Translations
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of the

Harvard
University
Press

Epistles I.18

Latin English




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Si bene te novi, metues, liberrime Lolli,
scurrantis speciem praebere, professus amicum.
ut matrona meretrici dispar erit atque
discolor, infido scurrae distabit amicus.
est huic diversum vitio vitium prope maius,
asperitas agrestis et inconcinna gravisque,
quae se commendat tonsa cute, dentibus atris,
dum volt libertas dici mera veraque virtus.
virtus est medium vitiorum et utrimque reductum.
alter in obsequium plus aequo pronus et imi
derisor lecti sic nutum divitis horret,
sic iterat voces et verba cadentia tollit,
ut puerum saevo credas dictata magistro
reddere vel partis mimum tractare secundas.
alter rixatur de lana saepe caprina,
propugnat nugis armatus: "scilicet, ut non
sit mihi prima fides, et vere quod placet ut non
acriter elatrem! pretium aetas altera sordet."
ambigitur quid enim? Castor sciat an Dolichos plus;
Brundisium Minuci melius via ducat an Appi.
Quem damnosa Venus, quem praeceps alea nudat,
gloria quem supra vires et vestit et unguit,
quem tenet argenti sitis importuna famesque,
quem paupertatis pudor et fuga, dives amicus,
saepe decem vitiis instructior, odit et horret,
aut, si non odit, regit ac veluti pia mater
plus quam se sapere et virtutibus esse priorem
volt et ait prope vera: "meae (contendere noli)
stultitiam patiuntur opes; tibi parvola res est.
arta decet sanum comitem toga; desine mecum
certare." Eutrapelus, cuicumque nocere volebat,
vestimenta dabat pretiosa: "beatus enim iam
cum pulchris tunicis sumet nova consilia et spes,
dormiet in lucem, scorto postponet honestum
officium, nummos alienos pascet, ad imum
Thraex erit aut holitoris aget mercede caballum."
Arcanum neque tu scrutaberis illius umquam,
commissumque teges et vino tortus et ira.
nec tua laudabis studia aut aliena reprendes,
nec, cum venari volet ille, poemata panges.
gratia sic fratrum geminorum, Amphionis atque
Zethi, dissiluit, donec suspecta severo
conticuit lyra. fraternis cessisse putatur
moribus Amphion: tu cede potentis amici
lenibus imperiis, quotiensque educet in agros
Aetolis onerata plagis iumenta canesque,
surge et inhumanae senium depone Camenae,
cenes ut pariter pulmenta laboribus empta:
Romanis sollemne viris opus, utile famae
vitaeque et membris; praesertim cum valeas et
vel cursu superare canem vel viribus aprum
possis. adde, virilia quod speciosius arma
non est qui tractet; scis, quo clamore coronae
proelia sustineas campestria; denique saevam
militiam puer et Cantabrica bella tulisti
sub duce qui templis Parthorum signa refigit
nunc et, si quid abest, Italis adiudicat armis.
Ac ne te retrahas et inexcusabilis absis,
quamvis nil extra numerum fecisse modumque
curas, interdum nugaris rure paterno:
partitur lintres exercitus, Actia pugna
te duce per pueros hostili more refertur;
adversarius est frater, lacus Hadria, donec
alterutrum velox Victoria fronde coronet.
consentire suis studiis qui crediderit te,
fautor utroque tuum laudabit pollice ludum.
Protinus ut moneam (si quid monitoris eges tu)
quid de quoque viro et cui dicas, saepe videto.
percontatorem fugito: nam garrulus idem est,
nec retinent patulae commissa fideliter aures,
et semel emissum volat inrevocabile verbum.
non ancilla tuum iecur ulceret ulla puerve
intra marmoreum venerandi limen amici,
ne dominus pueri pulchri caraeve puellae
munere te parvo beet aut incommodus angat.
qualem commendes, etiam atque etiam aspice, ne mox
incutiant aliena tibi peccata pudorem.
fallimur et quondam non dignum tradimus: ergo
quem sua culpa premet, deceptus omitte tueri,
ut penitus notum, si temptent crimina, serves
tuterisque tuo fidentem praesidio: qui
dente Theonino cum circumroditur, ecquid
ad te post paulo ventura pericula sentis?
Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet,
et neglecta solent incendia sumere vires.
Dulcis inexpertis cultura potentis amici:
expertus metuit. tu, dum tua navis in alto est,
hoc age, ne mutata retrorsum te ferat aura.
oderunt hilarem tristes tristemque iocosi,
sedatum celeres, agilem navumque remissi;
potores [bibuli media de nocte Falerni
oderunt] porrecta negantem pocula, quamvis
nocturnos iures te formidare tepores.
deme supercilio nubem: plerumque modestus
occupat obscuri speciem, taciturnus acerbi.
Inter cuncta leges et percontabere doctos,
qua ratione queas traducere leniter aevum,
num te semper inops agitet vexetque cupido,
num pavor et rerum mediocriter utilium spes,
virtutem doctrina paret Naturane donet,
quid minuat curas, quid te tibi reddat amicum,
quid pure tranquillet, honos an dulce lucellum,
an secretum iter et fallentis semita vitae.
Me quotiens reficit gelidus Digentia rivus,
quem Mandela bibit, rugosus frigore pagus
quid sentire putas? quid credis, amice, precari?
sit mihi quod nunc est, etiam minus, et mihi vivam
quod superest aevi, si quid superesse volunt di;
sit bona librorum et provisae frugis in annum
copia, neu fluitem dubiae spe pendulus horae.
Sed satis est orare Iouem quae ponit et aufert;
det vitam, det opes; aequum mi animum ipse parabo.

If I know you well, my Lollius, most outspoken of
men, you will shrink from appearing in the guise
of a parasite when you have professed the friend.
As matron and mistress will differ in temper and
tone, so will the friend be distinct from the
faithless parasite. There is a vice the opposite
of this -- perhaps a greater one -- a clownish
rudeness, awkward and offensive, which commends
itself by scraped skin and black teeth, while fain
to pass for simple candour and pure virtue. Virtue
is a mean between vices, remote from both
extremes. The one man, over-prone to servility, a
jester of the lowest couch, so reveres the rich
man's nod, so echoes his speeches, and picks up
his words as they fall, that you would think a
schoolboy was repeating his lessons to a stern
master or a mime-player acting a second part. The
other man wrangles often about goat's wool, and
donning his armour fights for trifles: "To think,
forsooth, that I should not find credence first,
or that I should not blurt out strongly what I
really think! A second life were poor at such a

price." Why, what's the question in dispute?
Whether Castor or Dolichos has more skill; which
is the better road to Brundisium, that of Minucius
or that of Appius!

The man whom ruinous passion or desperate gambling
strips bare, whom vanity dresses up and perfumes
beyond his means, who is possessed by an insatiate
hunger and thirst for money, by the shame and
dread of poverty, his rich friend, though often
ten times as well equipped with vices, hates and
abhors; or if he does not hate him schools him and
like a fond mother would have him wiser and more
virtuous than himself. He says to him what is
pretty nearly true: "My wealth -- don't try to rival
me -- allows of folly: your means are but trifling.
A narrow toga befits a client of sense; cease to
vie with me." Eutrapelus, if he wished to injure
someone, would give him costly clothes: "for
now," said he, "the happy fellow will, together
with his fine tunics, put on new plans and hopes,
will sleep till dawn, will postpone honest
business for a wanton, will swell his debts, and
at last will become a gladiator, or the hired
driver of a greengrocer's nag."

You will never pry into your patron's secrets, and
if one is entrusted to you, you will keep it,
though wine or anger puts you on the rack. Again,
you will neither praise your own tastes, nor find
fault with those of others, nor when your friend
would go a-hunting, will you be penning poems.
'Twas so that the brotherly bond between the twins
Amphion and Zethus parted asunder, till the lyre,
on which the stern one looked askance, was hushed.
Amphion, 'tis thought, yielded to his brother's
mood: do you yield to your great friend's gentle
biddings;

and when he takes out into the country his mules
laden with Aetolian nets, and his dogs, up with
you and cast aside the glumness of your unsocial
Muse, that you may share his supper with a relish,
whereof toil has been the price -- 'tis the wonted
pastime of the heroes of Rome, is good for fame as
well as for life and limb -- especially when you are
in health, and can outdo either the hound in speed
or the boar in strength. Add that there is none
who more gracefully handles manly weapons: you
know how loudly the ring cheers when you uphold
the combats of the Campus. In fine, while a mere
youth, you served in a hard campaign, and in the
Cantabrian wars, under a captain who even now is
taking down our standards from the Parthian
temples and, if aught is still beyond our sway,
is assigning it to the arms of Italy.

Further, that you may not draw back and stand
aloof without excuse, bear in mind that, however
much you take care to do nothing out of time and
tune, you do sometimes amuse yourself at your
father's country-seat: your troops divide the
skiffs; with you as captain, the Actian fight is
presented by your slaves in true foemen's style;
opposing you is your brother, the lake is the
Adriatic; till winged Victory crowns with leafage
one or the other chieftain. He who believes that
you fall in with his pursuits will with both
thumbs eagerly commend your sport.

To continue my advice, if you need advice in
aught -- think often of what you say, and of whom,
and to whom you say it. Avoid a questioner, for he
is also a tattler. Open ears will not keep secrets
loyally, and the word once let slip flies beyond
recall. Let no maid or boy within your worshipful
friend's marble threshold inflame your heart, lest
the owner of the pretty boy or dear girl make you
happy with a present so trifling or torment you if
disobliging. What sort of a person you introduce,
consider again and again, lest by and by the
other's failings strike you with shame. At times
we err and present someone unworthy: therefore, if
taken in, forbear to defend him whose own fault
drags him down, in order that, if charges assail
one you know thoroughly, you may watch over and
protect the man who relies on your championship.
For when he is nibbled at with Theon's tooth of
slander, don't you feel that a little later the
peril will pass to yourself? 'Tis your own safety
that's at stake, when your neighbour's wall is in
flames, and fires neglected are wont to gather
strength.

Those who have never tried think it pleasant to
court a friend in power; one who has tried dreads
it. While your barque is on the deep, see to it
lest the breeze shift and bear you back. The grave
dislike the gay, the merry the grave, the quick
the staid, the lazy the stirring man of action:
drinkers [who quaff Falernian in midnight hours]
hate the man who declines the proffered cups,
however much you swear that you dread fevers at
night. Take the
cloud from your brow; shyness oft gets the look of
secrecy, silence of sour temper.

Amid all this you must read and question the wise,
how you may be able to pass your days in
tranquillity. Is greed, ever penniless, to drive
and harass you, or fears and hopes about things
that profit little? Does wisdom beget virtue, or
Nature bring her as a gift? What will lessen care?
What will make you a friend to yourself? What
gives you unruffled calm -- honour, or the sweets of
dear gain, or a secluded journey along the pathway
of a life unnoticed?

For me, oft as Digentia refreshes me, the icy
brook of which Mandela drinks, that village
wrinkled with cold, what deem you to be my
feelings? What, think you, my friend, are my
prayers? May I have my present store, or even
less; may I live to myself for what remains of
life, if the gods will that aught remain. May I
have a goodly supply of books and of food to last
the year; nor may I waver to and fro with the
hopes of each uncertain hour.

But 'tis enough to pray Jove, who gives and takes
away, that he grant me life, and grant me means: a
mind well balanced I will myself provide.


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Epistles: 1.7 | 1.10 | 1.14 | 1.16 | 1.18
Epode: 2
Odes: 1.17 | 1.20 | 1.22 | 2.13 | 2.17 | 2.18 | 3.1 | 3.4 | 3.8 | 3.13 | 3.18 | 3.22 | 3.23 | 3.29
Satires: 2.3 | 2.6 | 2.7
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