves. You Gods must have much time upon your hands if you can listen to prayers like these! (379-397.)
“Better that, however, than that your wife should be a busybody, running about the town and discussing the news with generals, and in her husband's presence, unabashed; she knows everything that is taking place in every corner of the globe; she retails every scandal of the town; she picks up the latest rumours at the city gates; she knows what countries are being devastated by floods, what disasters comets are boding to the kings of Parthia and Armenia, and repeats her tales to every man and woman in the street. (398-412.)
“More terrible still is the termagant, who loves to lash her poor neighbours; when a dog disturbs her slumbers, she orders the owner to be thrashed first, and then the dog. She enters the baths noisily by night, works at the dumbbells till she is wearied, and then submits herself to the bathman for massage. Meanwhile her famished guests have been wearying for their dinner; when at last she arrives, she slakes her thirst with bumpers of Falernian, which soon find their way back on to the floor. (413-433.)
“No less of a nuisance is your learned lady, who discourses on poetry, and pits Homer and Virgil against each other. She outbawls all the rhetoricians with her din; she could unaided bring succour to the labouring moon. She lays down definitions like a philosopher; she should tuck up her skirts half-leg high, sacrifice a pig to Silvanus, and take a penny bath! She knows all history, quotes poets that I never heard of; she has every trick of speech at her fingers' ends, and will pull you up for the smallest slip in grammar. Take no such wife to your bosom! (434-456.)
“Still more unbearable is the wealthy wife, who thinks that everything is permitted to her. Her neck, her ears, are resplendent with precious stones; she plasters her face with bread-poultices and Poppaean pastes which stick to her husband's lips when he gives her a kiss. She never cares to look well at home; it is for lovers only that a clean skin and Indian perfumes are reserved. In due time she washes off the layers with asses' milk, and the face can be recognised as a face instead of as a sore! (457-473.)
“If the husband has been neglectful, the maids will suffer for it; the slightest fault will bring down a thrashing on them with whip or cane; some women engage their floggers by the year. The lady meanwhile is making up her face, or chatting with her friends, or examining a piece of embroidery, or reading the Gazette: not less cruel than Phalaris, she keeps her flogger at it all the time. If in a hurry to keep an assignation, she wreaks her vengeance on her tirewoman with a thong of bull's hide for every curl out of place, while the second maid builds up the lofty erection on her head: so serious is the art of beautification! so complicated the artistic structure! Not a thought for the husband all this time; he is only a little nearer to her than a next-door neighbour; she heeds not what she costs him. (474-511.)
“Another is the prey of every superstition. In come the noisy crew of the frantic Bellona and the Good Goddess, clanging their cymbals; they pay reverence to the huge emasculated priest; to avert his prophecies of evil, she presents him with a hundred eggs, and some cast-off clothing: these carry off the threatened peril and purify her for the entire year. In winter-time she breaks the ice for a plunge into the Tiber, and then crawls with bleeding knees over the Campus Martius. At Io's bidding — for she believes that the Goddess herself holds commune with her — she would go on a pilgrimage to Egypt to bring water from Lake Meroe with which to besprinkle the shrine of Isis. She pays reverence to the dog-headed Anubis, with his close-cropped and linen-clad followers; a fat goose and a thin cake will obtain from Osiris absolution for all her peccadilloes. (511-541.) “Next comes a Jewish hag, leaving her basket and her hay, who whispers secrets into her ear, expounding the holy laws of her tribe: she interprets or invents dreams for the smallest of coins. An Armenian or Syrian soothsayer, manipulating a pigeon's liver, promises her a youthful lover, or the inheritance of some rich and childless man. He probes the entrails of a dog, sometimes even of a boy, committing a crime that he may himself turn informer. But most trusted of all is the Chaldaean, whose words come direct from the fount of Hammon — more especially if he have done something to deserve exile and narrowly escaped death. Your virtuous Tanaquil consults him about the too long delayed death of her mother or her uncle — having first enquired about your own death. Such a one knows nothing about the stars; but beware of the woman in whose hand you see a well-thumbed almanack, and who claims to be an expert; she is herself consulted, and regulates her whole life after the dictates of the occult science. Rich women consult a Phrygian or an Indian augur; the poor woman looks for a diviner in the Circus, of whom she enquires whether she shall marry the tavern-keeper or the old-clothesman. (542-591.)
“Poor women will bear the pangs of childbirth; but you will rarely find a woman lying-in who sleeps in a gilded bed. So potent are the draughts of the abortionist! Hand the potion to her yourself, my man, and rejoice in the murder of your unborn children: you might otherwise find yourself the father of a blackamoor. If an heir be wanted for some great house, roguish Fortune knows where to look for one: she takes her stand by night at the foundling pool, dandles a chance infant in her arms, and spirits it away into some lordly house to become a Pontifex or a Priest of Mars! (592-609.)
“Instructed by Thessalian witches, a wife will make her husband imbecile or raving mad with a magical love philtre: just as Caesonia's potion robbed Nero's uncle of his senses. More guilty she than Agrippina: for Agrippina did but "send down to heaven" a slobbering dotard, whereas Caesonia's medicament slew knights and senators together, and turned the whole world upside down with fire and the sword. (610-626.)
“To kill a stepson is now thought quite in order; beware, ye wards, if ye have wealth: keep an eye upon your stepmother's cakes, and let her cup be tasted before you put it to your lips. Do you suppose that I am telling mere idle tales, breathing forth mouthings like a tragedian? Would to heaven it were so! but just look at the case of Pontia, who was caught in the act: "I did it," she confessed; "with my own hands. I gave aconite to my boys." "What, you viper? you slew two of them at one meal?" "Ay; and seven too had there been seven to slay!" (627-642.)
“Tragedy, indeed, tells us of the crimes of Procne and the Colchian; I seek not to deny them. But they sinned in wrath, not for filthy lucre's sake: what I cannot abide is the calculated crime, committed calmly in cold blood. Women flock to see Alcestis dying for her husband; but your modern woman would let her husband go to Hades if she could save her lapdog! Daughters of Danaus are to be found in plenty among us; every street in Rome contains its Clytemnestra; the only difference is that she made use of a clumsy two-bladed axe, while these women do the trick with the liver of a toad — and perhaps with a knife, if their lord have fortified himself with antidotes! (643-661.)
Juvenal's Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Satires
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “The 7th Satire promises a good time for letters and learning from the expected patronage of the new emperor, and is mainly taken up with bewailing the miserable prospects of all the literary professions. The good old days of patronage are gone; the wealthy pay no respect to letters, or assist them only in ways that involve no cost to themselves; the only patronage worth having nowadays is the favour of a popular play-actor. The poet, the historian, the advocate, the rhetorician, the grammarian-all have the same tale of neglect and poverty to tell, whereas singers and jockeys are splendidly rewarded. The teacher's profession, which is the noblest, and the most deserving of respect, of all the professions, fares worst of all; there is no money that a father grudges so much as that spent in the education of his son. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“The 8th Satire is an attack upon pride of birth. Though there is no one who has more respect for the blood of the great old Roman houses than Juvenal himself, he discourses eloquently on the theme nobilitas sola est atque unica virtus. No man, no animal, can be called high-born whose breeding is not proclaimed by the possession of high qualities. A man must stand or fall by his own qualities, not by those of his ancestors. Be a stout soldier, an honest guardian, and an impartial arbiter; prefer honour to life; if called to govern a province, be just and tender-hearted to the provincials. If your wife be blameless, and you have no corrupt favourite in your suite, you may trace your lineage to the loftiest source you please; but if you are carried headlong by ambition, lust and cruelty, the noble blood of your ancestors rises up in judgment against you, and throws a dazzling light upon your misdeeds. What think you of the noble Lateranus, who drives his own chariot along the public way unabashed, and frequents low taverns, where he consorts with thieves, coffin-makers, and cut-throats? And what are we to say of a Damasippus or a Lentulus, who hire out their voices to the stage? — though, indeed, who might not be a mime when an emperor has turned lutist? — and worse still, have we not seen the noble Gracchus in the arena, not fighting with helm and shield and sword, but with a trident and a net in his hand? See how he has missed his cast, and lifts his face for all to see as he flies along the arena ! Orestes, you say, was a parricide, like Nero; but Orestes slew no wife, no sister: he never sang upon the stage, he never wrote an epic upon Troy! And of all his crimes, which deserved greater punishment than that?
“Whose blood could be nobler than that of Catiline or Cethegus? Yet they conspired to destroy the city; and it was the plebeian Cicero that preserved it. The plebeian Marius saved her from the Cimbri and the Teutones; the plebeian Decii saved our legions from the hosts of Latium; and the best king of Rome was a slave-girl's son.
“The 9th Satire deals with a disgusting offence, one of the main sources of corruption in the ancient world.
Juvenal's Tenth Satire
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “The 10th Satire has been often called Juvenal's masterpiece; it has had the honour of being paraphrased by Johnson in his "Vanity of Human Wishes," and it has all the merits of a full-blown rhetorical declamation. It has some magnificent descriptions, especially that of the fall of the favourite Sejanus. But it is a profoundly depressing and pessimistic poem. Except in the last few lines, there is not a word of hope or encouragement for the ordinary human being; no sense that any kind of life can be worth living; not one word of counterpoise to the long, dismal catalogue of human failures; no suggestion that in great lives which have ended in disaster there may have been moments of noble action, high endeavour and inspiration. The description of old age is revolting in its minuteness, and it is not relieved by a single touch of sympathy or kindliness. The text of the whole is ‘Our wishes, our prayers, are all equally vain.’ [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“If you lust for riches, think of the fate of a Lateranus, a Seneca, or a Longinus; even in days of primitive simplicity, man's follies provoked the tears of Heracleitus and the laughter of Democritus. Some men are brought to ruin by their lust of place and power, like Pompey, the Crassi, and Sejanus; others, like Cicero and Demosthenes, by the fatal gift of eloquence. The glories of war end in misery and disaster — look at the calamitous ends of Hannibal, of Xerxes, and Alexander! Men pray for long life; but old age does but bring with it a host of miseries and infirmities, ending in the loss of reason. What calamities had Nestor, Peleus, and Priam to go through because of their length of days! What disasters would have been escaped by Marius and Pompey, what glory might not have been theirs, had they died earlier!
“The loving mother prays that her children may have beauty; but when did modesty and beauty go together? The fair maiden, the fair youth, live in a world of peril and of snares. Hippolytus and Bellerophon warn us that even purity has its dangers; and what was the end of the fair and high-born youth who became a victim to the passion of Messalina?
“Better leave it to the Gods to determine what is best for you and for your state; man is dearer to them than he is to himself. But if you must needs pray for something, ask for things which you can give yourself: ask for a stout heart that fears not death; ask for power to endure; ask for a heart that knows not anger and desire, and deems that all the woes of Hercules are better than the soft cushions of Sardanapalus. These things you can bestow on yourself, and snap your fingers at the strokes of Fortune!
Juvenal's Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirtheenth Satire
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “The 11th Satire consists of two parts. It begins with an account of the folly of gourmands of slender means, who ruin themselves for the pleasures of the table, forgetful of the golden rule G n w ^q i s e a u t 'o n , which warns a man to know his tether, in finance as well as in other things, and not buy a mullet when he has only a gudgeon in his purse (1-55). This serves as a prelude to the second part of the Satire, in which the poet invites his friend Persicus to a genial but simple feast, the delicacies of which are to be furnished from the homely produce of his Tiburtine farm — such a feast as was served on simple ware to regale the consuls and dictators of the olden time. There will be no rich plate no costly furniture, no silver, no handles of ivory, no professional carver, no Phrygian or Lycian Ganymede to hand you your cup. Two simple country-clad lads will serve the table; no wanton dancing girls will be provided for your entertainment; only Homer and Virgil will be read. And our enjoyment will be all the greater that we can hear the roars of the circus in the distance, and hug ourselves in the delights of a rare and peaceful holiday (56-208). [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“In his 12th Satire Juvenal celebrates the narrow escape from shipwreck of his friend Catullus. A terrible storm had compelled him to cut away the mast and to throw overboard all the treasures of his cargo. But at length the storm abates, and Catullus with his crew arrive safe and sound in the new Ostian harbour. Juvenal then offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving for his friend's safety — no mercenary offering this for a rich and childless friend, seeing that Catullus has three little sons of his own. This leads the poet to have his fling at the wiles of legacy-hunters, some of whom would be ready to sacrifice a hecatomb of elephants (if elephants were to be had), or even to offer an Iphigenia of their own, in order to secure a place in a rich man's will. “The elephant passage is singularly cumbrous and out of place.
“The 13th is the noblest of Juvenal's Satires. It takes the form of a consolatory epistle to Calvinus, who has B.C.n defrauded of a sum of ten thousand sesterces by the dishonesty of the friend to whom it had been entrusted. In offering him consolation, the poet not only uses all the arguments of robust common sense, but also in his concluding passages he may be said to reach the high-water mark of pre-Christian ethics: there is at least one notable pronouncement which seems to breathe the very spirit of the Gospel.
“Every guilty deed brings its own punishment along with it; no guilty man can escape at the bar of his own conscience. Your loss is one of every-day occurrence; has experience not taught you to bear the smallest of misfortunes? Crime of every kind is rampant amongst us; honest men are not more numerous than the mouths of the Nile; it is mere simplicity to expect any man nowadays to abstain from perjury. In the days of Saturn, before the heavens were crowded with their present mob of divinities: in the days when youth stood up to reverence old age, dishonesty was a marvel to be wondered at; but in these days, if a man acknowledges a trust, and restores the purse entrusted to him, I deem him a prodigy. I liken him to a shower of stones, or to a pregnant mule, or to a river running white with milk. What if some other man have lost ten times as much as you? So easy is it to escape the notice of heaven if no man be privy to the guilty deed! Some men disbelieve in divine wrath; others believe in it, but will take the risk, provided they can secure the cash: punishment they argue, may perhaps never come after all! Granted that loss of money is the greatest of human calamities, what right have you to deem yourself outside the common lot of man, as though hatched from a white and lucky egg? Look at the list of crimes daily brought before the Court and dare to call yourself unfortunate! Who wonders at a swollen neck in the Alps, or at blue eyes and yellow hair in a German?
“But is the perjured wretch to go unpunished? you ask. Well, if the man's life were taken, that would not bring back your money; and when you tell me that vengeance is sweeter than life itself, I tell you that none think so but the ignorant, and that of all pleasures vengeance is the meanest. You may judge of it by this, that no one so delights in it as a woman!
“But why fancy that such men escape punishment when conscience is for ever wielding its unseen, unheard lash over their guilty souls? What punishment of Caedicius or Rhadamanthus can be so terrible as that of having to carry one's own accusing witness, by day and by night, within one's breast? Truly spoke the Pythian oracle when it condemned the man who returned a deposit, not for conscience' sake, but from fear; for the man who meditates a crime within his heart has all the guiltiness of the deed. If he accomplishes the deed, he is never free from anguish; the choicest viands, the finest wines, offend his taste; when his tossed limbs at length sink to rest, he has visions of the temple and the altar by which he has forsworn himself; your image, larger than life, rises up before him and compels him to confess. These are the men who tremble at every lightning-flash; they believe that every rumbling in the sky, every sickness they have, is a sign of the wrath of heaven and betokens future punishment. And yet they will not mend their ways; what man was ever content with a single sin? So you may take comfort from this: your enemy will sin once again, and more openly: his fate will be the prison or the halter; you will rejoice in his punishment, and enjoy your vengeance after all !
Juvenal's Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Satires
G. G. Ramsay wrote: “The theme of the 14th Satire is that parental example is the most potent of educational instruments. The father who gambles, or gormandises, or cruelly abuses his slaves, is instructing his son in his own vices; the mother who has paramours teaches her daughter to be unfaithful; clothed with parental authority, such examples cannot be resisted. Let fathers therefore see to it that no foul sight be seen, no foul word be heard, within their doors; let them respect their child's tender years, let their infant son forbid the meditated sin. [Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918]
“When you expect a guest, your household are set to work to clean and scrub, that no foul spot may offend the stranger's eye: and will you not bestir yourself that your son may see nothing but what is pure and spotless within his home? The stork, the vulture, the eagle all follow in the ways pointed out to them in the parental nest. Cretonius half ruined himself by building; his son completed the ruin by building grander and more sumptuous mansions. If the father keeps the Sabbath, the son will carry his superstition further still; he will flout the laws of Rome, and observe the secret rites and practices of Moses.
“The one and only vice which the young practise unwillingly is that of avarice, since it has a spurious appearance of virtue. Hence fathers take double pains, both by precept and example, to instil the love of money into their sons; they practise the meanest economies that they may be wealthy when they die. Our hardy ancestors, broken by wounds and years, deemed themselves happy with a reward of two acres, which to-day would not be thought big enough for a garden. In the hurry to be rich no law is regarded, no crime stops the way. Foreign purple has banished the hardy contentment of the old Marsian and Hernican heroes, and opened the door to every villainy. When the father bids his son rise at midnight to seek for gain, telling him that lucre smells sweet whatever the source from which it comes, he is instructing him to cheat, to cozen, and to forswear himself; ay, and the disciple will soon outstrip his teacher.
“It is as good as a play to watch how men will brave perils of storm and tempest to increase their pile of cash; not for mere livelihood, like the rope-dancer, but just to store up little pieces of gold and silver stamped with tiny images! Such a man is fit only for a mad-house; one day the storm will engulf his goods, and he will have to support himself by a painted shipwreck.
“To guard great riches is as burdensome a task as to acquire them; better be lodged like Diogenes, who, if his tub were broken, could have it mended or replaced to-morrow. If you ask how much money should suffice, I would bid you have enough to keep out cold and hunger; add as much as would make up the fortune of a knight; if that be too beggarly, make it double, or treble the amount: if that suffice you not, then will not your soul be satisfied with all the wealth of Croesus or Narcissus!
“The 15th Satire gives an account of a fierce fight between the inhabitants of two neighbouring townships in Egypt, Ombi and Tentyra. In the course of the battle a fleeing Tentyrite slipped and fell; his body was at once torn into pieces and devoured by the bloodthirsty Ombites. Juvenal furiously denounces the crime; and it gives him the opportunity, in a beautiful and pathetic passage, of declaring that the tenderness of heart evinced by the capacity to shed tears is the noblest and most beautiful of the characteristics of man; it is the power of sympathy between man and man that has built up all the elements of human civilisation. Source: Edition and translation by G. G. Ramsay, Loeb Classical Library, 1918] The 16th Satire, which is only half finished, is taken up with recounting the various privileges enjoyed by the military. No civilian can get justice against a soldier; and soldiers have special privileges in regard to property.
Juvenal: Satire 1
Juvenal wrote in Satire 1: “What? Am I to be a listener only all my days? Am I never to get my word in—I that have been so often bored by the Theseid 1 of the ranting Cordus? Shall this one have spouted to me his comedies, and that one his love ditties, and I be unavenged? Shall I have no revenge on one who has taken up the whole day with an interminable Telephus 2 or with an Orestes 2 which, after filling the margin at the top of the roll and the back as well, hasn't even yet come to an end? No one knows his own house so well as I know the groves of Mars, and the cave of Vulcan near the cliffs of Aeolus. What the winds are brewing; whose souls Aeacus 3 has on the rack; from what country another worthy 4 is carrying off that stolen golden fleece; how big are the ash trees which Monychus 5 hurls as missiles: these are the themes with which Fronto's 6 plane trees and marble halls are for ever ringing until the pillars quiver and quake under the continual recitations; such is the kind of stuff you may look for from every poet, greatest or least. Well, I too have slipped my hand from under the cane; I too have counselled Sulla to retire from public life and take a deep sleep 7 ; it is a foolish clemency when you jostle against poets at every corner, to spare paper that will be wasted anyhow. But if you can give me time, and will listen quietly to reason, I will tell you why I prefer to run in the same course over which the great nursling of Aurunca 8 drove his horses. [Source: Loeb Classical Library, Edited by G. P. Goold, translatied by G. G. Ramsay, Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1891]
“When a soft eunuch takes to matrimony, and Maevia, with spear in hand and breasts exposed, to pig-sticking in Etruria; when a fellow under whose razor my stiff youthful beard used to grate 9 challenges, with his single wealth, the whole nobility; when a guttersnipe of the Nile like Crispinus 10 —a slave-born denizen of Canopus 11 —hitches a Tyrian cloak on to his shoulder, whilst on his sweating finger he airs a summer ring of gold, unable to endure the weight of a heavier gem—it is hard not to write satire. For who can be so tolerant of this monstrous city, who so iron of soul, as to contain himself when the brand-new litter of lawyer Matho comes along, filled with his huge self; after him one who has informed against his noble patron and will soon sweep away the remnant of our nobility already gnawed to the bone—one whom Massa 12 dreads, whom Carus 12 propitiates by a bribe, and to whom Thymele 13 was sent as envoy by the terrified Latinus 13 ; when you are thrust on one side by men who earn legacies by nightly performances, and are raised to heaven by that now royal road to high preferment—the favours of an aged and wealthy woman? Each of the lovers will have his share; Proculeius a twelfth part, Gillo eleven parts, each in proportion to the magnitude of his services. By all means let each take the price of his own blood, and turn as pale as a man who has trodden upon a snake bare-footed, or of one who awaits his turn to orate before the altar at Lugdunum. 14
“Why tell how my heart burns dry with rage when I see the people hustled by a mob of retainers attending on one who has defrauded and debauched his ward, or on another who has been condemned by a futile verdict—for what matters infamy if the cash be kept? The exiled Marius 15 carouses from the eighth hour of the day and revels in the wrath of Heaven, while you, poor Province, win your cause and weep!
“Must I not deem these things worthy of the Venusian's 16 lamp? Must I not have my fling at them? Should I do better to tell tales about Hercules, or Diomede, or the bellowing in the Labyrinth, or about the flying carpenter 17 and the lad 18 who splashed into the sea; and that in an age when the compliant husband, if his wife may not lawfully inherits, 19 takes money from her paramour, being well trained to keep his eyes upon the ceiling, or to snore with wakeful nose over his cups; an age when one who has squandered all his family fortunes upon horse-flesh thinks it right and proper to look for the command of a cohort? See the youngster dashing at break-neck speed, like a very Automedon, 20 along the Flaminian way, holding the reins himself, while he shows himself off to his great-coated mistress!
“Would you not like to fill up a whole note-book at the street crossings when you see a forger borne along upon the necks of six porters, and exposed to view on this side and on that in his almost naked litter, and reminding you of the lounging Maecenas one who by help of a scrap of paper and a moistened seal has converted himself into a fine and wealthy gentleman?
“Then up comes a lordly dame who, when her husband wants a drink, mixes toad's blood with his mellow Calenian, 21 and improving upon Lucusta 21 herself, teaches her artless neighbours to brave the talk of the town and carry forth to burial the blackened corpses of their husbands. If you want to be anybody nowadays, you must dare some crime that merits narrow Gyara 23 or a gaol; honesty is praised and left to shiver. It is to their crimes that men owe their pleasure-grounds and palaces, their fine tables and old silver goblets with goats standing out in relief. Who can get sleep for thinking of a money-loving daughter-in-law seduced, of brides that have lost their virtue, or of adulterers not out of their 'teens? Though nature say me nay, indignation will prompt my verse, of whatever kind it be—such verse as I can write, or Cluvienus! 24
“From the day when the rain-clouds lifted up the waters, and Deucalion climbed that mountain in his ship to seek an oracle—that day when stones grew soft and warm with life, and Pyrrha showed maidens in nature's garb to men—all the doings of mankind, their vows, their fears, their angers and their pleasures, their joys and goings to and fro, shall form the motley subject of my page. For when was Vice more rampant? When did the maw of Avarice gape wider? When was gambling so reckless? Men come not now with purses to the hazard of the gaming table, but with a treasure-chest beside them. What battles will you there see waged with a cashier for armour-bearer! Is it a simple form of madness to lose a hundred thousand sesterces, and not have a shirt to give to a shivering slave? Which of our grandfathers built such numbers of villas, or dined by himself off seven courses? Look now at the meagre dole set down upon the threshold for a toga-clad mob to scramble for! Yet the patron first peers into your face, fearing that you may be claiming under someone else's name: once recognised, you will get your share. He then bids the crier call up the Trojan-blooded nobles—for they too besiege the door as well as we: "The Praetor first," says he, "and after him the Tribune." "But I was here first," says a freedman who stops the way; "why should I be afraid, or hesitate to keep my place? Though born on the Euphrates—a fact which the little windows in my ears would testify though I myself denied it—yet I am the owner of five shops which bring me in four hundred thousand sesterces. 25 What better thing does the Broad Purple 26 bestow if a Corvinus 27 herds sheep for daily wage in the Laurentian country, while I possess more property than either a Pallas or a Licinus?" 28 So let the Tribunes await their turn; let money carry the day; let the sacred office 29 give way to one who came but yesterday with whitened 30 feet into our city. For no deity is held in such reverence amongst us as Wealth; though as yet, O baneful money, thou hast no temple of thine own; not yet have we reared altars to Money in like manner as we worship Peace and Honour, Victory and Virtue, or that Concord 31 that clatters when we salute her nest.
“If then the great officers of state reckon up at the end of the year how much the dole brings in, how much it adds to their income, what shall we dependants do who, out of the self same dole, have to find ourselves in coats and shoes, in bread and smoke at home? A mob of litters comes in quest of the hundred farthings; here is a husband going the round, followed by a sickly or pregnant wife; another, by a clever and well-known trick, claims for a wife that is not there, pointing, in her stead, to a closed and empty chair: "My Galla's in there," says he; "let us off quick, will you not?" "Galla, put out your head!" "Don't disturb her, she's asleep!" “The day itself is marked out by a fine round of business. First comes the dole; then the courts, and Apollo 32 learned in the law, and those triumphal statues among which some Egyptian Arabarch 33 or other has dared to set up his titles; against whose statue more than one kind of nuisance may be committed! Wearied and hopeless, the old clients leave the door, though the last hope that a man relinquishes is that of a dinner; the poor wretches must buy their cabbage and their fuel. Meanwhile their lordly patron will be devouring the choicest products of wood and sea, lying alone upon an empty couch; yes, at a single meal from their many fine large and antique tables they devour whole fortunes. Ere long no parasites will be left! Who can bear to see luxury so mean? What a huge gullet to have a whole boar—an animal created for conviviality—served up to it! But you will soon pay for it, my friend, when you take off your clothes, and with distended stomach carry your peacock into the bath undigested! Hence a sudden death, and an intestate old age; the new and merry tale runs the round of every dinner-table, and the corpse is carried forth to burial amid the cheers of enraged friends!
“To these ways of ours Posterity will have nothing to add; our grandchildren will do the same things, any desire the same things, that we do. All vice is at its acme; up with your sails and shake out every stitch of canvas! Here perhaps you will say, "Where find the talent to match the theme? Where find that freedom of our forefathers to write whatever the burning soul desired? 'What man is there that I dare not name? What matters it whether Mucius forgives my words or no? 35 "' But just describe Tigellinus 36 and you will blaze amid those faggots in which men, with their throats tightly gripped, stand and burn and smoke, and you 37 trace a broad furrow through the middle of the arena.
“What? Is a man who has administered aconite to half a dozen uncles to ride by and look down upon me from his swaying feather-pillows? "Yes; and when he comes near you, put your finger to your lip: he who but says the word, 'That's the man!' will be counted an informer. You may set Aeneas and the brave Rutulian 38 a-fighting with an easy mind; it will hurt no one's feelings to hear how Achilles was slain, or how Hylas 39 was searched for when he tumbled after his pitcher. But when Lucilius roars and rages as if with sword in hand, the hearer, whose soul is cold with crime, grows red; he sweats with the secret consciousness of sin. Hence wrath and tears. So turn these things over in your mind before the trumpet sounds; the helmet once donned, it is too late to repent you of the battle." Then I will try what I may say of those worthies whose ashes lie under the Flaminian and Latin 40 roads.
Notes: 1) An epic poem. 2) Names of tragedies. 3) One of the judges in Hades. 4) Jason. 5) A Centaur, alluding to the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapithae. 6) A rich patron who lends his house for recitations. 7) Referring to the retirement of Sulla from public life in B.C. 79. Such themes would be prescribed to schoolboys as rhetorical exercises, of the kind called suasoriae. See Mayor's n. and Sat. vii. 150-70. 8) Lucilius, the first Roman satirist, B.C. 180-103. 9) Some barber who had made a fortune. The line is repeated in x. 226. 10) A favourite aversion of Juvenal's as a rich Egyptian parvenu who had risen to be princeps equitum. See iv. 1, 14, 108. 11) A city in the Nile Delta. 12) Notorious informers under Domitian. 13) Both actors: the allusion is not known. 14) Alluding to a rhetorical contest instituted at Lyons by Caligula (Suet. Cal. 20). Severe and humiliating punishments were inflicted on those defeated in these contests. 15) Condemned for extortion in Africa in A.D. 100. 16) Horace was born at Venusia B.C. 65. 17) Daedalus. 18) Icarus. 19) i.e. be legally incapacitated from taking an inheritance. 20) The charioteer of Achilles. 21) Calenian and Falernian were two of the most famous Roman wines. 22) A notorious poisoner under Nero. 23) A small island in the Aegean Sea on which criminals were confined. 24) Unknown; some scribbler of the day. 25) The fortune required of a knight (the census equestris) was 400,000 sesterces. 26) The broad purple stripe (latus clavus) on the tunic of senators. 27) One of an ancient Roman family. 28) Pallas and Licinus were wealthy freedmen. See p.338, n. 1. 29) The persons of the Tribunes of the Plebe were sacrosanct. 30) Slaves imported for sale had white chalk-marks on their feet. 31) The temple of Concord, near the Capitol. Storks built their nests on the temple. 32) A statue of Apollo in the Forum Augusti. 33) Probably an allusion to Julius Alexander, a Jew who was Prefect of Egypt A.D. 67-70. 34) The phrase is difficult. Duff translates " Vice always stands above a sheer descent," and therefore soon reaches its extreme point. 35) Apparently a quotation from Lucilius, being an attack on P. Mucius Scaevola. 36) An infamous favourite of Nero's. 37) i e. "your body." The passage refers to the burning of the early Christians, and the dragging of their remains across the arena. 38) Turnus, king of the Rutulians. 39) A favourite of Hercules, who was drawn into a well by the Naids. 40) The sides of the great roads leading out from Rome were lined with monuments to the dead.
Juvenal: Satire 2: Moralists Without Morals
Juvenal wrote in Satire 2: “I would fain flee to Sarmatia and the frozen Sea when people who ape the Curii 1 and live like Bacchanals dare talk about morals. In the first place, they are unlearned persons, though you may find their houses crammed with plaster casts of Chrysippus; 2 for their greatest hero is the man who has brought a likeness of Aristotle or Pittacus, 3 or bids his shelves preserve an original portrait of Cleanthes. 4 Men's faces are not to be trusted; does not every street abound in gloomy-visaged debauchees? And do you rebuke foul practices, when you are yourself the most notorious delving-ground among Socratic reprobates? A hairy body, and arms stiff with bristles, give promise of a manly soul: but sleek are your buttocks when the grinning doctor cuts into the swollen piles. Men of your kidney talk little; they glory in taciturnity, and cut their hair shorter than their eyebrows. Peribomius 5 himself is more open and more honest; his face, his walk, betray his distemper, and I charge Destiny with his failings. Such men excite your pity by their frankness; the very fury of their passions wins them pardon. Far worse are those who denounce evil ways in the language of a Hercules; and after discoursing upon virtue, prepare to practise vice. "Am I to respect you, Sextus," quoth the ill-famed Varillus, "when you do as I do? How am I worse than yourself?" Let the straight-legged man laugh at the club-footed, the white man at the blackamoor: but who could endure the Gracchi railing at sedition? Who will not confound heaven with earth, and sea with sky, if Verres denounce thieves, or Milo 6 cut-throats? If Clodius condemn adulterers, or Catiline upbraid Cethegus; 7 or if Sulla's three disciples 8 inveigh against proscriptions? Such a man was that adulterer 9 who, after lately defiling himself by a union of the tragic style, revived the stern laws that were to be a terror to all men-ay, even to Mars and Venus-at the moment when Julia was relieving her fertile womb and giving birth to abortions that displayed the similitude of her uncle. Is it not then right and proper that the very worst of sinners should despise your pretended Scauri, l0 and bite back when bitten? [Source: Loeb Classical Library, Edited by G. P. Goold, translatied by G. G. Ramsay, Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1891]
“Laronia could not contain herself when one of these sour-faced worthies cried out, "What of you, Julian Law? 11 What, gone to sleep?" To which she answered smilingly, "O happy times to have you for a censor of our morals! Once more may Rome regain her modesty; a third Cato has come down to us from the skies! But tell me, where did you buy that balsam juice that exhales from your hairy neck? Don't be ashamed to point out to me the shopman! If laws and statutes are to be raked up, you should cite first of all the Scantinian: 12 inquire first into the things that are done by men; men do more wicked things than we do, but they are protected by their numbers, and the tight-locked shields of their phalanx. Male effeminates agree wondrously well among themselves; never in our sex will you find such loathsome examples of evil. . . .
“"Do we women ever plead in the courts? Are we learned in the Law? Do your court-houses ever ring with our bawling? Some few of us are wrestlers; some of us eat meat-rations: you men spin wool and bring back your tale of work in full baskets when it is done; you twirl round the spindle big with fine thread more deftly than Penelope, more delicately than Arachne, l3 doing work such as an unkempt drab squatting on a log would do. Everybody knows why Hister left all his property to his freedman, why in his life-time he gave so many presents to his young wife; the woman who sleeps third in a big bed will want for nothing. So when you take a husband, keep your mouth shut; precious stones 14 will be the reward of a well-kept secret. After this, what condemnation can be pronounced on us women? Our censor absolves the raven and passes judgment on the pigeon!"
“While Laronia was uttering these plain truths, the would-be Stoics made off in confusion; for what word of untruth had she spoken? Yet what will not other men do when you, Creticus, dress yourself in garments of gauze, and while everyone is marvelling at your attire, launch out against the Proculae and the Pollittae? Fabulla is an adulteress; condemn Carfinia of the same crime if you please; but however guilty, they would never wear such a gown as yours. "O but," you say, "these July days are so sweltering!" Then why not plead without clothes? Such madness would be less disgraceful. A pretty garb yours in which to propose or expound laws to our countrymen flushed with victory, and with their wounds yet unhealed; and to those mountain rustics who had laid down their ploughs to listen to you! What would you not exclaim if you saw a judge dressed like that? Would a robe of gauze sit becomingly on a witness? You, Creticus, you, the keen, unbending champion of human liberty, to be clothed in a transparency! This plague has come upon us by infection, and it will spread still further, just as in the fields the scab of one sheep, or the mange of one pig, destroys an entire herd; just as one bunch of grapes takes on its sickly colour from the aspect of its neighbour.
“Some day you will venture on something more shameful than this dress; no one reaches the depths of turpitude all at once. By degrees you will be welcomed by those who in their homes put long fillets round their brows, swathe themselves with necklaces, and propitiate the Bona Dea with the stomach of a porker and a huge bowl of wine, though by an evil usage the Goddess warns off all women from entering the door; none but males may approach her altar. 15 "Away with you! profane women" is the cry; "no booming horn, no she-minstrels here!" Such were the secret torchlight orgies with which the Baptae 16 wearied the Cecropian 17 Cotytto. One prolongs his eyebrows with some damp soot staining the edge of a needle, and lifts up his blinking eyes to be painted; another drinks out of an obscenely-shaped glass, and ties up his long locks in a gilded net; he is clothed in blue checks, or smooth-faced green; the attendant swears by Juno like his master. Another holds in his hand a mirror like that carried by the effeminate Otho: a trophy of the Auruncan Actor, 18 in which he gazed at his own image in full armour when he was just ready to give the order to advance — a thing notable and novel in the annals of our time, a mirror among the kit of Civil War! It needed, in truth, a mighty general to slay Galba, and keep his own skin
“sleek; it needed a citizen of highest courage to ape the splendours of the Palace on the field of Bebriacum, 19 and plaster his face with dough! Never did the quiver-bearing Samiramis 20 the like in her Assyrian realm, nor the despairing Cleopatra on board her ship at Actium. No decency of language is there here: no regard for the manners of the table. You will hear all the foul talk and squeaking tones of Cybele; a grey-haired frenzied old man presides over the rites; he is a rare and notable master of mighty gluttony, and should be hired to teach it. But why wait any longer when it were time in Phrygian fashion to lop off the superfluous flesh?
“Gracchus has presented to a cornet player-or perhaps it was a player on the straight horn-a dowry of four hundred thousand sesterces. The contract has been signed; the benedictions have been pronounced; a crowd of banqueters seated, the new made bride is reclining on the bosom of her husband. O ye nobles of Rome! is it a soothsayer that we need, or a Censor? Would you be more aghast, would you deem it a greater portent, if a woman gave birth to a calf, or a cow to a lamb? The man who is now arraying himself in the flounces and train and veil of a bride once carried the nodding shields 21 of Mars by the sacred thongs and sweated under the sacred burden!
“O Father of our city, whence came such wickedness among thy Latin shepherds? How did such a lust possess thy grandchildren, O Gradivus? Behold! Here you have a man of high birth and wealth being handed over in marriage to a man, and yet neither shakest thy helmet, nor smitest the earth with thy spear, nor yet protestest to thy Father? Away with thee then; begone from the broad acres of that Martial Plain 22 which thou hast forgotten!
“"I have a ceremony to attend," quoth one, "at dawn to-morrow, in the Quirinal valley." "What is the occasion?" "No need to ask: a friend is taking to himself a husband; quite a small affair." Yes, and if we only live long enough, we shall see these things done openly: people will wish to see them reported among the news of the day. Meanwhile these would-be brides have one great trouble: they can bear no children wherewith to keep the affection of their husbands; well has nature done in granting to their desires no power over their bodies. They die unfertile; naught avails them the medicine-chest of the bloated Lyde, or to hold out their hands to the blows of the swift-footed Luperci! 23
“Greater still the portent when Gracchus, clad in a tunic, played the gladiator, and fled, trident in hand, across the arena-Gracchus, a man of nobler birth than the Capitolini, or the Marcelli, or the descendents of Catulus or Paulus, or the Fabii: nobler than all the spectators in the podium; 24 not excepting him who gave the show at which that net 25 was flung.
“That there are such things as Manes, and kingdoms below ground, and punt-poles, and Stygian pools black with frogs, and all those thousands crossing over in a single bark-these things not even boys believe, except such as have not yet had their penny bath. But just imagine them to be true-what would Curius and the two Scipios think? or Fabricius and the spirit of Camillus? What would the legion that fought at the Cremera 26 think, or the young manhood that fell at Cannae; what would all those gallant hearts feel when a shade of this sort came down to them from here? They would wish to be purified; if only sulphur and torches and damp laurel-branches were to be had. Such is the degradation to which we have come! Our arms indeed we have pushed beyond Juverna's 27 shores, to the new-conquered Orcades and the short-nighted Britons; but the things which we do in our victorious city will never be done by the men whom we have conquered. And yet they say that one Zalaces, an Armenian more effeminate than any of our youth, has yielded to the ardour of a Tribune! Just see what evil communications do! He came as a hostage: but here boys are turned into men. Give them a long sojourn in our city, and lovers will never fail them. They will throw away their trousers and their knives, their bridles and their whips, and thus carry back to Artaxata the manners of our Roman youth.
Notes: 1) A famous family of early Rome. 2) The eminent Stoic philosopher, pupil of Cleanthes. 3) One of the seven wise men of Greece, b. circ. B.C. 652. 4) Pupil and successor of Zeno, founder of the Stoic School, from about B. C. 300 to 220. Famous for his poverty and iron will. 5) Some villainous character of the day. 6) Alluding to the faction-fights between Clodius and Milo, B.C. 52. Clodius violated the rites of the Bona Dea; see vi 314-341 and note on p. 24. 7) A partner in the Catilinarian conspiracy, B.C. 63. 8) i.e. the second triumvirate (Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus) who followed the example of Sulla's proscriptions. 9) The emperor Domitian. Domitian was a lover of his niece Julia, daughter of his brother Titus. 10) One of the most famous families of the later Republic. 11) In reference to the law passed by Augustus for encouraging marriage (Lex lulia de maritandis ordinibus). 12) A law against unnatural crime. 13) A Lydian maiden who challenged Athene in spinning and was turned into a spider. 14) Cylindrus, a cylinder, is here used for a precious stone cut in that shape. 15) None but women could attend the rites of the Bona Dea. Hence the scandal created in B.C. 62 by Clodius when he made his way into the house of Caesar, where the rites were being celebrated, disguised as a woman. Hence Caesar put away his wife Pompeia, as "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion." In the present passage Juvenal refers to some real or imaginary inversion of the old rule, by which none but males, clothed in female dresses, were to be admitted to the worship of the Goddess. 16) Worshippers of the Thracian deity Cotytto. 17) i.e. Athenian, Cecrops being the first king of Athens. 18) The words Actoris Aurunci spolium are a quotation from Virg. Aen. xii 94. The suggestion seems to be that Otho was as proud of his mirror as if it had been a trophy of war, like the spear which King Turnus captured from Actor. 19) The battle in which Otho was defeated by Vitellius. 20) Mythical founder of the Assyrian empire with her husband Ninus. 21) Gracchus was one of the Salii, priests of Mars who had to carry the sacred shields of Mars (ancilia) in procession through the city. 22) i.e. the Campus Martius. 23) The Luperci were a mysterious priesthood who on certain days ran round the pomoerium clad in goat-skins and struck at any woman they met with goat-skin thongs in order to produce fertility. 24) The podium was a balustrade, or balcony, set all round the amphitheatre, from which the most distinguished of the spectators witnessed the performance. 25) For the disgrace incurred by Gracchus in fighting as a retiarius against a secutor, see the fuller passage viii. 199-210 and note. 26) The battle in which 300 Fabii were killed. 27) lreland.
Juvenal: Satire 3
Juvenal wrote in Satire 3: “Though put out by the departure of my old friend, I commend his purpose to fix his home at Cumae, and to present one citizen to the Sibyl. That is the gate of Baiae, a sweet retreat upon a pleasant shore; I myself would prefer even Prochyta 1 to the Subura! 2 For where has one ever seen a place so dismal and so lonely that one would not deem it worse to live in perpetual dread of fires and falling houses, and the thousand perils of this terrible city, and poets spouting in the month of August! [Source: Loeb Classical Library, Edited by G. P. Goold, translatied by G. G. Ramsay, Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England, 1891]
“But while all his goods and chattels were being packed upon a single wagon, my friend halted at the dripping archway of the old Porta Capena. 3 Here Numa held his nightly assignations with his mistress; but now the holy fount and grove and shrine are let out to Jews, who possess a basket and a truss of hay for all their furnishings. For as every tree nowadays has to pay toll to the people, the Muses have been ejected, and the wood has to go a-begging. We go down to the Valley of Egeria, and into the caves so unlike to nature: how much more near to us would be the spirit of the fountain if its waters were fringed by a green border of grass, and there were no marble to outrage the native tufa!
“Here spoke Umbricius:- "Since there is no room," quoth he, "for honest callings in this city, no reward for labour; since my means are less to-day than they were yesterday, and to-morrow will rub off something from the little that is left, I purpose to go to the place where Daedalus put off his weary wings while my white hairs are recent, while my old age is erect and fresh, while Lachesis has something left to spin, and I can support myself on my own feet without slipping a staff beneath my hand. Farewell my country! Let Artorius live there, and Catulus; let those remain who turn black into white, to whom it comes easy to take contracts for temples, rivers or harbours, for draining floods, or carrying corpses to the pyre, or to put up slaves for sale under the authority of the spear. 4 These men once were horn-blowers, who went the round of every provincial show, and whose puffed-out cheeks were known in every village; to-day they hold shows of their own, and win applause by slaying whomsoever the mob with a turn of the thumb 5 bids them slay; from that they go back to contract for cesspools, and why not for any kind of thing, seeing that they are of the kind that Fortune raises from the gutter to the mighty places of earth whenever she wishes to enjoy a laugh?
“"What can I do at Rome? I cannot lie; if a book is bad, I cannot praise it, and beg for a copy; I am ignorant of the movements of the stars; I cannot, and will not, promise to a man his father's death; I have never examined the entrails of a frog; I must leave it to others to carry to a bride the presents and messages of a paramour. No man will get my help in robbery, and therefore no governor will take me on his staff: I am treated as a maimed and useless trunk that has lost the power of its hands. What man wins favour nowadays unless he be an accomplice-one whose soul seethes and burns with secrets that must never be disclosed? No one who has imparted to you an innocent secret thinks he owes you anything, or will ever bestow on you a favour; the man whom Verres loves is the man who can impeach Verres at any moment that he chooses. Ah! Let not all the sands of the shaded Tagus, and the gold which it rolls into the sea, be so precious in your eyes that you should lose your sleep, and accept gifts, to your sorrow, which you must one day lay down, and be for ever a terror to your mighty friend!
“"And now let me speak at once of the race which is most dear to our rich men, and which I avoid above all others; no shyness shall stand in my way. I cannot abide, Quirites, a Rome of Greeks; and yet what fraction of our dregs comes from Greece? The Syrian Orontes has long since poured into the Tiber, bringing with it its lingo and its manners, its flutes and its slanting harp-strings 6 ; bringing too the timbrels of the breed, and the trulls who are bidden ply their trade at the Circus. Out upon you, all ye that delight in foreign strumpets with painted headdresses! Your country clown, Quirinus, now trips to dinner in Greek-fangled slippers, 7 and wears niceterian 7 ornaments upon a ceromatic 7 neck! One comes from lofty Sicyon, another from Amydon or Andros, others from Samos, Tralles or Alabanda; all making for the Esquiline, or for the hill that takes its name from osier-beds 8 ; all ready to worm their way into the houses of the great and become their masters. Quick of wit and of unbounded impudence, they are as ready of speech as Isaeus, 9 and more torrential. Say, what do you think that fellow there to be? He has brought with him any character you please; grammarian, orator, geometrician; painter, trainer, or rope-dancer; augur, doctor or astrologer:-
“'All sciences a fasting monsieur knows,
“And bid him go to Hell, to Hell he goes! ' 10
“In fine, the man who took to himself wings 11 was not a Moor, nor a Sarmatian, nor a Thracian, but one born in the very heart of Athens!
“"Must I not make my escape from purple-clad gentry like these? Is a man to sign his name before me, and recline upon a couch better than mine, who has been wafted to Rome by the wind which brings us our damsons and our figs? Is it to go so utterly for nothing that as a babe I drank in the air of the Aventine, and was nurtured on the Sabine berry?
“"What of this again, that these people are experts in flattery, and will commend the talk of an illiterate, or the beauty of a deformed, friend, and compare the scraggy neck of some weakling to the brawny throat of Hercules when holding up Antaeus 12 high above the earth; or go into ecstasies over a squeaky voice not more melodious than that of a cock when he pecks his spouse the hen? We, no doubt, can praise the same things that they do; but what they say is believed. Could any actor do better when he plays the part of Thais, or of a matron, or of a Greek slave-girl without her pallium? You would never think that it was a masked actor that was speaking, but a very woman, complete in all her parts. Yet, in their own country, neither Antiochus 13 nor Stratocles, 13 neither Demetrius 13 nor the delicate Haemus, 13 will be applauded: they are a nation of play-actors. If you smile, your Greek will split his sides with laughter; if he sees his friend drop a tear, he weeps, though without grieving; if you call for a bit of fire in winter-time, he puts on his cloak; if you say 'I am hot,' he breaks into a sweat. Thus we are not upon a level, he and I; he has always the best of it, being ready at any moment, by night or by day, to take his expression from another man's face, to throw up his hands and applaud if his friend gives a good belch or piddles straight, or if his golden basin make a gurgle when turned upside down.
“"Besides all this, there is nothing sacred to his lusts: not the matron of the family, nor the maiden daughter, not the as yet unbearded son-in-law to be, not even the as yet unpolluted son; if none of these be there, he will debauch his friend's grandmother. These men want to discover the secrets of the family, and so make themselves feared. And now that I am speaking of the Greeks, pass over the schools, and hear of a crime of a larger philosophical cloak; the old Stoic 14 who informed against and slew his own friend and disciple 15 Barea was born on that river bank 16 where the Gorgon's winged steed fell to earth. No: there is no room for any Roman here, where some Protogenes, or Diphilus, or Hermarchus rules the roast — one who by a defect of his race never shares a friend, but keeps him all to himself. For when once he has dropped into a facile ear one particle of his own and his country's poison, I am thrust from the door, and all my long years of servitude go for nothing. Nowhere is it so easy as at Rome to throw an old client overboard.
“I26 "And besides, not to flatter ourselves, what value is there in a poor man's serving here in Rome, even if he be at pains to hurry along in his toga before daylight, seeing that the praetor is bidding the lictor to go full speed lest his colleague should be the first to salute the childless ladies Albina and Modia, who have long ago been awake? Here in Rome the son of free-born parents has to give the wall to some rich man's slave; for that other will give as much as the whole pay of a legionary tribune to enjoy the chance favours of a Calvina 17 or a Catiena, 17 while you, when the face of some gay-decked harlot takes your fancy, scarce venture to hand Chione down from her lofty chair. At Rome you may produce a witness as unimpeachable as the host of the Idaean Goddess. 18 — Numa himself might present himself, or he who rescued the trembling Minerva from the blazing shrine 19 — the first question asked will be as to his wealth, the last about his character: 'how many slaves does he keep?' 'how many acres does he own?' 'how big and how many are his dessert dishes?' A man's word is believed in exact proportion to the amount of cash which he keeps in his strong-box. Though he swear by all the altars of Samothrace or of Rome, the poor man is believed to care naught for Gods and thunderbolts, the Gods themselves forgiving him.
“'And what of this, that the poor man gives food and occasion for jest if his cloak be torn and dirty; if his toga be a little soiled; if one of his shoes gapes where the leather is split, or if some fresh stitches of coarse thread reveal where not one, but many a rent has been patched? Of all the woes of luckless poverty none is harder to endure than this, that it exposes men to ridicule. 'Out you go! for very shame,' says the marshal; 'out of the Knights' stalls, all of you whose means do not satisfy the law.' Here let the sons of panders, born in any brothel, take their seats; here let the spruce son of an auctioneer clap his hands, with the smart sons of a gladiator on one side of him and the young gentlemen of a trainer on the other: such was the will of the numskull Otho who assigned to each of us his place. 20 Who ever was approved as a son-in-law if he was short of cash, and no match for the money-bags of the young lady? What poor man ever gets a legacy, or is appointed assessor to an aedile? Romans without money should have marched out in a body long ago!
“"It is no easy matter, anywhere, for a man to rise when poverty stands in the way of his merits: but nowhere is the effort harder than in Rome, where you must pay a big rent for a wretched lodging, a big sum to fill the bellies of your slaves, and buy a frugal dinner for yourself. You are ashamed to dine off delf; but you would see no shame in it if transported suddenly to a Marsian or Sabine table, where you would be pleased enough to wear a cape of coarse Venetian blue.
“"There are many parts of Italy, to tell the truth, in which no man puts on a toga until he is dead. Even on days of festival, when a brave show is made in a theatre of turf, and when the well-known afterpiece steps once more upon the boards; when the rustic babe on its mother's breast shrinks back affrighted at the gaping of the pallid masks, you will see stalls and populace all dressed alike, and the worshipful aediles content with white tunics as vesture for their high office. In Rome, every one dresses smartly, above his means, and sometimes something more than what is enough is taken out of another man's pocket. This failing is universal here: we all live in a state of pretentious poverty. To put it shortly, nothing can be had in Rome for nothing. How much does it cost you to be able now and then to make your bow to Cossus? Or to be vouchsafed one glance, with lip firmly closed, from Veiento? One of these great men is cutting off his beard; another is dedicating the locks of a favourite; the house is full of cakes — which you will have to pay for. Take your cake, 21 and let this thought rankle in your heart: we clients are compelled to pay tribute and add to a sleek menial's perquisites. 22
“"Who at cool Praeneste, or at Volsinii amid its leafy hills, was ever afraid of his house tumbling down? Who in modest Gabii, or on the sloping heights of Tivoli? But here we inhabit a city supported for the most part by slender props: 23 for that is how the bailiff holds up the tottering house, patches up gaping cracks in the old wall, bidding the inmates sleep at ease under a roof ready to tumble about their ears. No, no, I must live where there are no fires, no nightly alarms. Ucalegon 24 below is already shouting for water and shifting his chattels; smoke is pouring out of your third-floor attic, but you know nothing of it; for if the alarm begins in the ground-floor, the last man to burn will be he who has nothing to shelter him from the rain but the tiles, where the gentle doves lay their eggs. Codrus possessed a bed too small for the dwarf Procula, a sideboard adorned by six pipkins, with a small drinking cup, and a recumbent Chiron below, and an old chest containing Greek books whose divine lays were being gnawed by unlettered mice. Poor Codrus had nothing, it is true: but he lost that nothing, which was his all; and the last straw in his heap of misery is this, that though he is destitute and begging for a bite, no one will help him with a meal, no one offer him lodging or shelter.
“"But if the grand house of Asturicus be destroyed, the matrons go dishevelled, your great men put on mourning, the praetor adjourns his court: then indeed do we deplore the calamities of the city, and bewail its fires! Before the house has ceased to burn, up comes one with a gift of marble or of building materials, another offers nude and glistening statues, a third some notable work of Euphranor or Polyclitus, 25 or bronzes that had been the glory of old Asian shrines. Others will offer books and bookcases, or a bust of Minerva, or a hundredweight of silver-plate. Thus does Persicus, that most sumptuous of childless men, replace what he has lost with more and better things, and with good reason incurs the suspicion of having set his own house on fire.
“"If you can tear yourself away from the games of the Circus, you can buy an excellent house at Sora, at Fabrateria or Frusino, for what you now pay in Rome to rent a dark garret for one year. And you will there have a little garden, with a shallow well from which you can easily draw water, without need of a rope, to bedew your weakly plants. There make your abode, a friend of the mattock, tending a trim garden fit to feast a hundred Pythagoreans. 26 It is something, in whatever spot, however remote, to have become the possessor of a single lizard!
“"Most sick people here in Rome perish for want of sleep, the illness itself having been produced by food lying undigested on a fevered stomach. For what sleep is possible in a lodging? Who but the wealthy get sleep in Rome? There lies the root of the disorder. The crossing of wagons in the narrow winding streets, the slanging of drovers when brought to a stand, would make sleep impossible for a Drusus 27 — or a sea-calf. When the rich man has a call of social duty, the mob makes way for him as he is borne swiftly over their heads in a huge Liburnian car. He writes or reads or sleeps inside as he goes along, for the closed window of the litter induces slumber. Yet he will arrive before us; hurry as we may, we are blocked by a surging crowd in front, and by a dense mass of people pressing in on us from behind: one man digs an elbow into me, another a hard sedan-pole; one bangs a beam, another a wine-cask, against my head. My legs are beplastered with mud; soon huge feet trample on me from every side, and a soldier plants his hobnails firmly on my toe.
“"See now the smoke rising from that crowd which hurries as if to a dole: there are a hundred guests, each followed by a kitchener of his own. 28 Corbulo 29 himself could scarce bear the weight of all the big vessels and other gear which that poor little slave is carrying with head erect, fanning the flame as he runs along. Newly-patched tunics are torn in two; up comes a huge fir-log swaying on a wagon, and then a second dray carrying a whole pine-tree; they tower aloft and threaten the people. For if that axle with its load of Ligurian marble breaks down, and pours an overturned mountain on to the crowd, what is left of their bodies? Who can identify the limbs, who the bones? 'The poor man's crushed corpse wholly disappears, just like his soul. At home meanwhile the folk, unwitting, are washing the dishes, blowing up the fire with distended cheek, clattering over the greasy flesh-scrapers, filling the oil-flasks and laying out the towels. And while each of them is thus busy over his own task, their master is already sitting, a new arrival, upon the bank, and shuddering at the grim ferryman: he has no copper in his mouth to tender for his fare, and no hope of a passage over the murky flood, poor wretch.
“"And now regard the different and diverse perils of the night. See what a height it is to that towering roof from which a potsherd comes crack upon my head every time that some broken or leaky vessel is pitched out of the window! See with what a smash it strikes and dints the pavement! There's death in every open window as you pass along at night; you may well be deemed a fool, improvident of sudden accident, if you go out to dinner without having made your will. You can but hope, and put up a piteous prayer in your heart, that they may be content to pour down on you the contents of their slop-basins!
“"Your drunken bully who has by chance not slain his man passes a night of torture like that of Achilles when he bemoaned his friend, lying now upon his face, and now upon his back; he will get no rest in any other way, since some men can only sleep after a brawl. Yet however reckless the fellow may be, however hot with wine and young blood, he gives a wide berth to one whose scarlet cloak and long retinue of attendants, with torches and brass lamps in their hands, bid him keep his distance. But to me,
“who am wont to be escorted home by the moon, or by the scant light of a candle whose wick I husband with due care, he pays no respect. Hear how the wretched fray begins — if fray it can be called when you do all the thrashing and I get all the blows! The fellow stands up against me, and bids me halt; obey I must. What else can you do when attacked by a madman stronger than yourself? 'Where are you from?' shouts he; 'whose vinegar, whose beans have blown you out? With what cobbler have you been munching cut leeks 30 and boiled wether's chaps? — What, sirrah, no answer? Speak out, or take that upon your shins! Say, where is your stand? In what prayer-shop 31 shall I find you?' Whether you venture to say anything, or make off silently, it's all one: he will thrash you just the same, and then, in a rage, take bail from you. Such is the liberty of the poor man: having been pounded and cuffed into a jelly, he begs and prays to be allowed to return home with a few teeth in his head!
“"Nor are these your only terrors. When your house is shut, when bar and chain have made fast your shop, and all is silent, you will be robbed by a burglar; or perhaps a cut-throat will do for you quickly with cold steel. For whenever the Pontine marshes and the Gallinarian forest are secured by an armed guard, all that tribe flocks into Rome as into a fish-preserve. What furnaces, what anvils, are not groaning with the forging of chains? That is how our iron is mostly used; and you may well fear that ere long none will be left for plough-shares, none for hoes and mattocks. Happy, you would say, were the forbears of our great-grandfathers, happy the days of old which under Kings and Tribunes beheld Rome satisfied with a single gaol!
“"To these I might add more and different reasons; but my cattle call, the sun is sloping and I must away: my muleteer has long been signalling to me with his whip. And so farewell; forget me not. And if ever you run over from Rome to your own Aquinum 32 to recruit, summon me too from Cumae to your Helvine 33 Ceres and Diana; I will come over to your cold country in my thick boots to hear your Satires, if they think me worthy of that honour."
Notes: 1) A small island off Misenum. 2) The noisiest street in Rome. 3) The Porta Capena was on the Appian Way, the great S. road from Rome. Over the gate passed an aqueduct, carrying the water of the Aqua Marcia. Hence "the dripping archway." 4) A spear was set up at auctions as the sign of ownership. 5) Vertere pollicem, to turn the thumb up, was the signal for dispatching the wounded gladiator; premere pollicem, to turn it down, was a sign that he was to be spared. 6) Referring to the sambuca, a kind of harp, of triangular shape, producing a shrill sound. 7) Trechedipna, "a run-to-dinner coat"; ceromaticus, from ceroma, oil used by wrestlers; and niceterium, "a prize of victory"-all used to ridicule the use of the Greek forms. 8) i.e. the Mona Viminalis, from vimen, "an osier." 9) An Assyrian rhetorician: not the Greek orator Isaeus. 10) From Johnson's London. 11) Daedalus. 12) Hercules slew Antaeus by raising him from the ground, till when he was invincible. 13) Names of Greek actors. 14) Publius Egnatius Celer. See Tac. Ann. xvi. 30-32 and Hist. iv. 10 and 40. 15) For the accusation and death of Barea Soranus, see Tac. Ann. xvi. 23 and 33. 16) i.e. at Tarsus on the river Cydnus. 17) Ladies of rank. 18) P. Cornelius Scipio received the image of Cybele when brought from Phrygia, B.C. 204. 19) L. Caecilius Metellus, in B.C. 241. 20) The law of Otho ( B.C. 67) reserved for knights the first fourteen rows in the theatre behind the orchestra where senators sat. The knights (equites) were the wealthy middle class, each having to possess a census of 400,000 sesterces. 21) The rendering is uncertain. Duff translates, "Take your money and keep your cake." 22) At this feast cakes (liba) are provided; but the guests are expected to give a tip to the slaves. According to Duff, the client pays the slave, but is too indignant to take the cake. 23) Lit. "a slender flute-player"; props were so called either from their resemblance to a flute, or to the position in which the flute was held in playing. 24) Borrowed from Virgil, Aen. ii. 311, of the firing of Troy, iam proximus ardet Vcalegon. Juvenal's friend inhabits the third floor, and the fire has broken out on the ground floor. 25) Celebrated Greek sculptors. 26) i.e. vegetarians. 27) Probably the somnolent Emperor Claudius is meant. 28) The hundred guests are clients; each is followed by a slave carrying a kitchener to keep the dole hot when received. 29) The great Roman general under Claudius and Nero, famed for his physical strength. 30) Compare xiv. 133. 31) Proseucha, a Jewish synagogue or praying-house. 32) Aquinum was Juvenal's birthplace. 33) The origin of this name of Ceres is unknown.
Juvenal: Satire 6: The Ways of Women
Juvenal wrote in Satire 6: “In the days of Saturn [in the golden days of innocence]., I believe, Chastity still lingered on the earth, and was to be seen for a time — days when men were poorly housed in chilly caves, which under one common shelter enclosed hearth and household gods, herds and their owners; when the hill-bred wife spread her silvan bed with leaves and straw and the skins of her neighbours the wild beasts — a wife not like thee, O Cynthia,1 nor to thee, Lesbia,2 whose bright eyes were clouded by a sparrow's death, but one whose breasts gave suck to lusty babes, often more unkempt herself than her acorn-belching husband. For in those days, when the world was young and the skies were new, men born of the riven oak,3 or formed of dust, lived differently from now, and had no parents of their own. Under Jupiter, perchance, some few traces of ancient modesty may have survived; but that was before he had grown his beard, before the Greeks had learned to swear by someone else's head, when men feared not thieves for their cabbages or fruits, and lived with unwalled gardens. After that Astraea 4 withdrew by degrees to heaven, with Chastity as her comrade, the two sisters taking flight together. [Source: Loeb Classical Library, translated by G.G. Ramsay, 1 The Cynthia of Propertius. 2 The Lesbia of Catullus. 3 There was a legend that men had been born from oak-trees. 4 Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis, was the last mortal to leave the earth when the Golden Age came to an end; she was placed among the stars as Virgo.
“To set your neighbour's bed a-shaking, Postumus, and to flout the Genius of the sacred couch,5 is now an ancient and long-established practice. All other sins came later, the products of the age of Iron; but it was the silver age that saw the first adulterers. Nevertheless, in these days of ours, you are preparing for a covenant, a marriage-contract and a betrothal; you are by now getting your hair combed by a master barber; you have also perhaps given a pledge to her finger. What! Postumus, are you, you who once had your wits, taking to yourself a wife? Tell me what Tisiphone, what snakes are driving you mad? Can you submit to a she-tyrant when there is so much rope to be had, so many dizzy heights of windows standing open, and when the Aemilian bridge offers itself to your hand? Or if none of all these modes of exit hit your fancy, how much better to take some boy-bedfellow, who would never wrangle with you o' nights, never ask presents of you when in bed, and never complain that you took your ease and were indifferent to his solicitations! [5 The fulcrum was the head of the couch, often ornamented with the figure of the Genius in bronze.]
“But Ursidius approves of the Julian Law. l He purposes to bring up a dear little heir, though he will thereby have to do without the fine turtle-doves, the bearded mullets, and all the legacy-hunting delicacies of the meat-market. What can you think impossible if Ursidius takes to himself a wife? if he, who has long been the most notorious of gallants, who has so often found safety in the corn-bin of the luckless Latinus,2 puts his silly head into the connubial noose? And what think you of his searching for a wife of the good old virtuous sort? O doctors, lance his over-blooded veins. A pretty fellow you! Why, if you have the good luck to find a modest spouse, you should prostrate yourself before the Tarpeian threshold, and sacrifice a heifer with gilded horns to Juno; so few are the wives worthy to handle the fillets of Ceres, or from whose kisses their own father would not shrink! Weave a garland for thy doorposts, and set up wreaths of ivy over thy lintel! But will Hiberina be satisfied with one man? Sooner compel her to be satisfied with one eye! You tell me of the high repute of some maiden, who lives on her paternal farm: well, let her live at Gabii, at Fidenae, as she lived in her own country, and I will believe in your little paternal farm. But will anyone tell me that nothing ever took place on a mountain side or in a cave? Have Jupiter and Mars become so senile? [1 A law to encourage marriage. 2 An actor who played the part of a lover in hiding.]
“Can our arcades show you one woman worthy of your vows? Do all the tiers in all our theatres hold one whom you may love without misgiving, and pick out thence? When the soft Bathyllus dances the part of the gesticulating Leda, Tuccia cannot contain herself; your Apulian maiden heaves a sudden and longing yelp of ecstasy, as though she were in a man's arms; the rustic Thymele is all attention, it is then that she learns her lesson. Others again, when the stage draperies have been put away; when the empty theatres are closed, and all is silent save in the courts, and the Megalesian games are far off from the Plebeian,1 ease their dullness by taking to the mask, the thyrsus and the tights of Accius. Urbicus, in an Atellane after-piece, raises a laugh by the gestures of Autonoe; the penniless Aelia is in love with him. Other women pay great prices for the favours of a comedian; some will not allow Chrysogonus2 to sing. Hispulla has a fancy for tragedians; but do you suppose that any will be found to love Quintilian?3 If you marry a wife, it will be that the lyrist Echion or Glaphyrus, or the flute player Ambrosius, may become a father. Then up with a long dais in the narrow street! Adorn your doors and doorposts with wreaths of laurel, that your highborn son, O Lentulus, may exhibit, in his tortoiseshell cradle: the lineaments of Euryalus5 or of a murmillo!6 When Eppia, the senator's wife, ran off with a gladiator7 to Pharos and the Nile and the ill-famed city of Lagus, Canopus itself cried shame upon the monstrous morals of our town. Forgetful of home, of husband and of sister, without thought of her country, she shamelessly abandoned her weeping children; and — more marvellous still — deserted Paris and the games. Though born in wealth, though as a babe she had slept in bedizened cradle on the paternal down, she made light of the sea, just as she had long made light of her good name — a loss but little accounted of among our soft litter-riding dames. And so with stout heart she endured the tossing and the roaring of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, and all the many seas she had to cross. For when danger comes in a right and honourable way, a woman's heart grows chill with fear and dread, she cannot stand upon her trembling feet: but if she be doing a bold, bad thing, her courage fails not. For a husband to order his wife on board ship is cruelty: the bilge-water then sickens her, the heavens go round and round. But if she is running away with a lover, she feels no qualms: then she vomits over her husband; now she messes with the sailors, she roams about the deck, and delights in hauling at hard ropes. [1 The Megalesian games began on the 4th of April and lasted for six days; the Plebian games took place early in November. 2 A famous singer. 3 M. Fabius Quintilianus, the famous Roman rhetorician, A.D. 40-100. No grave and learned man like Quintilian will attrack them. 4 The conopeum was properly a mosquito-net; here it seems to be used for a bassinette or cradle. 5 A gladiator. 6 A murmillo Was a gladiator equipped as a Gaulish warrior in heavy armor. He carried the image of a fish on his crest, whence the name [Greek] or [Greek]. 7 Ludus is properly a gladiatorial school, or a troop of gladiators. Lagus' city [next line] = Alexandria.]
“And what were the youthful charms which captivated Eppia? What did she see in him to allow herself to be called "a she-Gladiator"? Her dear Sergius had already begun to shave; a wounded arm gave promise of a discharge, and there were sundry deformities in his face: a scar caused by the helmet, a huge wen upon his nose, a nasty humour always trickling from his eye. But then he was a gladiator! It is this that transforms these fellows into Hyacinthuses! it was this that she preferred to children and to country, to sister and to husband. What these women love is the sword: had this same Sergius received his discharge, he would have been no better than a Veiento [probably the husband].
“Do the concerns of a private household and the doings of Eppia affect you? Then look at those who rival the Gods,2 and hear what Claudius endured. As soon as his wife perceived that her husband was asleep, this august harlot was shameless enough to prefer a common mat to the imperial couch. Assuming night-cowl, and attended by a single maid, she issued forth; then, having concealed her raven locks under a light-coloured peruque, she took her place in a brothel reeking with long-used coverlets. Entering an empty cell reserved for herself, she there took her stand, under the feigned name of Lycisca, her nipples bare and gilded, and exposed to view the womb that bore thee, O nobly-born Britannicus!3 Here she graciously received all comers, asking from each his fee; and when at length the keeper dismissed his girls, she remained to the very last before closing her cell, and with passion still raging hot within her went sorrowfully away. Then exhausted by men but unsatisfied, with soiled cheeks, and begrimed with the smoke of lamps, she took back to the imperial pillow all the odours of the stews. [2 In allusion to the deification of the emperors. 3 Messalina [Claudius' wife] was the mother of Britannicus, b. A. D. 42.] “Why tell of love potions and incantations, of poisons brewed and administered to a stepson, or of the grosser crimes to which women are driven by the imperious power of sex? Their sins of lust are the least of all their sins. "But tell me why is Censennia, on her husband's testimony, the best of wives?" She brought him a million sesterces; that is the price at which he calls her chaste. He has not pined under the arrows of Venus' quiver; he was never burnt by her torch. It was the dowry that lighted his fires, the dowry that shot those arrows! That dowry bought liberty for her: she may make what signals, and write what love letters she pleases, before her husband's face; the rich woman who marries a money-loving husband is as good as unmarried.
“"Why does Sertorius burn with love for Bibula?" If you shake out the truth, it is the face that he loves, not the wife. Let three wrinkles make their appearance; let her skin become dry and flabby ; let her teeth turn black, and her eyes lose their lustre: then will his freedman give her the order, "Pack up your traps and be off! you've become a nuisance; you are for ever blowing your nose; be off, and quick about it! There's another wife coming who will not sniffle." But till that day comes, the Lady rules the roast, asking her husand for shepherds and Canusian sheep, and elms for her Falernian vines. But that's a mere nothing: she asks for all his slave-boys, all his prison-gangs; everything that her neighbour possesses, and that she does not possess, must be bought. Then in the winter time, when the merchant Jason is shut out from view, and his armed sailors are blocked out by the white booths,1 she will carry off huge crystal vases, vases bigger still of agate, and finally a diamond of great renown, made precious by the finger of Berenice.2 It was given as a present long ago by the barbarian Agrippa to his incestuous sister, in that country where kings celebrate festal sabbaths with bare feet,1 and where a long-established clemency suffers pigs to attain old age.3 [1 This passage is thus explained: The lady buys various articles of the Sigillaria (December 17-20), so called statuettes which were then on sale. These and other articles were set out in canvas booths, which were built up against certain public buildings so as to screen them from view. One of these was the Portico of Agrippa on which there were paintings of the Argonauts. Thus "the merchant" Jason and his armed sailors were shut out and could not be seen. 2 Sister to King Agrippa II. (Acts, xxv. 23).]
“"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than all the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war — a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a hanghty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. Away with your Hannibal, I beseech you! Away with Syphax overpowered in his camp! Take yourself off, Carthage and all!
“"Be merciful, I pray, O Apollo! and thou, O goddess, lay down thine arrows. These babes have done naught: shoot down their mother!" Thus prayed Amphion;4 but Apollo bends his bow, and Niobe5 led forth to the grave her troop of sons, and their father to boot, because she deemed herself nobler in her offspring than Latona was in hers, and more prolific than the white sow of Alba. For is any dignity in a wife, any beauty, worth the cost, if she is for ever reckoning up her merits against you? These high and transcendent qualities lose all their charm when spoilt by a pride that savours more of aloes than of honey. And who was ever so enamoured as not to shrink from the woman whom he praises to the skies, and to hate her for seven hours out of every twelve? [1Josephus relates that Berenice sacrificed at Jerusalem with dishevelled hair and bare feet. 2 For Jewish abstinence from pork see Tac. Hist. v. 4. 3 Alluding to the exploits of the elder Scipio. 4 Husband of Niobe. 5 Wife of Amphion, king of Thebes. Proud of her six sons and six daughters, she boasted herself against Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis. Indignant at her presumption, they slew all her children with arrows.]
“Some small faults are intolerable to husbands.What can be more offensive than this, that no woman believes in her own beauty unless she has converted herself from a Tuscan into a Greekling, or from a maid of Sulmo1 into a true maid of Athens? They talk nothing but Greek, though it is a greater shame for our people to be ignorant of Latin. Their fears and their wrath, their joys and their troubles — all the secrets of their souls — are poured forth in Greek; their very loves are carried on in Greek fashion. All this might be pardoned in a girl; but will you, who are hard on your eighty-sixth year, still talk in Greek? That tongue is not decent in an old woman's mouth. When you come out with the wanton words [Greek], you are using in public the language of the bed-chamber. Carressing and naughty words like these incite to love; but though you say them more tenderly than a Haemus or a Carpophorus,2 they will cause no fluttering of the heart — your years are counted upon your face! If you are not to love the woman betrothed and united to you in due form, what reason have you for marrying? Why waste the supper, and the wedding cakes to be given to the well-filled guests when the company is slipping away — to say nothing of the first night's gift of a salver rich with glittering gold inscribed with Dacian or Germanic victories?3 If you are honestly uxorious, and devoted to one woman, then bow your head and submit your neck ready to bear the yoke. Never will you find a woman who spares the man who loves her; for though she be herself aflame, she delights to torment and plunder him. So the better the man, the more desirable he be as a husband, the less good by far will he get out of his wife. No present will you ever make if your wife forbids; nothing will you ever sell if she objects; nothing will you buy without her consent. She will arrange your friendships for you; she will turn your now-aged friend from the door which saw the beginnings of his beard. Panders and trainers can make their wills as they please, as also can the gentlemen of the arena; but you will have to write down among your heirs more than one rival of your own. [1Sulmo, in the Pelignian country, was the birthplace of Ovid. ["Greekling" and "Greek" are probably comparable to saying French woman and French 1600 years later.] 2 Names of actors. 3 Alluding to the gold coins (aurei) minted by Trajan in honour of his victories. The aureus was about equal in metal value to our guinea.]
“"Crucify that slave!" says the wife. "But what crime worthy of death has he committed?" asks the husband; "where are the witnesses? who informed against him? Give him a hearing at least; no delay can be too long when a man's life is at stake!" "What, you numskull? you call a slave a man, do you? He has done no wrong, you say? Be it so; this is my will and my command: let my will be the voucher for the deed." Thus does she lord it over her husband. But before long she vacates her kingdom; she flits from one home to another, wearing out her bridal veil; then back she flies again and returns to her own imprints in the bed that she has abandoned, leaving behind her the newly decorated door, the festal hangings on the walls, and the branches green still over the threshold. Thus does the tale of her husbands grow; there will be eight of them in the course of five autumns — a fact worthy of commemoration on her tomb! “Give up all hope of peace so long as your mother-in-law is alive. It is she that teaches her daughter to revel in stripping and despoiling her husband; it is she that teaches her to reply to a seducer's love-letters in no unskilled and innocent fashion; she eludes or bribes your guards; it is she that calls in Archigenes l when your daughter has nothing the matter with her, and tosses about the heavy blankets; the lover meanwhile is in secret and silent hiding, trembling with impatience and expectation. Do you really expect the mother to teach her daughter honest ways — ways different from her own? Nay, the vile old woman finds a profit in bringing up her daughter to be vile. [1 A fashionable doctor of the day.]
“There never was a case in court in which the quarrel was not started by a woman. If Manilia is not a defendant, she'll be the plaintiff; she will herself frame and adjust the pleadings; she will be ready to instruct Celsus2 himself how to open his case, and how to urge his points. Why need I tell of the purple wraps3 and the wrestling-oils used by women? Who has not seen one of them smiting a stump, piercing it through and through with a foil, lunging at it with a shield, and going through all the proper motions? — a matron truly qualified to blow a trumpet at the Floralia!4 Unless, indeed, she is nursing some further ambition in her bosom, and is practising for the real arena. What modesty can you expect in a woman who wears a helmet, abjures her own sex, and delights in feats of strength ? Yet she would not choose to be a man, knowing the superior joys of womanhood. What a fine thing for a husband, at an auction of his wife's effects, to see her belt and armlets and plumes put up for sale, with a gaiter that covers half the left leg; or if she fight another sort5 of battle, how charmed “you will be to see your young wife disposing of her greaves! Yet these are the women who find the thinnest of thin robes too hot for them; whose delicate flesh is chafed by the finest of silk tissue. See how she pants as site goes through her prescribed exercises; how she bends under the weight of her helmet; how big and coarse are the bandages which enclose her haunches; and then laugh when she lays down her arms and shows herself to be a woman! Tell us, ye grand-daughters of Lepidus, or of the blind Metellus, or of Fabius Gurges, what gladiator's wife ever assumed accoutrements like these? When did the wife of Asylus1 ever gasp against a stump? [2 Either a jurist or rhetorician. 3 The endromis was a coarse, woolen cloak in which athletes wrapped themselves after their excercises. 4 Games in honour of Flora (April 28-May 3), at which much female license was allowed.. 5 i.e. a gladitorial contest.]
“The bed that holds a wife is never free from wrangling and mutual bickerings; no sleep is to be got there! It is there that she sets upon her husband, more savage than a tigress that has lost her cubs; conscious of her own secret slips, she affects a grievance, abusing his boys, or weeping over some imagined mistress. She has an abundant supply of tears always ready in their place, awaiting her command in which fashion they should flow. You, poor worm, are delighted, believing them to be tears of love, and kiss them away; but what notes, what love-letters would you find if you opened the desk of your green-eyed adulterous wife! If you find her in the arms of a slave or of a knight, "Speak, speak, Quintilian,2 give me one of your colours,3" she will say. But Quintilian says "I'm stuck. Find it yourself," says he. "We agreed long ago," says the lady, "that you were to go your way, and I mine. You may confound sea and sky with your bellowing, “I am a human being after all. "There's no effrontery like that of a woman caught in the act; her very guilt inspires her wrath and insolence. [1 Supposed to be a gladiator. 2 The famous Roman rhetorician, b. A.D. 44, author of the Institutiones Oratoriae. Cp. p.88. n.3. 3 Color is a technical term in rhetoric, denoting an argument which puts a favourable or palliative light on some act.]
“But whence come these monstrosities? you ask; from what fountain do they flow? In days of old, the wives of Latium were kept chase by their humble fortunes. It was toil and brief slumbers that kept vice from polluting their modest homes; hands chafed and hardened by Tuscan fleeces, Hannibal nearing the city, and husbands standing to arms at the Colline tower.1 We are now suffering the calamities of long peace. Luxury, more deadly than any foe, has laid her hand upon us, and avenges a conquered world. Since the day when Roman poverty perished, no deed of crime or lust has been wanting to us; from that moment Sybaris and Rhodes and Miletus have poured in upon our hills with the begarlanded and drunken and unabashed Tarentum.2 Filthy lucre first brought in amongst us foreign ways; wealth enervated and corrupted the ages with foul indulgences. What decency does Venus observe when she is drunken? when she knows not head from tail, eats giant oysters at midnight, pours foaming unguents into her unmixed Falerian, and drinks out of perfume- flasks, while the roof spins dizzily around, the table dances, and every light shows double! [1For Hannibal at the Colline Gate, B. C. 213, see Liv. xxvi. 10. 2 Duff explains this of a scene in the theatre in Tarentum when the people, garlanded in honor of Dionysus, insulted the Roman ambassador (Dio. Cass. fragm. 145).]
“Go to now and wonder what means the sneer with which Tullia snuffs the air, or what Maura whispers to her ill-famed foster-sister, when she passes by the altar of Chastity?3 It is there that they set down their litters at night, and befoul the image of the Goddess, playing their filthy pranks “for the moon to witness. Thence home they go; while you, when daylight comes, and you are on your way to salute your mighty friends, will trend upon the traces of your wife's abominations. [3 The ancient Temple Of Pudicitia was in the Forum Boarium.]
“Well known to all are the mysteries of the Good Goddess, when the flute stirs the loins and the Maenads of Priapus sweep along, frenzied alike by the horn-blowing and the wine, whirling their locks and howling. What foul longings burn within their breasts! What cries they utter as the passion palpitates within! How drenched their limbs in torrents of old wine! Saufeia challenges the slave-girls to a contest. Her agility wins the prize, but she has herself in turn to bow the knee to Medullina. And so the palm remains with the mistress, whose exploits match her birth! There is no pretence as in a game; all is enacted to the life in a manner that warm the cold blood of a Priam or a Nestor. And now impatient nature can wait no longer: woman shows herself as she is, and the cry comes from every corner of the den, "Now we can act! Let in the men!" If one favoured youth is asleep, another is bidden to put on his cowl and hurry along; if better cannot be got, a run is made upon the slaves; if they too fail, the water-carrier will be paid to come in. . . . O would that our ancient practices, or at least our public rites, were not polluted by scenes like these! But every Moor and Indian knows who was the she-lutist who brought a yard bigger than the two Anticatos of Caesar into a place whence every buckmouse scuttles away conscious of his virility, and in which every picture of the male form must be veiled.
“Who ever sneered at the Gods in the days of old? Who would have dared to laugh at the earthen-ware bowls or black pots of Numa, or at the brittle plates made out of Vatican clay? But nowadays at what altar will you not find a Clodius? [Alluding to the profanation of the mysteries of the Bona Dea [meant for women only] by Clodius, in B.C. 62, by appearing in the disguise of a female lutist.] I hear all this time the advice of my old friends — "Put on a lock and keep your wife indoors." Yes, but who will ward the warders? The wife arranges accordingly and begins with them. High or low their passions are all the same. She who wears out the black cobble-stones with her bare feet is no better then she who rides upon the necks of eight stalwart Syrians.
“Ogulnia hides clothes to see the games; she hires attendants, a litter, cushions, female friends, a nurse, and a fair-haired girl to run her messages; yet she will give all that remains of the family plate, down to the last flagon, to some smooth-faced athlete. Many of these women are poor, but none of them pay any regard to their poverty, or measures themselves by the standard which that prescribes and lays down for them. Men on the other hand, do sometimes have an eye to utility; the ant has at last taught some of them to dread cold and hunger. But your extravagant woman is never sensible of her dwindling means; and just as though money were for ever sprouting up afresh from her exhausted coffers, and she had always a full heap to draw from, she never gives a thought to what her pleasures cost her.
“"Whenever a cinaedus is kept he taints the household. Folks let these fellows eat and drink with them, and merely have the vessels washed, not shivered to atoms as they should be when such lips have touched them. So even the lanista's establishment is better ordered than yours, for he separates the vile from the decent, and sequesters even from their fellow-retiarii the wearers of the ill-famed tunic; in the training-school, and even in gaol, such creatures herd apart; but your wife condemns you to drink out of the same cup as these gentry, with whom the poorest trull would refuse to sip the choicest wine. Them do women consult about marriage and divorce, with their society do they relieve boredom or business, from them do they learn lascivious motions and whatever else the teacher knows. But beware! that teacher is not always true, he darkens his eyes and dresses like a woman, but adultery is his design. Mistrust him the more for his show of effeminacy; he is a valiant mattress-knight; there Triphallus drops the mask of Thais. [He now addresses the cinaedus himself.] Whom are you fooling? not me; play this farce to those who cannot pierce the masquerade. I wager you are every inch a man; do you own it, or must we wring the truth out of the maid servants?" I know well the advice and warnings of my old friends — "Put on a lock and keep your wife indoors." Yes, but who is to ward the warders? They get paid in kind for holding their tongues as to their young lady's escapades; participation seals their lips. The wily wife arranges accordingly and begins with them. . . .
“If your wife is musical, none of those who sell their voices1 to the praetor will hold out against her charms. She is for ever handling musical instruments; her sardonyx rings sparkle thick all over the tortoise-shell; the quivering quill with which she runs over the chords will be that with which the gentle Hedymeles performed; she hugs it, consoles herself with it, and lavishes kisses on the dear implement. A certain lady of the lineage of the Lamiae and the Appii2 inquired of Janus and Vesta, with offerings of cake and wine, whether Pollio could hope for the Capitoline oak-chaplet and promise victory to his lyre.3 What more could she have done had her husband been ill, or if the doctors had been shaking their heads over her dear little son? There she stood before the altar, thinking it no shame to veil her head4 on behalf of a harper; she repeated, in due form, all the words prescribed to her; her cheek blanched when the lamb was opened. Tell me now, I pray, O father Janus, thou “most ancient of the Gods, dost thou answer such as she? You have much time on your hands in heaven; so far as I can see, there is nothing for you Gods to do. One lady consults you about a comedian, another wishes to commend to you a tragic actor; the soothsayer will soon be troubled with varicose veins.5[1 i.e. professionals who sing for hire on public occasions. 2 i.e. of a noble family. 3 A prize of oak-leaves was given at the agon Capitolinus, intituted by Domitian. Pollio was a player on the cithara. 4 To veil the head was part of the ceremony at a sacrifice. 5 “i.e. with so much standing about.]
“Better, however that your wife should be musical than that she should be rushing boldly about the entire city, attending mens meetings, talking with unflinching face and hard breasts to Generals in their military cloaks, with her husband looking on! This same woman knows what is going on all over the world: what the Chinese and Thracians are after, what has passed between the stepmother and the stepson; she knows who loves whom, what gallant is the rage; she will tell you who got the widow with child, and in what month; how every woman behaves to her lovers, and what she says to them. She is the first to notice the comet threatening the kings of Armenia and Parthia; she picks up the latest rumours at the city gates, and invents some herself: how the Niphates2 has burst out upon the nations, and is inundating entire districts yonder; how cities are tottering and lands subsiding, she tells to every one she meets at every street crossing. [2 Properly a mountain; here meant for a river.]
“No less insufferable is the woman who loves to catch hold of her poor neighbours, and deaf to their cries for mercy lays into them with a whip. If her sound slumbers are disturbed by a barking dog, "Quick with the rods!" she cries; thrash the owner first, and then the dog!" She is a formidable woman to encounter; she is terrible to look at.
“She frequents the baths by night; not till night does she order her oil-flasks and her quarters to be shifted thither; she loves all the bustle and sweat of the bath; when her arms drop exhausted by the heavy weights, the anointer passes his hand skilfully over her body, bringing it down at last with a resounding smack upon the top of her thigh. Meanwhile her unfortunate guests are overcome with sleep and hunger, till at last she comes in with a flushed face, and with thirst enough to drink off the vessel containing full three gallons which is laid at her feet, and from which she tosses off a couple of pints before her dinner to create a raging appetite; then she brings it all up again and souses the floor with the washings of her inside. The stream runs over the marble pavement; the gilt basin reeks of Falernian, for she drinks and vomits like a big snake that has tumbled into a vat. The sickened husband closes his eyes and so keeps down his bile. But most intolerable of all is the woman who as soon as she has sat down to dinner commends Virgil, pardons the dying Dido, and pits the poets against each other, putting Virgil in the one scale and Homer in the other. The grammarians make way before her; the rhetoricians give in; the whole crowd is silenced: no lawyer, no auctioneer will get a word in, no, nor any other woman; so torrential is her speech that you would think that all the pots and bells were being clashed together.
“Let no one more blow a trumpet or clash a cymbal: one woman will be able to bring succour to the labouring moon! 0 She lays down definitions, and discourses on morals, like a philosopher; thirsting to be deemed both wise and eloquent, She ought to tuck up her skirts knee-high,1 sacrifice a pig to Silvanus,2 take a penny bath.3 Let not the wife of your bosom possess a special style of her own; let her not hurl at you in whirling speech the crooked enthymeme! Let her not know all history; let there be some things in her reading which she does not understand. I hate a woman who is for ever consulting and poring over the "Grammar" of Palaemon,4 who observes all the rules and laws of language, who like an antiquary guotes verses that I never heard of, and corrects her unlettered5 female friends for slips of speech that no man need trouble about: let husbands at least be permitted to make slips in grammar! [[0 Eclipses of the moon were supposed by the ignorant to be due to the incantations of witches. To prevent these from being heard, and so ward off the evil events portended by the eclipse, it was the custom to creste a din by the clashing of bells, horns and trumpets, etc. 1 i.e. wear the short tunic of a man. 2 Only men sacrificed to Silvanus. 3 i.e. bathe in the public baths. 4 A treatise on grammar by Q. Remmius Palaemon, the most famous grammarian of the early empire. 5 The word Opican is equivalent to Oscan, denoting the early inhabitants of Campania. It is used here as equivalent to barbarian.]
“There is nothing that a woman will not permit herself to do, nothing that she deems shameful, when she encircles her neck with green emeralds, and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears: there is nothing more intolerable than a wealthy woman. Meanwhile she ridiculously puffs out and disfigures her face with lumps of dough; she reeks of rich Poppaean6 unguents which stick to the lips of her unfortunate husband. Her lover she will meet with a clean-washed skin; but when does she ever care to look nice at home? It is for her lovers that she provides the spikenard, for them she buys all the scents which the slender Indians bring to us. In good time she discloses her face; she removes the first layer of plaster, and begins to be recognisable. She then laves herself with that milk for which she takes a herd of she-asses in her train if sent away to the Hyperborean pole. But when she has been coated over and treated with all those layers of medicaments, and had those lumps of moist dough applied to it, shall we call it a face or a sore? [6 Cosmetics, called after Nero's wife Poppaea.]
“It is well worth while to ascertain how these ladies busy themselves all day. If the husband has turned his back upon his wife at night, the wool maid is done for; the tire-women will be stripped of their tunics; the Liburnian chair-man will be accused of coming late, and will have to pay for another man's1 drowsiness; one will have a rod broken over his back, another will be bleeding from a strap, a third from the cat; some women engage their exectioners by the year. While the flogging goes on, the lady will be daubing her face, or listening to her lady-friends, or inspecting the widths of a gold-embroidered robe. While thus flogging and flogging,2 she reads the lengthy Gazette, written right across the page,3 till at last, the floggers being exhausted, and the inquisition ended, she thunders out a gruff "Be off with you!" [1i.e. the husband's. 2 The text reads as if flogging was done by the lady herself. But it was evidently done for her by slaves. 3 Books were usually written lengthwise on the roll; but it seems that the acta diurna, here mentioned, were written crosswise.]
“Her household is governed as cruelly as a Sicilian Court.4 If she has an appointment and wishes to be turned out more nicely than usual, and is in a hurry to meet some one waiting for her in the gardens, or more likely near the chapel of the wanton Isis, the unhappy maid that does her hair will have her own hair torn, and the clothes stripped off her shoulders and her breasts. "Why is this curl standing up?" she asks, and then down comes a thong of bull's hide to inflict chastisement for the offending ringlet. Pray how was Psecas in fault? How would the girl be to blame if you happened not to like the shape of your own nose? Another maid on the left side combs out the hair and rolls it into a coil; a maid of her mother's, who has served her time at sewing, and has been promoted to the wool department, assists at the council. She is the first to give her opinion; after her, her inferiors in age or skill will give theirs, as though some question of life or honour were at stake. So important is the business of beautification; so numerous are the tiers and storeys piled one upon another on her head! In front, you would take her for an Andromachel; she is not so tall behind1: you would not think it was the same person. What if nature has made her so short of stature that, if unaided by high heels, she looks no bigger than a pigmy, and has to rise nimbly on tip-toe for a kiss! Meantime she pays no attention to her husband; she never speaks of what she costs him. She lives with him as if she were only his neighbour; in this alone more near to him, that she hates his friends and his slaves, and plays the mischief with his money. [4 In allusion to Phalaris, tyrant of Agrigentum. 1 Hector's wife Andromache must be tall, as living in the heroic age.]
“And now, behold! in comes the chorus of the frantic Bellona and the mother of the Gods, attended by a giant eunuch to whom his obscene inferiors must do reverence. [2 Reference to Cybele and one of her eunuch priests]... Before him the howling herd with the timbrels give way; his plebeian cheeks are covered with a Phrygian tiara. With solemn utterance he bids the lady beware the coming of the September Siroccos if she do not purify herself with a hundred eggs, and present him with some old mulberry-coloured garments in order that any great and unforeseen calamity impending may pass into the clothes, and make expiation for the entire year. In winter she will go down to the river of a morning, break the ice, and plunge three time into the Tiber, dipping her trembling head even in its whirling waters, and crawling out thence naked and shivering, she will creep with bleeding knees right across the field 1 of Tarquin the Proud. If the white Io2 shall so order, she will journey to the confines of Egypt, and fetch water got from hot Meroe3 with which to sprinkle the Temple of Isis which stands hard by the ancient sheepfold.4 For she believes that the command was given by the voice of the Goddess herself — a pretty kind of mind and spirit for the Gods to have converse with by night! Hence the chief and highest place of honour is awarded to Anubis,5 who, with his linen-clad and bald crew, mocks at the weeping of the people as he runs along.6 He it is that obtains pardon for wives who break the law of purity on days that should be kept holy, and exacts huge penalties when the coverlet has been profaned, or when the silver serpent has been seen to nod his head. His tears and carefully-studied mutterings make sure that Osiris will not refuse a pardon for the fault, bribed, no doubt, by a fat goose and a slice of sacrificial cake. [1 “i.e. the Campus Martius. 2 Apparently here identified with Isis. Io was changed into a white cow by Juno out of jealousy. 3 An island formed by the waters of the Nile. See xiii. 163. 4 The Temple of Isis was in the Campus Martius near the polling-booth (saepta) here called ovile. 5 A god of the dead; he attended on Isis, and is represented with the head of a dog. 6 The priest who impersonates Anubis laughs at the people when they lament Osiris.]
“No sooner has that fellow departed than a palsied Jewess, leaving her basket and her truss of hay,7 comes begging to her secret ear; she is an interpreter of the laws of Jerusalem, a high priestess of the tree,8 a trusty go-between of highest heaven. She, too, fills her palm, but more sparingly, for a Jew will tell you dreams of any kind you please for the minutest of coins. [7 See iii. 14: Iudaei quorum cophinis faenumque supellex. 8 Jews were allowed to camp out under trees as gipsies do in our own country. See iii. 15, 16.]
“An Armenian or Commagenian sooth-sayer, after examining the lungs of a dove that is still warm, will promise a youthful lover, or a big bequest from some rich and childless man; he will probe the breast of a chicken, or the entrails of a puppy, sometimes even of a boy; some things he will do with the intention of informing against them himself.
“Still more trusted are the Chaldaeans; every word uttered by the astrologer they will believe has come from Hammon's fountain, for now that the Delphian oracles are dumb, man is condemned to darkness as to his future. Chief among these was one1 who was oft in exile, through whose friendship and venal ticket of prophecy the great citizen2 died whom Otho feared. For nowadays no astrologer has credit unless he have been imprisoned in some distant camp, with chains clanking on either arm; none believe in his powers unless he has been condemned and all but put to death, having just contrived to get deported to a Cyclad, or to escape at last from the diminutive Seriphos.3 [1 According to Tac. Hist. i. 22 the name of Otho's astrologer was Ptolemy. 2 The emperor Galba. 3 One of the smaller Cyclades (Serpho), a well-known place of exile.
“Your excellent Tanaquil4 consults as to the long-delayed death of her jaundiced mother — having previously enquired about your own; she will ask when she may expect to bury her sister, or her uncles; and whether her lover will outlive herself — what greater boon could the Gods bestow upon her? And yet your Tanaquil does not herself understand the gloomy threats of Saturn, or under what constellation Venus will show herself propitious, which months will be months of losses, which of gains; but beware of ever encountering one whom you see clutching a well-worn calendar in her hands as if it were a ball of clammy amber1; one who inquires of none, but is now herself inquired of; one who, if her husband is going forth to camp, or returning home from abroad, will not bear him company if the numbers of Thrasyllus2 call her back. If she wants to drive as far as the first mile-stone, she finds the right hour from her book; if there is an itch when she rubs a corner of her eye, she will not call for a salve until she has consulted her horoscope: and if she be ill in bed, deems no hour so suitable for taking food as that prescribed to her by Petosiris.3 [4 i.e. his wife. Tanaquil was the wife of Tarquinius Priscus (perita caelestium prodigiorum, Liv. i. 34). 1 Roman ladies carried balls of amber in their hands, either as a scent or for warmth. 2 The favorite astrologer of Tiberius. 3 An ancient Egyptian astrologer.]
“If the woman be of humble rank, she will promenade between the turning-posts4 of the Circus; she will have her fortune told, and will present her brow and her hand to the seer who asks for many an approving smack.5 Wealthy women will pay for answers from a Phrygian or Indian augur well skilled in the stars and the heavens, or one of the elders employed to expiate thunderbolts.6 Plebeian destinies are determined in the Circus or on the ramparts7: the woman8 who displays a long gold chain on her bare neck inquires before the pillars and the columns of dolphins whether she shall throw over the tavern-keeper and marry the old-clothes-man. [4 The metae were the turning-posts at each end of the low wall (spina) round which the chariots had to turn. Each meta consisted of a group of conical pillars with dolphins on them. 5 Poppysma is a smacking sound made by the lips; it was apparently a sign of approval and satisfaction. These sounds are made by the consulting party. 6 By burying (condere) what had been struck. 7 The famous rampart of Servius Tullius. 8 Apparently alluding to a low class of women.]
“These poor women, however, endure the perils of child-birth, and all the troubles of nursing to which their lot condemns them; but how often does a gilded bed contain a woman that is lying in? So great is the skill, so powerful the drugs, of the abortionist, paid to murder mankind within the womb. Rejoice, poor wretch; give her the stuff to drink whatever it be, with your own hand: for were she willing to get big and trouble her womb with bouncing babes, you might perhaps find yourself the father of an Ethiopian; and some day a coloured heir, whom you would rather not meet by daylight, would fill all the places in your will.
“I say nothing of supposititious children, of the hopes and prayers so often cheated at those filthy pools1 from which are supplied Priests and Salii,2 with bodies that will falsely bear the name of Scauri. There Fortune shamelessly takes her stand by night, smiling on the naked babes; she fondles them all and folds them in her bosom, and then, to provide herself with a secret comedy, she sends them forth to the houses of the great. These are the children that she loves, on these she lavishes herself, and with a laugh brings them always forward as her own nurslings. [“These were pools or reservoirs in which infants were exposed [left to die]. Fortune delights in spiriting these foundlings into the houses of the great. 2 The priest of Mars, recruited from noble families.]
“One man supplies magical spells; another sells Thessalian3 charms by which a wife may upset her husband's mind, and lather his buttocks with a slipper; thence come loss of reason, and dark-ness of soul, and blank forgetfulness of all that you did but yesterday. Yet even that can be endured, if only you become not raving mad like that uncle4 of Nero's into whose drink Caesonia poured the whole brow of a weakly foal5; and what woman will not follow when an Empress leads the way? The whole world was ablaze then and falling down in ruin just as if Juno had made her husband mad. Less guilty therefore will Agrippina's mushroom6 be deemed, seeing that it only stopped the breath of one old man, and sent down his palsied head and slobbering lips to heaven, whereas the other potion demanded fire and sword and torture, mingling Knights and Fathers in one mangled bleeding heap. Such was the cost of one mere's offspring; and of one she-poisoner. [3 Thessaly was famous for witches and the magic art. The husband here is made mad by a love-potion. 4 The emperor Caligula. His wife Csesonia was said to have made him mad by a love-philtre. 5 Alluding to the hippomanes, an excrescence on the head of a young foal, which was used in love-potions. 6 “Apprippina the younger murdered her husband, the Emperor Claudius, by a dish of mushrooms (Tac. Ann. xii. 57, Suet. 44). See v. 147.]
“A wife hates the children of a concubine; let none demur or forbid, seeing that it has long been deemed right and proper to slay a stepson. But I warn you wards — you that have a good estate — keep watch over your lives; trust not a single dish: those hot pastries are black with poison of a mother's baking. Whatever is offered you by the mother, let someone taste it first; let your trembling tutor take the first taste of every cup.
“Now think you that all this is a fancy tale, and that our Satire is taking to herself the high heels of tragedy? Think you that I have out-stepped the limits and the laws of those before me, and am mouthing in Sophoclean tones a grand theme unknown to the Rutulian hills and the skies of Latium? Would indeed that my words were idle! But here is Pontia proclaiming "I did the deed; I gave aconite, I confess it, to my own children; the crime was detected, and is known to all; yes, with my own hands I did it." "What, you most savage of vipers? you killed two, did you, two, at a single meal?" "Aye, and seven too, had there chanced to be seven to kill!"
“Let us believe all that Tragedy tells us of the savage Colchian1 and of Procne2; I seek not to gainsay her. Those women were monsters of wickedness in their day; but it was not for money that they sinned. We marvel less at great crimes when it is wrath that incites the sex to the guilty deed, when burning passion carries them headlong, like a rock torn from a mountain side, when the ground beneath gives way, and the overhanging slopes of the hillside fall in. I cannot endure the woman who calculates, and commits a great crime in her sober senses. Our wives look on at Alcestis undergoing her husband's fate; if they were granted a like liberty of exchange, they would fain let the husband die to save a puppy-dog's life. You will meet a daughter of Belus3 or an Eriphyle every morning: no street but has its Clytemnestra.4 The only difference is this: the daughter of Tyndareus5 wielded in her two hands a clumsy two-headed axe, whereas nowadays a slice of a toad's lung will do the business. Yet it may be done by steel as well, if the wary husband, son6 of Atreus, have beforehand tasted the medicaments of the thrice-conquered king of Pontus.7 [1 Medea 2 Procne,daughter of Pandion, king of Athens, revenged herself on her husband, Tereus, by serving up to him the flesh of his son Itys. She was turned into a swallow. 3 Belus was daughter of Daneus; hence Danaids = Belides. 4 The Danaids (daughters of Danaus), Eriphle, and Clytemnestra, all killed their husbands. 5 Clytemnestra was daughter of Tyndareus. 6 Agamemmnon, murdered by his wife Clytemnestra. 7 Mithridates, who was said to have secured himself against poisoning by prophylactics.]
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Rome sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Late Antiquity sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Forum Romanum forumromanum.org ; “Outlines of Roman History” by William C. Morey, Ph.D., D.C.L. New York, American Book Company (1901), forumromanum.org \~\; “The Private Life of the Romans” by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston, Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932) forumromanum.org |+|; BBC Ancient Rome bbc.co.uk/history/ ; Perseus Project - Tufts University; perseus.tufts.edu ; MIT, Online Library of Liberty, oll.libertyfund.org ; Gutenberg.org gutenberg.org Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, Encyclopædia Britannica, "The Discoverers" [∞] and "The Creators" [μ]" by Daniel Boorstin. "Greek and Roman Life" by Ian Jenkins from the British Museum.Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP and various books and other publications.
Last updated October 2018